Dive Acronyms – Getting Down With the Lingo!

 

The world of SCUBA is full of abbreviations and acronyms, and it can sometimes be difficult for new divers to remember everything. Like any new sport or passion, the knowledge comes slowly with time as you gain more experience and take more courses – and of course through lots of repetition! Here’s a fairly comprehensive list of 45 to get you started. Do you know all of these? How many did you get correct and can you think of any extra’s that we have missed?…

As a handy guide to your current knowledge retention, we’ve developed this handy rating system:

1-10 – Nothing an Open Water Course wont fix!

11-20 – Time for a Scuba Review!

21-30 – Getting there!

31-40 – Down with the Lingo!

40-45 – Scuba Geektastic!

AAS – Alternate Air Source
ABCABS – Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Airway, Breathing, Serious Bleeding, Spinal Injury & Shock (you’ll learn to deal with all of these and more in your Emergency First Response course.
ACD – Automatic Closing Device (commonplace on higher end regulators, thus avoiding the need for a dust cap)
AED- Automated External Defibrillator (another staple in the Emergency First Response course)
AGE -Arterial Gas Embolism (learn more in your Rescue Diver course and in the Encyclopedia of Recreational Diving that comes in your Divemaster Crewpack!)
AWARE – Aquatic World Awareness, Responsibility & Education. This is PADI’s flagship environmental awareness project, with correcsponding specialties, PADI AWARE Fish Identification, and PADI AWARE Specialist.
BCD – Buoyancy Control Device/ Buoyancy Compensation Device
BWRAF – Buoyancy/BDC, Weights, Releases, Air, Final OK (the mantra of buddy checks for every certified diver)
CCR – Closed Circuit Rebreather
CESA – Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent (you learn this emergency ascent in your open water course)
CNS – Central Nervous System
CPR – Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation
DAN – Divers Alert Network
DCI – Decompression Illness
DCS – Decompression Sickness
DIN – Deutsche Industry Norm (all modern regulator fittings are either DIN or yoke valves)
DM – Divemaster
DMC Divemaster Candidate
DPV – Diver Propulsion Vehicle
DSAT – Dive Science and Technology
DSD – Discover Scuba Diving
DSO – Dive Safety Officer
DUP – Digital Underwater Photography
EANX – Enriched Air Nitrox
EFR – Emergency First Response
EMS – Emergency Medical Services
ERDPML – Electronic Recreational Dive Planner Multi Level
IDC – Instructor Development Course
IE – Instructor Exams
MSD – Master Scuba Diver
NOAA – National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association
PADI – Professional Association of Diving Instructors
PPB – Peak Performance Buoyancy (learn more in your Advanced open water course, or as a specialty in its own right)
RDP – Recreational Dive Planner
RNT – Residual Nitrogen Time
RSTC – Recreational Scuba Training Council
SAFE Diver – Safely Ascend From Every dive
SAMPLE – Signs & Symptoms, Allergies, Medication, Pre-existing medical conditions, Last meal & Events (used to track & record illness in your EFR course)
SCR – Semi Closed Rebreather
SCUBA – Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus
SORTED – Signal, Orientate, Regulator, Time, Extend & Equalise, and Descend (PADI’s 5 star descent)
SPG – Submersible Pressure Guage
SSS – Scuba Safety Services
STARS – Signal, Time, Air (release), Reach & Rotate, Swim (PADI’s 5 star ascent)
VENTID – Visual disturbances, Ears ringing, Nausea, Twitching, Irritability, Dizziness (the signs and symptoms of CNS Oxygen toxicity)

So how did you do? Are you a scuba nerd or in need of a tune up?!

Feel free to leave your scores and any you think we’ve missed in the comments section!

We have a New PADI Master Scuba Diver in the House!

Congratulations to Brian Leighton, now officially a PADI Master Scuba Diver! This PADI course gives recognition to the most dedicated, knowledgeable and well trained recreational divers. To attain this certification, students are required to complete 5 PADI specialty courses, and log 50 dives. That’s a whole lot of underwater time!

