I wish I had the words, a talent for poetry, then perhaps I could find a way to convey the exquisite delight of this evening's outing...
It involved me being out on a moonless night.
Under about 15m (50ft) of nice warm water (27ºC ~ 80ºF).
The only light, that which shone from our torches.
8 beams of light illuminating a swath of seagrasses, then darkness.
Shining under a rock, looking for life, and finding it!
An octopus halfway out of its den, can't quite decide whether to venture forward to hunt, or retreat from the intrusive lights.
The filament arms of a Bonellia inch across a rockface, searching for food.
The vast armies of sea cucumbers slowly make their way across the seabed, or a rockface, filtering their supper.
A brittlestar lets itself fall to the ground from a rock, then starts climbing up another.
A few fish can be spotted here and there under the overhanging rocks, trying to sleep.
Others do so by resting on top of the rocks.
Squeal of delight upon seeing a squishy, blotchy purple Aplysia, a sea hare! Rhinophores aimed forward, moving around as if searching. And next to it two others! More cross the paths of our lights over the next 40 minutes, about a dozen in total. 2-3 the size of my hand, the others up to 30cm (1ft)! Two caught in a compromising position (they're lucky I don't have the equipment for nighttime photography!). One elegantly swimming in the water column. A couple more moving slowly along over the rocks, grazing on the seaweed.
And then finally another little octopus, but this one out wandering on the top of a huge boulder. Tentacles spreading forward, then contracting to bring the body closer in. Shying away from the light, but there's no place to hide.
And then it's time to head back up to the surface, slowly yet surely.
A safety stop at 5m, holding on the anchor line, with the itty-bitty zooplankton flicking by in the water column, so dense it's as if your hand were in a mini-shrimpy soup!
We clear the water's calm surface, and the stars fill the heavens above.
And now it's time for bed.