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Cameraless Night Diving


When we went diving with Subway Watersports over on the south side of the island yesterday for some night diving action with DiveMasters Osman and Duvin from Subway 44, it was an amazing experience.

Only Steve forgot the GoPro. Wah-wah. So that means no video.

Which of course means the diving was fantastic! We saw almost a dozen octopi, all of them different individuals, all intelligent, curious, inquisitive, and in their element, utterly in command, using tentacles as extensions of their selves, literally thinking their way forward. One of our dive buddies clued us into the fact that octopi have part of their brain in the tips of their tentacles, so they are literally thinking their way forward. They are constantly in motion at night, changing their appearance, their color, texture and shape at will to match their surroundings or gain a tactical advantage over their prey.

One of them swallowed a fish whole, after the fish swam over it once, the octopus pounced down on it from above and swallowed it whole in one motion that seemed to say, I’ve seen this move before and won’t be fooled twice. It was a triumphant moment for the octopus, and I was ideally located for a good wide angle GoPro shot of it, but alas, it was back on the boat. We saw another octopus try to snatch a trumpetfish out of the water and it completely missed. Wiff. So it goes.

Others just moved around, trying to either get at the source of our dive lights or to escape from it under some piece of coral. Or they tried to blend in with the coral, which they are very good at doing. One really wanted to take the amazing light that Lou brought down, which could change between natural, florescent, red, infrared filters and lit up the reef with some pretty cool displays of colors not visible to the naked eye.

There was a wealth of marine life to see on display, going through entire rituals of behavior divers don’t normally see during the daytime. All the stuff that flourishes during the day is hiding and all the stuff that hides during the day is out and about. It’s a remarkable experience. Your light transforms the reef, brings it to life, and yet it also robs that part of the landscape of the concealing illusions of night. One of my favorite things to do is to turn off all my lights and just cruise the dark reef, looking at the pinpoints of bioluminescence.

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