Brian started his dive addiction at Master Divers in 2014 completing his PADI Open Water and Advanced Open water with Rob. He returned in 2015 to take Emergency First Response, Enriched Air Speciality, Deep Speciality and Wreck Speciality with Tony.

Brian came back in 2016 on the PADI Rescue Diver Course, enhancing his skills to avoid emergency situations before they arise, and to manage real emergency situations should they occur.

During the course Brian managed a very impressive rescue on Dive Master Candidate Bo.

Bo, who can only be described as “a big lad”, was a tremendous asset during the training, but at 100kgs dripping wet, took a very determined effort from Brian to carry him up the dive boat ladder.

Course Director Gaz, sizing up next to Bo
Course Director Gaz, sizing up next to Bo

Brian then stayed with us to complete his Navigation and Search and Recovery specialties with JC. The Underwater Navigator Speciality was a real challenge in poor viz, but the training kicked in and Brian looked only mildly surprised to bump into the starting point after a hexagon shaped compass course.

During the Search & Recovery Speciality, Brian and JC had lots of fun with compass, lift bag and rope – the rabbit comes out of the hole, round the back of the tree, then down the hole again Brian!

On the 27th February 2016 Brian completed his 50th dive with Mike, and so joins the best of the best in recreational scuba diving as a PADI Master Scuba Diver – very well done Sir!

Final Specialty Dives of Brian's Master Scuba Diver
Final Specialty Dives of Brian’s Master Scuba Diver

 

What to look for when choosing a mask

Clear-skirted-mask

They say the golden rule in choosing a mask is to find one that makes you look cool, however important this may be it’s far more important to find one that fits correctly and is comfortable. Buying a mask is very personal, a mask that fits one person may not fit another. Here are a few hints and tips of what to look for when buying a mask.

Safety:

First and foremost it’s important to make sure that the glass used for the mask is tempered, nowadays it’s unlikely that manufacturers will be using standard glass due to health and safety regulations but it is always important to check.

Black skirt or clear skirt?

Single Lense

Black-skirted-mask

This is sometimes overlooked but this question is important; if you aren’t a fan of tunnel vision or you don’t like feeling closed in, then a clear skirt would be more beneficial as a clear skirt lets in more light. If instead you are in need of focusing on a certain subject matter, for example if you are a photographer, then a black skirted mask would be far better suited to you.

You may notice that the majority of dive professionals and regular divers have black skirted masks, this is because regular use of clear skirted masks can discolour slightly over time and show up dirt more easily.

It’s also important to make sure that the skirt is made of silicone not plastic, which some of the cheaper masks, especially snorkeling masks, are made from as silicone is more durable and will have a better seal against the skin.

Single lenses, Twin lenses or Tri-View Lenses?

Single-Lense-Black

Twin-lensed-mask

Tri-view-mask

Single lenses are great as they let a lot of light in but are unable to hold prescription lenses should you need them, whereas twin lenses are able to change the lenses to prescription if necessary. Twin lenses also have a bridge over the nose which you need to make sure doesn’t press down on your face as this can cause discomfort, especially with the added surrounding water pressure at depth. There are also Tri-View options which include cornered windows around the face. These don’t have much benefit when it comes to seeing more but they do allow more light to enter.

Buckles

More and more masks are becoming gender friendly; for example Aqualung have designed a whole range of dive equipment for women, including masks like the Linea Twilight below, which has been designed with special buckles to prevent catching long hair. So if this is an issue you have had in the past that you would like to change, then this type of mask may suit you.

