Antarctica has always been and will always be an unfriendly part of the world especially for diving activities. Conducting scientific explorations in these regions are consistently daunting. Numerous threats present the surroundings that make simple tasks very difficult to perform. Icebergs can easily collapse due to minor reasons, strong water current, below zero degrees temperature and wild animals inhabiting the frozen terrain.
Russian Geographical Society and the Federation of Underwater Sports of Russia has put up a project called “Cold Pole” for the purpose of developing safe diving methods in extremely cold environments and at the same time test Russian diving equipment.
The team being led by Dimitri Schiller dived into the freezing waters and reached depths of up to 97 meters. Diving to the depth of approximately 20 meters is still considered safe but further down is life threatening and therefore assignments are designated to remotely operated vehicles instead.
The expedition set out on December 5th Moscow time from Ushuala port to South Shetland Islands on an ice-class yacht.
“To begin with, passing the Drake Passage on a 16-meter ice class sailing yacht was not the most pleasant event in our lives. Almost all the time the yacht literally went at an angle of 35-40°. 24 hours a day. The team kept ice watches tracking ice blocks in the sea and dodging them. It was always snowy or rainy.”
“The weather gave us only one eight-hour window near the island of Deception. It was enough to carry out one dive. Or two rather: one deep dive to the depth of 97 meters and one to the depth of 45 meters.
“So without any estimations we started working. We planned to dive to the depth of 100 meters. However, the depth was only 97 meters. We reached the bottom.
“In short, it was very hard. Perhaps it was my most difficult mission for the last five years,” Dimitri Schiller told the press.
10 people participated in the program including the 18 year old Valery Saleev and the oldest 48 year old Andrei Filippov. The main goal of the study was not the waters in the Antarctica but rather the human ability to perform duties within extreme unforgiving conditions.