Scuba diving in Antarctica means diving someplace that only a few have ever visited, not to mention been lucky sufficient to dive. Except for ample marine life, the lure of diving in Antarctica is the implausible sight of shifting daylight and ice formations. Solely about 1% of sunshine makes it via the ice, creating an ethereal world of hills, valleys and sheer cliffs all product of ice and all quietly ready to be explored beneath a glowing blue sea.
What are you able to see?
Scuba diving in Antarctica presents loads to see, with numerous biodiversity. Antarctic waters maintain an abundance of krill, which attracts different marine life. Divers can see:
- Distinctive forms of kelp, together with kelp partitions
- Sea snails
- Sea butterflies
- Sea-hedgehogs (urchins)
- Quite a lot of crabs
- Smooth coral
- Sea squirts
- Squat lobsters
- Peacock worms
- Shrubby horse-tails
Divers may see a few of the charismatic animals the continent is so well-known for—fur seals, penguins, and leopard seals. Walrus recognizing is greatest achieved from the boat or with snorkel gear—diving with them is ill-advised as they will get aggressive.
Dive qualification and expertise
Diving in Antarctica isn’t for newcomers. Divers will need to have expertise with cold-water diving and no less than 30 dives with a drysuit. Additional, you’ll have to current your internationally acknowledged dive qualification, copies of your dive logs, and a medical clearance earlier than you will get into the water. Divers should additionally do a check-dive to get used to the chilly water and set up what number of weights they want.
Dangers of scuba diving in Antarctica
Scuba diving inherently includes some dangers. That mentioned, there are a number of further issues to contemplate when planning your diving in Antarctica.
The dive websites are distant, and decompression chambers are far-off. Divers are cautioned towards deep dives.
Divers ought to pay attention to and all the time keep oriented to protected exit factors throughout their dives. Ice frequently strikes and shifts, and thus entry and exit factors may transfer together with it.
Diving in Antarctica requires specialised gear. This consists of an intensive checklist:
- A drysuit with a hood and two units of thick undergarments
- Dry gloves or thick moist gloves
- Two units of freeze-protected or environmentally sealed regulators. This consists of first and second levels. Some dive concessions use two regulators on one tank. One set will likely be your major, with the second set as a back-up on every dive.
- A fast-release BCD
- Depth gauge plus a watch or laptop
- Air-pressure gauge—one for every regulator set-up
- A flashlight
- Masks, fins, and a snorkel. A spare masks and straps are advisable.
- Weight belt—the weights are supplied onboard.
- Spare elements, together with spares on your regulator and drysuit
- Business defogging brokers on your masks. Spit can freeze onto the within of your masks.
When to go
The dive season is within the southern summer time, between November and March. That is when wildlife is most lively.
Throughout November and December, phytoplankton burst to life in areas the place there are mineral upwellings. This brings in plenty of krill, which then brings in bigger marine animals. Throughout this time, you could possibly see crabeater seals, elephant seals, humpback, minke, and southern proper whales, and penguins. In December, you may witness the midnight solar above water.
Throughout February and March, divers may see fur seals and leopard seals and penguins. Whale watching is very glorious throughout this time, and there may be the prospect to see the Aurora Australis and inexperienced and pink algae blooms on the ice cliffs and snow slopes.
The water temperature averages a frigid 28 to 36 F (-2 to 2 C) and visibility will be as much as 985 ft (300 m). The common most dive depth is round 60 ft (20 m), and dives are achieved from shore or off a zodiac, together with shallow ice diving and wall diving. Divers normally do two dives per day, relying on the climate and ice circumstances.
Most dives in Antarctica are primarily based on the buddy system. Dive guides usually keep on the boat, performing as spotters and checking divers out and in of the water.
Most expeditions to Antarctica depart from the southernmost metropolis on the planet, Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego in Argentina.
Scuba diving in Antarctica is extra an expedition than a dive journey. The circumstances are far faraway from tropical diving, however it is usually an expertise that few will ever have. The chilly water and clear visibility, together with ample marine life and the sheer journey of getting there make for a really once-in-a-lifetime journey.