A night with a moray

Do you remember how exciting it was when you took a night dive for the first time? Mine was in our cold little country and an adventure I will never forget. Not because I saw such crazy things, but simply because it was so exciting, an adventure that is etched in my memory. And now I am fortunate that as a guide I can regularly take people on their first night of dive. They all think it’s very exciting, but there was one who literally cried out… hahahaha

Giant moray eal

It was sometime in May and I was on a ship in the deep south of Egypt. One of my guests, Erik, was eager to take the Advanced Open Water Diver course and we had completed the navigation and buoyancy sections and now we were getting ready for his first night dive. During the briefing from Big Gota, our dive site, I explained that underwater life behaves differently at night than during the day. Some animals just come out of the reef while others go in. Take for example the parrotfish, this fish hides in the reef during the evening and night. One of its greatest enemies is the moray eel, a barely sighted eel that hunts for smell at night. To hide from the moray, the parrotfish makes a snot bell, in which it hides. Eventually the moray eel hunts for something she smells,

Giant moray eel

After the briefing I took Erik aside to go over the plan for our dive with him. Erik said he really wanted to see that moray eel hunt and I assured him I would do my best to find one. What Erik didn’t know is that this reef really does have a lot of hunting moray eels and it would actually be a great business if he didn’t see one so I wasn’t worried. After discussing the dive together, we put on our suits, put the equipment on our backs and after a thorough buddy check we jumped into the water. First we went above water to the reef, and then descended to about seven meters. Now Big Gota has a plateau on the south at about 15-20 meters and we dove for that night on the wall above the plateau. Like so many new divers, Erik was a bit distant in the beginning and looked at the reef of about 3 meters. That’s not handy, after all, much of life at night is very small, such as shrimps and crabs. And so I started pointing out smaller and smaller things so that Erik couldn’t help but get close. He was a bit anxious because he was afraid to hit the reef so I gave him some support so he could get closer more easily. We saw the most amazing things, a porcelain cramped in a coral, shrimps eating, a Spanish dancer and much more. It was nothing short of a super dive, but so far still no moray eel. Erik started to enjoy the night dive more, so he relaxed and went exploring. Then he saw something, and I still don’t know what, but it was small and hidden in the reef. So what he did was come closer and in the process he carefully placed a few fingers on a piece of rock. In the corner of my eye I saw something move, hahaha there is only one that moves like that and Erik didn’t notice at all. The shadow slowly lurched closer and suddenly appeared right in front of Erik’s face, he was startled by the monkey nuts and I heard a scream hahaha. The moray eel was hunting and followed its nose, maintaining physical contact with the reef. Moray eels are not at all dangerous to us, although you should not corner them. And this moray eel didn’t care at all about Erik and I think he barely noticed that Erik was there. It followed a scent and swung in all directions, from the wall it found support on Erik’s hand, filled his arm and went down his neck to his back. After that a pendulum or 2 along his leg and the moray eel was back on the reef, hahahaha how beautiful to see. Erik squeezed him a bit, and I heard some squeaking noises, but yeah… I can’t blame him for that either.

Masked pufferfish

After the encounter we followed the moray eel extensively in his hunt and we saw how he found a surgeon fish, skillfully grabbed and devoured it. Look I respect that, what a beautiful show, although the thought of being eaten so easily remains a bit sinister. It was absolutely fantastic and when Erik and I surfaced he screamed with enthusiasm. Well, he said, I asked for a moray eel and you gave it to me too… look, you ask and we turn… welcome to the life of safari diving… hahahaha what a luck.

Love life… Blow bubbles… Anke