Scuba Diving Northumberland Strait

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The Northumberland Strait is a strait in eastern Canada that connects the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to the Atlantic Ocean. The strait is formed by the eastern, southern, and western shores of Prince Edward Island and the gulf.

The strait’s western boundary is defined by a line running from North Cape, Prince Edward Island, to Point Escuminac, New Brunswick, and its eastern boundary is defined by a line running from East Point, Prince Edward Island, to Inverness, Nova Scotia.

The depth of the Northumberland Strait ranges from 17 to 65 meters, with the deepest waters at either end. The tidal patterns are complicated; the eastern end has two tides per day, with a tidal range of 1.2 to 1.8 metres, whereas the western end has only one tide per day.

The shallow depths of the strait contribute to warm water temperatures in the summer, with some areas reaching 25°C (77°F). As a result, the strait is said to have the warmest ocean water temperatures in Canada, as well as some of the warmest ocean water temperatures north of Virginia on the Atlantic coast.

The strait’s northern and southern coasts are both lined with sandy beaches. Tourists flock to these beaches in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.

Northumberland Strait
Madereugeneandrew, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

During the winter months of December to April, sea ice blankets the entire St. Lawrence Strait and Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The cities of Charlottetown and Summerside, Prince Edward Island, as well as the towns of Souris, Prince Edward Island, Pictou, Nova Scotia, and Shediac, New Brunswick, are all located on the strait.

Ports such as Pugwash ship salt, Summerside, Charlottetown, Georgetown, and Souris ship agricultural products and receive petroleum and aggregate, and Pictou ship forestry products and general cargo. Shipping has declined in recent decades as rail service to ports has declined and highway capacity to larger ports outside the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which freezes in the winter, has increased.

During the summer and fall, cruise ships frequently visit Charlottetown, and since 2012, a few smaller cruise ships have visited Pictou, NS.

In folklore circles, the strait is famous for regular sightings of the Ghost Ship of Northumberland Strait, a flaming vessel that appears in the middle of the strait. The strait is also known for its ice boats, which were small oared boats that made regular dangerous crossings of the strait in winter carrying mail and passengers before the era of ice breaking ferries.

Dive Report

Observations at dive site: maximum depth of 65 feet. Temperature 16 C (62°F) on bottom. Camera for footage; GoPro Hero 10. The overall dive time was 25 minutes. An impressive array of sponge was present across the sand stone bottom and surrounding elevations.

Alan Parrish

Thanks to Alan Parrish for his video contribution.

Follow Allan’s dive adventures on Facebook.

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About Author

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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