Macro Destination In to the Norwegian fjordshttp://www.uwphoto.no
The best thing you can say about fjord diving, is that you can manage without a boat, and that there is always a place to dive no matter how hard the wind blows. During the “dark season” (from October to April) we mostly do night dives. We drive inside one of all the fjords surrounding the area I live in, and just jump off a cliff or the beach. In The famous Lysefjord, we can dive from the beach and do wall diving where it is several hundred meters deep. In night the creatures from the deep move towards the surface to hunt and feed on northern krill and other swarming critters. The velvet belly shark is our smallest shark, but beautiful for macro photographers if you are able to capture its image. Often they have parasitic amphipods riding on their backs or close to their gills. The most exciting thing about diving the fjords, is that you never know what you will meet. This year we have seen the mesopelagic shrimp (Sergestes arcticus) on almost every dive. Until this year, I have only spotted it one time in 32 years of diving.
Of course we do not have the same amount of critters as in tropical waters, but we have some quite odd ones, especially during the winter time. Some very colourful too. If you have a drysuit and good gloves, diving is quite easy. You do not need a boat or a guide. In the area where I live we have no companies running diving trips, but we have several diving clubs. They can help you with good advice, you can join their dive trips just paying for the fuel for the boat or car. I am a member in Stavanger Diving Club. They have a house down by the sea, for some small money you can rent a room in their house, and you can join all their club trips (3 or more) during the week. I do not really have a favourite critter, but I love the rattail fish and all the small sharks that visit diveable depths during the night. Also different types of squids and shrimps are stunning photo motives.
I flash the light at Leif as I discover a hagfish sticking its head up from the mud, sniffing at us. It makes a good image before it withdrew to the mud. We stop at a shelf flashing our lights out in the open dark looking for pelagic critters. The starry skates are everywhere, looking at us with their green eyes as we pass by, but we do not find the Northern Lanternfish tonight. Maybe the current is wrong or the moon fools us? After 90 minutes we are back on the beach, jabber about the critters we saw and the images we have captured. Some odd critters have been stored on the memory card, but we will be back next week. I’m sure the lantern fish will meet us then.
From UK: take a ferry from Newcastle to Stavanger or Bergen. For countries above Europe, you have to fly to Stavanger, the nearest big city to the inner fjords of Ryfylke. These can be reached by car or boat, with an elaborate system of ferries, tunnels and bridges making it easy to move around.
You can dive from land or from a boat. Dive centres and clubs in Stavanger can provide air fills and diving gear. Stavanger Diving Club (http://stavangerdykk.com/) has two boats and a compressor and organises tours at least three times a week for 30 krone - about £2.50 plus petrol per head.
When to Go:
Surface water can range from 0°C in the winter to 20°C in summer, otherwise the fjord water temperature is stable at 7°C. In spring the algae bloom, and from April until October visibility varies from 40m to 10cm. The rest of the year visibility is stable and good but the light is poorer and the days shorter.
There are plenty of campsites, as well as cabins for hire. Stavanger Dykkeklubb rents some rooms in their Club House to visiting divers. It can be an advantage to stay there, as they have regular trips at least 3-4 times each week. You can join them or get many good tips from many experienced divers who know the area well.
Call Stavanger Tourist Information on 00 47 5189 6600 or you may contact Rudolf Svensen at Rudolf@uwphoto.no