Under the lights: The gorgeous world of glow diving

Diving with specialised ultra violet dive lights at night on a coral reef in the Cayman Islands is being described as ‘the perfect dive for someone who thinks they have seen it all.’ 

The Ocean Frontiers Dive Shop in Grand Cayman is offering what they term a unique and exclusive one-tank night dive to see how coral reefs fluoresce. 

Inspired by an article in National Geographic, Stephen Broadbelt from Ocean Frontiers said he had been searching for a reliable underwater ultra violet light system for more than two years before finally finding it in January 2011. A light he thought would work came in to production by a company called Glow Dive, started by an old friend and former Cayman Divemaster, Carlos Villoch. 

Ocean Frontiers purchased the first box off the production line and has been running a sold-out ‘Glow Dive’ every Thursday night for the past few months.  

“We have had 100 per cent positive feedback, even from the most experienced divers and those who were a little sceptical about the idea”, Mr. Broadbelt said. 


Full potential 

Ocean Frontiers tested a prototype of the UV Glow Lights on a number of different sites – including a reef in Little Cayman, Iron Shore Gardens and off the wall at The Maze in East End. Impressed with the results but still feeling the Glow Lights had more to offer, they started exploring inside the East End lagoon and uncovered the full potential of diving with ultra violet lights. Their most glaring find was the fluorescence of the Sea Anemones, which blanket the lagoon reefs. 

“It’s the closest thing to the movie Avatar you will see in real life. It is like someone has hooked all the anemones and corals up to a power supply and flipped on the switch”, Mr. Broadbelt said. 

Ocean Frontiers’ dive staff and customers continue to explore the shallow lagoon reefs of East End every week looking to find what glows; Fire-worms, Lizard Fish, Anemones, Finger Corals, Star Corals and Lettuce Corals. There is much to learn about coral fluorescence, said the divemaster, with potential links to coral spawning indicators and theories that corals with more fluorescent pigments have greater resiliency to coral bleaching events. 

“The Glow Dive is becoming a signature dive trip that has become one of the most memorable night dives Ocean Frontiers customers have ever had,” Mr. Broadbelt said. 

Glow Dive 21

Cayman’s beauty is revealed by ultra-violet light.

Glow dive

Coral fluorescence as seen in Bloody Bay, Little Cayman. – Photo: Submitted