This week in Bunaken we had the unique opportunity to dive during the full solar eclipse. And, as a double treat, senior dive guide Fenly picked a rarely visited site which usually offers a good chance for larger marine life. But that’s not what happened on this magical dive…
To witness a full solar eclipse, you really have to be in the right place at the right time. Turns out, Bunaken was the place to be this week as we had a chance to see a 98% solar eclipse just before 9 am. Some of our guests opted to dive later, but a few hardy ones wanted to know what it might be like to dive when the sun disappears.
What did we expect? To be honest, we weren’t really sure. As it happened, Fenly picked Pasir Panjung, a site around the north west of Bunaken, between Tanjung Parigi and Mike’s Point for those familiar with our sites, hoping to see large marine life passing by. We were expecting sharks, tuna and keeping our fingers crossed for marlin or sailfish as these few weeks are their season around these waters. Turns out, though, that all the action happened close to the reef.
As the moon covered more and more of the sun, the angle of the sun beams coming through the water changed markedly by the minute. Looking at deeper waters, this meant pretty much darkness. All the action was shallower. The smaller reef fish all came into the reef, starting to look for places to sleep. They had officially been fooled into thinking that the sun was setting and it was becoming night.
Just as they had found hiding places for the ‘night’, the reef fish started leaving those safe spots again as it got progressively lighter. IN essence, what we got to see on this dive is what divers try to see at sunset and sunrise dives – marine life preparing for the night or getting ready for the day. For us, it was a real one-of-a-kind dive!
On the surface in the meantime, it didn’t exactly get dark. It was still day but the sun lost its shine. It also lost most of its heat and a very hot day turned almost chilly. We ‘recovered’ quickly, though, just as soon as the eclipse passed.