Night Diving @ Nungwi Reef – By Paul Gerber


Weightless in a black abyss, time seems to stand still. Everything that was before disappears and everything to come is irrelevant. All there is, is right now. This moment, the meditative sound of air flowing from your regulator into your lungs and the slow release of bubbles making their way back to the surface is near intoxicating. The night dive has begun…

Not all are at peace during this time. This is the time when many aquatic species are on the hunt. Our lights attract thousands of silverside Sardines that serve as a hearty meal for many creatures. As we make our way around the reef all sorts of creatures prepare themselves for the meal to come. The greedy Lion Fish uses its powerful suction and many rows of teeth devouring as many silversides as it can. A Stargazer lies hidden in the sand popping up at the opportune moment to snatch up its prey. The clumsy, half blind, moray eel’s senses are overwhelmed by the buffet that lies before it, even the anemones are getting in on the action enveloping as many silversides as they can handle. A little crab hangs out on the side of the anemone to wait for its chance to get in on the action too. He waits for the right moment. Once the anemone has had its fill, he strikes… snatching up an unsuspecting silverside as it swims past. But, the real master of the night is the Octopus. With its eight powerful tentacles it scours the reef reaching into every nook and cranny to find its next tasty morsel.
As we come along with our torches burning bright and a wave of silversides trailing close behind, the Octopus seizes the opportunity and sticks up six of its tentacles grabbing as many silversides as it can. It shovels them into its beak then sends the tentacle out again to collect its next victims.

My dive watch gives off a short solitary beep to remind me that we’ve been underwater for an hour. We all have plenty of air so we decide to make our way back to the dive shop underwater. Navigating our way back is always easy on our home reef. We leave the sandy bottom deep water; make our way up the slope of the reef, over the rocky shallows inhabited by urchins, crabs and cuttlefish. Eventually we arrive at our exit point where we end the dive. As we emerge we are greeted by a sky full of stars shining down on us. As we leave the water behind us we are all left with the amazing memories from this evening and we will hold these memories with us for many years to come.

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