Linea Twilight Mask

The Test:

You don’t even need to touch the water to check to see if a mask fits you correctly, all you need to do is flip the strap over the front of the lenses so it is out of the way, make sure all hair is out of the face (even one strand of hair could break the seal so make sure it’s all pushed back), tilt your head up to the sky and place it gently on your face with your face still in the upward facing position. Once placed, check where the skirt is on your face, is it in your hairline? If so, it may be slightly too large for your face and could leak. If not in your hairline GREAT! The next thing we need to check is for gaps, if there is someone with you ask them to have a look, especially if you are in a shop, the shop assistant will be able to help you with this, or if not ask a friend if they can see any obvious gaps. If there are no obvious gaps, take a breath in through your nose and feel if the mask fits on your face comfortably. If the mask remains suctioned to your face, this indicates there you have a tight seal! GREAT!

If you are still unsure, why not try the mask on with a regulator or snorkel in your mouth to see if the seal is still good or ask your local dive centre for more information. Ultimately your mask is what’s going to allow you to visually experience every dive site, so it’s important to find the right one for you.

Scuba Diving Etiquette; how to not put your fin in your mouth.

Everyone who is a certified diver knows there are certain do’s and don’ts in the diving world, here are a few of our favourite, above and below the water.

Bubble ring

Above the water:

Don’t be late; this may be a given but a few always turn up late and leave the rest of the boat waiting around. In some shops and resorts if you don’t turn up on time the boat will leave without you.

Master Divers

Don’t throw things over board; whether its a cigarette, piece of fruit or a plastic bag, anything thrown into the ocean is a big no no, there will be a rubbish bin on board so please put any waste into it otherwise your diving companions may decide to through you overboard!

Don’t leave your equipment all over the place; on board any diving boat each diver will have their allotted area of the boat, there is only so much space on a boat and with a lot of divers it could be a tight squeeze so it’s important to make sure you keep your area in order and don’t spread yourself all over the place! This will also keep your gear from getting lost, broken or used by accident.

Listen to the Boat Master during the Boat Briefing; they are there to make sure everyone is safe and knows where everything is placed on the boat so when they are giving a briefing or orientation of the dive boat please have the common courtesy to listen to them.

Dive-Briefing

Listen to the Dive Briefing; As above the dive briefing is there to let you and the rest of your group know what to expect, what to see and what the safety procedures are of the day. It doesn’t matter how many dives you may have or how much experience you have if you are being guided respect the dive guide and listen carefully to what they are telling you, the information they are giving is important.

 

Under the water:

Don’t touch & don’t take; this is just standard good diving practice these days, however it still occurs everywhere. We are guests in the oceans, the age old saying goes ‘take only photos and leave only bubbles’. This is also important from a safety point of view; there are some of the deadliest creatures in the ocean, going around touching things that you don’t know is a sure fire way of an accident occurring. If you need to balance yourself or steady yourself try to minimize your contact with the reef; a good tip is to waft your hand in front of the area you intend to use and then once you know the area is clear, place the tip of your finger there and that will help you balance.

Jellyfish

Don’t get in the way of other divers; be aware of other divers whether they are a part of your group or another group entirely. Be careful where your fins are and be careful not to knock in to divers in front of you or behind you. Look around and be aware of your settings. If there are photographers in your group be careful not to silt up the area the photographer is trying to capture or chase away the subject of the photograph. Again, if you are a photographer you may want other divers to go in front of you as that way you can spend more time with the subject and focus on your positioning for a little while longer.

Don’t go in front of you dive guide; your guide is there to GUIDE you around the dive site so don’t get ahead of them. They can’t look after the group if you are all going off in different directions.

Take turns; don’t always be the one to look at something first, take it in turns.2

Be a good buddy; this is a given, it doesn’t matter which diving agency you trained with each of them has some sort of buddy system in place. Remember that buddy system is in place for a reason, the majority of diving accidents occurred when ‘buddies were separated’.

With these points in mind it is important to remember diving is an exciting sport that everyone should be able to enjoy in a safe and relaxed manner!

PADI Self Reliant Diver Course

The PADI Self Reliant Diver course – so what made me decide to do this? After all, I am an instructor and dive centre manager, with not an insignificant number of dives under my belt; what else could I learn about e.g. my air consumption that I didn’t already know? As it turned out… quite a lot!

