While the inhabitants of central Russia are feeling blue due to the autumn weather in September, there are places in Russia where the average July temperature is +12°C , and the sun either shines for 24 hours or does not shine at all for several weeks. This summer, our scuba divers went to the Murmansk region on a small expedition and were met with a polar day. What drives people who go diving into the northern seas and spend the summer near the Arctic Circle?
The Barents and White Seas are rich in flora and fauna, and therefore they attracted scuba divers of the Underwater Research Team of the Russian Geographical Society named after A.A. Leonov. The challenge for the submariners was to test their equipment in salt water. It was the equipment with which, in January this year, they set the world record for time spent under the ice on the Izumrudnoye Lake in Kazan. It was necessary to test a dry suit, as well as a closed-loop apparatus - a rebreather, with which scuba divers had not previously worked.
A dry diving suit is a suit for use in special conditions. The main distinguishing feature of a dry suits is tightness.
A rebreather is a breathing apparatus in which the carbon dioxide released during breathing is absorbed by the chemical compound, then the mixture is enriched with oxygen and is circulated back for inhalation
For a reliable assessment of the work of the rebreather, Aleksey Poleshchuk, a diver with extensive experience, the head of the regional Submarine Federation of the Murmansk region and a long-time friend of his Kazan colleagues, invited an instructor from Moscow who specializes in diving with this device. Testing was carried out at a depth of up to 50 meters, and the dives lasted for an hour. The rebreather did not fail. And the dry suit did not fail twice already - during a record 10-hour dive, and now, in salty sea water. Thanks to the rebreather, the time spent under the water increases, and from there, new records are just a stone's throw away.
“When testing new equipment, it is always a risk, especially when we are talking about a depth of several tens of meters. But everything went more than successfully. The team and equipment worked perfectly,” says the expedition leader Dmitry Schiller.
“Everything that was necessary to check and find out, we checked and found out. Everything worked without interruptions; the equipment fulfilled the task”, shares one of the expedition participants Igor Artemyev.
Scuba divers set the second task to study the condition and activity of the underwater flora and fauna of the Barents and White Seas. An expedition with a similar task was two years ago. Then, at the request of Murmansk State University, scuba divers studied the wildlife of the northern seas. This time this goal was not strategically important, but rather, it was to satisfy the curiosity of people who came, some of them for the first time, several thousand kilometers north, to another climate zone.
“To see a whale, of course, is worth a lot! But in general, the underwater world is always fascinating. In our latitudes, it is much more modest, and when you come to the sea, you are always surprised at the diversity”, says expedition participant Maxim Astakhov.
During the dives, the expedition participants noticed mostly small animals, and quite rarely. But scientist acquaintances explained that this season, larger representatives of the underwater fauna, such as crabs, descend to a depth of 40-50 meters, because the conditions there are most comfortable for living. At the entrance to the White Sea, the divers met whales. More precisely, it was possible to see only the fin of the largest modern animal, but even this is a rarity and a great luck.
The trip was planned quickly, but for a long time the divers could not decide on the departure date. Upon arrival in Murmansk, they settled on a ship, on which they were going to go to sea. It was necessary to get from the port of Murmansk to the port of Arkhangelsk, but the exit to the sea had to be delayed for a couple of days: they waited for the ship to be ready for departure, but they themselves did not waste time, and prepared the equipment.
A polar day is worth seeing, but handling it is not so simple. In daylight, the brain refuses to accept that it is already night. It’s difficult to sleep, but it’s possible. It is not easy for the body to switch to such a regimen. A day for scuba divers, for a week of the expedition, was not divided into the usual daytime and nighttime, but into preparations for the dives, the dives themselves and discussion of the dives.