4:45am: Arrive at Dive Shop.
5am: Customers arrive.
5:15am: We go diving!
You couldn't pay me to go dawn diving. I mean that literally...I don't need a cash motivator to get on a dive boat, watch the sunrise and feel the reef around me coming alive with the first rays of sun. There's no better way to start the day than with the calm glass of the ocean, bioluminscence sparkling on the surface, and diving in the silent reef of the early morning.
We took a 10-minute boat ride out to the point at tied up at the West End Wall buoy. Rino gathered us around for his briefing, promising to dazzle us with a magic trick: making a tiny blue animal disappear in front of our eyes. I laughed a skeptic's laugh...knowing Rino for 8 years, I should have known better, though. When he says he's going to show you something on a dive, you better believe it.
All eight divers dropped into the water silently and watched the deep blue. Last time Rino had done a dawn dive here, he had spotted a hammerhead shark. No such luck on this dive, though. We drifted past a couple of turtles and a lone parrotfish feeding below. The reef was eerily quiet.
About halfway through the dive, I noticed a blue light flashing on and off out of the corner of my eye. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a small marine creature, the underwater version of a firefly. Looking up, Rino had gathered the crowd to dazzle him with his magic show: as he pushed his two pointer fingers towards the animal, it vanished into thin air. He did this a couple of times, almost like he was playing a musical instrument - one, poof; two, poof; three, poof.
As we sauntered on, the reef around us started to come alive. Huge groups of creole wrasse flooded down the wall; pairs of parrotfish, many tattered and scarred (old dames of the reef), flew past; horse-eyed jack circled above. The reef had awoken!
So seriously, don't pay me to do these dives.