Creatures of the night

We sit huddled up on TA4, fully geared up, appreciating a beautiful sunset over Pondicherry. As the sun goes down, the sky is painted beautifully in a myriad shade of orange and yellow. We wait. The side mount divers are inching to get down into the water (with only 3 tanks between them?). Jonah gives them the green light, as they do a back roll into the the deepest shade of blue ever seen by a diver off Pondicherry and as suddenly, two beams of yellow shoot up from inside the water in to the darkening night sky.
sunset
They start to descend, while we methodically start getting into the water as well. After around 7 years of diving during the day off the coast of Pondicherry, we are finally going for a night dive! We chose Danny’s eel garden to be the dives site, because of the large number of rocks and the large number of eels which call this site as their home. We expected at least to see some shrimps and a free swimming eel.
As we went down, a strange worm like thing, roughly the length of a finger swims into the camera. That moment, we knew that this is going to a very different yet awesome kind of dive. We shine the torch over the rocks, and are greeted by tiny shiny eyes. The entire site looked like a shrimp factory. Banded shrimps, cleaner shrimps and anemone shrimps were some of them, which we were able to recognise.

As we went towards the edge of the rocks, we saw a triangular boxfish happily swimming around, until we decided that he needs to light up!! Before we had enough of this beauty, the familiar light signals of something interesting beckoned us towards a dancing purple lobster. Beside him were two lion fishes who we didn’t even bother with. As I was swimming ahead looking for more interesting creatures, my buddy yanks at my fin, and start making weird sounds and jabs his torch at something on the sea floor. It looked like the surface of a hard coral, and after 3 dives that day, I was pretty sure he was narked. Until, I saw the motion of its gills. It was a medium sized torpedo ray resting between some rocks!! Can this night get any better?
A lot of hermit crabs were also moving in and around the rocks, and some amazingly well camouflaged crabs. The red scorpion fish was definitely beaten at that game by these crabs. The stargazer snake eel was happily buried in his sand domain, but with the 10m visibility, he was easily the point of interest for almost a square meter!

Sadly with night dives, as we have already done 3 dives, the NDL is very low, and we had to ascend after around 40 minutes. This site demanded of us to stay for at least another half an hour. But hey, safety first!! Whatever expectation we had before we went down, can not even start to prepare us for the quality of the dive we had. If Pondicherry was not a world class dive destination with the awesome Wall dives and the beautiful artificial reef, this night dive will definitely make it one.

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