Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Scuba Diving in Canada

There are a multitude of Canadian scuba diving destinations that will enthrall divers with their beauty. From the Pacific Ocean waters off the British Columbia coast to the shipwrecks of the Great Lakes and the marine parks of Quebec, scuba diving in Canada has something for everyone.

History of Canadian Scuba Diving

While archeologists believe forms of diving began around 6,500 years ago as people acquired pearls and other sea bounty from the ocean floor, it wasn't until 332 BC that wooden diving bells were first put into use. In 1839, Augustus Siebe of England invented the first diving suit with a detachable helmet tethered to the surface where air was piped through.

In 1943, Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnan developed the aqualung or "self-contained underwater breathing apparatus" SCUBA. Canada, having the largest fresh-water areas in the world, became a hotspot for scuba diving. The Great Lakes offers thousands of shipwrecks to explore as well as the coastal waters with their off-shore wrecks and marine life.

Scuba Diving Equipment

Scuba diving equipment varies depending on the type of diving and water conditions. Thermal scuba diving equipment is required for cold water locations like Canada. • Diving Cylinders
• Diving Regulators
• Wetsuit or Drysuit for colder waters
• Shorty Wetsuits or Dive Skins for warmer temperatures
• Neoprene Diving Gloves
• Neoprene Diving Boots
• Safety Helmet with lamp
• Backplate for the diving cylinders
• Diver Propulsion Vehicle
• Dive Weighting to offset wetsuit buoyancy
Dive Fins
• Compass, Depth Gauge and Diving Watch
• Distance line to follow back in poor visibility

Types of Scuba Diving in Canada

• Commercial scuba diving in Canada is a big part of off-shore oil exploration. There are pressure-resistant dive suits that can reach depths of up to 450 m (1,460 ft) with no adverse affects to the diver.
• Scientific scuba diving is done in fields such as oceanography, marine ecology, marine biology, and archaeology. Environment Canada performs thousands of dives to locate and explore historic sites. Of note is the discovery of a Basque whaling galleon which sunk in 1565 at Red Bay, Labrador. Canadian Scuba diving is becoming a world leader in underwater archaeology.
• Recreational scuba diving in Canada is popular across the country, notably on both coasts and the Great Lakes region. The popularity has grown so much that Canada is at the forefront of scuba diving technology. Canadian diving contractor Can-Dive Services develops lighter, deep-water diving suits and Kybertec International develops submersible diving computers that give critical digital readouts.

Diving Schools for Scuba Training

With the popularity of scuba diving in Canada on the increase, scuba diving schools have been established across the country. If you want to learn scuba diving and obtain your diving certification, there are plenty of opportunities to do so. You can participate in scuba lessons for ocean diving at accredited diving schools on both coasts of Canada. For scuba training in wreck diving, the Great Lakes region offers the best dive training due to sheer number of sunken ships in these waters. Reputable scuba diving schools will be accredited by the Diver Certification Board of Canada.

Canadian Scuba Diving Destinations

The protected waters off the coast of British Columbia offer some of most scenic scuba diving in Canada if varied marine life is your preference. There are over 400 species of fish and thousands of species of invertebrates in addition to large octopus. Popular scuba diving destinations in B. C. include:

• Howe Sound
• Sechelt Peninsula
• Victoria Inlet
• Saanich Inlet
• Southern Gulf Islands
• Nanaimo
• Hornby Island
• Telegraph Cove

The Great Lakes are world-renowned Canadian scuba diving destinations if you enjoy wreck diving. These waterways have been used for over a century to transport people and goods from port to port. As with all marine travel, there are some ships that don't reach their destination. Some estimates put the number of sunken ships in the Great Lakes at over 4,000.

The Great Lakes are still an important shipping route and resulted in the introduction of the zebra mussel through bilge water. These mussels are responsible for cleaning up the water and increasing visibility to up to 30 m (100 feet). The water temperatures can still be quite cold in the summer especially for deeper dives. In almost all instances, scuba diving in Canada requires a wetsuit or drysuit.

Other notable scuba diving destinations in Ontario include:

• Tobermory's Fathom Five Marine Park is Canada's first underwater national park. Located on the Bruce Peninsula, popular for hiking in Canada, it offers numerous wrecks to explore.
• Kingston on Lake Ontario has many wrecks including a wreck "graveyard" where old ships have been sunk. The traffic can be heavy from those boating in Canada.
• Port Dover on Lake Erie has grown in popularity with "good condition" wrecks farther offshore and in deeper water.
It should be noted that removing artifacts from shipwrecks is against the law. As with laws dealing with hunting and fishing in Canada, infractions can result in your scuba diving equipment, vehicles, boats, or anything else that they deem part of the crime being confiscated...permanently!

Pointe-Au-Pere Maritime Historic Site in Rimouski, Quebec is a favourite scuba diving destination due to 1914 wreck "Empress of Ireland". It is easily accessible by Zodiac.

Arguably one of the best eastern North American scuba diving destinations, the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park is a protected area where 15 species of marine mammals have been reported. Enjoy whale watching in Canada by encountering the protected belugas that inhabit these waters.

Newfoundland and Labrador are prime scuba diving destinations with a 500 year history of shipwrecks. If you can afford the $40,000 price tag you can take a submersible to the Titanic. The Labrador Current and the Gulf Stream attracts thousands of whales. It is also an excellent location for bird watching in Canada.

Whether you enjoy marine life or wreck diving, there are Canadian scuba diving destinations to "fit the bill". Scuba diving in Canada is gaining in popularity and areas like British Columbia, Kingston, and the East Coast are actively promoting this sport.

Thanks to Discover Canada Outdoors

Kathy Dowsett

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