It was during a dive at Twins, one of Koh Tao’s most popular scuba diving sites, with a DM friend of mine and her Open Water certified boyfriend that the idea first came to me. My friend was, quite rightly, being the perfect buddy to her inexperienced boyfriend, and I thought “What if something happened to me right now?’ and it occurred to me that, whilst I was certainly not in any imminent danger, if I did suddenly have an equipment failure, who would be there to help me? Then I cast my mind back to when I was teaching full-time and again it struck me that as a dive professional there isn’t really anyone to look after you, should things go wrong. At that point I decided that I really did want to do this less well-known PADI course. Having done the first of the PADI Tec courses, Tec 40, a few years back, I knew from that training that you have to be prepared to end any dive and get back to the surface, no matter what the situation or the conditions, on your own. So doing the PADI Self Reliant Diver course made sense.

As soon as I got back onto the boat, I spoke to Wilco, our Tec and Self Reliant Diver instructor, and told him I wanted to do the course. “Why?” was his immediate answer; to which I carefully and knowingly responded “So I can dive alone”. Having worked with Wilco for the best part of 7 years, I knew precisely how he would react and what his next word would be: ”Wrong!” was his immediate response as I smirked cheekily at his predictability! And what Wilco said was completely correct; the premise of the Self Reliant Diver course is not so that you can simply dive alone; it is to provide you with the skills and knowledge to dive independently, whether that be leading a group of students, diving with other dive pros (let’s face it, most of us are too busy doing our own thing underwater!), or if the situation arises, diving solo, as in the case of underwater videographers and photographers. The course also makes you far more prepared as a buddy.

Wilco, Charlotte and Elaine
Wilco, Charlotte and Elaine ready for their dive!

I managed to persuade Elaine, co-owner of Master Divers, to do the course with me – which that meant double trouble for Wilco! Whilst there is no manual for the course, we still had a Knowledge Review to complete. Calculating our Surface Air Consumption (SAC) rate was the first job. Until we did the first dive, we would have to estimate it which we did at around 12L; we then had to determine, individually, how long we were going to dive for, at what depths and how long at each depth, using several formulae (don’t worry if Maths is not your strong point – they are straightforward); we then had to work out, using our estimated SAC rate, how much air we would use during the dives. What we found after the SAC rate skills (swimming as fast as we could for 1 minute at a depth of 10m and recording our start and finish pressure) was that our SAC rates were identical at 5.5L. Even Wilco was surprised at how low they were!

There are 3 dives for the course, and for the first 2 dives, you are with your instructor, as there are a number of skills that they have to assess during the dives. Having planned the dive ahead of time, we were each allocated a dive to lead. First off was the Self Buddy Check, which is exactly the same as a normal buddy check, but you are doing on yourself. As well as the required skills for the dive, we had to record our depth and pressure at 10 minute intervals and then our time and depth at specific pressures, regardless of what we were doing at the time, which may have been whilst doing a 2 minute no mask swim at 10m, switching from our back gas to our redundant air source and back, swapping from our regular masks to our spare masks, recording times and pressures in order to calculate a normal SAC rate at various depths, plus several more skills which seem a bit of a blur now; and all the time continuing to stick to the original dive plan that we had individually calculated, and making sure that we got back to the planned exit point. Those two dives that first afternoon were pretty full on, but great fun!

A few days later, we were back on the boat for the final dive of the course and our first solo fun dive! A double dive to Chumphon Pinnacle, which is located about 13km from Koh Tao,  and Elaine and I were both very excited! For the final dive of the course, we again had to plan our dives, this time using our actual SAC rates, to determine how long our air supply would last at much deeper depths. After a few adjustments – we were both somewhat over enthusiastic about how long our air would last according to the formula – we both had our individual plans! The Self Buddy Check were done, and as we agreed, we descended  down the buoy line together; once at the bottom of the buoy line I chose one direction and Elaine the opposite.

