It's summer but the sky is cloudy and with a cold wind. After several visits to the town of Trondheim in Norway, I have finally found the courage to take the plunge. I am a little concerned, not only about the cold looking water, but also because it is my first time diving in a dry suit. Having said that, I still feel safe as the guys from the Havsport dive centre have kitted me up in very nice and well maintained gear. The trip to the dive site, on the other side of the Trondheimsfjord, is a mere 30 minutes on the speedboat.
As we are getting ourselves ready to jump in, I am getting increasingly worried about the cold. In Mozambique, my current home, I'm freezing when the temperature drops to around 20 degrees in winter, and here there are talks of less than 10! But the thought of getting this experience overpower my worries, and I manage to convince myself that I really want to do this dive!
With housing in hand I hop in together with my French buddy Frank, who I've only just met before this trip. As soon as we start our descent my worries turn to excitement as I dive into a world very different to anything I have seen before.
The wall we are diving starts at around 5 meters, and drops to more than 30, although we spent most the dive at 18-20 meters. The wall is made up by sand and big rocks, with plenty of subjects for me to photograph. The viz turns out to be much better than I had expected - around 10 to 15 meters, but with a fair amount of particles and green water making it a little dark as we get deeper. Nothing that a good torch can't fix, though!
My new dive buddy turns out to be great at modelling, and he is also good helping me find subjects. We slowly swim along the wall where we find beautiful sea stars and some nice red sea urchins which I spend some time taking pictures of. We also come across a very cool Orange-footed Sea cucumber (Cucumaria frondosa) which makes a nice feature for more photos. I am surprised to check my dive computer and find that the temperature is 6 degrees, I have been under for more than 15 minutes and I am still nice and warm! The next thing we chance upon is the most wonderful anemone, which I never would have thought could exist in such cold waters. It is beautifully white with red markings and long arms. Its called sea rose anemone (Urticina eques) and usually lives by itself on top of rocks or sand from the intertidal zone all the way down to some hundred meters. It is apparently a common sight along the Norwegian coastline, but none the less impressive to find for a 'tropical diver'.
35 minutes into the dive we are starting to feel the chill and decide to begin our ascend. We bump into Kaj, the owner of the dive centre, and his group, and he enthusiastically points out a huge lobster. It is the first time I have seen that type of lobster and I spend several minutes watching it move along the ridge. As the wall starts as shallow as 5 meters, it makes an interesting safety stop where kelp makes up most of the typography. This allows for a prolonged safety stop with plenty photo opportunities.
Back at the surface I am all smiles, having had a great dive. Thinking that my day of diving is over I head towards the boat, when one of the other divers asks if anyone else has enough air to go for a quick shallow dive. I'm not hard to convince and off we go again. This time we descend to only 10 meters where we find some nice big crabs and white sea urchins. We make it another 20 minutes before our tanks start to drain and our fingers start to freeze and the only sensible option is to return to the surface. I can hardly believe it - I have just spent more than an hour in 6 degrees cold water!
Back on the boat the dry suit is still keeping me warm for the 30 minute boat ride back to base, which is a big surprise seeing that the weather is still rather cold and grey.
It has been an extremely good experience, and I am eager to go again as I have heard that the area has plenty of nice wrecks, and even some sunken airplanes lying at depths within reach for divers. Some of the wrecks require a technical qualification, whilst others are at depths suitable for less experienced divers. The fiord can also boast the world's most shallow cold water coral (lophelia) reefs which starts at around 40 meters. There are also several species of shark living in these waters, and although a rare sight for divers, they have been observed and there is nothing to stop a 4 meter long Greenland shark from paying a visit from the depths to say hello!
The dive I did might not have been as colourful and full of life as what I am used to from diving in tropical and sub-tropical waters, but the area sure holds some interesting secrets and has great potential to make it a place to return to. The professional team at Havsport also helped take the experience to a higher level, and I am already looking forward to my next dive in Trondheim.