Saturday, July 14, 2012

Night dive in Cozumel

Friday night I did my third ever night dive in Cozumel.
Night dives are a whole different ballgame for average divers. You are really relying on your skills as a diver and your ability to control your buoyancy since your eyesight is minimalized.
The greatest joy resulting from a night dive is the whole new set of animals that come out of hiding when the sun goes down. The greatest misfortune is getting slammed into by other divers who don´t see you or don´t care and simply have to get to whatever object has been spotted before anyone else does.
On my first night dive years ago, a woman came by in a big hurry and drove me into the reef with such force that I became a human sandblaster for several seconds. She neither stopped to apologize nor change her course. She had to get there first. When I came up from the dive, I had algae all down the side of my BC.
But on to more pleasant subjects.
Night dives always get my heart racing because, well, it´s dark, but also because of the chance of seeing one of my dive favorites, the octopus. Octopi are so graceful and elegant. When they move across the face of a crevice-filled reef head, they look like liquid spilling across the surface. Just beautiful. Plus, they change colors as they try to camouflage themselves from potential predators, in this case, the divers.
Our night dive on Paradise Reef lasted about an hour in about 40 feet of water. Paradise is a beautiful reef day or night and is perfect for new divers to get a taste of the Caribbean. Though not a new diver, I tried something new on this dive. I had my camera strapped to my right wrist and my night light strapped to my left wrist. Talk about multitasking. Trying to control my buoyancy and equalize with all that stuff floating off my arms was a little bit of a job. Plus the straps inevitably found away to curl around my hoses.
The dive started out slowly, a couple of stingrays, some enormous crabs and some lobsters. I found a moray eel curled up in his nighttime home, and another one scooting across the sea bottom before finding a new hiding place. About 35 minutes went by, and no octopi. Then, suddenly, our DM found one. Several searchlights trained on the octo. It was not happy. It went from white to brown to white again. It stopped, flared out its arms. It moved quickly and flared them again. Then another diver moved in with gloves (frowned upon in Coz) and started tormenting the octo. I moved on. Then we found the sweet spot. A second octopi, a third, a fourth and a fifth. Really, really cool. One or two would have been worth the price of admission for me, but to see five of them, to observe them from about two feet away was really spectacular. Caribbean octopi are not very big, but they move and act just like larger ocean octopi.
I listened for the sound of croaking from the splendid toadfish, and ugly fish made beautiful by its blue and yellow color. They are indigenous only to Cozumel and are quite a find for photographers. I´ve spotted them before and posted them on this blog. Unfortunately, no luck on this dive. I´m also waiting to see my first squid on a Coz night dive. Maybe some day. Regardless, the five octopi made my night.
Just before surfacing, I located a spotted drumfish, another great find for photographers. For whatever reason, my search light made it start going in circles. I tried to get a pic, but couldn´t get in the proper position. I did get several shots of the octos, but they look a little overexposed. I´m really new to underwater photography and need some practice. But many thanks go out to Bruno´s Dive Shop in Clinton Township, Mich. for letting my borrow the camera. I´ll see if I can Photoshop some decent pics when I get home.
Next, my final two dives in Cozumel.

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