Vancouver Island ocean-exploring enthusiasts have plunged into new waters, forming a non-profit group to tout diving and exploration.
Exploration Diving Society of B.C. was conceived last November, according to Bill Nadeau, the society’s director of science and one of its founders. B.C. boasts talented diving industry experts and “some of the best cold-water diving in the world,” he said; however, over the last decade, diving tourism and activity has stagnated for numerous reasons including the economy and COVID-19.
The society seeks ways to re-engage with experts and promote the province’s offerings, Nadeau said. He said divers coming to B.C. know top dive sites such as Browning Pass in Port Hardy and Dodd Narrows and Gabriola Passage in Nanaimo.
“There hasn’t been really any collective effort to go out and explore new sites…” he said. “Those have been around for three decades. There’s certainly more sites like that.”
Amid global warming and climate change and with an eye to the Canadian government’s Oceans Protection Plan, Nadeau said the society wants to find ways of measuring and marking what’s occurring. The group consists of free divers, recreational divers, technical divers, professional photographers and videographers, biologists, geologists and geographers, all of whom can assist.
“You’ve got this diversity of perspectives, and talents that can come together with enthusiasm to not only explore and find these sites, but then showcase them to the rest of the country,” Nadeau said.
When asked about how he sees the society evolving, he said he’d like the group to expand its reach with different chapters in B.C.
“Maybe even across the country, with the same vision and mission, which is to explore sites, measure those sites, from not only a quality and quantity perspective, but also from an environmental and ecological sustainability perspective, and then share that with everybody, so there’s not any hoarding of information,” Nadeau said.
Nadeau said there’s a vast area off Nanaimo and he is looking forward to exploring it. When all the different islands, nooks, bays and coves are considered, there are tens of thousands of kilometres of coastline, he said.
“We just finished doing a dive off of Nanoose Bay where it’s not a dive that people would really traditionally consider,” said Nadeau. “They might go out to go fishing, because it’s a shallow reef, but it’s not accessible by shore and not a lot of the dive charters know about it, or even have taken divers there because they don’t know anything there.”
Those wanting to join the society will be required to pay an annual fee of $150, which will be used for administrative costs.
“Really the only prerequisite coming into it, is to abide by our diving practices because we want to maintain a certain level of safety and ethical standards,” Nadeau said.
For more information, visit www.edsbc.org.