North Carolina Night (Morning?) Dive
Tired. That’s what we were when we climbed into the van to head to Radio Island Rock Jetty in Beaufort, North Carolina at 12:20 a.m. This might sound like a crazy plan, but Mother Nature made this choice for us. Beaufort North Carolina offers some extreme tides, and high tide is a requirement for diving. Thus, a 12:20 a.m. night dive.
Crashing Waves Wake Us
That tiredness soon evaporated as we stepped out of the car and heard the gentle crash of breaking waves, and the salty smell of sea water floated through the air. This was what we had been waiting for since one of the first days of the trip. I remember even chatting about it as we drove up to North Carolina. As we took our what-had-become-regular hike down the beach, our excitement grew until we felt like we might explode! When it was finally time to get into the cold water and get our gear on, adrenaline was coursing through our veins.
Belly Crawl Diving
As usual when some of us got in the cold water there was a bit of a shock, since in Florida, the water temperature is normally in the mid 80’s and this water was in the low 70’s. Then once we got our gear on and buddied up, it was time to dive. My buddy was Mrs. Fleming, who is also our science officer for this trip, At 12:55 a.m., the two of us descended and got onto our bellies. This site required us to crawl to the drop off in the middle of the channel.
Once we went into the drop off, Mrs. Fleming signaled to us to put the light part of our flashlights into the sand. When we did what we were told, an inky blackness consumed us. Or so I thought. But as our eyes adjusted to the depths of darkness, I noticed a faint light coming off of my hand when I moved it through the water. This, I knew from study, was bioluminescence, directly meaning light from life. Tiny creatures in the water produce light when disturbed, but I had never experienced it in person before. This was easily one of my coolest experiences ever.
More to See
When we were done playing with that, we started searching for other cool things that you could find on a night dive. We were keeping a good pace and had seen a couple of interesting things (like an eel!) when our divemaster suddenly stopped. I swam next to her and she pointed under a rock. I saw the biggest sheepshead ever!
Night Dive to Morning
Once we had stopped there, we turned around and started heading back the way we came. As our time to come to the surface neared, we started heading west, back over the jetty and back toward the beach. On our way back, we encountered a monster lizard fish and a super small flounder right next to each other. Then, it got too shallow to keep swimming anymore, and our heads broke the surface at 1:30 a.m. Once we got our gear rinsed and got back to our cottage, it was past 2 in the morning, We were diving at around noon the next day. Again, Mother Nature sets this dive schedule. As soon as our heads hit the pillow, we were out like lights. This dive was truly an amazing dive, and I would love to do it again.
Want to know what we did in North Carolina during the day? Read Bryn’s blog on our coral work: http://scubanautsintl.org/coral-restoration-arbescula/