Puffer fish are known for their 'personalities' and this blowfish certainly had an inquisitive and friendly demeanour.
Scuba diving at night time, or in limited visibility, sharpens a divers’ attention to the basic safety issues.
Buoyancy control, direction and water entries and exits generally become more difficult under darkness.
Many students ask me if they will see much when they go diving at night.
Strangely, in some ways their focus is aimed at the end of the light beam from the torch and tends to limit their ‘vision’ to a small area instead of the ‘big blue’.
One of my favorite night dives was in the warm clear waters’ of the Andaman Sea. The sun had set early and our dive group entered the site a few hours later.
The best time for night diving is usually around midnight, when the real critters come to feed such as lobsters, morays and crabs. However, this was an organized recreational sun set dive trip for tourists.
I led the group in shallow water, around ten meters. As we slowly glided above the sand towards a crop of stag horn coral, I spotted a fairly small seal faced Puffer Fish at the edge of the reef.
I avoided shining the light into the fishes’ eyes, but it was clearly not scared by my presence. I have known puffers to be quite inquisitive and friendly towards divers, but during daytime diving this is usually a short-lived experience.
My group watched me as I rested on the sand and allowed the Puffer Fish to choose whether to swim away or to get to know us a little better. To my surprise, it came closer and appeared unhurried and relaxed.
I stretched out my hand to see how it would react and could hardly believe it when the puffer actually sat on my hand almost as if it would have been happy to sleep there.
Nearby, I saw a moray eel swimming through the sand and this caught the attention of our group so we decided to investigate it. We swam away from the reef searching for the large moray but it was much faster than us and seemed very hungry – in search of prey.
We regrouped around the flashlight and checked our air pressure only to find that there was an extra member in the group. The puffer fish had followed us and hovered around our divers almost like a lonely puppy.
I have never seen such affection from a fish that clearly was happy to be in the company of scuba fanatics on a night dive.
Article Submitted 2003 by Scuba Steve