The winter cold doesn’t stop these divers from exploring the depths and observing the sea creatures revealed by the diminished plant life.
THE snow is falling and ice is forming on the water—time for scuba drivers to hang up their suits for the winter months or plan trips to warmer destinations. Although this may be true for many divers, some prefer to get a little chilly, especially in New Brunswick.
“A lot of the plant life dies off or becomes much thinner underwater in the winter, so things that seaweed was hiding are now visible,” says Kim Langille of Moncton, a diver since 1998. “The fish seem to be a bit slower, making them easier to photograph.”
The sea life is one of the things Langille likes most about diving. “I love the sea creatures,” she says. “There are so many weird, ugly, freaky, prehistoric-looking sea dwellers in our waters.”
Langille says the best place to dive in New Brunswick, no matter what time of year, is Deer Island because “the variety of life there is amazing.”
Connie Bishop, who with her husband Joe George owns and operates the dive shop Cojo Diving in Lincoln, says Deer Island is what got her hooked on diving locally.
“I took my training in New Brunswick but didn’t intend to dive here because it’s cold,” she says, explaining she began diving 10 years ago when preparing for a trip to Hawaii with friends. “They took me to Deer Island where I saw incredible marine life. I was blown away as a diver and went crazy after that.”
Another popular activity for winter divers is ice diving—diving under the ice, usually in freshwater quarries like the one at Atlas Park near Bathurst. Divers use a single access point—a hole cut in the ice—for entry and exit. Winter diving requires specialized training and equipment over and above the certifica- tion necessary for scuba diving in general.
“Divers are attached to a line, which is managed by a tender who remains at the surface,” says Bishop. “The tender is also trained in ice diving and uses rope pulls to signal the diver, and understands signals from the diver who is also using rope pulls. It’s a challenging environment for diving.”
Langille, meanwhile, has done some ice diving in a flooded quarry on the Gorge Road in Moncton. “Ice diving in a controlled environment is a neat experience,” she says. “You can always push around the shopping cart or ride the snowmobile that has been pushed into the deeps.”