I was delighted to be invited to go to the Saguenay fjord to dive with Andrew, Timur and our Canadian friends. This time, I was more relaxed because we scheduled two full days to travel instead of traveling all night and diving all day.
This is my second time diving at Petit-Saguenay, so I knew what to expect, that my mind would be saturated with the fauna I saw on my dives, a contrast from my usual dives in New England. For those who have not dove in Saguenay, I’ll make a brief description of what it is to dive in Saguenay.
Beneath the surface of the Saguenay River
When people dive in Saguenay, they usually dive from Zodiac boats, which are travel to all parts of the fjord.
On both sides of the tall mountains and cliffs covered with evergreens and birches and both times that I’ve been it creates such a calmed, relaxing atmosphere before the dive. Many people can see the scenery above, but I get to see the beauty above and below
My Canadian friends each have their favorite dive sites, with names like Carl Wall, Pascal Wall, Joelle’s Wall because many of the cliffs extend hundreds of feet above and below the water, covered with all kinds of marine life. And we let them pick the sites they think we would like the most.
Getting dressed in dry suits on zodiac is not as easy as in most places, but what I am about to see I know it’s worth it. We make careful dive plans with our buddies and a captain of the boat and decent together, because visibility is very poor in first 30 to 40 feet of tannin hued freshwater. So diving in the first 30-40 feet it’s like diving in a cup of tea. It is warmer and even just before you get to the salt water, visibility becomes blurry as a fresh and salt water mix.
As you enter the salt water the abundance of life becomes clearly evident. And in some places, 90 percent of the area has living organisms attached to the walls. There are red, frilled and knobby anemones covering most of the area. And like large living satellite dishes made of knurled hands are baskets stars, open and feeding with others in the complete darkness of the depth. In additions to these organisms are strawberry corals that appeared to be tropical corals found in Fiji, but somehow they are flourishing without sunlight in cold, dark Saguenay fjord
Basket star (Gorgonocephalus eucnemis)
I really enjoyed searching among corals for the translucent pink snail fish curled in the arms of the corals. Their large silvery eyes with tiny lack pupils, makes them seem something other than a fish. (Something from the “Never ending story” or something from a child imagination).
Pink snailfish (Liparids)
I also enjoyed watching hedgehog amphipods with their armored plated and red eyes as they explore their environment.
Hedgehog amphipod (Paramphitoe hystrix)
Brittle stars, badge stars are also to found on the walls of the fjord. Another creature that I always exited and determent to see is bobtail squid. They are small, usually less than 4 inches and act more like a cuttlefish then a squid. On my five dives, during this trip, I saw 6 or 7 of them.
Bobtail squid (Sepiolida)
Another creature I enjoy seeing is the skeleton shrimp. If I was only a one centimeter tall they would be a thing from a nightmare, but at 3 inches tall, they are more humorous than scary. (They much larger here than elsewhere)
Skeleton shrimp (Caprellidae)
Another animal that is much larger here were hydroids, with heads 3 inches across (normally only a half inch). Feeding on these were varieties of nudibranchs. With the exception of Colga villosa, during this trip nudibranchs were smaller than when I dove in Saguenay last year in October.
Solitary hydroid (Tubularia solitaria)
It was a fabulous trip, I hoped and I saw a lot of animals. But without my Canadian friends, it would be impossible. Therefore, I want to thank you, guys, from the bottom of my heart and I wish to see you for many years to come.
About the author - Matt Wills
I am a high school biology teacher living in rural southeastern Massachusetts. Water has always been a magnet for me, as a child my parents had to watch me closely as I was constantly heading for the water, even before I could swim. Diving and photography have become my biggest passions since learning to dive in Honduras. My favorite dive locations are St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Eastport, Maine. I currently dive with a Canon 7D, in an Ikelite housing. My favorite lens is a 60mm macro lens. I love finding and learning about the tiny and diverse creatures of the sea, (mostly overlooked by others), allowing me to be an explorer in this modern world.