On our first dives on the HMS Investigator the temperature on my dive computer read 34F. Sure, that’s cold, but only 2 or 3 degrees colder than my last project at Isle Royale NP in Lake Superior. This is the Arctic. I had two specific ambitions for this trip. The first was to have my picture taken on a ice flow, the second was to dive in water below freezing. A few patches of ice drifted in last night, so check the first goal off the list. Bring on the cold water. I didn’t have to wait long.
Today’s dive felt different as soon as I hit the bottom at 30’. The visibility was very distorted, almost like a mixture of fresh and salt water (called a halocline) or a temperature gradient difference (called a thermocline). It also was cold. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to feel the difference in a couple degrees, I mean cold is cold, right? Wrong. Today my dive computer read 28.8F. It was the first time I have actually used the high setting on my heater vest (a source of envy amongst the Parks Canada divers). The low temperature occurred on or near the bottom where the visibility was oily. Although not an expert by any means, but what seemed to be occurring was the water was so cold it was attempting to freeze but both tide and salt content kept it in its liquid form. As I swam along the hull of the ship I had these comical visions of a hypothetical flash freeze event with an shipwreck ice cube complete with scuba diving photographer.