Elaine Self Reliant Diving
Elaine Self Reliant Diving

And then I was alone! Looking at my slate to re-assure myself as to the tasks I had to complete during the dive, I set off to explore on my own. All I can say is it was awesome! As I gazed out across Chumphon Pinnacle, going exactly where I wanted to go, without having to wait for my buddy or catch up with anyone, I felt completely at ease. Now I understood what all my underwater videography/photography mates were talking about! At the end of the dive, having followed my plan, the final skills to complete the course were the SMB deployment and then the 3 minute safety stop whilst breathing from the redundant air source. I had already bought myself an 85L “Spare Air”, and although I had had a short go with it on a previous fun dive, it was good to know that I didn’t run out of air on the safety stop!!

Elaine and I came up from our dives within a few minutes of each other, and were both very excited to tell each other about our first solo dives! I don’t think either of us listened to the other because we were both so busy talking at each other!  An hour later, we were ready to jump in again for our first post-course solo dives – no skills – just diving. I spent the best part of 30 minutes ambling around Chumphon Pinnacle, without seeing even the bubbles of any other divers. I have done a fair amount of dives, peering in amazement at wonderful and weird critters, riding along heart-stopping currents and hanging with mantas, dolphins and mola molas, but this was definitely up there in my top 10 dives.

So what did I learn – planning is paramount, regardless of how experienced you are as a diver; knowing your strengths, and your weaknesses, to better prepare yourself in the event of a mishap or emergency; and appreciating that no matter how long you have been diving or how experienced you are, there is always something new to learn!

A big thank you to my instructor, Wilco, and to my “non-buddy”, Elaine!! Let’s do it again!!!

 

How do you reduce your air consumption?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions.

Without a doubt your air consumption will improve proportionally to the number of dives you do. The more you dive, the more you relax, the steadier your breathing. To get there faster and improve your dive techniques there are some key areas to look at.

 

Get the most out of your dive.
Get the most out of your dive.

The first thing to do is to check you are not over weighted by doing a buoyancy check. This is best done at the end of a dive when you have the least air in your tank. This is when it’s lightest.  On the surface with all your gear on, inhale a normal breath and hold it. Next deflate all the air out of your BCD. You should float with the water at eye level. If you sink below this you have too much weight on, take a little off and try again. This test is just a guide, so once you have your best guess of weight then after a surface interval you can see how it feels to dive with.

Relax underwater and move slowly. Darting around only wastes energy, air and will scare marine life too. Remember to streamline yourself and your gear to reduce drag. Breathe slowly and steadily.

Dive, Dive Dive..
Dive, Dive Dive..

Stop using your arms. Flapping your arms wastes air and can make it difficult for you to attain neutral buoyancy.  If you are flapping your arms, ask yourself why…what are you trying to do? If it’s because you feel like you are sinking then instead breathe in and/or add a little air to your BCD. If it’s because you are trying to come down then stop all movement and exhale. If that doesn’t work come upright and deflate a little air from your BCD.

Perfect buoyancy is a key factor to reducing your air consumption. If you find it difficult to hover motionless and have to kick or flap then consider taking some extra training to really fine tune your buoyancy. The investment in this course will pay for itself in the extra time you get from each dive. It will give you more control in the water which means greater comfort and confidence in your skills as a diver.

Take all this onboard, don’t stress about it or put pressure on yourself and keep diving and you will notice your air consumption reduce steadily.

How to enter the water and descend safely with a camera.

While the entry technique will vary depending on where you are diving, the conditions and the boat you are diving from, the fundamentals stay the same.

