Posted by: adventuressetravels | March 25, 2011

Night Diving

I steeled myself against the chill night air, peeling on the wet suit.  As thick as it was, I was still chilly.

“Jump around, walk around the boat –try and warm yourself up before you get in the water,” the captain advised.

“Pee in your suit,” Tony advised me laughingly putting on a thick Maine accent.  “Now that’ll warm you right up it will.”  I decided not to lower myself to a comment and instead walked around trying to generate some heat in the wetsuit as much as I could before braving the dark water.

I couldn’t believe we were really going out on a night it was cold enough to wear wetsuits.  The water wasn’t even calm – I looked dubiously at the deck lights illuminating what looked like large swells out there.  But I did want to go.  We were on an untouched, unmapped, reef miles from civilization.  I did want to see what it looked like at night.

I pulled on my little white ankle socks and slipped the bright purple flippers I

sea crab

had been using over them.   I wasn’t used to wearing socks snorkeling but the flippers didn’t fit quite right and had started rubbing blisters on my toes that day.  With the black-tipped sharks we had seen cruising the reef that day gracefully snaking their way through the water, their bodies predatory works of art, I really didn’t want to tempt fate and “chum up” the water with bloody feet.

Finally I slipped on the lime green gardening gloves  that served as my dive gloves.  Couldn’t risk cutting my hands on sharp coral or getting stuck by any of the spiny rock lobsters we were hoping to bring back.

I jumped into the water first,  yellow mesh dive-bag in one hand and the rubber loop attached to my black dive light fastened securely around the other wrist.  I wouldn’t actually be diving or killing anything; I still wasn’t quite up to coordinating holding a spear, my dive light, and especially didn’t have the experience to do all this swimming with the weight belt that I would need if I wanted to be able to dive down to the lobsters hideouts in the buoyant wetsuit.

I didn’t mind, I was quite content holding the dive bag and everything the captain caught.  At some point I did want to learn how to spearfish, but tonight was not the night for that adventure.

The dark waves enveloped me as I splashed off the back of the boat, the captain passing down the large  dive-bag and his spear to me as when I got back to the dive-ladder.  Even with flippers the current was strong.

We flippered our way the 100 feet to the reef, fighting the current and swells the entire way.  Swimming in the dark against a current, the dive-bag serving as a sea-anchor, holding me back was vastly differently from the day swims I was used to.  The beams of our dive-lights stabbed into the water looking like giant light sabers with blue rays of water illuminated for meters ahead of us.

Wind and waves had stirred up sediment in the water and we were almost on top of the reef before the dark shapes of coral heads finally came into sight.  As we reached our destination we tried to swim as quietly as possible.  We on a clandestine mission: night was the rock lobsters’ time to venture out of their holes and explore.  The later the better – the really big ones didn’t come out of their deep dark lairs to play until the wee hours of the morning.  We couldn’t disturb them with lights and noise before we had them on the end of our spears or they would slip back into hiding.

I beat the water with my flippers, trying to keep the up with the captain, the dive-bag pulling me back the entire time.  Before long I was opening the bag under the water for the captain to pull a large sea crab off the end of his spear in the deep recesses of the dive bag.  That was something I hadn’t seen before; the place seemed to be a breeding ground for sea crabs.  My mouth watered thinking about the sweet meat in their enormous claws.

That was one thing about rock lobsters.  These water cockroaches didn’t boast the delicious flavor nor the delectable claws of Maine lobsters.  Sure they were good, but just not on the same level and I was ready for a change.

little sea turtle

We cruised the rock piles, the captain diving down to spear a lobster, or crab every five minutes or so.  Suddenly he dove down to a overhang with a boulder underneath.  As he reached his hand toward the boulder, it came to life.  Giant flippers appeared and then a large ungainly head.  The loggerhead sea turtle must have been close to 500 pounds but she still moved gracefully moving out of her bed.  Much more gracefully than I move climbing out of bed in the morning, that’s for sure.

I could have sworn she flashed us a dark look as she glided past us into the night.  I couldn’t believe our luck.  I had seen a couple of smaller young sea turtles in the water but she was the first full-grown turtle I had seen while in the water.  That was the best part about diving.  You never knew what or who you would encounter in the ocean depths.  It was a strange magical place that constantly showed you different faces.

 

 

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Responses

  1. Didyou get one of those big old lobsters?


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