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

Why I Became a Divemaster

Carrying the last tank up the beach from the long tail I pause on the beach at the back of Master Divers. Soaked from head to toe in the tropical sweats and I realize I have been wet pretty much all day. Scuba Review in the morning, guiding divers this afternoon and wrapping up the last few tasks of the day, and although wet, still looking forward to my shower…

Big Oksm

Behind me I can tell by the amount people rushing for their cameras on the beach it is a gorgeous sunset, gently warming the world around for the last time today. In front of me the beaming faces of my customers tell the story of an awesome day had, already the majority of them are writing in their logbooks. Likewise the smiling faces of my teammates, tell the story of another great day in the office. Everyone around me is royally stoked, stoked on diving and stoked on life, the vibe in here this afternoon is typical, but still captivating every time. It is great after essentially quite a short time of being on this small island to have that feeling of being home.

Wilco pats me on the back as an expression of his gratitude and reminds me not to be in too early the next day as it is a little quieter. Can this actually be a profession? A career? On the outside a dive loving, frisbee throwing, surf hunting beach rat, but with an internal sense of pride and satisfaction as it is entirely our love for what we do that makes it appear this easy. Putting the tank amongst the others ready for filling I am reminded, yes, yes we do call this work.

Me looking over coral nursery

Where I come from (UK) and from some life experience behind a desk, it became apparent that the vast majority of us spend a large proportion of our lives trying to create a comfortable work/life balance, and then normally just as we find it we are made to retire.

As anyone here will tell you it’s never too late.

I too set out on that path, but my love of the sea, nature and my passion for making people smile was just not being fulfilled, In a suit in a cube. So I had to change my environment.

After some time traveling in the world, surfing my butt off in Oz, and volunteering in conservation/research diving with Marine Conservation Cambodia I ended up in Thailand. To put it more appropriately stuck in Thailand. Not stuck through any financial, visa related or smuggling issues gladly, just stuck on the place. Stuck because of the beautiful culture, stuck because of the food, the fun, the lifestyle. Hooked on the diving.

When in Thailand and diving, at some point you will travel to Koh Tao. A globally renowned diving site location in itself, Koh Tao is entirely surrounded by a variety of beautiful reefs and abundance of cool fishy critters and wrecks to hang out with and inevitably work with as colleagues.

Through my conservation work in Cambodia and having started diving very regularly my heart was telling me to just do it. To give it a go, I was free from criticism and skepticism perhaps the prejudices from the western world about the lifestyle choice, to become a professional diver. It is addictive, how can it not be, every dive another trip to the zen like garden of our underwater world. Spending time in the other 70% of our planet’s surface, that maybe less than 3% of the entire population will ever see. I wanted to show people what else there is to see on the 3rd rock from the sun, and revel in each individuals reaction. I wanted to be a dive master without hesitation.

 

 

 

 

 

This is the first of 6 posts which I have written about being a Dive Master, starting from why I became one and including how to choose the dive center at which to take your course, what to expect, how to expand your knowledge and finally what its like to work as a dive master.  Check back to get the next installment…

 

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