by Dan DeBartolo
(Stamford, CT USA)
I stepped out into the black void and was met with a feeling of falling. I am aware of my own breaths as the compressed air from the 80cf tank which is hung on my back gives up its life saving mixture into my lungs. Still I have a falling sensation.
My view is blocked by my right hand which firmly holds my mask to my face. Falling still into the black void. I'm jolted to a stop as my body enters the water and drives down 6 feet into the darkness. The drop was about 6 feet, but seemed to take forever.
I remove my hand from my mask as air hisses into my lungs. Adjusting my light to pierce the darkness, as I feel my own heart beating against the tightness of my harness, I see a large grey shape about 3 feet right under me. A shark!
This is my 1st night dive ever! My emotions are ranging from excitement to nervousness but my focus is keen. I see 2 other sharks right under me and feel the adrenalin rush.
I'm happy . . . Very much alive. Time compresses as I transition from a vertical position to a horizontal swimming posture. This is their world, and I'm just a visitor. This is life!
The sound of other divers entering the water becomes evident, and I am aware of their lights stabbing at the darkness. We form up on the divemaster and start our dive. This is Key West, and the dive is fairly shallow.
I had been on the same reef during the day, but tonight there are new creatures out and searching for food. They seem to mostly ignore us as they swim around. Lots of sharks . . . mostly nurse. Stay calm, breath.
We swim around a corner of coral, and right in front of us is a multi armed creature. Its color is pulsating in a rhythmic pattern. This is the 1st time I've seen a squid in the wild. It doesn't move, it just hovers. One of the group gets too close and bang . . . it is gone in a blur of color and ink.
All too soon this adventure is over. We swim to the lit color marked line that will bring us back to the surface. On board the boat, I stow gear and reflect on what I just experienced. Almost too much to think about, I decide . . . wow I really like night diving. I will be out here again real soon.
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