Black Water Adventures

With the return of everyone's favorite dive boat Delfin III (the amazing chronicles here) we are able to continue our evening adventures when she takes on her alter-ego persona as "Delfin III, Mistress of the Black Water".

Depths around West End, Roatan

With just a bit less than 20 Black Water expeditions under our collective weight belts, we are starting to gain expertise as well as some insight into this new and unfamiliar type of diving. To review; Black Water diving takes place in the open ocean between about 8 and 11 PM (yes, it's dark) in water deep enough to stack a half-a-dozen New York skyscrapers in. The divers are attached to the boat via anchor lines with lanyards, and are suspended in the pelagic water column. The goal is to witness, experience, and if lucky photograph the participants of the nightly Diel Migration. This migration is the largest animal migration on the planet (in gross tonnage), and it occurs nightly with the zooplankton and other organisms of the deep coming to the surface waters to feed.

Photo - Mickey Charteris - Caribbean Reef Life 

Larval Lobster with captured Siphonophores.

 

 

Roatan is especially well suited for this type of diving because the seas to the north, bordering the island are quite deep. The expeditions take place on the North side of the island on the edge of the 25,000' deep Cayman Trench where currents running from east to west carry the most bizarre of species out of the trench, and into our diving grounds.

The Cayman Trench and Roatan - Click image to enlarge.

 

This type of diving is fairly new to the scuba community. So far we at West End Divers are the only ones offering this experience in the area. The worlds largest online dive magazine; " Dive Magazine " from the U.K. recently profiled the top 5 places in the world to go Black Water Diving, and we made the list! (Article here).

 

Sea Elephant - photo: Mickey Charteris

With the top thirty feet of the ocean becoming a soup of zooplankton and organisms feeding, and being fed upon this is a visual show that borders on overwhelming for anyone. However these dives have proven to be especially enticing  and challenging to underwater photographers.

Underwater photographic subjects normally have a background and are associated with the ocean bottom, where we usually dive, or if in the water column are large like rays, and sharks. 

This is not the case when it comes to Black Water photography. Here the background is black, and the subject matter which is coming at you in the current is small, usually translucent and your opportunity to capture an image may be very brief. 

For those of you considering Blackwater diving (and who wouldn't?) and photography, we have some tips and tricks from Mickey Charteris, one of Roatan's most experienced  Black Water photographers.

To see the strangeness that has been witnessed in these Black Water dives, please peruse our Black Water Gallery where we proudly display amazing photos taken by our guests, friends, and staff.

They're creepy and they're kooky, Mysterious and spooky, They're altogether ooky, 
- Vic Mizzy - "The Addams Family"