The sun was beginning to disappear below the horizon as darkness began to settle over the island. The bangka swaying in the shallows as we geared up, torches hanging from our wrists to light the way. Soon to become our only form of luminescence in the black waters. The last of the sun sunk leaving only a faint glow in the sky and we plunged into the dark abyss. With most of my senses blocked, I let my eyes adjust as we began our descent to see what lurked in the shadows of the night.
I was initially hoping for a night dive to be one of the dives as part of my Advanced Open Water course I had just completed. Our small group of three came to the decision of a couple of other dives instead as a night dive didn’t particularly interest them. I on the other hand, wanted to experience the difference between night and day underwater along with observing the creatures more active in darkness. So out came the credit card for an additional dive I didn’t want to miss out on. Worth it!
A shallow dive site only ten meters at the most. At the bottom sat a deteriorated wreck. A few sections of the once vessel were semi-buried in the sand as its final resting place. The metal rusted and hard corals had covered much of the surface that remained. Amongst all the nooks and crannies, fish scattered in a faint glimmer as our lights shone their direction. The fish life in general seemed to be less active in the darkness. Once we finished inspecting the remainder of the wreck, we crept along the bottom our bellies nearly scraping the sea floor. It was then I began to see more of what played in the shadows.
I caught sight of a hermit crab scurrying across the ground, its shell covered with small sea anemones waving in the current. Following this little guy, he led me right into a cuttlefish. This was a surprise for me as it was camouflaged so well it only began to move when the crab disturbed it. Not even sure if he knew it was there. My dive leader pointed out a scorpion fish resting still and camouflaged just as well. You must really develop an eye for this as spotting much of the sea life isn’t the easiest task. Then out of the woodwork nudibranchs appeared nearly everywhere we looked. Often referred to as sea slugs, they all hosted an array of exotic colours as they danced along the sea floor. Just watching them move was something else.
Diving at night was something upon getting my beginner license last year that I never really put much thought into. I also didn’t really know if I was going to take diving much further, but the urge for that calm adrenaline I get while in the water came calling when I began reading up on the Philippines and its many dive sites. Not only extending my qualifications became of interest, but seeing what else was out there started to peek my curiosity as well. From diving with sharks as the sun was rising to diving at dusk as the sun went down. Another side of this amazing underwater world was to be discovered and I can’t imagine how much more there is to see.
Tip: Keep an eye out for the beautiful Mandarin fish. I wasn’t lucky enough to spot one, but they do reside in the area. If luck is on your side you might just see their mating dance.