Blackwater Diving – Diving Into The Pitch Black
If you're feeling bored by the usual dives and are looking for something exceptional, head to Palau. With a little luck, you can experience a variety of different types of dives at the Rock Islands here.
The oval reef of Rock Islands covers 100,200 hectares. There are 445 large and small mushroom-shaped islands, with 52 marine lakes (isolated bodies of seawater separated from the ocean by land barriers). Within these lakes are marine creatures, some of which exist nowhere else in the world.
Perhaps the most well-known marine lakes is Jellyfish Lake, located on the Eil Malk island. Divers come here to snorkel (not dive) amongst the hundreds of thousands of jellyfish of the genus Mastigias papua.
The popular dive site, Blue Corner, is only 20 minutes by boat from Jellyfish Lake. Perhaps the most famous dive site in the world, it does pose some challenges for novice divers. Nevertheless, it never fails to delight and is always an unforgettable place to dive with its extensive variety of marine life.
In the middle of the night, the boat sets off, bringing a group of no more than six divers to the edge of the Rock Islands. They reach their destination swiftly, as the boat just needs to be far away from any ambient light. So, there are no house lights, or headlights... just the blackness all around.
The blackness even extends into the waters below. It is at this point that the boat comes to a stop. Here, the sea is about 1,000 feet deep. At a depth of about 12 metres, a crossbar with strong lamps is mounted under the boat. The light that is emitted is focussed on just a very limited area of the sea. The majority of the surroundings, including the divers, remain in the dark.
Although being so much in the dark can be scary, what happens next is pretty spooky (to say the least). The light beam is quickly filled with many small, oddly-shaped creatures which look as if they are some alien life forms. These are actually curious young reef fish that look very different from their parents, as they are still juveniles.
Drifting through the light beam, these fluorescent invertebrate organisms swim silently across. Until recently, we had no idea of their existence. Of course, the lake doesn't just contain these tiny organisms. Every once in a while, a dark shadow would glide pass in your peripheral vision, so that you can't quite tell the species or size – just that it was big. Very big!
Paul Collins (Unique Dive Expeditions) suspected that the dark shadows might have been tiger sharks coming from the depths and observing the action from the 'sidelines'. He had noticed the shadows some time ago, and had made several dives to seek them out, but to no avail. Nothing unpleasant has happened and so such black water dives are now one of the attractions not just only at Palau, but also here at the Rock Islands.
Additional Information: Sams Tours Palau