Monday, May 12, 2008

Ice Diving in the White Sea

I ran across this story in the Wall St. Journal online, and it's incredible! Mark Schoofs wrote the piece and is the diver. The video is truly breathtaking. And the White Sea Center has two captive Beluga whales that played with the divers.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

"But the cold harbors danger. Valves can freeze, either blasting a diver with free-flowing air or shutting off the air supply altogether. Every air tank for ice diving has two valves, not the standard one for warm-water diving, and the mouthpiece valve has a freeze-resistant design. Even so, I encountered an emergency. I wore a vest that inflated and deflated to control buoyancy, and a valve on it froze open, ballooning the vest and sending me straight up. I was pinned against the ice, unable to swim freely, with the air in my tank rapidly flowing out. The safety of the terrestrial world was less than a foot away but walled off by impenetrable ice.

This is the second danger of ice diving: To ascend to the surface, one must return to the ice hole. Out of air and wearing close to 100 pounds of gear, even 25 yards underwater can be a long, even lethal distance. Each diver is secured to a rope connected to two other people: a buddy in the water and a tender on the surface. My buddy saw my trouble and gave the emergency signal: Four yanks of the rope, and our tender hauled us in. We skated along the ice's underside, a sensation so fun and beautiful that I forgot the danger. Up on top, our tender doused the valve with hot water from a thermos, and we resumed our dive."

Click on the title of the post to read the entire piece.

Hope everyone is well. We're done with finals and gearing up for graduation on Friday!

Hugs and fishes,
Jenny Mo

1 comment:

Neutral Dive Gear said...

Great find, Jenny Mo! Thanks for sharing.

Hat tip!