Polar diving Antarctica and the Arctic
Most scuba divers prefer warm water and tropical reefs, and we can't blame them. But even the best experiences can become monotonous if endlessly repeated.
Imagine, by contrast, diving into an environment only a select few ever see, a glacial world so startlingly unique that only a small subset of experienced cold-water divers get to experience it. This is the magic, challenge, and unrivaled reward of polar diving - a brief taste of which we will give you in our Antarctic diving video at the end.
For now, let's talk about the perks and specs of this particular polar sport...
The rich rewards of polar diving
The frigid waters of the Arctic and Antarctic regions give rise to a wide variety of marine life you cannot see anywhere else on the planet, and the numerous ice formations produce a vibrant display of colors and patterns unique unto themselves.
Sea squirts, squat lobsters, dogfish, sea butterflies, and shrubby horsetails are just a few of the residents you may encounter. You might also see some of the more common Arctic seals, and in Antarctica you could share the water with both seals (such as leopard seals) and one or two of the local penguin species. It is our hope that you see all of them!
Please keep in mind, however, that we cannot guarantee you will see any of these animals either above or below water. Nature calls the shots in the polar regions, not us.
Polar diving equipment
All scuba diving requires preparation, caution, and equipment. Cold-water diving requires these even more so. Great care must be taken to keep the body warm at all times. Normal diving equipment does not function properly in temperatures just above freezing.
Traditional wetsuits, in other words, are not enough when polar diving Antarctica or the Arctic. We require dry suits, which have sealing systems designed to keep the diver dry.
Cold-water regulators are also designed to resist freezing, keeping the air flow properly controlled. And if you want to go in for high-tech comfort, there are even heated diving undergarments that will keep your temperature at Caribbean levels.
Experience in polar diving
Polar diving requires more experience than tradtional scuba diving, and our safety regulations reflect this. In addition to posessing an internationally recognized scuba certificate, polar divers must be able to verify at least 30 logged cold-water dives before they can take part in our polar diving program.
The reason for this is the unique danger posed by the polar environment. For example, the frigid water can cause regulators to free-flow air, so divers need to practice handling this malfunction. Hypothermia is also a challenge in polar dives, so it is vital to recognize its signs and call off the dive should you suspect you are being affected.
Polar diving conditions
All dives should have a thorough dive plan, but the challenges of polar diving make this necessity even more important.
Our polar dive leaders are highly trained experts with extensive experience in diving Antarctica and the Arctic. Since the ice and weather conditions in these areas can be unpredictable, we always have a solid strategy for entries and exits that take into account the possibility of shifting surface ice, blizzards, and katabatic winds (in Antarctica).
As anyone who has taken an Antarctica cruise or Arctic trip can tell you, a flexible attitude is paramount in the polar regions. You can learn more about gear, safety, and dive conditions in our polar diving page.
A word about polar wreck diving
Another bonus of the cold polar waters is their preservation of shipwrecks. Wreck diving is very popular among our divers, and for good reason.
In Antarctica's Wilhelmina Bay, we make great polar dives to the remains of the historic whaling ship, Guvernøren, which sank in 1915 amid suspicious circumstances that have still not been fully explained. Also, the above-water scenery and wildlife of Wilhelmina is absolutely amazing. Even if you don't dive here, you won't be disappointed.
Experience polar diving in motion pictures
We promised you a video, and a video you shall have.
While this clip is specifically about Antarctic diving, don't forget that we also offer a number of splendid Arctic options. Until you join us on a polar diving trip to either region, let this little movie whet your appetite for icy underwater exploration!