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  • Writer's pictureShaun Yeo

Wooden Wrecks & "Marine Life on Steroids" - Diving Canada!


Although I would like to see and dive as much as the world as possible, I must admit, that Canada wasn’t on the top of my list to visit anytime soon. Been my mother’s life dream for years and wanting to do something with her after she had just retired, I thought accompanying her to visit Canada was what I would do, as well as get some dives in, whilst there.

 

The trip was split into two sections; the East Canadian Cities, and then the West Rockies area. In both areas, I managed to find diving, and both areas were completely different to each other.

 

Part 1

 

Diving in one of the Great Lakes of North America! Lake Huron in Canada, where many well preserved wooden wrecks, some hundreds of years old, can be seen. The fresh water and freezing icy waters, keep the wood preserved!

 

4'c Water Temperature, lips frozen like an ice cube, hands... even with thick dry gloves... extremely sharp pain from the cold! Good experience though!

Two dives on my first day at Tobermory. The first wreck was called; Niagra II.


"The Niagara II was built in 1930 as a 182 foot steel freighter and later in life, converted to a sand sucker. In 1998, the Tobermory Maritime Association was formed with the objective of obtaining and sinking a new wreck to enhance the diving opportunity in Tobermory. After an extensive search, the perfect ship was found - the Niagara II. This exciting wreck was sunk in May 1999 and offers a wonderful diving experience for all levels of certification." - Source: Divers Den

Second wreck called; W.L. Wetmore.

 

"The W.L. Wetmore was driven ashore in a storm on November 29, 1901. The 819.74-ton steamer was towing 2 barges, the Brunette and James C. King, when it got caught in a squall and ran aground off Russel Island. The Brunette was salvaged but the James. C. King slide into deep water a few meters north of the Wetmore." - Source: Divers Den

 

My second day started with an amazing first dive on the wooden wreck of the Arabia! Sunk in 1884 and still there... The 4'c water temperature is painful though! Added an extra thermal layer today under the dry gloves, boots etc. but still freezing!

"The Arabia has a definite and long standing connection to Tobermory. In 1854, she sailed to Glasgow, Scotland with a cargo of wheat and flour. She remained in the coastal trade on the northwest coast of Great Britain for a year or so. During that time, Tobermory, Scotland (on the island of Mull) was one of her ports of call. After returning to Canada, she ran aground near Flowerpot Island in 1882. She was refloated, repaired and continued her service. The following year, on the stormy day of October 5, 1884, she met her ultimate fate near Echo Island as she foundered and sank." - Source: Divers Den

Second Dive on the "King" Wreck.

 

"The James C. King was wrecked while under tow by the W.L. Wetmore in November 1901 by a strong gale. Unlike the Wetmore which sits in shallow water, the James C. King slide bow first on a steep incline off the western tip of Russel Island." - Source: Divers Den

 

Part 2

 

The second part of the diving part of my trip to Canada, took me to Vancouver Island, after a week of visiting the Canadian Rockies.

 

"Vancouver Island, on Canada’s west coast, holds over 17,000 miles of coastline. Cousteau said of the area that it’s “the best temperate-water diving in the world and second only to the Red Sea.

 

Today, diving in Vancouver Island still ranks among the best in North America, many calling it Cousteau’s favourite dive. Marine life includes prehistoric-looking wolf eels, bluntnose sixgill sharks, seals, sea lions, giant Pacific octopus and well-loved sea otters.

 

The current-fed waters in this area are rich in plankton and marine life, including giant Pacific octopuses, sea stars, anemones, rockfish and sponges. This island is an underwater photographer’s dream site, with its vivid colours." - Source PADI Blog

 

After a muddy 0 vis entrance (caused by melting snow in the mountains via rivers emptying out to sea....) and a spring algae bloom, after about 10 metres, we get crystal clear visibility, although almost as dark as a night dive, due to the layers of green algae, and brown mud above. The sea temperature was slightly warmer than in the lakes, around 8’c which made it slightly more comfortable for longer dives, to those I was able to do in Tobermory. Also a current heat wave with air temperatures  in the 30’c range, helped a lot for warming up after the dives!

I enjoyed seeing ancient wooden wrecks in the East Canadian fresh Lakes, but these dives off Vancouver Island was also quite amazing! The marine life was like the guide described “on steroids” everything I tended to see in other parts of the world, where huge here in Canada! I saw hundreds of starfish and different species of marine life I had never encountered before whilst diving. Of special interest was the Wolf Eel, something that looked like it had come from the prehistoric age of the dinosaurs.

 

Below are some video links of my dives whilst in Canada:




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