Arctic Diving in Greenland

Active/Outdoors, Denmark, Offbeat — By christinatn on June 5, 2012 at 7:23 am

Taking a diving trip in tropical waters can be very enjoyable, but it takes a real sense of adventure to dive the icy, blue waters that surround the largest island in the world. When you dive Greenland, you will be venturing where only a handful of divers have ever been. The 1,646 mile long island, which is under the administration of the Kingdom of Denmark,  is inhabited mostly by Inuit.

Contrary to its name, about 80 percent of it is covered in ice and snow, and the island itself, contains about 50 glaciers and some icebergs that are as tall as a 15-story building. As these ice structures melt, the fresh water mixes with the ocean’s salt water and forms layers which create an underwater kaleidoscope of color and light that divers say is like nothing else in the world. Not to mention because of the lack of industry and pollution on the island, the water clarity is infinite.

Diving Greenland's icy waters

Image: ilovegreenland/Flickr

The waters around Greenland are close to freezing, so certain certificates and equipment are mandatory for diving its icy depths. A minimum of PADI AWO (cold water certificate) and drysuit training will be required as well as a frost-proof regulator and a redundant air supply. The best times of year for diving in Greenland is during the summer months from April to August. During this time, Greenland becomes the Land of the Midnight Sun and island visitors will experience daylight for the majority of the day, and divers can dive day or night.

Beluga whales can be seen underwater and from boats

Image: briangratwicke/Flickr

During a typical dive off the coast of Greenland, divers will see wildlife like Atlantic wolf-fish, lumpfish and cod, sugar wrack, red sea cucumbers, sea urchins, crabs, scallops, starfish and sea anemones. Larger animals include ringed, harp and hooded seals, minke and beluga whales and the unicorn-like narwhal which can be seen in Melville Bay in Northeast Greenland. Some divers have run into the elusive Greenland shark which seems to be indifferent to divers.

To add to the adventure, plan for a wreck dive. Several of the shipwrecks around Greenland are very accessible and since so few people have visited them, the cargo and equipment are generally intact. The triple masted schooner, “Borgin” sank in 1954 with a hold full of salted fish and lies at only 26 meters where you can dive  through the crew’s bunks and washing facilities.

Day and land trips are also available

Image: clurr/Flickr

A popular spot for both land visitors and divers is the mirror-like Disko Bay which contains the world’s largest fjord and enormous icebergs. International dive companies like Tropic Ice Dive visit this bay as well as the larger icebergs. They supply the dive boat, rental of appropriate ice-diving equipment, food and beverages and some tour packages of the island. A typical seven day package will cost about $400.

Tour companies like Tropic Ice Dive lead underwater tours

Image: ilovegreenland/Flickr

When you want to warm up after your icy adventure, on Disko Island and in East Greenland there are thousands of hot springs. These pools of hot water (heated by the deep layers of the earth’s crust rubbing against each other) are about 98-100 degrees Fahrenheit and offer a nice bathtub break from your underwater arctic adventures.

The icebergs and glaciers of Greenland

Image: kaet44/Flickr

Tags: adventure, arctic, diving, Greenland, ice, icebergs, island, skills, travel, waters

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