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Most divers have experienced nights dives at least once or twice in their diving career; the apprehension and exhilaration as you prepare your gear to enter the bright and blue water is something most divers get accustomed to, but at night it takes on a black and foreboding appearance. Now imagine taking this setting away from the usual reefs we normally dive at night, to a location 8 miles/13 km offshore, stopping over a 3280 ft/1000 m of water, with no visual reference of land other than a few blinking lights in the far distance... This is Black Water diving in Palau!
The sun is just about to set as we head out of the dock. Our custom-made boat is equipped with GPS routes and locations, and a specially made device of 3 steel bars, joined together by rope, with large underwater lights located at both ends of the bottom bar, attracting some of the ocean's weirdest and most wonderful creatures to rise from the depths.
As we reach our destination, this structure is deployed while secured to the boat. We leave the bars in the inky blackness below us for 30 minutes or so, and then we prepare to roll off the boat to see what awaits us!
The team of Unique Dive Expeditions is the pioneer of Black Water dives in Palau, and what they've witnessed are truly remarkable. From post-larval fish of many different species to cephalopods, jellyfish and crustaceans, most of the pelagic creatures that arise from the depth are smaller than the smallest coin in your pocket!
In the blink of an eye, the 80 minutes (our maximum dive time) is up, and we return to the boat, counting the days until the next adventure into the darkness awaiting below.
Due to the nature of these dives, divers are required to meet the following requirements: with a maximum of four participants, all divers must have prior night diving experience and have at least 50 logged dives. Wetsuit is required (yes, we dislike it as well!) to avoid the some creatures' sting--usually the jellyfish--which are hard to spot and avoid.
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