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Night diving in the Maldives

The Taj Vivanta dock at night
Sunset before my night dive

Releasing the air from my buoyancy compensator, I slowly descended into the dark abyss. The dive light created a 25-foot tunnel of clarity, beyond which my world disappeared into nothingness. Through my peripheries, I saw only black. Beneath the millions of stars in the night sky, Marcus and I swam toward the Hembadhu wreck in the house reef of the Taj Vivanta.
The curvature of the ocean floor leading into the depths revealed itself through the beam of my flashlight. An eerie feeling came over me as I continued further into this ghostly chasm.
Suddenly, I looked up and found myself within ten feet of orange tentacles and blood red formations plastered onto a giant piece of scrap metal. Life found a way to grow and thrive on human garbage.
The sound of my bubbles radiated through the calm aquatic ecosystem as they floated upward. I sank down to the bottom of the wreck at 75 feet. A giant green entity appeared in front of me. Upon closer inspection I noticed it had eyes. I was shocked by the size of the 6 and a half foot long Napoleon fish. It sat in stillness below the wreck, without flinching even to the rays of light that shone directly into its eyes.
Swimming past it, the tentacles that reached out toward me changed colors from orange to blue to red to green to multicolored. Their balletic dance with the tide kept me enthralled until I came across a long white Moray Eel. Its demonic jaws open and closed every few seconds exposing its razor sharp teeth.
The strange sights in this extraterrestrial, underwater planet continued as I frog kicked my way around the Hembadhu. Shining my light into the cabins within the wreck, I caught a glimpse of little red lights looking back at me. Out of the blue, or black in this case, it occurred to me these red lights glistened all over the deck of the ship and the cabins below. Tiny shrimp peeked out at me, some hid behind pipes, others sat bravely on the decks observing this monstrous creature headed for them.
Drifting along the wreck, I shifted the ray of light across the deck, beneath it and into the ocean beyond it. Brightly colored fish swam between plant forms spreading out from the wreck. Others nibbled on dark deformations on the body of this ship. These unattractive blobs mingled with radiant organisms throughout the wreckage. Life continued as if unaware, or more likely unhindered, by the presence of humanity.
Ascending back into the night I caught a blue light from the corner of my right eye. I placed the head of my flashlight onto my chest and all of a sudden hundreds of minuscule plankton resting on the ocean floor begun to radiate a dazzling blue glow. The minute that light touched them, they transformed into tiny white specks blending into the sand. I swam onward with the beam into my chest, guided by the trail of luminous blue breadcrumbs.
As I approached the surface, the trail vanished. I reopened the tunnel to find my way home. Just before completing the dive a foot long black and white lobster popped out from behind a rock. The final being before reaching the surface.
Throughout the journey I remained mesmerized by the life forms that flourished in obscurity. The ocean at night was a spooky, but peaceful place where the burdens of life on the surface seemed to dissipate in the darkness of the void.


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