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More Dive Trips

DIVING THE SALTSTRAUMEN MAELSTROM, NORWAY by Andrew Falconer

 

Saltstraumen is located above the Arctic Circle near Bodo in northern Norway, and is a 3km narrow (150m wide) strait that connects the Skierstad fjord to the North Sea. Up to 500,00 cubic metres of seawater forces its way in or out of the fjord every six hours, creating massive whirlpools or a maelstrom (a Norwegian word) and water velocities up to 40km per hour.

 

Location of Saltstraumen in Artic Norway

Saltstraumen is an exit point for a fjord

 

 

The strait is dive-able only for about 20 minutes either side of a turning tide, and is rich in sea life and has an interesting topography. Needless to say, the water is cold, about centigrade 7 degrees when I dived it in August, and colder in winter, so a good dry suit is required. There is a dive centre www.saltstraumen-dykkecamp.no located nearby where all gear can be hired, and guided shore and boat dives can be organised.

 

 

Calm waters at tidal change

Rippling currents and eddies later on

 

 

The tides are greatest at full and new moon, however when I dived it was half moon, but still quite impressive. Being July and above the Arctic Circle, the sun was still up at midnight, although low in the sky meaning you can dive whenever the tide suits. Nutrient rich waters and the currents attract lots of fish such as cod, and along with them seagulls and anglers.



Kelp showing the effects of current

Wolf fish resting at Saltstraumen



I did two shore dives on in going and outgoing tides on the same day, with Fredric, a very professional and helpful instructor from the dive centre. We kept close to the shore, where the current was slack, but even so there was plenty of upwelling, making buoyancy control a challenge at times. It is definitely not a dive for a novice. Visibility was variable, making it difficult to see and photograph the schools of cod out in the channel.

 

 

A wolf fish shows its teeth

There are lots of cod to attract fishermen

 

 

Easier to photograph were the sedentary wolf fish, of which there were many hiding in crevices and resting amid the rocks. They have fearsome looking teeth to say the least. I did manage to get close to the odd cod as well.

 

 

There are some interesting walls covered with marine growth

 

 

There were some significant walls and ledges that fell away to a dark bottom of the channel where we dived. The rocks are covered with a profusion of cold water marine life, and at times there are some significant kelp beds.

 

 

July 2016