On the whole when you dive,  it’s usual that you will have the camera passed to you once you are safely in the water. When a negative entry is required and/or when strong current is present this might not be possible. In these conditions the first thing you need to evaluate is whether it’s prudent to take your camera with you at all. If you have a small camera then it’s possible to cradle it by your belly as you backward roll or hold it high (arm stretched full length) above your head if you giant stride. Above your head is far from ideal as this means you have to choose between holding your camera, weight belt or mask. If the camera hits the water and submerges you run the risk of causing a leak from the force of the impact but clearly the most dangerous part of this whole procedure is that you could simply hit your head with your camera while jumping in. So this really shouldn’t even be considered with anything more than a small point and shoot.

Pass Carefully
Pass Carefully

So let’s assume that you are safely in the water, take your camera carefully from whomever is passing it to you as this is when mistakes happen. Once you have it, secure it to yourself. The best method is to use a stretchy lanyard and not a wrist lanyard. Having your camera around your wrist will complicate matters when you need your hands for other things, particularly in an emergency.

Look at your camera
Look at your camera

Now look at it underwater, you are checking to see if there are any streams of bubbles or water entering the housing. If it passes this test then you and your buddy can descend. While descending hold your camera so the lens or the port is facing down. There is usually extra space in the housing here so by holding it this way, if it leaks, then the water will run passed the camera and collect there, doing as little damage as possible. Watch it and check it, clear the bubbles that are stuck to the camera by fanning your hand close to the housing, so you can get some clear visibility through the housing too.

Descending is most likely when you are going to see a leak but don’t stop being vigilant during the dive. Want to know what to do if it leaks? Read here.

If you want to learn more about underwater photography, this course could be for you.

When should you refresh your scuba skills?

Each dive centre will have its different policies as to when they require divers to make a refresher course.

Where I worked in the Maldives, a full refresher was not required unless you had not dived for 2 years or more. However they insisted that every diver make a check dive off the house reef. This included performing mask clearing, reg recovery and clearing and an out of air drill before enjoying the calm still water close to the island. This dive was necessary as divers needed to have a chance to get into the water, blow the cobwebs off and check their weight before heading to a dive site which would very likely have strong current. It also gave the dive staff an opportunity to assess the divers and be able to advise them accordingly.

Be comfortable and confident.
Be comfortable and confident.

At Master Divers, we recommend that if you haven’t dived for 6 months or more then you should make a refresher. However, there is some leniency here and we do take into account the number of logged dives and the frequency of logged dives too. We also have the option of a private guide taking you to a shallow calm dive site first.

Our policy is different from that Maldivian dive centre as the centers diving process is different. At Master Divers we don’t have a house reef and shallow lagoon we can take you out on. We strongly believe that refreshing your skills is essential for not just your own safety and enjoyment, but also for divers that you are diving with and our team.

Can you remember what this bit does and how to put it together?
Can you remember what this bit does and how to put it together?

Can you imagine for a second, a diver joining your group for the days diving who had not dived in a few years. They might not remember much. They might struggle putting their gear together, not know how much weight they need, have forgotten the crucial safety checks etc.. and this is all before getting in the water! If this diver was to be your buddy it turns what should be a relaxing holiday dive into a worry.  What if they forget to check their air or can’t remember how to clear their mask? You can see why we take this seriously for every diver.

Regardless of a dive centres policy it’s crucial to your safety and that of your buddy to keep your skills up to date. When did you last practice an out of air drill? How comfortable are you to remove your mask underwater? Could you take your gear off in the case of entanglement? Can you remember how to check for proper weighting?  Most divers only practice these techniques when they learn them on their open water course, a refresher gives you the opportunity to repeat these drills which will make you a more competent and confident diver.

So please take the request to make a refresher with good grace. Look at it as a great opportunity to improve your technique and grow as a diver. Understand that we not only have your safety and enjoyment in mind but everyone else’s too which should say something about the dive centre itself!

A refresher only costs 1500B and can very easily be fitted into your first diving day.

Check out PADI Scuba Review or SSI Scuba Skills update for more info here.

Thailand Boat Diving Etiquette

On the whole, diving in Thailand is done from boats rather than from the shore so it’s good to know the etiquette as it pertains to Thai dive boats.

