Night diving with tarpon

Night Diving with Giant Tarpon

Night diving is an adventure that very few life adventures surpass. It is a unique experience and very rarely the same experience, twice.  At night, you have the opportunity to see critters you wouldn’t normally see in the daytime. Some fish and underwater creatures go to bed while the night shift takes over and the ocean once again, comes alive.  

Night Diving

On my night dives, I have had the pleasure of seeing a spawning Sea Cucumber, which to my great disappointment, was being recorded steadily with the camera switch in the off position. Only later did I realize what an amazing opportunity this was to see, and how unfortunate it was to miss on film. So I have had the pleasure of taking in other fascinating experiences such as walking Lobsters, Slipper Lobsters, Squid and Cuttlefish as well as very unique things, such as an Octopus sucking onto the face and mask of a fellow diver.

I typically swim along looking for Octopus, Lobster, Sea Cucumbers, Sea Urchins and other things that are pretty common to see. Most dives have brought me past Soapfish, Spotted Eels, Parrotfish inside of their bubbles among other fascinating creatures that can be found on most any night dive in the beautiful Caribbean sea. I have yet to be let down by a night dive.

Tarpon: Love at First Sight

I spotted my first Tarpon in board daylight through a halocline in a cavern off the coast of Mexico. The marine park harbored this monster of a fish inside of a small cavern where the salt water met the fresh water pouring in from the limestone ceiling.  When my light hit the Tarpon, it shone like a headlight on a floating chrome car bumper. Here he was, this giant silver fish with scales that could be seen even through the blurry line between fresh and salt water. Once I punched through the halocline and back into the salt water, the fish was quite visible in the crystal clear water, and absolutely awe-inspiring.

Fast forward a few years later where I had the opportunity to night dive with Tarpon in Belize. Hol Chan Marine Park offered a variety of critters that could be seen at night, and Tarpon were among my favorites. Their sheer size is one thing, but to see and hear them feed at night was phenomenal. These giant car-bumper sized silver creatures darted through the water with ease, turning sideways to feed. I felt the sea worms bouncing off my hands and fingers as fish darted every which way to find their next meal.  The fish suddenly cleared as the Tarpon came beside me sideways to gulp its next meal.  The shiny scales flashed in my light and disappeared into the darkness, followed by unmistakable thump of a Tarpons giant gulp.

Fast forward nearly ten years and here I am again on my first dive in Bonaire, exploring the territory to see what is available.  Once again, broad daylight, a monster tarpon has decided to scope out his own territory and enjoy the next visitors to his area.  The fish, still as can be stares, but stays almost motionless. I look up just at the time he gulps once again.  I am astonished at the ability this fish has to move its lower jaw down and forward to consume a meal.  It seems unnatural.

Night diving in Bonaire provides some of the best Tarpon diving I’ve ever been able to do.  They are literally everywhere.  Shallow dives, close to shore, in fairly clear water offer Tarpon sightings that make night diving fantastic.  These fish hunt in our lights and swim along with you, nearly the size of you, and don’t seem to mind the nuisance you offer as long as your light provides their next meal. Like cleaning stations on Groupers, this mutually beneficial relationship brings joy to both parties.

Enjoy the Night Diving with Tarpon video below and if you have never tried a night dive, check it out.  The tarpon are waiting for you!