The reef certainly does not sleep at night in Bunaken, though many of its residents do of course. Whilst the parrot fish and triggerfish find nooks and crannies to wedge themselves for a night’s rest a horde of other critters vacate their hiding places and swarm over the reef.
I have never been a huge fan of night dives, but persuaded by Robyn; who then had to agree to do the dives as tech dives I have ventured out the past couple of nights and been pleasantly amazed. We chose calm sites with not much current to suit the deep portion of our profiles, where other than a very startled stingray which went for my light we didn’t see much special; but maybe that little bit of nark made everything seem so much more vivid in the shallows.
As well as the myriad shrimps that I expected to see all out hunting, we had lobsters foraging, prawns that we never see during the day; on the reef and free swimming. Frogfish out for a jolly, little cuttlefish, huge nudibranches, crawling crinoids; but what really caught our attention were the basket stars.
Not the ones we see by day rooted in the sand: massive networks of feeders, unfurling and collecting passing nutrients. The entire reef was covered in them like giant lace curtains- I have no idea where they hide during the day but they were quite obviously capable of moving. You had to be careful getting too close in case they reached out and grabbed you! Inside these basket stars also were a range of shrimps that we do not see during the day, and Robyn is having a hard time identifying them from the books.
All in all, well worth putting off that first beer for an hour or two, especially when done deep as you get more of a buzz anyway!