A cave dive is considered any dive that takes place under a naturally occurring rock ceiling. Cave diving has been considered one of the most extreme and hazardous forms of diving, but it doesn’t have to be if you get proper training and follow the rules. There are two forms of cave diving: cavern diving and full cave diving.
Night diving is an extremely exciting type of diving. Night diving offers a glimpse into a word that changes drastically when the sun sets. The opportunity to see creatures that you would never see during the day come out at night. When you dive during the day, you’re able to see much more around you, which probably means you don’t focus on any one area for very long. Night diving is different; it allows you to focus your attentions in the area your light is illuminating. Anything outside the area of your light beam, you can’t see and don’t focus on. That means your focus and concentration is on a much smaller area allowing you to see much more.
For some, night diving may sound scary. Not being able to see everything around you may be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t focus on what you can’t see, focus on everything you can see, which is transformed at night. Colors become more rich with your light and critters come out at night that are amazing. Night diving does require some special equipment, higher skill levels, and different procedures.
Preparing for a night dive
Preparing for any type of dive is essential, but when night diving, preparing can be invaluable. It’s important that you’re completely comfortable in the water and that you’re skilled in buoyancy control is top notch. You should also be very familiar with your equipment and know where everything is.
You can also prepare by diving the site during the day. This allows you to become familiar with the area and type of reef, ledge, or wreck you’re diving. Choose an area with easy entry, calm conditions, and shallow water. If possible, arrive at the dive site before dark and become oriented with your surroundings.
There is some extra equipment required to night dive safely. Dive lights, compass, and strobes to mark the anchor or other prominent points are all used on night dives. Some dive operations also require a light to be mounted on the valve or first stage, such as a cyalume stick. A cyalume stick is plastic tube filled with chemicals that glow when mixed together. To mix the chemicals, the stick must be bent to break the partition between the chemicals.
Every diver must carry two dive lights, a primary dive light and a backup dive light that is used if the primary light fails. The primary light is usually a larger, more powerful light. The backup light is usually smaller and can be stowed in a BC pocket or on your harness. There are a variety of dive lights on the market that can be used as a primary light. Some lights use standard C cell batteries and others use expensive rechargeable batteries. Backup lights are smaller and many times use AA batteries. For a primary light, use a brighter halogen type bulb or an HID system. Backup lights can be halogen or LED. If you want to really enjoy night diving, the more light you can afford, the more you’re going to see.
A compass should also be carried and used during a night dive. Knowing where you are and how to get back to the boat or entry point is essential. Learning how to use a compass successfully underwater can make night diving much easier and safer.
Strobes can also be used to mark the boat anchor or mooring, anchor line, or any prominent objects. Strobes blink on and off and can easily be seen underwater. Strobes can make night diving much safer and helps to calm more nervous divers. Staying within sight of the strobes throughout the dive can ease your nerves and helps you to know exactly where you are.
Using your light to communicate
Your light can be a great communication tool. There are several important signals you should know before going night diving. Make sure everyone in your group understands these signals before diving. The three basic signals are OK, attention, and distress. When giving the OK signal, move your light in a circular motion, making a circle. If you want to get your buddy’s attention, quickly move your light back and forth (left and right). If you need to signal distress, rapidly move your light up and down. Knowing these three signals can make your night diving safer and more enjoyable.
Generally, there is no more risk in night diving than diving during the day. Becoming familiar with the dive site during the day, using the proper lights, and planning your dive conservatively can make night diving as enjoyable and fun as day diving. Always monitor where you are on the dive site. Use your compass and reference it often. Knowing where you came from and where the boat is creates comfort and makes night diving more relaxing.
Having good buoyancy control and staying with your buddy is also important. You don’t want to be floundering over the reef with bad technique. Keeping in sight and close proximity of your dive buddy is also important. You’re probably going to have to stay in closer contact than you would on a daytime dive because you can’t see as far at night. You also need to communicate with your buddy. Periodically, give the OK sign to each other. This keeps you together and reassures one another you’re paying attention.
Make sure you always carry at least two lights. If your primary light has a problem, you can switch to your backup light. If you’re near your buddy, you can use his light until you’ve turned on your backup light. If you continue the dive, realize that if your backup light fails, you’re then relying on your buddy’s backup light to get you back to the boat. Prior to diving, always check your lights to make sure your batteries are in good shape. Change batteries after use and keep an extra set with your dive gear.
Avoid touching the reef or marine life at night. Many creatures feed at night and you wouldn’t want to stick your hand in a hole with a hungry moray eel. Take your time swimming over the reef and pay close attention to what’s going on. Many fascinating creatures come out at night. You never know when you’re going to get that rare sighting of some great creature. There is know need to rush and end up somewhere you don’t want to be.
Night diving is a fantastic, exciting, and rewarding side of diving. Don’t rule out a night dive when the opportunity arises. With the proper skills, equipment, and knowledge of the area, night diving is as safe as diving during the day. With all there is to see and experience at night in the sea, night diving can take you to new places and reward you by building your experience and confidence.
