Night Diving at the Hol Chan Cut

A sleeping parrotfish.

About two hours after sunset, I quickly entered the dark sea and slowly descended into a sandy depression. My eyes quickly adjusted to the pale moonlight to reveal a whole new underwater world. Swarms of bioluminescent shrimp-like creatures lit up the sea with flashes of green light. Familiar coral heads took on a fuzzy appearance as their flower-like polyps extended fully to capture the microscopic animals and plants in the water.

Hogfish are colorful subjects.

Sea urchins, which remain half-hidden during the day, came to life to forage in the magic of night. Many of the fishes active during the day sought refuge in the nooks and crannies of the reef.

A Banded Coral Shrimp is captured on film.
My flashlight beam illuminated several parrotfish and they snoozed like mummies in freshly spun mucus cocoons. Meanwhile, there was a changing of the guard as dark red squirrelfish and big- eye copper sweepers emerged from their daytime lairs.

Moray and conger eels, which kept their distance earlier in the light of day, now slithered about coral cracks and crevices in search of a meal.

Coral come alive at night, ready to feast on blood worms.
A different kind of night life!

Belize has fantastic dive sites; there is no question about it. Ambergris Caye visitors and locals alike love the glorious sites found underwater, the colors, the life, a wonderful world. However, each site that you visit during the day will become completely different and new by the light of the moon.

Experienced divers know that when embarking in the night adventure, your site has to be one that you are thoroughly familiar with. So for this great escapade what better place than Hol Chan Marine Reserve. On a night dive, even your local dive site takes on a new personality at night, as many underwater creatures and plant life (different from those you see during the day) become active.

At night, lobsters crawl from their holes as they migrate in the darkness.
If you have never been on a night dive, you have no idea of the underwater magic you are missing. The true colors of the reef come alive at night under the diverís light. Many of the creatures that hide by day now roam across the reef, while the daytime critters snooze peacefully under ledges and in holes. Night diving is a way to add new excitement to a familiar area only dove in daytime before. Under a full moon on a calm night, divers can turn off their light and still see amazing things. Just waving your hand in front of you excites microscopic animals in the water which turn luminescent for a brief moment, like Tinker Bell waving her magic wand.

Watch conch crawl on the sandy bottom!
At night, lobster crawl from their holes as they migrate in the darkness. At night, grouper and parrotfish hide in holes and under ledges in slumber, where they can be approached and observed or photographed very closely and with ease. On this particular night, we get the opportunity to feed the coral and watch moray eels scatter through the coral as the follow us. Night diving opens the underwater world to you all over again, in a whole new way.

Look out for the little pinchers!

Night diving gives divers a new look at the underwater world!

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