By Roger Lacasse / Photography: Simon Georges
Discovering a worldScuba diving allows you to explore extraordinary environments and discover fascinating animals. There are a multitude of dive sites in Quebec, suitable for all tastes and all skill levels. Whether it is to observe the fauna and flora in fresh and salt water or to visit wrecks, worlds of discovery await you.
Freshwater divingTo learn to dive safely, nothing better than the thousands of lakes and hundreds of rivers that are part of the Quebec landscape. From the upper St. Lawrence meadows to the depths of Lake Memphremagog, a surprisingly rich flora and fauna are available to those who know how to observe. Sunfish, yellow perch, bass, pike, carp and crayfish are abundant in all rivers, while eels, sponges, mudpuppies, sturgeons, hydras and mysid shrimp are less obvious to the eye.
Saltwater divingThe majestic St. Lawrence Estuary offers a wide variety of sites for saltwater diving. On the south shore, from Les Méchins via Forillon, Gaspé, Percé and Baie des Chaleurs and on to the North Shore of the Grande Bergeronne and Les Escoumins region via Baie Comeau, Pointe-des-Monts and the Mingan Archipelago the possibilities for exploration are limitless. Often comparable in density to warm seas, the diverse life is rich and colorful. Everywhere, sea urchins, starfish, anemones, lobsters, crabs, nudibranchs, cod, arctic wolves and seals await divers who are eager for discovery.
For the more adventurous, the virgin territories of the Saguenay Fjord hold even more secrets. Under the cover of an opaque halocline, gorgonocephali, octopuses, shrimps and other inhabitants of the depths rise close to the surface to enjoy the abundance of suspended food particles.
Wreck divingFor many divers, wreck diving is at the root of their passion. For them, visiting a wreck is a special way to experience history. The most famous of Quebec’s wrecks is located off Ste-Luce-sur-Mer, the Empress of Ireland, which attracts divers from all over the world. The artificial reef created by the scuttling of the Nipigon is an ideal site for training wreck divers. For their part, divers from Pointe-des-Monts are starting to showcase the many wrecks in their region. The Richelieu River, a former strategic trade route connecting New England via an armed conflict location, contains several historic wrecks.
Ice divingIn winter, most lakes are frozen from December to April. That’s the season for ice diving—an activity that can be practiced in groups and that allows you to extend the diving season. It’s time to take advantage of clear waters to observe lethargic fauna while we wait for the beautiful season. In salt water, winter diving is an opportunity to observe species that ascend from the depths while enjoying extraordinary visibility.
What you need to knowThe diving conditions in Quebec are demanding. The temperature of lakes and rivers varies from -2 ° C to 20 ° C depending on the depth and the time of year. Visibility is generally 3 to 10 meters. In salt water, the water temperature rarely exceeds 10 ° C. Visibility is often only a few meters in summer but can exceed 30 meters from fall to spring. Depending on the location, it is also necessary to take into account the presence of currents, tides and the possibility of fog.
To get started with scuba diving, you can contact one of the many dive-shops in Quebec. For the visiting diver, diving clubs are a good way to get in touch with Quebec dive-sites. Since January 1, 2005, you must have a Quebec diving qualification certificate to practice recreational scuba diving in the province. You can get your qualification card from one of the many instructors accredited by the Federation. For details, see our page on the Quebec recreational scuba diving regulations.