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
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
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
Of course, the sea 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