Local Ice-Covered Waters Draw Divers

SCUBA divers like Jennifer Idol are driving cross country to experience the serene environment under the ice of Northwest Ohio.

Idol is an underwater photographer from Austin, Texas, who joined a group of local divers in flooded White Star Quarry near Gibsonburg. Rod Althaus, the owner of Port Clintonâ??s New Wave Dive Center hosted the expedition of about a dozen divers cutting triangular holes in the eight-inch-thick ice.

Althaus says, â??You need the proper gear, the proper regulators (the devices that supply air at the proper pressure), dry suits and training.â??

WNWO News Director and certified SCUBA instructor Jim Blue joined the divers. Jim says, â??Under-ice diving requires teamwork. The team on the surface tends safety lines ensuring the divers can find their way back to a safe exit from below the ice.â??

A single tug on the line signals that a diver is okay. A series of several quick tugs indicates that the diver is in trouble and help should be deployed from above.

Gearing up with weights, dry suits, and tanks requires also help from the surface team.

Once divers are under the ice, visibility can be astonishing. During the summer it can be hard to see more than a few feet. But in the winter the sediment settles to the bottom and algae dies off. Visibility can be as great as 100 feet.

After 20 minutes underwater, the divers emerge, chilled, but with memories, video, and photos of a unique experience in the still, frigid environment under the ice.