A special post about the pier divers we have here on station. The divers group is made up of three guys, Steve, Rob, and Jack, who are working on fixing the pier at Palmer station so that our boat can come back to get us. They all have at least two decades of diving experience in cold water. Cold water diving is different than diving in Delaware and of course, very different than diving in the tropics! Because the seawater is below freezing, the divers use a “dry suit” which is water-tight and keeps them completely dry. Here is Steve helping Rob with his suit.
The suit has pipes running into it, and hot water can be pumped into the pipes to keep the divers warm while they work under water. If they were diving with a wet-suit, they would not be able to stay in the water more than 15 minutes before they froze! With this heated dry suit, they stay in the water for 4 hours! Here is Rob heating up the water to be pumped into the suit.
The drivers are fixing the pier because it it broken. They not only have to be master divers, but also welders so they can patch up the metal on the pier. Here is Steve putting on his diving suit and helmet, which is also very heavy and water tight. The helmet has headphones built into it so that the diver in the water can communicate with the other two team members who are on land. Below that, Steve is in the water welding two pieces of metal together with a flame.
The divers take turns doing 4 hour dives! Sometimes they get bumped by big chunks of ice and … even leopard seals! Leopard seals can be very aggressive so when they see one, the divers get out of the water FAST!
Another time, an elephant seal comes to visit the dive shack while Rob and the other divers are getting suited up. What a curious guy!
Have any of you ever been diving before? I took diving lessons in Delaware last year and got my SCUBA certification. Maybe I will even take special lessons to learn cold water diving in the future!
All these pictures were taken by diver, Jack Baldelli and I am grateful to him for sharing them with all of us.