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Night Diving for the Californian Spiny Lobster

Posted by Zach Rose on


Recently, I’ve been been exposed to a very real and natural boundary that I have built up  between the light and darkness. The setting has presented itself in the form of Lobster diving here in Southern California.  

While the technique for lobster is rather simple, and it can be described as a “Grab and Bag” sport, the application of the strategy is unnervingly different.  By nature, lobsters live settled into deep rock crevices and holes, where they spend the majority of their time. During the day a diver is forced to swim deep into holes and caves to grab these bugs.  However, at night, lobsters come out to feed and can often be found walking around the reefs looking for food. Thus, the majority of lobster diving happens at night, when success rates increase. Here I found myself challenged by fear of the unknown and diving deep into the depths of uncertainty.

Am I crazy?  Why abandon the comforts of home and push myself into the deep churning ocean to be exposed?

My diving experience began the first morning of this season, I arrive at the parking lot and it’s dark. I remember the nerves. I grabbed my gear and turned my flashlight on at the car. What will it be like? How much will I be able to see? Will I be safe? Many of my friends have had similar questions when approaching lobster diving, and even the thought of lobster diving has seemed to keep many others away.  

I stand on the beach with my flashlight on and the water is coming up to my feet. I have to actively choose to dive into the water. My light exposes a foggy visibility of only a few feet at a time as I swim out farther and farther away from shore. Fear is trying to get me to turn around. I follow my light and dive down into the darkness that surrounds me. My light exposes a small area of rock and reef around me. Action pushes through my fear and I begin my journey.  After a number of dives that morning, I feel the initial fear slowly loosen its grip. Here I bob up and down for a few hours, and throughout the course of the morning I learn to let go and even learn to rest.

For lobster diving,  I had to come to terms with the ocean at night, and my fear of the unknown. In many ways, I believe our culture tempts us to  move towards the light and avoid the darkness whenever possible. Because of 24/7 news cycles, big data, and Google, it seems that we’ve been taught to avoid the unknown at all costs, but I fear we are missing something. Even though nothing is promised, it seems that by confronting a wild landscape we have the opportunity for some of our greatest successes.

This awakens something in me that very few things can. While the risk is still present, this space gives me the ability to feel, listen, take chances, solve problems and challenges me to learn from my surroundings and grow as an active participant in this world. To me, this is empowering.  

As a hunter I have learned to love the wild and look forward to these places that challenge me.