Every summer trip, SCUBAnauts tries to put together at least one night dive.
This typically consists of two dives, a twilight dive to see the dive site with light, and an actual night dive to see the dive sight with no light. This night dive was no different. At 7:15 pm we splashed into the turquoise waters with the reef filled with life ahead of us. We saw everything from the tiny black, white, and yellow striped flashes of sergeant majors to the greens and yellows of a school of giant queen parrotfish. We even had a surprise visit from a juvenile goliath grouper. It was a blast, but there was one major problem.
The current was pretty bad. A bad current can be hard to dive in during the day, but at night it is even worse of a problem. This put a lot of people on edge, especially the adult leaders, since they are responsible for the safety of the nauts.
Everyone who dives with SCUBAnauts knows that they can back out of whatever dive they want if they do not feel comfortable with the conditions or how they are feeling, but the adult leaders reminded us anyways to make sure. They then went on and told us how we would perform the dive. We were told that we had to jump in and as soon as our dive group was all in the water, we would go down. We then had to follow our dive lead in a line of buddy pairs. Fortunately for me, my buddy and I got to be the first buddy group behind our dive lead, so we got to see everything before it was scared away.
A Night and Day Difference. Literally.
At night, the dive site was like a completely different world. Instead of the turquoise color it was earlier, the water was an inky black. If one shined their light one way, and looked the other way, they would not be able to see anything. As we were swimming and shining our lights around, we saw many cool things. We saw sleeping parrotfish that created a gel around themselves, so they could sleep, and we also saw plenty of moray eels.
All of a sudden, we heard an excited squeal from our dive lead and she turned around, signaling to tell us what was happening. As she did so, the specimen of her excitement presented itself out of the darkness. It was a giant loggerhead sea turtle. I have personally seen three loggerheads on dives before, but never before had I seen one swimming. Most of the time they are just laying in the reef hanging out. This one swam ever so gracefully through that sharp current, until all we could see was a faint outline of it. That alone made my dive trip.
As we came up we had to immediately find the tagline, so the current would not carry us away from the boat. Eventually, we were able to make our way up the tag line and up the ladder and we were all safe and sound. This was truly one night dive I will never forget.
— Logan M., Naut-in-Training, Sarasota Chapter