Freshwater diving can be very rewarding to divers; although some may say that salt water diving is better. In some respects I can agree with them. But in my opinion, freshwater diving can be just as rewarding and fun. There are many sights to see in freshwater locations all around the world. I’ve had the privilege of seeing and enjoying many North American fresh water dive sites. Indeed, there very well may be several local areas that you’ve haven’t even realized could be an enjoying dive. Try some research before simply stepping into the water. Use the internet to discover local lakes and rivers, or better yet find a local angler or hunter who could give some insight on local water. Here are a few suggestions for those looking for freshwater sites to dive.
1. Always research the area as best as possible. Determine local fauna and wildlife. The very last thing you want is to surface and find a bear curiously standing over your tarp and shore gear waiting for you to parlay over the safe return of your stuff. I’m no biologist, but I’m fairly certain that discussions with wild animals don’t usually have good outcomes. Basic knowledge of local fauna is equally as important as the wildlife; because those leaves you’ve been standing in while you don your wetsuit could very well be poison ivy. Things that don’t exist in South America exist in North America and vice versa. Moral is; you don’t know what you don’t know, so learn about things like wildlife and fauna.
2. Learn about the dive site before you dive it. This one seems like common sense, but all too many times I see people surface well away from their buoy or the shore they entered the watered at, because they got lost underwater. If the dive site has a dive center nearby, you should definitely inquire with them about the dive sites in the area and any underwater hazards that may exist. I’m quite certain that no diver wants to hit a new dive spot and discover later to their dismay that it was flowing with some form of growth stunting toxic waste that everyone in the local area already knew about. Also fore knowledge of water and surface temperature differences will make any dive in a new area go smoothly, as you can utilize appropriate exposure protection. Freshwater temperatures can vary massively in North America, and are often times deceptive based on the outside temperature. For instance, in the American Southwest and parts of Northern Mexico the air temperature may be in the upper 90s, during the spring ,on the Fahrenheit scale while temperature at depth may be 30 – 40 degrees colder. This requires exposure protection underwater that could very well dehydrate a diver above water. This can vary greatly from Alaska and Yukon Territory where air temperature will vary all year round from 50 degrees Fahrenheit to negative 60 degrees; yet a flowing river will stay just above freezing year round.
3. If an underwater map exists of an unfamiliar dive site use it. If one doesn’t exist ask the local dive center or club for a dive-master or other experienced diver who knows the are for advice or any accompaniment on the dive if he/she is willing. Network with other divers about your find afterwards. DiveBuddy.com is also a great site to network about dive sites using Scuba Earth. You could also contribute photos and videos on GoScubaCandy.com!
Think about these things the next time you hit a freshwater spot…