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Magnus Lundgren – Saltstraumen, Norway II

December 20th, 2008 Posted in Northern Europe, Uncategorized

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Short-spined seascorpion, Myoxocephalus scorpius, lurking in the kelp

magnus_portraitThe bright sun is doing what it does best and at the same time a gentle cool breeze caresses my skin. On the balcony everything is warm, yet cool, and calm. Distant sounds of eiders under the bridge. They make a happy everyday sound. The whole atmosphere is light like someone twisted the gravity knob a fraction towards minus. I get so cheered up that I go into the kitchen to do the dishes. Strange reaction but nevertheless this is what I do.

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Amphipod, Gammarellus homari, with its typical dorsal teeth

When I get back to the balcony the wind is howling and a thick rain is moving sideways along the horizon. The change is unbelievable and a pitch-black unsentimental front is marching in from the sea. I go back to the kitchen and start to boil water for the coffee. While waiting I run around the apartment trying to find a corner where the wireless internet can be reached. I fail just like before.
10 minutes later I am having a steaming cup of hot coffee and go to the balcony again. There is a double rainbow over the bridge, the sun is back in high spirit and the wind almost died out. The alarm clock belonging to my buddy, Klas, goes off in his room. The sound is dry and energetic. His drowsy voice asks me “What is the weather like, Magnus?” and I answer him “I have no idea”.

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Aggregation of common starfish, Asteria Rubens

In Saltstraumen it sometimes felt like we had four different seasons in one day. The weather is judged by the hour. The diving is actually more predictable than the weather. We dive strictly on the tide tables. Strictly with a capital S that is. Every six hours and we get in the water on the minute. Further up in the fjord it is more la-di-da and we can dive anytime. So our week was pretty straightforward. Pre-dive preparation, pre-dive check, dive, after dive equipment smoozing, eat a lot, rest, coffee and then back to pre-dive prep….and we managed to squeeze in three long no-nonsense dives per day.

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Nudibranch face, Flabellina lineata

The stretch between Oksebåsen, Örneset and up to Rundholmen on the west side of Saltstraumen quickly became a favourite. We visited many other sites but always came back to the Oksebåsen stretch. Everyday. Inside Oksebåsen itself the scenery drops straight down to a huge stone and a small cave. Oksebåsen was offering me magic macro moments (MMM) in the kelp forest or just below the “tree line” where the filter feeders take over the square metres. Many hours were spent there.

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The massive edible crab, Cancer pagurus, rockclimbing

I especially remember one incident in Oksebåsen when I was carefully hiding in the kelp, feeling very invisible, sneaking up on a school of coalfish with a wide-angle setup. A big and powerful halibut emerges from the deep. I can hardly believe it. She is swimming right up to me and stare like an older sister telling me “Magnus, come on! Everybody knows you are hiding here.” and then swam off. My camera was frozen in hand but the memory remains (at least for a while).

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Eyeballing – shrimp, Lebbeus polaris & wolffish, Anarchinus lupus

We developed some sort of daily pattern of social visits to the wolffish on “wolffish slope” and they stayed in the same holes every day. We discovered that there is a shrimp, Lebbeus polaris, that likes to share the lair with the wolffish. I do not know if it is a symbiotic relationship or just an accidental discovery. Many of the wolffish couples there had these shrimps in their holes or even climbing on them indicating cleaning behaviour. I guess there must be food to be picked for a small shrimp and a big fish like a wolffish can always do with a clean up.
We decided to try out the narrow and even wilder Sundströmmen that is connected to Saltstraumen in the west. Over there the water is never still and the turning of the tide is very, very quick. The first dive, eehhh, we went in a fraction too early and Sundströmmen decided to shoot us through the narrow channel like a leaf in the wind. It was a roller coaster ride, mask glued to my face, and being busy avoiding all the rocks. Photography was of course out of the question.

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A Norwegian red house, a small bay and finally some calm water

We found a backwater eddy where we hid until everything slowed down and then we sneaked back into the channel again. Everything had slowed down. The rich environment was overwhelming and I found an anemone-covered ledge by some sturdy kelp plants. I lost myself in the scene for a couple of minutes. Before I knew it the roller coaster took me on a new ride going back the way we came from. This time even faster.

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With a heavy load for another dive in Saltstraumen. Equipment
weighing approx 65 kg but underwater a diver is weightless!

Coming back in high speed the current basically ditched us straight into a thick kelp forest. We sat there in the kelp, at 4 metres depth, for 15 minutes and then came up exactly on the same spot as we started. I cannot recollect that I did use my fins on that dive at all. Sundströmmen left me “flabbergasted” if I may use a word that I do not know the meaning of, but it sounds just the way I felt after that dive.
Saltstraumen and Sundströmmen unfolded generously as the week passed by. This moving part of the salty sea with a myriad of characters is a treat for the camera and time felt so limited. With a couple of days to go I still had two main players that had not yet met my lens. The greatest anglerfish in the world, the mysterious monkfish, and maybe the most impressive hunter in the northern Atlantic, the massive halibut. We decided to go diving during the night to see if they where to be found in the dark. Check out the last blog coming soon!

I want to thank Saltstraumen Dive Center and Saltstraumens Destinasjonselskap for all their support, professionalism and enthusiasm.

Magnus Lundgren


Please note that blogs reflect our photographers' opinions and not necessarily those of the directors of Wild Wonders of Europe.

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  1. 6 Responses to “Magnus Lundgren – Saltstraumen, Norway II”

  2. By Bridget Wijnberg on Dec 20, 2008

    Keep writing Magnus… just love the stories. You make us feel we are right there beside you. The halibut finding you in the kelp is just great and those tides sound hectic! Yup, flabbergasted would have been a pretty good description :)
    Cant wait for blog number 3.
    This Wild Wonder means serious business!!!

  3. By Joe MacDougald on Dec 22, 2008

    Magnus- These images are fantastic. Your descriptions of the environment and awesome photographs really help me feel like I am there with you. Perhaps one day I will have the chance to do some diving in Norway. In the meantime, thanks to the Wild Wonders of Europe, I can ‘follow along at home’!

    Merry Christmas! I wish the very best for you and your family in the new year.

  4. By sanna on Dec 28, 2008

    What an amazing and divert submarine life you introduce in this blog. It is a great ride for us sitting comfortable at home in the TV sofa…

  5. By Magnus Persson on Dec 29, 2008

    Great view! the house from underneath. I also like the classic crab from an unclassic position. Amazing colors and compositions!

  6. By Rebecca on Sep 14, 2009

    Vilken rrrush!TUR att det slutade så bra ;-) & Kul bild på Dig..ser nästan ut som after-dive..Du ser lättad och emforisk ut! Gillar bilden på havskatten och rekan…Tror absolut på “symbios”! Mmm, nakensnigeln är elegant oxå!
    -Var rädd om Dig!

  7. By Claudio Pia on Dec 30, 2010

    Aggregation of common starfish ara amazing!!

    Great work!

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