Bioluminescence Dive

I’m sorry, but I have no pictures of the best dive I’ve done here so far. It would have been impossible.

I signed up for the Ostracod Bioluminescence dive for last night. There were five of us in the group, plus the instructor. We left Buddy about 5:45, and headed north to Oil Slick Leap. This site is set on a cliff; you can either do a giant stride off the rocks, or use the ladder and platform.

We arrived just in time for sunset, we hung out at the surface and watched the sun set, then headed into the water.

The first half of the dive was a normal night dive with lights. I’ve always loved night dives, especially here in Bonaire. Along the way, a tarpon started circling us; tarpon are big silvery battleships of fish around five feet long, and are attracted to diver’s lights (and the food they reveal).

Finally we reached the halfway point, and Lars, the instructor, had us turn off all the lights. It was magical.

I’ve seen bioluminescence before; I’ve seen what happens when you swish your hand through the water at night. As our eyes adjusted to the darkness, you could see more and more. It was like looking out of an airplane in the dark at city lights. We could see the speckles of light around each other as we moved, and we could see the ostracods, tiny little shrimp, glowing in the dark. The were hanging on to each other, forming little lines of lights. My eyes are not good enough to focus sharply on them, but it was like seeing little lines of Chinese lanterns. At one point, I saw one just to my left, and as I watched, it lengthened at the top, extending upwards another couple of minutes.

We swam on in the dark for about 10-15 magical minutes, and then we encountered another group of divers. We saw their lights in the distance, and then as they got closer, the ostracods faded from view. They may have well still been there, but it was too bright to see them. The divers passed, blinding us with their lights, and separating one of our buddy teams. We circled back, found them, then continued on in the dark. Finally we arrived back at the cliff, and turned the lights back on to find the ladder, and clambered back up, getting stung in the process by small jellyfish attracted by the light.

I’ve never seen anything like this before. On the face of it, going diving in the dark with no lights does not sound like the sanest thing I’ve ever done. And there was no way I could have captured it with my camera. But I am so glad I did it.