Scuba Diving at Night | A Quick Guide

Scuba diving at night is special because a site that you know well will look completely different at night. Even the best dive sites in Panama, Australia, and the Keys can become tiresome after a while. During the day, most divers will scan the entire site, looking at everything around. At night though, you only see what your light can illuminate, narrowing your field of vision. This forces you to focus on what is in front of you. Scuba diving at night is fantastic, but it does come with its own set of challenges. We have a few tips to help make your next dive more fun.

Dive Close to Shore

You’re better off staying close, in shallow water. Night dives tend to be in shallow waters, giving you more time at the bottom. This lets you go slow, take your time, and explore it all without rushing to the surface. At night the colors are vibrant and more vivid than on a day dive, kind of like looking at something white under a black light. This change in the intensity of the colors is because the structures at the bottom absorb the sunlight, stealing the colors. On a night dive, the light source is never more than a few feet away, so the water doesn’t take away any of the light spectrum.

Night Doesn’t Mean Midnight

Doing a night dive doesn’t mean that you have to go out in absolute darkness. When the sun is setting and low in the sky, not much sunlight is penetrating the water. It’s already “night” in the water, so you’ll have the desired effect; the same goes for sunrise. Diving at dusk, as opposed to night, is a good way to start your night-diving career.

Buy the Right Gear

You’ll already have most of what you need for a successful night dive. For the dive you’ll need to add two dive lights to your gear: a primary dive light and a backup. The primary light should be the bigger of the two. Several kinds of lights are available, so try out a few to find what feels right in your hand and can cast a lot of light. The backup should be small enough to store easily and bright enough to get you home. Know that if you have to pull your backup light, it’s time to end the dive.

Leave a Trail to Home

If you are diving from shore and not a boat, it’s a good idea to mark the shore with lights. Place two lights close together at your entry point and a third farther away. This gives you something to head toward when you are swimming back in and will prevent you from swimming out to sea. When diving from a boat, the boat should have a flashing strobe light to aim for. When swimming up, keep your light in front of you so you don’t swim into the hull of the boat.

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