Why go night diving?
Night diving is one the best ways for a diver to experience some of their favorite Sharm dive sites in a whole new
light (if you’ll excuse the pun) with the chance to see strange and wonderful creatures that they rarely, if ever, get the chance to see in daylight.
There is also the adrenaline rush of venturing in to the unknown for those making their first night dive. A site that someone knows like the back of their hand in the day becomes a completely different place once the sun goes down.
The colours of the reef are so much more vibrant (admittedly with the aid of a torch) and, as Whodini sung, the freaks really do come out at night.
Creatures of the Night One of the most common reef animals a diver in Sharm will encounter are the echinoderms, such as Crinoids, Brittle Stars, Sea Stars (including the fearsome Crown-of- Thorns), Sea Cucumbers & Sea Urchins.
A diver is also likely to see numerous crustaceans, the most common being the shrimps (including the Banded Boxer shrimps, Green-eyed shrimp and Durban Dancing shrimp), crabs (such as the Splendid Spooner crab, Spider crab and the not as easy to spot spider crabs) and lobsters.
You have the chance to see Cephalopods (octopus, cuttlefish and squids) hunting in the open and performing the most amazing instantaneous colour changes.
Another thing a night diver will notice are the coral polyps, the tiny creatures responsible for building the reefs that we take such great delight in exploring.
Most polyps are nocturnal, staying inside their hard limestone exoskeletons during the day and then extending
their tentacles to feed at night.
Probably the most popular sought night creature is the bright red Spanish Dancer, a primarily nocturnal mollusc that swims with an undulating motion (usually when disturbed).
The animal was given the common name “Spanish dancer” because the whirling swimming movement, and the red
color of the mantle, are reminiscent of the skirt movements of a flamenco dancer. Other types of common molluscs include cone shells, sea slugs, nudibranchs (probably the most common being the African & Pyjama chromodorids), and the rather unfortunately named Wart Slugs.
One of the most spectacular sights on a night dive in the sea is to witness the hundreds of tiny star-like bioluminescent plankton scintillating like a starry sky as you move through the dark water.
During a night dive, shield your torch (i.e. place the torch light against your body to block the beam) and wave your hands through the water in front of you, you’ll be mesmerized by the tiny glowing specs of plankton.
Not all creatures you encounter on a night dive are purely nocturnal. One of the most common encounters during a night dive around Sharm is with the Common Lionfish (Pterois miles), and are often attracted by divers‘ lights which distract their prey.
Another type of fish that you’ll likely encounter at night that you’ll probably have seen in the day are the moray eels (in particular Giant Morays), which mostly hunt at night Types of night diving Night dives can be made from the shore or from a boat, exactly the same as you would for a day dive.
Both types have their advantages and their disadvantages, just the same as shore diving or boat diving does in the daylight. Shore diving is relatively easy for a dive center to organize for you; a night dive from a boat generally requires a greater amount of organization and is usually more expensive.
You’ll find often when shore diving that the dive group is relatively small (a great advantage for a night dive); most dive centers will have a required minimum number of divers to make a boat dive at night, meaning you can be in the water with several groups all at once.
The main disadvantage for making a night dive from the shore is the limitation of available dive sites.
Recommended Night Dives Around Sharm Shark’s Bay – a perfect place for night diving from the shore, offering easy
access and a comfortable area for setting up your equipment with numerous cafes offering food and beverages while
you wait for the sun to disappear. The site is ideal for beginners or experienced divers.
You may find here many gastropods (snails and slugs), echinoderms, lionfish, cuttlefish and squid. Ras Umm Sid – a very interesting location for a night dive, which can be made as either a shore dive (via El-Fanar beach) or as a boat dive. The site has a very rich reef, including a gorgeous gorgonian forest, with the chance to see many molluscs, crustaceans, and echinoderms.
A word of warning though, the site can be subjected to very strong currents and shouldn’t be attempted by the inexperienced.
Temple – offers an excellent boat night dive for beginners and experienced divers alike, boasting a landscape rich in hard and soft corals.
The actual dive site is very easy to navigate on but divers should take a compass with them to locate their boat easily at the end of the dive. Ras Katy – another excellent site, for all levels of divers, to make a boat night dive. Caution
must be exercised here though as there can be a rather strong local current that, should you venture too close to the corner of Katy, can push you to the Temple dive site. Before making a night dive, there are some points you should
• Choose a dive site you are familiar with or, at the least, have had the chance to dive or snorkel on in the daytime.
• Only dive if conditions are good, and the water is relatively calm.
• Prepare your equipment in daylight hours when possible.
• Try to eat something, especially if you’ve already been diving the same time.
Remember though that diving involves exercise, and to allow for at least an hour after eating before starting the dive.
• If possible, dive with familiar buddies, people you feel comfortable with in the water.
• It’s best to bring a non-diver as a surface marshal and in case there is a problem.
This list is in no way meant to be conclusive and, if you’ve not made a night dive before, full training from a recognised diver training agency is recommended.
Enjoy the night!