The SSI Night & Limited Visibility Course – The Magical Beauty of the Darkness
SSI Night & Limited Visibility Specialty Course
[reading time: approx. 5 mins.]
In this blog post we’ll be talking about the SSI Night & Limited Visibility Specialty Course, the reasons why you should take it, the theory facts as well as the practical exercises, the price and the duration.
The following information are from our own experience and also well-researched, but can of course change as time goes on.
The Benefits of this Certification
Did you know that most underwater beings are crepuscular or night active? For example octopus, rays, lobsters, morays and different species of barracudas or sharks. When night falls and it becomes quieter on land, some fish only begin their hunt. And that is really spectacular! Diving at night, when you’re surrounded by deep black water, is completely different and therefore so exciting. It can be very unfamiliar at first, but we’re sure you'll get used to it and then you will love it!
Another reason is of course the “Limited Visibility”-Part. It can always happen, as it once did with us for example, that the current or the waves increase sharply, kicking up sand and reducing visibility to a few metres or even just centimetres. In such cases, you need to know how to react and how to communicate with your buddy.
Crab during our Night Dive
The Theoretical Part
Of course, as with other SSI courses, you can learn the theory online in the SSI app. That’s a great opportunity to save time at your diving destination if you want to do the course on holiday. Also, you can easily learn the theory lessons yourself, as they are not as complex and mathematical as, for example, the Nitrox course.
You’ll learn, for example, that you should always take at least two lamps with you for safety reasons and turn on your main lamp before entering the water and only turn it off again at the end. Furthermore you should shine downwards with your lamp when descending and upwards when ascending to make sure that nothing is above or below you.
Further theory parts are the preparation of the dive and how to communicate with your buddy with just one hand. After all, you always have your lamp in your other hand.
Starting the Dive at Sunset
Practical Exercises during the Dives
Now we come to the practical part, which is definitely the most fun part of this course. After we've briefly discussed the theory, it's time to get into the water. And because limited visibility cannot be simulated, our two practice dives were night dives.
The first time going into a dark ocean, only bright what is illuminated by our lamps, it’s definitely a crazy feeling. After a few minutes of getting used to the “darkness” and the new feeling, we started our exercises on a sandy floor.
Three Practical Exercises
Starting with an easy one: Our instructor wanted to show us the real darkness. Therefore, and because you should never switch off the lamp completely, we all pressed our lamps against our chests and remained in total darkness for a minute. At first, it was of course very dark, but after a while our eyes have got used to it and it was pretty cool.
The second one was to simulate how to find your buddy in case your lamp turns off. For this, our instructor swam a few meters away from us while we continued to press our lamp to our chest. After a while, we both swam to our instructor one after the other and pointed out to him that our lights were no longer working.
This exercise was also easy, of course, and was intended to show that if your torch goes off, you can still easily find the buddy through his torch beam (provided you swim within range, what you always should).
The last real practice was a navigation exercise, because the correct use of a compass is even more important at night and in limited visibility. Our instructor showed us a direction and the number of fins strokes we should do. After swimming that number with the compass bearing, we should aim for a reversal course and swim back.
But since he wasn't waiting at the starting point and it looks the same everywhere on sandy ground, it was a bit tricky, but doable and definitely an important exercise.
The Fun Part of the Night Dive
After these three exercises we started our fun part of the dive. We found an octopus and a slipper lobster, discovered the dive site in darkness and deepened the communication with the new signs we’ve already learned in the theory part.
For example: The query for the remaining bar in the tank is made by tapping the light cone of the torch with 2 fingers. In the response, as in technical diving, only one hand is used. The torch is shone on the hand so that the buddy or instructor can see the answer.
To give the "ok" sign, draw a circle with your lamp. But be careful not to shine the light directly in the diver's face.
Having already completed all the exercises in our first night dive, our second night dive was purely a fun dive. And it really was! Because we already had our Deep Dive Specialty and had more time without the exercises, we could dive deeper. We saw so many creatures: Quite a lot rays, octopus, lobsters, and much more. This dive could have gone on forever! After surfacing, we were all speechless, and swam back to the exit on our backs with a view of the full moon and a beautiful starry sky.
Night Active Octopus
The Price of this SSI Specialty
As always, when it comes to price, it depends a lot on where you do the course. This is merely for classification purposes: We did the course on Malta and paid 130€ for the course itself and 60€ for the certification fee.
The Duration of the Course
The course consists of a theory part and an exam, which can be completed relatively quick online, and usually two practical (night) dives. So it is theoretically possible to complete the course within 2 days.
SSI Night & Limited Visibility Specialty Course – Yes or No?
We definitely recommend this course to every diver who wants to continue their education and discover new things.
If you have any further questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to contact us or leave a comment.
Tami and Chris