Night Diving 101: Getting started Scuba Diving at Night
Getting started on night diving requires a bit of training, a bit of kit, and a bit of new procedures, but it opens up a whole new world of diving.
Night diving can seem daunting for many scuba divers new to the sport. The prospect of a dive in the dark of night can be unsettling, and understandably so. In the water, we’re already out of our element, quite literally, being in an environment that we’re not created for.
We can’t move as fast as we usually can, our sense of hearing is of almost no use (due to water’s increased density, we cannot place the directionality of a sound the way we can in air), and we can’t even breathe without specialized equipment. At night, we even take our eye sight out of the equation, making it impossible for us to see without the aid of a dive torch.
However, outside of the differences, night diving is every bit as safe and enjoyable as day-time diving.
With just a bit of mental adjustment, training, and dive equipment, night diving can be an incredibly rewarding type of diving. And for many divers, it becomes their favorite type of diving.
Training for Night Diving
Night diving is part of many training organizations’ Advanced Scuba Diver courses (or similar), and formal training is a good place to start. Here, you will experience your first few night dives along with a dive instructor, who can help you get the most from the dives, and help handle any issues that may arise.
Equipment Used for Night Diving
The majority of equipment is the same for night and day dives. The main difference lies in the use of light. A primary and backup dive torch is a necessity for diving. And both should be powerful enough to allow you to find your way around the dive site, and back to your entry point.
Rechargeable torches, in spite of being more costly to purchase, have their advantages, especially if you find yourself doing a lot of night dives.
Powerful torches burn through battery fast, so a week of dive holiday with repeated night dives can cost you quite a bit in batteries. Not to talk about the environmental load.
Some dive organizations recommend that the backup torch run on standard batteries, as these tend to be a bit more predictable than rechargeables, though this is less of an issue than it used to be. But going for a rechargeable torch for at least your primary torch can be a good investment.
A snap light or a beacon light should be attached to all divers, ideally on their tanks, making them easier to see for any divers behind them. If a dive surface buoy is used, a similar snaplight or beacon should be attached to this.
Also make sure you exit point is marked somehow with a light. If diving from a boat, this should be some form of strobe or snaplight suspended beneath the boat. For shore-based dives, you’ll need something to help guide you back to shore once you surface. This can be best done by placing or identifying two light sources, that when lined up guides you back to an exact point on the shore where your exit point is.
If you use existing light sources, make sure you don’t use lights from houses, car lights or other sources that may move or be turned off.
A good rule of thumb is to do night dives, at least the first ones in your career, in dive sites you’ve already dived in daylight. This helps with the navigation on the dive, and allows you to see the changes that happen to a dive site when the sun goes down. Also, expect to slow down quite significantly compared to a day dive.
You’ll find yourself covering a lot less ground during a night dive, compared to a day dive, giving you time to explore nooks and crannies where some of the unique, nocturnal life hangs out.
Night diving can lend a whole new perspective on diving, and can breathe new life into dive sites that you may have dives many, many times before. Doing the first few night dives with either a trained instructor or experienced night divers can help make the transition from day diver to night diver much smoother.
You can also learn more about the fun of Night Diving
Have you ever done a Night Dive?
Where was your favorite night dive? Do you have some night dive tips and tricks to share with other readers?