Autumn in the Arctic – time for a dive

The season is coming to a close here in the Arctic; the days are growing shorter, a bitter wind is whipping through the rigging of Widdershins and the faint threads of the Aurora Borealis can be seen in the skies some nights. Given the cooling weather, yours truly made sure to don a few extra layers underneath the dry suit yesterday before jumping into the water for a quick SCUBA dive.

It’s actually been a while since the gear has seen the water and this was just a test dive to make sure all was working well – in a couple of weeks I’ll head south to do some real diving … but not too far south! Scotland will be by destination and I will soon be donning my dry suit in the lochs of the west coast with Graham Edgar, a renowned marine biologist from Australia. The aim is to familiarise myself with the ReefLife survey methodology: – this is a collaborative program between recreational divers and scientists that aims to collect marine biodiversity data from around the world.

Following a week of training we’ll be using the ReefLife survey methods to collect biodiversity data throughout our pole to pole journey – a continuous band of data to show which denizens of the deep are to be found in the shallow waters between one pole of the Earth and another. The program will see us diving in diverse environments from the sea ice in the Arctic to kelp forests and coral reefs near the equator. It will be a big project but a lot of fun and great contribution to our knowledge of the earth’s marine ecosystems.

Yesterday the dive was in shallow water where hermit crabs and starfish were clambering over the mussel shells lying beneath the hull of Widdershins … but before we finish our trips we will dive in some of the most spectacular dive locations on the planet and see some of the truly amazing denizens of the deep ….can’t wait!

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