As nightfall comes and the darkness slowly creeps in, nocturnal creatures awake from their slumber to come out, play and hunt. For millions of years, these nighttime marine animals evolved to take advantage of the gloom.Curious to know which ones are the kings of the night? Here are some of the marine animals that roam during the cover of the darkness.
These marine animals have a muscular, snake-like body with a long dorsal fin that runs from the head down the length of their bodies. Morays have glaring eyes and elongated snout that give them a menacing look as they pop their heads out of their holes. They also have a habit of opening and closing their mouths that show off their glistening sharp teeth. This is often mistaken as a threatening behavior but it is actually a normal way for them to force water over their gills and facilitate respiration.
You don’t normally see these nocturnal predators swimming across the reef during the day because they prefer to hide in the comfort of their nooks and crannies. When the day begins to fade, they become more active as they prepare for their nightly hunt. Since morays have poor eyesight, they rely on their keen sense of smell to find their prey that usually consists of fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. They lay in waiting until their prey is close enough and then they zip out of their burrow and clamp their victim with their powerful jaws. These opportunistic predators also like to target easy pickings such as injured, weak, or dead creatures.
There are approximately 200 species found in different oceans around the world but there are also some that reside in brackish and freshwater. In the Mexican Caribbean, you have a chance to spot species like the Panamic Green and Spotted moray eel.
These blue-blooded ocean dwellers with eight arms, huge head, and three hearts also dominate the waters at night. Although they can hunt during the day, they prefer to do it at night because the darkness gives them an advantage over their prey such as fish, polychaete worms, crustaceans, mollusks, and smaller species of octopus. They use their ability to blend with their surroundings to get close to their potential victims without being detected. Octopi also have the ability to squeeze in and out of tight places to reach hiding creatures or get away from predators. Their arms are equipped with suction cups that help them capture their target and they immobilize them with their powerful venom so they can feed without resistance.
These creatures are highly intelligent and are capable of learning a skill by simply observing others performing it. In fact, one of the famous experiments done with this animal is the jar opening experiment wherein a specimen was given a screw-top jar containing a food item. The initial attempt failed but when the researches demonstrated through the aquarium glass how to open the lid, the octopus copied their movements and successfully opened the jar.
It’s exciting to see an octopus during your dive as they make their way over corals and rocks. Watch it carefully and you might just witness it change its color and texture as a form of camouflage.
These cephalopods of the reef can swoosh their way vertically and horizontally in the water so if you spot one during a dive, it’s best to stop and grab the opportunity to observe them. This way, you might be able to witness their skin change rapidly into various colors which is considered a mesmerizing nature display. They also have stunning shape-shifting abilities that make them formidable predators. No wonder they can stalk their prey like crabs, shrimp, fish, octopus, and other cuttlefish with incredible accuracy and speed.
Manta rays also called devilfish and devil ray are the largest species of ray in the planet that can grow up to 25 feet wide. They have a round body and wide pectoral fins that look like wings, and a very large mouth which they use to sweep plankton. They may seem scary but these filter feeders are generally harmless to humans because they don’t have venomous barbs like the stingrays.
When the sun goes down, manta rays like to make their way to the surface of the water to feed on plankton but they are also known to feed at the bottom.
The sheer size and grace of manta rays make them a real visual spectacle for divers. These gentle giants are known to be social creatures so don’t be surprised if one tries to come close to you.
Sharks have an advantage over their prey in low-light conditions that’s why they like patrolling the sea at night. Their excellent night vision, a keen sense of smell, and ability to recognize the bioelectricity of other animals make them the ultimate marine predators both night time and day time.
There are plenty of opportunities to spot sharks when you go night diving in Cabo San Lucas and the surrounding areas. Species like Mako and Blue sharks may be seen during the colder months while Silkies are often spotted in the warmer months. If you love adventure, you can go diving with hammerheads in Gordo Banks during the cooler months from April to June. What can be more exciting than encountering these powerful animals in their natural habitat?
Take the plunge at night
These are just some of the interesting marine creatures that reign in the darkness but there’s plenty more to see. Get a chance to encounter more of these nocturnal swimmers by night diving in Cabo.