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Night Diving

Group Night diving

Night diving are special dives in recreational scuba diving which take place at night. Considered by many as a fantastic experience as divers will be able to enjoy more underwater life that is not visible during the day. For example, Lobsters and octopus that come out of their holes at night to feed and explore the reefs.

Those guys, must be nuts!!! That's what I said the first time I saw my friends embarking on a night dive for their advance open water course. Of course at that time I had never dove before and 15 years later, here I am writing and convincing you to experience the wonders of diving at night.

What do we find exciting about diving at night?

As mentioned in our page “Underwater World”; what brings more divers everyday to explore this world are the variety and colors of the corals and the life around the reefs that forms a unique panoramic view. But during the day most of these marine lives are hiding in holes or under rocks and they are just waiting for the darkness to come out.
Diver at night, Scuba diving at night. Divers are not only able to see more variety of marine life, but also the colors of the reefs are much more intense under your diving flashlight. When divers switch off their flashlights, they will be surprised at the amount of light that is reflected from the moon and the stars on a clear night.

Another factor that always impresses night divers is the chemical reaction created by certain types of planktons. The bioluminescence is a phenomenon that occurs when the planktons are moved in the dark causing them to emit light. To experience this you have to turn off your flashlight and wave your hand through the water. 

How late are the night dives done?

As a whole experience, divers start assembling the equipment when there is still daylight and wait for the beautiful sundown to begin the dive. You will never do a recreational night dive at crazy hour... I will rephrase that… Only in special circumstances will you do a night dive at a crazy hour. Sample: New years’ party… Oh yes, there are some people who have done it.
Sundown Beautiful Sundown Beach Sundown

What are the risks of diving at night?

Beside the recreational, the darkness creates additional hazards. But the dive can be enjoyable by just practicing safe diving and following some special guidelines for night diving.
Night diver with flashlight on As already mentioned, night divers require the use of a flashlight that may fail underwater resulting in losing visual references and being unable to control depth or buoyancy. This flashlight failure also unables divers to read instruments such as dive computers and regulator’s console.

This should not be a reason to panic if you follow the guidelines for night diving, you will know to stay close to your assigned partner or dive buddy. If by any chance you are not close to your partner, it is impossible to lose the reflecting light. What we mean is that the light from a diving flashlight can be seen on a greater distance underwater.
Night diver with flashlight off

Leading the night dive.

A major responsibility goes to the leader or person that is leading the group on night dives. Due to the darkness, navigational skills must be at 100% and the use of a compass must be mandatory regardless of the experience. Compasses are important because your visibility narrows to what you see thanks to the flashlight. In some cases at night, divers can swim in circles or take longer than normal to find a point of reference underwater. To begin, you should never make a night dive at a location where you have not been diving before during the daytime.

The leader and assistant must always have extra flashlights during the dive. If by any chance the leader runs out of extra flashlights, the leader must decide to end the dive before there is another flashlight failure.
At the end of a night dive
During a night dive, assisting another diver that has difficulties with his equipment (tank, regulator, weight belt or flashlight) underwater can be of concern. You probably will need both hands and your flashlight will be in your way. At the moment that you engage to fix the problem, you will lose all references that you had (point of reference, buoyancy reference), and will have to star from zero after the problem is fixed.

The leader of the group must know that the group is together. He only has the light of each diver as a reference to know that no one is missing. So, it is important to keep your diving flashlight on at all times and only switch it off when asked by the group leader.
Avoid shining your light in other divers' eyes

Special guidelines for night diving.

  • Night dives have to be done safely, they must be properly organized.
  • Night dives must be done at limited depth or shallow waters (less than 20 meters/ 66 feet).
  • The descending area must have a rope or be less than 10 meters/ 33 feet.
  • Dive location must be protected from boats. Or use special buoy at the surface.
  • When planning a night dive, the visibility of the dive location must be at its best.
  • Never make a night dive at a location where you have not been diving before during the daytime.
  • It is very important that everybody participates in the dive briefing and understands diving signals.
  • All divers must respect the dive plan.
  • Always dive with a partner or assigned dive buddy.
  • Avoid shining your light in other divers' eyes.
  • Keep your diving flashlight on at all times and only switch it off when asked by the group leader.
  • The use of a compass must be mandatory regardless of the experience.   
  • Always bring backup flashlight.
  • Always keep visual track of your buddy by watching for his light beam.
  • Keep constant communication between you and your diving partner.
  • When using a boat: boat driver must have knowledge of the dive plan, dive signals and must have a flashlight for signaling.
  • Avoid diving inside caves or wrecks at night.
  • Must use a light beacon at the beach for surface reference.

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Diving signals used durnig Night Dives

It is mandatory to always review diving signals when diving with friends and strangers. Please hover the mouse over the diving signals for demonstration.

night dive ok signal  Signal for OK:  A circle with the diving flashlight represents "okay". Also represents the question: ARE YOU OK? And it is also used to respond with the same signal: YES I AM OK. Same signal is used at the surface. night dive problem signal Signal for Problem: By moving the flashlight from side to side represents a problem or diver in distress. You must wait for your partner to be close to you and explain your situation. The problem signal is also moving the flashlight up and down. The signal varies from region to region.
night dive signal Some night signals can be made by just putting your hands in front of the flashlight. night dive signals The best way to communicate at night is by putting the flashlight facing your chest and away from your eyes. The light will illuminate your chest area making it easy for your partner to see and understand you.

For all diving signals, click here.

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