Night diving in the Red Sea, is it worth it?
Submerge into the darkness and discover a whole new world of scuba diving delights
As the Little Mermaid once said, “a whole new world” is waiting to be explored when you become a scuba diver. We’re so lucky in the sights we get to see daily here in the Red Sea, with no two dives on the same dive site ever the same. But what about changing that dive site up completely by discovering it at night? Are night dives really so different from day dives? The short answer is yes! You don’t have daylight to illuminate the reef, so everything changes. Are night dives for you? Have a read on then judge for yourself.
When divers are getting ready for their first ever night dive there is always an air of nervous excitement. Going in to the water when it’s night time does not seem like such a normal thing to do, especially to the first-time night diver however that nervousness quickly turns to enjoyment and everyone is full of excited chatter when exiting from the water. After you get over the initial submerging and turn your torch on, you realise that as the visibility is so great in the Red Sea you can actually see for quite a far distance, or as far as the torch beam reaches anyway. At this point you’ll realise that even if you’ve done the dive site 10 times before, it looks completely different to you now, but what can you see? Here’s a summary below of some of the highlights;
Crinoids – More commonly known as sea lilies, they do typically look like a feathery plant but are in fact a living animal. During the day they stay curled up and not so easy to spot but as the sunsets they unravel themselves in to full form, ready to filter feed from nutrients passing in the current. During a night dive if you gently pass your dive light over the feathers of the plant you’ll see it slowly start to curl back in on itself until it is a tight ball once again, beautiful, and fascinating and only possible to see at night.
Hiding fish – Fish you would typically see during the day such as parrot, puffer and butterfly fishes take shelter within the reef during night. They’re not exactly sleeping in the traditional sense but resting and since they don’t have eyelids it looks like they are awake, with the occasional flutter as they continue to pass water through the gills to breathe. During a night dive its cute to see these normally active creatures having a rest, but be careful to not shine your torch on them directly or for too long as no one likes to be disturbed during their rest time!
Lion fish – These little guys get more active at night so you do have to be a little more careful than normal to avoid any contact with them and their venomous spines. With your torch light you can spot Lion fish hovering almost motionless in the pursuit of prey until the smaller, tasty fish gets within easy reach, at which point the Lion fish gobbles it whole in one swift movement.
Squid – One of my personal favourite encounters on any dive is a squid. Their large eyes and skin covered in chromatophores, which enables it to change colour to match its surrounding, is fascinating to watch flashing through the water. You can’t take your eyes off it for a second otherwise you’ll likely lose sight of it and be careful not to get too close or annoy it or it may shoot you with some not so nice black ink!
Bioluminescent Plankton – last but by no means least, at the end of your dive following your safety stop, your guide may ask you to turn your dive light off and move your arms and legs around in the water. Sounds silly yes but you’re looking out for bioluminescent plankton, or in very simple terms, glowing dots which only appear when disturbed by movement. You’ll need to look very closely as they’re quite difficult to spot (too small for our photographs) but worth looking out for!
These are just a small sample of the differences between day and night dives, we haven’t even mentioned the red glowing eyes of the thousands of shrimp or the rare but stunning Spanish Dancer, and best not forget the hunting octopus either!
If you’re interested in making a night dive during your holiday all we need is a minimum of 2 divers and we can schedule the dive any night to fit in with your schedule. Night dives are mostly shore based and we prefer for you to have dived the site at least once during the day to be familiar with the topography.
*All the above stunning photographs were taken by professional underwater photographer Renata Romeo who has kindly given us permission to use in this blog. Full credit and ownership is given to her and the images should not be reproduced without the inclusion of her logo. For more information about Renata’s work or to book a bespoke photography workshop with her you can contact us directly or check out her website at www.renataromeoart.com