Tonga's mysterious & beautiful ocean after dark is full of strange life
The underwater world is full of animals that are strange and wonderful in comparison with those that we see on land. This scuba diver slipped into the water from the island of Vava'u in the Kingdom of Tonga, taking his lights and camera with him to show us what emerges from their hiding places after the darkness sets in.
The reefs are beautiful and appealing during daylight with their colours and picturesque beauty. The reefs are equally beautiful at night but this world and its creatures undergo an incredible transformation. This is when many animals emerge silently to hunt and explore. The delicate balance between the hunter and the hunted is complex and it can change in an instant. The cover of darkness provides the perfect means for animals to go undetected, like the octopus, one of nature's stealthiest killers. They glide through the water or slither over the ocean bottom, coordinating their eight powerful arms to find and ensnare prey, even in tight crevices. The octopus explores the rocks and coral with its tentacles while it spreads its mantle wide to capture any prey that are lucky enough to avoid the suckers on its arms. Once the octopus gets the fish its grasp, there is no chance for escape.
A stingray cruises under the diver and glides over the sand in search of tiny animals buried beneath. Their electroreceptor cells are able to detect minute electric currents from mollusks and crustaceans that hide on the ocean floor.
A porcupine fish drifts slowly over the sand and debris. They have no ability to fight or injure an animal, but they do not need such abilities to ward off attackers. Their skin and organs contain a powerful toxin that is potent enough to kill a grown man. They are also capable of inflating to many times their usual size and causing their spines to protrude. This makes it almost impossible for predators to swallow them.
A sea anemone waves its tentacles in the current, snaring small animals and immobilizing them with the venom injected by their sting. They are animals, even though they are anchored to the coral or rocks like a plant would be. A sting from a sea anemone can cause irritation, pain, and even nausea. Closed and difficult to recognize during the day, this creature extends its tentacles under the cover of darkness.
A small, but colourful lobster ventures out in the night to dine on carrion. Janitors of the ocean, they clean the rotting carcasses and vegetation from the ocean floor.
A white eel explores crevices and hiding places, relying on its sense of smell to detect prey. Capable or inflicting a nasty bite, scuba divers maintain a respectable distance from eels.
The ocean is completely different after dark. Each time a scuba diver enters the water, it is a unique adventure.