By Ali Postma
As seasoned divers coming from Canada, my husband Joey and I are no strangers to cold water diving.
Our drysuits are well used, and we’ve spent many-a-dive in a brain frozen state of mind. I mean can you blame us when we live in a country that only has four months of summer per year?
I won’t lie, first learning to dive in Canada was hard.
Grit, determination, practice and lots of gear are some of the requirements to being a cold water diver. The water is not always crystal clear and you need to be comfortable with seeing the world through hues of black, green and browns. But for us, being underwater with the fish, heavily outweighed the many logistical struggles.
Mastering the Cold: Joey exploring the dark murky water of northern Ontario’s lakes on a recent partnership with Ontario Parks.
Scuba Diving Canada
From east to west diving in Canada is a far cry from your status quo tropical dive destination. And with world-class locations like Egypt, the Caribbean, and Asia, it’s almost understandable. ALMOST...
With three oceans (the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Arctic) and the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world, Canada is home to some of the most pristine and untouched underwater environments on the planet. Nobody pictures Canada as a diving location, yet for years my husband and I have dove the shorelines of our home country, finding a world rich in life and color.
Colorful and Classy: A close up look at a Northern Red Anemone. The pink and red hues of this sea critter almost seem too vibrant to be true. On Deer Island, divers can find walls upon walls covered with these filter feeders.
Canadian Splash is a 13-part project bringing the world below Canada’s waterline to the surface. By diving, photographing and showcasing the beauty, wonder, and fragility of every province and territory in Canada, we hope to inspire a new generation of divers to embrace the cold.
Dare to Dive Canada: Keeping it 100% Canadian as Joey busts out his flag for a quick photoshoot in the warm waters of Bonaire. Following this shoot, we began to prepare for our journey home and the start of our northern diving adventures.
Scuba Diving New Brunswick
Located on the east coast of Canada, New Brunswick is famous for its sea kayaking vistas, culturally rich Acadian villages, vast expanses of forest and of course largest tides. Having fishing towns and coastline aplenty, you’d be hard-pressed to find a dive place as unique and thrilling as this Atlantic province.
Fundy Sea Kayaking: Getting out on the water is one of the best ways to enjoy New Brunswick. Here a sea kayaker prepares to launch off a beach into the Bay of Fundy.
Coined St. Andrews-by-the-Sea due to its oceanfront location, the small town of St. Andrews has plenty of seaside activities - scuba diving included. For the most part regular diving in St. Andrews is done from the shore, however, there is also the occasional opportunity for a boat charter right out of the harbor.
On the bottom of the ocean, divers will find muddy and rocky seabeds covered in critters big and small. Shrimp, hermit crabs, anemones, sculpin, and snails are some of the things you will certainly see. And of them all our favorites - scallops! If you're lucky you might even come across some clapping scallops jetting around the water column while they rapidly open and close their shell.
Eye See You: A macro view of the black beady eyes of a scallop. As seen in this photo, scallops have anywhere from 50 to 100 eyes lining their mantle.
St John and Area
Peppered along the coast between St. Andrews and St. John are shore diving sites for all skill levels. Whether you’re on the lookout for some zesty little shrimp or trying to photograph a soft and frilly plumose anemone there is much to be found on the Bay of Fundy’s mucky bottom.
Shrimply Loving the St. John Shores: Finding and photographing shrimp can sometimes be tricky as they love to dart around and burrow in the mud.
New River Beach is an ideal site for new divers, and often Open Water courses are taught at this shallow location. Beaver Harbour is another good site, and a favorite among local divers because of excess in macro critters and better condition.
Divers be warned, you will never have amazing visibility in the Bay of Fundy. Due to the extreme range of the tides, silty bottom, and other climate factors, a dive site can go from decent visibility to muck soup in a matter of hours.
Spikey Urchin: Green sea urchins are a common sighting on the east coast of Canada. They are ravenous feeders that love to eat algae and kelp. Here we have provided some backlighting on an urchin to show off just how pointy their spines can be.
The Old Sow
Home to the largest tidal whirlpool in the western hemisphere, the Old Sow, divers looking to find the best dive site in the province must certainly plan a pit stop here.
Little Lumpy: Take a look at this lumpy little sucker. Spiny lumpsuckers can be hard to find but so rewarding to see when underwater.
Twice a day as the Bay of Fundy tide rises, ocean water is pressed through the narrow straits between the Canadian and USA coastline creating a whirlpool-like effect. And located at the heart of this confluence of water are a handful of islets - the largest one being Deer Island.
Caution is advised when diving this location, as all dive sites are very tide dependent and must only be done at certain times. For divers brave enough to submerge beneath the ripping current, they will be rewarded with tonnes of things to see.
Diversity and strange creatures are a few of the words that come to mind when referencing this diving location. That and an impressive pallet of color.
Alien Species: A red-gilled nudibranch battling the current and holding on to some flora at the Cancat dive site. Cancat features a beautiful wall dive rich with animal life. Divers can follow this wall down beyond depths of 60 feet.
We look forward to sharing our next Canadian Splash pit stop with you. Tune in soon for Destination Nova Scotia!
Brought together by their love for being in the water, Ali and Joey have been proudly sporting a neoprene wetsuit for the better part of a decade. Following their passion, Ali and Joey now live a life less ordinary – working, traveling and of course scuba diving. Through writing and photographing their dive adventures, they hope to help people fall in love with the underwater world, all while instilling knowledge and respect for the animals that live there. In their recent project - Canadian Splash - Ali and Joey will be traveling and diving all over Canada showcasing the beauty, wonder, and fragility hidden beneath the water in their home country.
All images copyright © 2019 Ali and Joey Postma.