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Ocean Quest

May 22, 2012


There’s never been a better time to take a look at what Newfoundland & Labrador (NL) has to offer the SCUBA diver who wants diversity, a challenge and the opportunity to dive on some of the World’s best preserved WWII shipwrecks.  Also consider the chance of diving with majestic whales, next to awe-inspiring icebergs or in some of the historic areas where Europeans moving to the ‘New World’ settled centuries ago and maybe it's sounding pretty good!

The focus of diving in the Province of Newfoundland & Labrador is close to St. John's - North America's oldest city - on the Avalon Peninsula, mainly on the famous Bell Island Shipwrecks. These four Allied ore carriers, torpedoed by German U-boats in 1942 and sunk at their moorings in Lance Cove, Conception Bay, are each over 400ft long, upright and intact. Rated in the top 10% for diving Worldwide by prominent divers, with regard to preservation, easy access and visbility, they are rapidly finding their way to the top of many divers 'gotta do' lists. Ranging in depth from 17m/55ft at the top of the PLM27 to 49m/160ft at the seabed next to the SS Rose Castle, there is something for all experience levels. The SS Saganaga and SS Lord Strathcona make up the four wrecks and, with the WWII history surrounding them, they are fast becoming one of Newfoundland and Labrador's main tourist attractions in their own right. Being sheltered from the open Atlantic Ocean and with negligible current, diving conditions in Conception Bay are generally excellent and poor weather rarely prevents diving, even during Winter. Divers never tire of these exceptional wrecks as there's always something interesting to see - from deck guns to bathrooms, steam whistle to engine room telegraph, these 'unplundered' ships are Bell Island's own underwater museum! A swim through the torpedo hole on the Lord Strathcona, past the huge propeller on the PLM 27, to the Harland & Wolfe maker's plate on one of the Saganaga's lifeboats or the Marconi radio room on the Rose Castle never fails to spark the imagination and create images of life aboard these vulnerable freighters during the Battle of the Atlantic. A short distance from the stern of the Rose Castle lie the remains of the torpedo which sank it! In almost 160ft of water, the rear half of this weapon, it's deadly work completed long ago, is now the peaceful home to lots of local marine life. The sad loss of 69 lives during the attacks is never forgotten and every year an underwater remembrance parade is held at the site - just one indication of the high degree of respect for Newfoundland & Labrador's wreck sites that local divers have. They aim to inspire this respect in everyone who dives in the area and all visitors are strongly encouraged to 'take only pictures and leave only bubbles'. This policy is welcomed by most divers and it helps ensure that Newfoundland & Labrador remains amongst the finest dive destinations in the World ...[...]

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