Diving Deer Island, New Brunswick

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Canada / Meets for diving? Three locations pop into the mind of a Canadian diver to visit: Bell Island, Newfoundland, British Columbia and Tobermory, Ontario. Within this list, Deer Island, New Brunswick, is not considered, but a trek worth making for very advanced divers.

One of the Fundy Islands is Deer Island, in Bay of Fundy, Canada. It lies at the entrance to Passamaquoddy Bay. The island was first settled by colonists approximately 1770. At 45 km it is the largest in the West Isles Parish and has a population of around 851. The government-run Deer Island Princess II and Abnaki II connect Deer Island with L’Etete, New Brunswick on the mainland. More ferries run in the summer months. There is no ferry access from Maine, U.S.A. Fishing and agriculture is the basic economy on Deer Island although tourism has grown recently.

Deer Island New Brunswick
Deer Island Ferry. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

The “Old Sow”, (water power) the west hemisphere’s biggest tidal whirlpool, can be seen from Deer Island Point Park. Approximately 40 billion cubic feet of water flows into Passamaquoddy Bay and with the rising incoming tide it mixes with the counter-current from the St. Croix River north of the bay::resulting in “Old Sow”. The world’s highest tides (50-plus feet) surge in and out twice a day, every day, sending those 40 billions cubic feet of water in motion.

Deer Island New Brunswick
Deer Island Beach. “Old Sow” at work…Photo Credit: Wikipedia

It is important to mention to everyone interested in diving Deer Island, that all sites are considered very advanced dive sites. There are many very experienced local scuba shops within the Bay of Fundy area and they offer guided dives on request. It is recommended not to dive Deer Island without a dive guide. These guides are more than happy to accompany divers to the wonders of this underwater playground. There are no dive shops on Deer Island. Fisheries and Oceans Canada offers a tide detailed 7 day report. Divers preparing to dive into Fundy will find this helpful to plan your dive times.

It should be avoided to dive the “Old Sow” during the new and full moons, as the tides are much higher and highly erratic during these times, the tides reach their highest amplitude and can be very powerful.

Water Conditions: Visibility rarely reaches 10 metres. Water temperatures vary from the summer low of 50Fs to the winter low of 30Fs. A dry suit is an absolute must, and Deer Island is not recommended for recreational divers.

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Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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