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Have you thought about a night dive but just weren’t sure? Here are some great reasons to get you in the water at night!
During a night dive, everything takes on a new look. Your focus changes as you move about the dive site, observing life around your dive light and seeing ambient light from the surface.
At dusk and again at dawn, nocturnal and diurnal species “trade places” on the dive site to seek food and engage in social activities. Rockfish seek out holes and ledges in the reef to sleep while other fish species, such as Ratfish, become more active. Our famous Giant pacific octopus is also more active at night, sometimes venturing out of their dens to hunt for food. Harbor seals are especially enthusiastic, occasionally following divers around Puget Sound dive sites and hunting using diver’s lights to illuminate prey.
Even a familiar dive site can look completely different at night. Wrecks and small boats underwater become compelling and mysterious. Reefs light up with your dive light and display colors not seen in the daytime.
During the fall, billions of small microorganisms in Puget Sound become excited by water movement, which causes light emission in the microorganism. While on a dive safety stop, simply point your light down or towards you (for safety, do not turn your light off) and wave your free hand in the water. You’ll see thousands of light pinpoints, an amazing experience to end your dive.
The PADI Open Water Diver course taught us that colors degrade underwater, first starting on the red end of the spectrum. A dive light can bring back the “true” colors of fish, invertebrates, and corals. Vermilion rockfish (Sebastes miniatus) become a beautiful red, Stubby squid (Rossia pacifica) can turn red to deep purple, and California sea cucumber (Parastichopus californicus) reveal their deep reddish-orange to yellow colorings.
Go diving after work or even later in the day. Night diving is great way to squeeze in a dive after work or in the evening hours. We offer night dives every day of the week, and they can be scheduled anytime after sunset. A night dive is a perfect option for visitors to Seattle with a full daytime schedule of meetings, conferences, or even just sightseeing.
You’ve executed a perfect giant stride off the boat, or maybe swam out from shore, and now it’s time to descend and start your dive. You hold your inflator hose up, press the exhaust button, but nothing seems to happen and you are still on the surface. You look around and everyone else seems to be having no problems descending, plus now the boat (or shore) crew is calling out to see if you are all right. What to do?
1- Check your weighting: This needs to be done from shore or the boat, before you even get in the water. As an example, a typical diver in the Northwest diver with a 2-piece 7mm wetsuit or dry suit and steel cylinder would need 10% of their body weight plus 10 pounds to start. Check with your dive leader or open water diver manual for guidance on weighting for your current dive environment.
2- Remember your surface descent method:
3- Body Positioning: You need to be in a head up/feet down position to effectively vent air from your BCD. The BCD cannot vent if you are lying on your stomach or you are not holding your inflator hose up all the way.
4- No Kicking or Sculling: Many divers experiencing problems with their initial descent may be kicking with their fins or rapidly moving their arms (sculling) without realizing it. The kicking and sculling motion act to keep you on the surface.
5- Breath Holding: Keeping an excessive amount of air in your lungs can contribute to difficult descent. Remember to relax, breathe normally, and never hold your breath.
6- Check for the bottom: Once you have begun your initial descent, look down and locate the bottom so that you can gauge your rate of travel.
7- Slow Your Descent: Add small amounts of air to your BCD (or dry suit) to help show your descent. Again, don’t forget to continuously equalize your ears.
8- Avoid Touching the Bottom: Slow your descent enough so that you stop about 2-3 feet from the bottom. Don’t hit or touch the bottom, never “turtle” or land hard to avoid damaging marine life or stirring up substrate.
Now you are neutrally buoyant and ready to continue scuba diving adventure.
As July closes out this week, our Seattle Dive Tours summer season is in full swing. Visibility has been averaging 30′ or more on most dives and wildlife sightings are plentiful. In addition to our Giant pacific octopus, we are also seeing a related, smaller species, Red octopus (Octopus rubescens). Not sure how to tell them apart? The Seattle Aquarium has a handy cheat sheet to help. The great visibility also allows us to see more mid-water schooling fish, such as perch and some Rockfish species. Our most abundant marine mammal at the dive sites right now is the Harbor seal. Last week one delighted our divers by swimming on the surface and diving to catch fish throughout the morning. Our California and Stellar sea lions are at their breeding rookeries along the Oregon and Washington coasts, and we expect them to return around mid-August.
