by Cacique Grace
Skimming over clear blue water in the setting sun, we raced towards Tunnel Rock before dark set in. After several attempts thwarted by bad weather, several students finally got the chance to go night diving. Excited chatter and worries about man-eating sharks filled the boat ride to the reef. Before we knew it, we had plopped backwards off the boat into darkness. Slowly, we made our way to the seafloor forty feet below. Swimming around the base of the reef, we watched coral polyps filter the water with tiny fingers, fish hide in crevices for the night, and stingrays dodge our bright lights. The reef at night is a completely different world than in the daytime. The purple and yellow fairy basslets and colorful parrotfish were replaced by small, translucent fish, crabs and squirrelfish that darted in front of our lights. Through the water, glowing lights from other divers pierced the darkness, illuminating tiny circles of sea fans and coral.
Following each other’s lights through a tunnel in the reef, we felt like aquanauts exploring a new world as we swam through the tight pass. On the other side, we sat in the soft sand and turned off our lights. Complete darkness engulfed us as we nervously sat. Suddenly, green sparkles danced in the bubbles of our regulators. Quickly, we all started waving our hands and fins, aggravating the tiny bioluminescents in the water. We ascended to the surface in the flashing green lights, breaking the surface and immediately bursting into laughter. On the boat ride back, we recounted how amazing the dive was as we stared up at the bright stars. When we arrived back at the boathouse, we rushed to greet the first Kayak group who had just arrived home after eight days battling the high seas.