Halloween enthusiasts will descend on Blacktip Island’s Wahoo Reef Saturday night for the small Caribbean island’s first-ever underwater haunted reef display. (photo courtesy of Gustavo Gerdel)
Blacktip Island Halloween aficionados Saturday will stage an interactive haunted reef display, where scuba divers can swim through an underwater landscape filled with scary effects, to raise money for the Caribbean island’s school.
“We wanted to do something different,” divemaster Gage Hoase said. “Everybody does underwater pumpkin carvings. It’s cliché. Haunted houses are old hat, too. So we decided to turn Wahoo Reef into a haunted dive site, an aquatic twist that’ll be something new. Sort of.
“It’s dive oriented, with most of the frights coming from fish and whatnot,” Hoase said. “Divers’ll follow a polypropylene line around coral heads and through swim-throughs. There’ll be strobe lights and colored lights, and scary stuff I can’t mention’ll jump out at the divers.”
Organizers stressed the display will not harm the underwater environment.
“We played with it last week, and it was no big deal,” Alison Diesel said. “Sure, it scared the crap out of the fish, but they recovered after a few days. Some of them actually seemed to like the lights and dry ice bubbles.
“The divers we have dressed as ghosts and zombies’re cool about not banging into coral, too,” Diesel said. “And it’s outside the marine park, so we’re all good from that angle.”
Others noted the underwater scares will come from more non-ghoulish sources.
“We made a list of everything a diver could be scared of, and stocked the route with as many of those as we could,” Payne Hanover said. “We’ll have in-character divers doing every real-life scary scuba thing there is— blown hoses, empty tanks, inflator hose jams, idiots with knives, you name it. People won’t have a clue who’s a haunted reef actor and who’s a fellow visitor.”
Some in the community questioned the safety of the production.
“This is a recipe for multiple people to get hurt. Badly,” island nurse Marissa Graysby said. “All it takes is one person panicking down there, and they’ll have multiple divers bolting for the surface. Or stabbing each other with dive knives. They really should have just had a pumpkin-carving contest. At the Sand Spit.”
Diesel said those fears were unwarranted.
“We’re not gonna have ghost divers snatching masks or regs or anything,” she said. “They’ll just act like they’re in trouble. Sure, someone may get their fin grabbed here and there, but that’s as far as it’ll go. I mean, there’s risks involved—that’s what makes it fun—but everybody signs a mondo-waiver, and a lawyer at the bar said we should be fine. And there’s no booze allowed until after you exit the water.”
Hoase stressed proceeds from the haunted reef will go to the island’s one-room school.
“There’s no kids on the island now, but there might be soon, the way folks carry on,” he said. “We’ll hold the money in a trust until there are some. Minus the expenses for the afterparty at the Sand Spit.”