When you dive, are you a leader or a follower? Being able to spot things for yourself underwater can make a big difference to your enjoyment and can even turn a familiar site into an un-chartered treasure trove of marine life. Here are a few very simple tips to help you get even more out of your dives and see as many critters as possible.
1) Slow down
Move as slowly as possible, this works for several reasons; Fast movements will startle many of the fish you are likely to see which will make them retreat into hiding, a slower pace will also allow your eyes to graze the whole reef and pick out any well camouflaged dwellers.
2) Look around you
Avoid tunnel vision when swimming, it is very easy to simply look in front as you are diving along, but taking the time to do a full 360° will open up a whole range of possibilities. Countless times divers have returned disappointed with the fact that whilst gazing intently at the reef a turtle or manta has been passing in the blue.
3) Practice makes perfect
The more you dive in an area the more familiar you will become with its features and the more likely you are to spot anything unusual. This is why your dive guides will often spot more and of course one of the reasons most guests choose to be guided.
4) Know your fish
If you have a favourite creature then it pays to learn about its habits and behaviour. Knowing that the pyjama slug (nudibranch) lives on a diet of red fire sponge will mean it is very likely to be near its meal of choice. Similarly knowing that squat cleaner shrimp love to live in carpet anemones will also make them easier to find.
5) Eagle eyes
As you scan the reef look for small rhythmic movements, fish may have excellent camouflage but they need to breathe and as they do their gills will move. A secluded octopus can be easily spotted once its gills flutter in and out a couple of times.
For extra tips on fish spotting or advice on the differing techniques, behaviours and habitats of sea creatures take the PADI Fish Identification Specialty which offers a unique insight into the types of fish you can encounter whilst out diving.
If you would like to know more about your favourite fish or find resources on endemic species to the area you will be diving then take a look at www.SimplyScuba.com, they have a vast range of id slates or reference books.