Take your shoes off, the boat is likely to be home for any number of the staff looking after you on your trip so it’s polite to take your shoes off.  Your shoes will often go into one basket upon embarkation so don’t forget to pick them up when you leave.

Master Divers Boat

Buddha Point is the area of the prow which is tied with colourful ribbons and this is what keeps the boat safe. This means that you certainly shouldn’t sit on it or point your feet at it, either of which could constitute a long swim for you back to shore. If you are setting off on a liveaboard trip then keep an ear out for the firecrackers which are set off from the bow too. The fire crackers scare off the bad spirits and if you see an offering of food then this is for the good spirits.

The staff and captains cabins are private areas so stay out and there maybe other areas that are out of bounds too, like the engine room, galley and other areas.

Captain P Dong
Captain P Dong

Don’t throw anything overboard even if its food  based, this should go without saying on any boat any where in the world. If the toilet on board is a marine toilet then do not use it on the dive site or you will not be making any new diving friends on this trip but also be conscious of what you put into a marine toilet. If it hasn’t passed through you then it cant go in !

In some areas in Thailand the dive boats are simply converted fishing boats and don’t have much in the way of free space so its even more important to keep your gear tidy and away. Don’t be that diver with fins in the middle of the deck for everyone to trip over.

Dry Bags start from 380B

The majority of boats have a dry area so keep it dry. For Koh Tao we recommend that divers take their gear in a dry bag to avoid any accidents.
Most importantly listen to the briefings and instruction that you are given to ensure everyone onboard has a safe and fun trip.

Ultra Violet Night Diving

How does one properly explain what UV Night Diving is all about? Technically, it’s quite simple. Go on a normal night dive except with a UV (aka black) light source instead of your normal dive light, wear a blue filter lens on top of your mask, and away you go. If you’ve been in a club, you’ll know what a UV or black light does, and the blue filter does exactly that, filters out some of the blues to help exaggerate the fluorescence. And what fluorescence there is!

The way I see it, the real goal of UV isn’t to search out the cuttle fish, octopus, funky crustaceans, or what most people might equate to a fantastic night dive. For me, the name of the game is the visual realization that our corals are in fact alive. It’s all about highlighting the living landscape that’s easily taken for granted on a daily basis. Everywhere you shine the UV light, you’ll see fluorescent greens, yellows, and maybe some reds coming back at you. It really is similar to the “Underwater Rave” description that many throw around. But it’s so much more than that!

At first, while getting comfortable with the shifted spectrum of lighting and the added lens on your face, you might tend to stay pretty far away from scenery. It definitely does take a bit to get use to. Rocks that don’t fluoresce and urchins tend to be harder to see, sneaking up on you from out of nowhere and generally being a bit of a hazard if you’re not careful (ie. buoyancy control people!). But once you get past this, that’s where the fun begins. Think of the glowing patches as living beacons, inviting you in their own visual language to come closer and investigate. And you really should! It’s only when you get right up close and personal with these fluorescent organisms that you start seeing them in a whole new light (see what I did there?). Take your run of the mill brain coral. Get up and close with one of these beauties and you might just see their feeding tentacles vividly probing and catching food. Or maybe watch a table coral spring to life in front of your eyes. Or maybe investigate the lump of a sea cucumber now fluorescing bright greens and yellows off its little horns. Or maybe just sit and stare at the glowing vegetation and see if you can work out why some parts glow and some don’t. Chances are, everything that glows is alive and signaling for a closer inspection, and probably for a reason.

It’s not often I get to see a familiar environment painted in a new light and obtain such a fantastic experience from it. It really does go to show that our underwater environment still has so much to offer. And for me at least, it’s brought about a greater respect for our living corals. If you get an opportunity to participate in a UV Night Dive, I would wholeheartedly recommend it. At the very least, you’ll get a nice light show out of it!

Cheers!
Dan Lee