Divers continue to arrive from the United States and Canada, and this summer we’ve also had divers visiting and scuba diving with us from Australia, Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Singapore, and the Netherlands. Most divers have commented on the clarity of the water and bright ambient light from the summer sun. We’ve had several divers request PADI courses, with Dry Suit Diver, Enriched Air Diver (Nitrox) and Advanced Open Water being the most popular. Don’t forget that while we regularly schedule all of our PADI classes monthly, we can also teach any class any day of the week for divers visiting Seattle.
Looking ahead, our warm summer should continue through August, then transition to fall in the Pacific Northwest, featuring cool, clear nights and warm, sunny days. Don’t forget to book your dive now to experience the beauty of Pacific Northwest waters for yourself.
Yesterday we had the privilege of diving one of the top 10 dive sites in the world, Aliwal Shoal. The dive site is located about two hours south of Durban in the small town of Umkomaas. Aliwal Shoal was named after an 1849 wreck and features both hard and soft corals, plus an abundance of reef fish and Grey nurse sharks, known by the local as “raggies” who migrate near the coast to breed every summer and spring.
To access the dive site, we loaded up all of our gear into a rigid-inflatable boat (RIB), and raced across the bar into open waters. Our first dive stop was a rocky area with lots of small caves and soft corals. After a back roll entry we descended to 40″ and swam over the reef, observing Grey nurse sharks, rays, Loggerhead turtles, Scorpion fish, and dozens of different types of reef fish.
During our surface interval, we saw female Humpback whales breaching as they headed up to Tanzania to give birth in it’s lagoons. On our second dive we found a big Round ray, Moray eel, groupers, and more turtles. Both dives had lots of surge which can be tiring but also part of the fun. One of the most exciting parts of the dive was the trip back to the beach. In order to get back to shore, the captain drove the boat at full speed towards the beach and flew it up onto the sand. A recovery crew was waiting for us and pulled the boat back onto it’s trailer for the ride back to Scuba Addicts lodge.
Next up is watching the Sardine run off Port St. John’s and the big animals that follow the annual migration- dolphins, tuna, sharks, and sea birds. While I’m traveling, our PADI- certified Divemasters will be conducting our daily scuba diving tours as usual back in Seattle.
After 4 flights and 30 hours of travel, I finally made it to Durban, South Africa last Friday. Durban is a beautiful, laid-back city with a Mediterranean climate featuring warm, sunny days and cool, clear nights. After a rest day on Saturday, Christine and I decided to take a Durban city tour and the Tala Game Reserve tour with Country & Costal Touring.
Our first stop was Moses Mabhida Stadium and a trip up the SkyCar ride to the top for 360 views of the city. Next we headed into the foothills west of town to Tala Game Reserve to check out some wild life. Hippos, impala, giraffe, wart hog, gnu, and Blesbok were some of the species we saw.
In the evening, my partner Brian arrived on his flight from Seattle (via Dubai) and the three of us headed out to the trendy Florida Street area for a late supper.
Next up we are headed down to Umkomass and Awalal Shoal for two dives before finally arriving at Port St. John’s for the Sardine Run. The reserve had lost 3 rhinos last week to poaching, and the remaining 4 are scheduled to be relocated to a safer area.
I’m currently down in Los Angeles, heading down to Durban for the sardine run off the eastern coast of South Africa. The sardine run in South Africa happens when billions of sardines school up for a spawning event, and then hundreds of thousands of predators converge to eat the fish. Predators include Dolphins, whales, sharks, and seabirds.
We will be spending a week or so cruising around in zodiac boats in scuba gear, hoping to find a feeding event. When we locate an event, we will dive into the water and observe what’s happening, and also hopefully get some good photos and GoPro video.
After the sardine run, we will head down to Cape Town to dive with Cape fur seals and also Great white sharks. While I’m traveling, our PADI- certified Divemasters will be conducting our daily Dive Tours as usual in Seattle.