Have you ever dreamed of turning your passion, your hobby into a career? Well, with diving, that is a real possibility. When you’re at your local dive shop or on a dive vacation, do you dream of being that person behind the counter or on the boat? Have you thought about getting involved in diving with respect to the work that you do, such as research diving or being a police diver? Have you thought about working underwater as a commercial diver? If so, then you’ve found the right place to learn about the many different diving career opportunities. Divingindepth.com has put together a list of diving careers providing information about what to expect, think about, and know for the many career possibilities.
If you’re interested in a recreational diving career, the most common jobs are diving instructors, dive masters, dive shop owner or employee, service repair technician, photographer or videographer, writer or editor for a dive publication, dive boat staff, dive charter operator, sales representative for a dive manufacturer, and taking people on guided dives.
If you’re interested in working underwater in a professional level, commercial diving is the most common job.
Some careers require or need you to be trained in scuba diving. Many times, scuba diving is secondary to your primary job, but being a trained diver can open up different career opportunities for you to pursue. Some of these careers are research diving or scientific diving, diving medicine, and being a police diver.
Whether you’re interested in the recreational side of the diving industry or looking to become a commercial diver, there are many career paths that allow you to use and participate in the sport you’ve come love. No matter what career path your looking to take, make sure that you research and understand each aspect of the career before spending the time or money required to be involved.
Happy career exploring!
Good buoyancy control for photography underwater isn’t just being able to get to the bottom without crashing into the reef or getting back to the surface without violating your computer. It’s about real, fine-tuned control and awareness of your position in the water column in relation to everything else around you, as well as your photo subject. It’s also about being able to move or change that position, at will, without hitting, stirring up, or disturbing anything else. It’s a somewhat more expanded definition of buoyancy control as compared to the basic definition of “just” neutral buoyancy. It’s a tough assignment! But, that’s definitely the goal. If you can’t fine tune your buoyancy or maneuvering skills, then you’ll be fighting against yourself the whole dive, making it difficult to focus on photography for more than a few seconds at a time.
Underwater photographers can be hard on reefs. Trying to get the best angle for a shot or trying to get close enough sometimes results in kicking, standing, or kneeing on the reef. All of these can damage a reef. Having excellent buoyancy control is essential for photographing close to a reef and getting the shot you want, while avoiding coming in contact with the reef. Hovering just above your subject or contorting your body into a weird position for the right angle with a camera in your hands requires precision and perfect buoyancy control.
Experienced cave divers probably have the best buoyancy control of any group of divers around. They get lots of practice maneuvering close to silt they don’t want to stir up, as well as walls, structures, and growths they don’t want to touch or damage. In short, their specialty absolutely demands great buoyancy and maneuvering control.
So, where do you start if your buoyancy and body control skills aren’t quite up to cave diving levels?
First, test yourself in the water with your gear in its usual configuration. You and your buddy can watch each other. Float neutrally buoyant several feet above the bottom, (preferably an open area of sand) and assume the horizontal “sky diver position.” In other words, belly toward the bottom, looking straight ahead, arms out to the sides and legs spread and slightly flexed at the knees. Just stay there a few minutes. Relax and let nature take over. Let yourself roll or fall in whatever direction you go in. Do this a couple of times to verify what happens. Some folks didn’t even know they had a roll problem until they tried this test. They just thought you had to fight buoyancy the whole dive. Notice if you start to roll to one side or the other. Notice if your feet start to sink or you start to fall forward onto you head. (This test does assume you can achieve basic neutral buoyancy in the water column). This test tells you if your weights and/or tank and/or gear are not balanced.
If something is pulling you in the particular direction, take a look at your weights. Are they evenly placed? Same amount of weight on each side? Are the weights toward the back, pulling you into a roll once you start in that direction? Do you wear a piece of gear on one side that could pull you toward that side? All of these questions help sort out the “roll problem.” Adjust things when you get back to the boat; it could be hazardous trying to change your weights around on the bottom. If you fall forward or your feet sink, it means that possibly your tank is too high or too low on your back. When you adjust where the tank rides in the BC, it only takes a small change to make a big difference. How high or low you wear your weights could also affect the falling forward or sinking feet. If you have weight pockets instead of a weight belt, and moving the tank isn’t comfortable or possible, some people resort to putting a small ankle weight on the tank neck or on their ankles or at the base of the tank to adjust their trim. All of the adjustments we’re talking about here are small increments toward the goal of perfect balance.
Once you’ve achieved balanced buoyancy, you’ll notice photography and everything else is a lot easier. You don’t have to constantly fight to hold position or flail around trying to get back to where you want to be. You’ll also save on air consumption during your dive, which in turn will give you more time to find that perfect photo.
Rangiroa, French Polynesia
Text and photos by Peter Schneider
Rangiroa, this is the name of the place I call my home…at least since I moved here five years ago. It is the second biggest atoll in the world and the biggest one in French Polynesia. Its name, “huge sky,” describes accurately the phenomena when on a windless day the smooth surface of the lagoon melts with the sky. But there is more Rangiroa is famous for. It’s the abundance of pelagic fish, especially sharks…great hammerheads, silvertips, and hundreds of grey reef sharks. Filmmakers from all over the world make the long journey to the midst of the Pacific Ocean for them…or better to take good, clear images of them. Howard Hall, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Luc Besson, and Jean-Jacques Mantello just to name a few.