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Bonaire’s Ostracod Dive, A Magical Experience

by | Aug 31, 2021 | Activities, Scuba Diving

Scuba Diving at night

Bonaire’s ostracod night dive is a unique and mesmerizing experience.

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be weightless and surrounded by thousands of glowing stars?  If you are a scuba diver and are on Bonaire at the right time, you can experience it for yourself. Ostracod night dives take place on Bonaire a few days after every full moon and are quite extraordinary!

Ostracods are tiny seed shrimps that belong to the Crustacea family and are a few millimeters in length. Once a month, like clockwork, the males put on a beautiful mating display to attract a partner in the shallows on Bonaire.

Ostracods are all about timing, so plan accordingly.

Ostracods seem to be exceptionally punctual creatures! Timing is essential when planning your ostracod night dive. Three to eight days after a full moon is when you can experience the ostracods, with the best day being day five for maximum viewing pleasure.  The magical mating show will start about 45 minutes after sunset and typically last 20 to 30 minutes. The best depth to witness the event is between 20 feet / 6 meters to 40 feet / 12 meters.

The type of dive site chosen is also an important factor. It is best to choose a dive site away from city lights. It is also highly suggested to have a recent night dive experience before your ostracod dive so you can thoroughly enjoy the show.

Grab your dive gear and head into the Caribbean Sea.

To experience the glowing lights of the ostracods, you will need to be in total darkness. Choose a dive site you are familiar with and arrive before sunset. Relax and watch the sun sink into the horizon as you set up your dive gear.

There are two methods used to see the glowing lights of the ostracods. Some divers prefer to use a dive light sparingly during the experience, while others prefer lights out. Even though darkness is needed during the ostracod night dive, each diver should always carry a dive light. A dive light is also necessary to enter and exit the water safely.

The preferred choice among many divers is to use a dive light sparingly. The person in charge of operating the dive light should sweep the light over the reef for no more than 1 to 2 seconds and then cover the light by pressing it to their wetsuit. Once the light is out, tiny vertical dots will start to light up the reef. As the light from the ostracods starts to fade, sweep the dive light over the reef again and repeat. You can easily enjoy the light show by maintaining buoyancy in place or moving along the reef. The choice is yours.

Once the light show has begun, you will be completely mesmerized by the stunning bright lights all over the reef. It’s like you are floating through space surrounded by thousands of shining stars! 

Upon exiting the dive site using your dive light, you and your buddy will be fascinated with what you just witnessed. You might even need to pinch yourself to see if it was real! After experiencing the magic of ostracods, you will always want to plan your vacations to Bonaire around the full moon.

(Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)

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Tanya Deen has been living in Bonaire since December 2016. She is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Instructor and enjoys underwater and bird photography. Tanya is the Editor-in-Chief of the Bonaire Insider tourism news blog.
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