Night dive –
These two words terrified me. Of all the amazing things I was looking forward to experiencing on my month long Marine Conservation Internship, only one thing was making me sick to my stomach and risked ruining my whole month – one stupid dive.
You see, I have a slight case of claustrophobia.
Small spaces don’t really make me nervous, it’s more the pitch black environment makes me feel as if the walls are closing in on me – even in the wide open ocean. Unfortunately for me, this dive is a requirement to fulfill my Advanced Open Water dive certification so there was no getting around it. Five days into my time on Utila, the fateful day came. I was very open with my dive instructor, Kelsey, about my fears and she assured me that it was going to be amazing. We departed the dock with the sunset and traveled to our selected sight – a site we had dove earlier in the morning so it would be familiar. After a short briefing, it was time to enter the water. I probably checked my torch 50 times to make sure it was working as well as holding it to my gauges to double check that they still glowed. Kelsey just giggled and told me to get in the water.
Call it fear of the unknown, ignorance, overactive imagination – whatever – but the dive was nothing like I expected. Once I was underwater, I realized just how bright our torches were and that the dark would not be creeping in like I feared so I was able to focus on the diving. And let me tell you, the reef at night is a COMPLETELY different place!!! All of the bright colorful reef fish I had seen over the last five days were tucked away and a whole new list of characters came out to play. Octopus, crabs, squid, stingrays, and the bioluminescent creatures created an underwater picture that I couldn’t take in fast enough. My head was reeling with this whole new world I had never experienced and before I knew it, Kelsey was signaling that it was time to make our accent and begin our safety stop. Once on top of the water we inflated our BCD’s and waited for our boat captain to pick us up. Out in the middle of the ocean away from the rest of the world, the stars never looked so bright and the sky so clear. I knew I was hooked and couldn’t wait for my next night dive.
Now if I can just learn to control my air consumption so I don’t burn through my tank in all my excitement.
Author: Shoni Nikole, November 2015