Text by Vandit Kalia & photos Vikas Nairi Subba
After chasing wrong leads on night diving in the Andaman, Asian Diver finds one of the only legit sources of information and plunges into a rather unknown destination to discover sleepless bliss.
While the diversity of marine life and the high biomass on the reefs of the Andaman Islands are making this jewel of the Indian Ocean a popular choice among the diving community, night dives remain a very underrated speciality in the region. For a variety of reasons, it has almost been an afterthought, which is unfortunate, as night dives here present opportunities to see and photograph “cool stuff” for divers and underwater photographers of all experience levels.
One of the most accessible dive sites for all levels is The Wall. A ledge running northwest to southeast – with its top at nine metres, sloping gradually on its westerly side and dropping sharply down to 60 metres on its easterly side – The Wall is located at the mouth of a channel between Havelock and Peel Islands. It has nutrient-rich water flowing through it, which has resulted in a very high density of both fish and various macro species.
Popular during the day, it is also a very enjoyable night dive and accessible to divers of all levels. A nice strip of sand running along the western side allows student divers to rest on the bottom while watching the marine life. This is a boon for photographers too. Given the dimensions, one doesn’t need to do a lot of finning in order to cover the entire site. Indeed, some of the best dives to be had here are ones where divers hardly move at all!
Typically, descents are done at dusk, so that divers get to watch the packs of bluefin and giant trevally hunting the huge schools of fusiliers, and if you’re lucky, you may get to see passing bumphead parrotfish as they rush to settle in for the night.
Once darkness sets in, divers can expect to see plenty of scorpionfish, lionfish and parrotfish sleeping in a cocoon made of their mucus, the odd giant barracuda, giant moray eels, resident stonefish, filefish, cuttlefish and octopus, groupers, multiple species of snapper, pipefish, and various crustaceans, as well as a variety of nudibranchs, feather and basket stars, and a plethora of sea urchins. The lucky ones who plunge in at the right time/season have come back having spotted the odd frogfish, ornate ghost pipefish, pygmy cuttlefish, and harlequin shrimp, just to name a few.
Depending on the interest of the diver, it is possible to get the opportunity to watch mating and spawning behaviour of select species such as the octopus and sea cucumber. For those who are interested in the extremely tiny, you can simply float in darkness over the reef marvelling at the different species of plankton.
The 25th anniversary of the largest and longest running dive show, Asia Dive Expo (ADEX) is set to occur on the 11-14th April 2019. Centred on the theme – Plastic free Future, ADEX is more than just a dive show with its commitment to the environment. Among an exciting lineup of programs, attendees can look forward to a Future Forward Series of Panel Discussion on the Single-Use Plastic Conundrum in Asia, on 13th April.
So join us at the event, get inspired and for all you know, you might just liberate the inner diver in you! More details of the event here.