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Red Sea Life
Achaeus spinosus - Soft Coral Spider Crab
Dardanus tinctor - Red Sea anemone hermit crab
Etisus splendidus-Splendid Spooner Crab Hexabranchus sanguineus-Spanish Dancer
Other methods are better seen
From dusk ‘til dawn
from under the water. Some species
merely hide in a convenient crevice
or hole, whilst others have developed
Experienced dive guide Chris Gooda dons his suit and explores the fascinating, nightlife of the Red Sea
unique tactics to make it through
that is a world away from all the bars and clubs on land.
the night. Members of the parrotfish
family are well known for producing
a clear mucus cocoon inside which they shelter for the night, before
The night dive is probably one of the activities that most divides
consuming it the next morning. The cocoon is thought to have
the diving community. For some, standing on the diving platform
healing properties for the parrotfish and stops its scent attracting
contemplating jumping into the uninviting black water is a terrifying
predators as well as providing an early warning system if attacked.
prospect. For others it is merely a distraction keeping them from a
well earned beer. What cannot be denied is that night dives offer a
Other fish rely on camouflage for protection. During the day, yellow
brief glimpse into an entirely different marine environment from that
fin goatfish (Mulloidichthys vanicolensis) are a distinctive white
which can be experienced during the day.
and yellow and can often be seen schooling in mid-water. By night
the fish hide on the bottom, turning themselves a mottled red and
As soon as the sun creeps below the horizon the entire landscape
grey to better blend in. Many creatures that are active at night are
of the underwater world begins to change. Once the light begins
also red, this is because it requires less pigment (and therefore less
to fade the speed hunters become the rulers of the reef; with their
energy) to be coloured red than black. The combination of the limited
excellent vision the jacks and trevallies are perfectly adapted to dart
moonlight and colour absorption of the water ensures that no red
through the water and catch unsuspecting smaller fish that, with the
light can penetrate even the shallows, rendering red fish apparently
reduced vision that dusk brings, no longer have the awareness to
black.
escape.
This gives rise to one of the most popular night dive sights.
There are several different techniques used by the diurnal creatures
Nicknamed for its swirling locomotion, the Spanish dancer
to survive the perilous hours of darkness. Schooling is undoubtedly
(Hexabranchus sanguineus) is a giant blood-red nudibranch regularly
one of the most spectacular; tens, even hundreds of thousands of
seen at lengths of 40cm. It hides inside the reef by day but can be
tiny fish use a simple behavioural algorithm to remain together in an
seen in its full glory at night.
intricate organic pattern which can often be clearly seen in the boat
floodlights.
4 www.cdws.travel
Issue 4 January - February ‘10
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