Canadian diver reveals strange, new world in sub-zero Arctic Ocean

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good News Writer
Daily Buzz
Sara Statham in the Arctic Ocean

Sara Statham can cross an item off her bucket list: scuba diving in the Arctic Ocean. 

Her first dive off the coast to Iqaluit, Nunavut, was captured on a GoPro

"It was amazing to go scuba diving in Frobisher Bay, especially because Iqalummiut (people who live in Iqaluit) usually spend their time on top of the water (as sea ice) — not below it," Statham wrote in an email to Yahoo Canada.

"The highlight of my experience was definitely seeing all the underwater sea life. The species were so beautiful, peculiar, and unexpected. I think that a big misconception about the Arctic is that it is barren, because it definitely is not."

Statham, whose Masters research in climate change and Inuit food security first brought her north from British Columbia in 2011, has been living in the Arctic full-time since 2012, when she was offered her dream job of Territorial Food Security Coordinator. 

"I have absolutely loved the experience so far — it is an incredible place," she wrote. 

Read more about her move north here

So, what should Yahoo visitors know about Arctic diving?

"Scuba diving in the Arctic not as cold as it looks!" Statham insisted. "That said, we went scuba diving in the ‘summer’ with an ambient temperature of around 5 C and oceanic temperature of -2 C. People can go ice diving during the winter when it is much, much colder. (My friend even went scuba diving in frozen Antarctic lakes, but that’s another story.) In those cases, regulators can freeze and oxygen can come rushing out of the tank, so a second ‘back up’ regulator is required. Lucky for me, the only extra gear I needed was a dry suit and some thermal layers (which is typical of scuba diving elsewhere in Canada), and of course some hot chocolate for afterwards.”

She added, “In order to go summer scuba diving like I did, all you need is your Open Water Diver Certification and preferably a dry suit orientation beforehand.”

Will she do it again?

"I would love to go scuba diving in the Arctic again! Unfortunately the scuba diving season with Tour Iqaluit is now finished, but there is always next summer. Otherwise, I could get my Advanced Diving Certification and go ice diving with Arctic Kingdom even further north this winter — as long as my regulator doesn’t freeze,” she wrote.

Read more about Statham’s Arctic adventures at Finding True North