Night and day.

Cleaner shrimp not cleaning.

20th July 2022

Kralendijk, Bonaire – Kralendijk, Bonaire via Batchelors Beach & Andrea 2, Bonaire

Any 24 period is split into equal parts day and night. Days always seem to be highly utilised with every minute accounted for and adventures happening all the time. Night is usually reserved for recovering from all those daytime adventures and then hours and hours of lovely sleep. Many of our activities have remained resolutely during daylight but we’ve also used the night for some pretty extraordinary purposes.

The usual activity of diving took place in daylight but this time there was a twist. While Fiona participated in PADI’s international women’s dive day, which Iain was outrageously excluded from*, Iain put together a splinter group of boys to go diving. In our separate gendered groups, we both saw the same and were amazed at wonders of the big and the intricacies of the small. While turtles the size of cars powered their way along the deep reef, in the shallows, just as beautiful, tiny Christmas tree coral worms fed on invisible plankton.

The other big schedule change happened out of the water. After the technical failure of internet ashore we got the inside scoop on some Wifi that would reach Ruffian. Instead of downloading during the day, updates could magically happen at night (like on normal computers that live in normal people’s homes). As night moved into day the updates happened with the slow and steady boat based approach beating the fast and furious coffee shop strategy (see previous blog).

The daytime schedule was now about to be turned upside down. After experiencing the reef at night and with the sun sinking low we decided to go for a night snorkel. Slipping into the water as night fell felt as strange as ever but now we didn’t have the support of air strapped to our backs. The torches cut through the inky blackness like light sabres illuminating fishes that were sleeping and crustations that had come out under cover of darkness. In the instant the sun went down, just like on Ruffian, the activities had totally changed.

Literally buoyed by our new confidence in the water at night there was a natural phenomenon that we had the opportunity to witness. The full moon had just passed and the Ostracods, tiny clam like molluscs, were due to give us their monthly mating show where males emit glowing ‘love juice’ in a vain attempt to attract the picky female.

After seeking advice as to where these little critters like to perform their romantic liaisons Ruffian was moved onto an appropriate dive marker and as the sun set we plunged into the water. In the last of the daylight we found our way to the bottom and simply waited, but quite what we were waiting for we didn’t know.

As each minute passed the water became darker and our tanks became emptier, but still the waiting continued. Almost as if we were seeing things, the sand under us started faintly flashing. Then the coral started erupting in small columns of light. It was like being in a field full of fireflies. Everything was alight and we were in the middle of the light show.

Getting our masks within inches of the flashes of light we could see the tiny columns they made, some snaked up toward the surface and others down towards the sands. Some spec of light sat in specs while others formed lines. All this variety just for the enjoyment of the little lady clams.

The light show wasn’t letting up but the cold of the 29 degree water was sapping our will to witness it. Far off in the distance the little glow light we’d hung off the back of Ruffian showed us the way to safety and as we swam phosphorescence’s flew from the ends of our fins. The light show wasn’t just on the bottom, it was all around us.

We had no idea what we were going to experience, but we never could have imaged the stark natural beauty that we had just seen.

After a night of sleep where our dreams were full of strange wildlife we resolved to go again and upon waking we found that we some strange wildlife had made its way on board. An earwig was wiggling in the mesh of a mosquito net and the worry was he was on the inside. If there was 1 there were probably 2 and if there were 2 then we were sure there would be many.

Having both graduated from the school of Jenga every locker is full of carefully tessellated boxes and every one of these boxes and lockers would need emptying, examining and finally cleaning. Tirelessly working armed with vinegar and a vigilant eye every surface was wiped, every box examined and every locker carefully repacked. After hours we’d not found any of the earwig’s friends, but we did find many missing spares and a whole heap of dust.

With night once again upon us the activities didn’t stop and in the fine ship ‘Sauvage’ we sought out a mooring with no natural light to check that we’d not been imagining the extraordinal natural spectacle of the previous night. Just after dusk, floating above the seabed with darkness all around, once again the floor started to sparkle and the reef lit up. The aquatic light show was in full flow but in this new location it felt like we were surrounded by tiny candles that were randomly lit, glowed intently and just as quickly as they were lit, they were extinguished.

These night activities have shown us that darkness can be used for much more than recovery and recuperation, while millions of little clams have used it for love and romance, we have revelled in this extraordinary natural phenomenon.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

1 thought on “Night and day.

  1. You guys are so brave to go out at night!! Scares the crap outta me! Would love to see those tiny lights though!! Beautiful pics!!

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