Try and have a look under the ice cover
Ice Diving differs from diving in warm coral seas as much as a winter ski trip differs from a tropical rainforest tour. Which one is better and more interesting, is there anyone who could give the one and only answer?
Perhaps, it just shouldn’t be compared - everything that one hasn’t seen yet will be interesting, just as well as it is with other kinds of trips. And since lots of ponds, lakes, and even seas of the regions with temperate and northern climate are frozen for six months in a year - why not try and have a look under the ice cover?
You’ll see that everything is absolutely different under the ice, the reverse side of it can either be smooth like a mirror, or consist of a pile of hummocks turned upside down. Life slows down, but does not stop, the water becomes much more transparent than it is in summer. The silence of ice diving cannot be compared to anything...
Special methods, equipment and additional safety elements are used for ice diving. There are also a lot of specific details in the very process of ice diving provision services. It is possible to master this most interesting SCUBA specialization after a special course of training. And then you'll be able to dive all year round, and a long break between the seasons will turn into a season change – from summer diving to ice diving.
The White Sea is the unique place in Russia where marine ice-diving is practiced - just above and below the Arctic Circle. Our Dive Centre was also named “The Arctic Circle” because we are really close to it. We are sure it's the best place for ice diving, at least in this hemisphere.
Unlike the Barents Sea, that doesn't freeze in winter because of the Gulf Stream, the White Sea freezes from December until April-May. The main ice diving period here is from the second half of February till the first half of April, because any earlier or any later there is no guarantee of solid ice to get to the best dive sites.
The White Sea gives you everything a diver might need to have a fantastic ice diving experience. Dramatic ice formations contrast with the underlying terrain, the rock and kelp forests complement the ice formations. All this combined with the abundant selection of marine life and the water so luminous and clear makes your diving trip to the extreme North of Russia absolutely fantastic and extraordinary.
Each year in February, March and April on the White Sea coast
- Majestic beauty of Northern Russia
- Ice arch of the sea, ice-hummocks, and cavities
- Fantastic visibility: 15–50m
- Soft corals under the frozen surface of the sea
- Wide variety of fish species
- Starfishes, sea-urchins, crabs, sea anemones, shrimps
- Underwater rocks and rifts, rift inhabitants and even wrecks
Marine ice diving differs from ice diving in ponds and lakes and is much more impressive.
Two major differences of marine and fresh water ice diving are the environments and the aquatic life.
Fresh water starts to freeze once the temperature has reached a low enough level, and the ice forms from the surface down, but the processes are different in the sea. The White Sea is subjected to tidal movements, which average about 1-2 metres at a time. This has the effect of compacting the ice into magnificent shapes under water, allowing different coloured light through the ice at any given place. Beautiful ice formations under water are the main ice diving attraction, though there is quite some biodiversity in the area. Divers are mesmerized by the trapped bubbles, tunnels and cave formations that form small labyrinths for the creatures that live here.
Fresh water wildlife tends to go into a form of hibernation with most plant species dying off and fish burying themselves during the winter period, whilst the marine environment continues with beautiful kelp formations, coral growths and anemones of amazing colour. You’ll be really surprised to discover to what extent underwater life goes on in winter in the White Sea. It is stunning, not perhaps in quantity, but certainly in the quality of what you see. Maybe it's because the water is so clear, so the colours seem incredibly bright and the animals are readily spotted. It’s almost as if, instead of hiding from the prying eyes of photographers, they want to show off their beauty - and most of them have something special to show off. A lot of the interesting stuff is not that deep. The life is all around, not only on the rocks and seaweed where you would normally look, but hanging before your eyes - all those jelly-filled creatures.
Ice diving itself is a challenge – it’s a hard work but it’s a great fun at the same time. Nowadays the number of ice divers keeps increasing, and we hope that our dive centre has made a contribution to the development of this diving specialization. Based on our vast experience we do our best to provide the ice divers all the possible safety and comfort.
The Arctic Circle Dive Centre puts at your service:
- Modern diving equipment
- Experienced instructors and dive guides
- Warm mobile ice diving camp
- Comfortable accomodation in our dive centre guest houses
- Genuine Russian steam bath (banya)
- Friendly atmosphere
We encourage divers to come and enjoy this out-of-the-ordinary experience if and when the opportunity presents itself. The rewards you will have in terms of stunning diving and self-satisfaction cannot be quantified! And, hey, it’s also kind of cool to have Arctic Circle dives in your logbook!
In addition to diving you may take the opportunity to:
- Witness the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
- Watch seals and sea birds
- Visit our raindeer farm and malamute dog-breeding kennel
- Ski and ride snowmobiles
- Experience ice snorkeling
Do not hesitate to contact us — we look forward to hearing from you and will be glad to answer any question in order to explain the details and help you to make the right choice! Please inform us in advance so that we could arrange everything in due period of time.