The unsinkable sport of polar scuba diving
Not so very long ago, all you had to do to qualify as a thrill-seeker was hop a ship to the polar regions and make it back with all your fingers – or your life, if you weren’t picky.
How times change. Antarctica and the Arctic have not only become cruise destinations, they’ve become sporting venues: Spend a minute on Google and you’ll see more people swimming, camping, and running the polar regions than survived some of the historic expeditions.
Even so, polar scuba diving still manages to separate the casual tourists from the snow-mad, ice- happy, blue-lipped die-hards. And Oceanwide’s polar dive program proudly leads the way.
Polar scuba diving the Oceanwide way
“Oceanwide probably has the most consistent and long-running polar diving program on the market,” says dive master Henrik Enckell, who’s been leading scuba excursions in the polar regions for more than 15 years. “The diving, combined with other activities like kayaking, mountaineering, and camping, fill our trips with action. They’re more like expeditions than cruises.”
But, naturally, this much adventure comes with responsibility. Not only does Oceanwide require its passengers to have adequate cold- water experience before joining its polar diving groups, but it employs only the best dive leaders in the industry.
“Our guides have over 200 combined years of experience,” says Michael Green, another longtime Oceanwide dive master. “That knowledge of the water and ice gives our guests a unique adventure whilst being as safe as possible. Our hard work makes us stand out from the crowd.”
What makes the polar scuba sport worth diving into
Even if you’re a certified scuba junkie, however, you might wonder why polar diving is worth all the training and potential discomfort. After all, isn’t it just swimming through dark, ice-filled water in the hope of seeing the underbelly of an iceberg?
Not exactly, says dive master Catherine Buckland, who explains that one of the prime characteristics of polar diving is its variability. “The local conditions change yearly, monthly, even daily sometimes – which is good, because some of the best dives are the unexpected ones.”
Green agrees, adding that one of his favorite aspects of polar diving is the feeling of entering undiscovered country. “Some days we dive where no one else has dived before. Even at our usual sites, certain areas are totally unexplored, making for a landing-on-the-moon experience.”
And even as new sites are experienced, new technology is advanced. “The equipment gets better all the time,” Buckland says, “meaning divers can stay warmer for longer.”
In addition to equipment, Oceanwide dive masters are constantly honing their skills. “It’s the safety aspect that is vital when diving any remote area,” explains Green. “Our superb team of guides keep developing their site knowledge, moving forward all the time.”
The bottom line of top-notch polar diving
What does all this equipment, experience, and training boil down to? Giving our passengers the most pleasant, safe, and adventurous polar diving voyage of their lives.
“These places are truly life changing,” Green says. “I am sure our passengers don’t realize what they’ve seen until after they have returned home. These places get in the blood.” Green recalls kitting up with 100,000 seabirds flying above his head in 24-hour daylight. “The silence alone should be experienced by everyone at least once in their lives.”
Buckland and Enckell can’t argue. “This is completely expedition-style diving,” adds Buckland. “There’s such vast unexplored areas that, in terms of diving, the sky is the limit.” Or if not the sky, definitely the sea.