Night Diving Deserves a Quiet Night

August 2, 2018

therealianfoster

The other night, at 2am, I found myself at the bottom of the ocean, sucking up rocks. I am a dredger, diving for gold, and this is what I do for money. I've always wished that the little things that happen as a dredger were things I could share with everyone. There are certain aspects of oceanic nature that continue to inspire me with curiosity and wonder. This night was no exception.

I've seen swarms of little jelly-fish all around me, like being in a dandelion storm. I've seen fish come right up to me and nibble on my fingers- or have staring contests with me. I've found 2 nuggets, just sitting out in the open, fully exposed. I've seen water-current stratification where it looked like 2 feet of the water had oil in it. And night diving is creepy, but I have a fascination with it. Fish swim fleetingly in and out of the glow of my dive-light, making weird shadows and peripheral movement that makes me constantly look up, until I accept the fact that if it really WERE something that could eat me, seeing it before it strikes really isn't going to help me- so I continue dredging and disregard the movement. I've seen sunrises and sunsets from underwater- some in the same night. I've logged 50 hours underwater in a week before, and felt like the land was constantly moving under my feet once I got back onshore. I love my job, and I love the little, beautiful things nature has to offer.

This night, something I'd heard about, but hadn't ever seen in Alaska, happened. My dive-light, when it goes out, it goes out quickly. It will dim, and be out in less than 10 seconds. I noticed it getting dim, realized it, and before I had time to do more than turn around the light went out. And then, something happened. It was pitch black all around me. I knew the general direction of the boat, but visibility was poor that night and I couldn't see my work-lights shining from the boat to help orient me. My eyes adjusted quickly, and then Shazaam!! There was an explosion of light and glittery color, all around me. It startled me, but I quickly realized I was in a phosphorescent kaleidoscope. I'd kayaked on a phosphorescent pool in Puerto Rico, which was amazing, but we were only allowed to touch it. Now I was a part of it. My hand movements elicited a glittery glow with every swipe through the water. My feet sparkled at ever foot fall. My foot bumped the hose, and traced it back to the nozzle. The rocks, sand and water movement going up the nozzle made it glow like a shimmering light ring. This was amazing. If my light hadn't gone out, I never would have seen it. I turned and followed the hose back to the boat to get batteries. I still had to work on my paycheck after all.

When I surfaced, the northern lights were shining a dull halo over Nome. Not the most impressive display, but I feel lucky to have seen them so much that now I'm a bit of a Northern Lights snob. What a lucky man I am, to have all these incredible experiences happening, all at once.

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Alaska