For many people who arrive in Holland, diving is not the first sport that springs to mind, either to take up or to continue. Dutch diving may not have the crystal clear waters that support the diverse coral reefs we find in the tropics, they may also not have the visibility that can be found around the UK or the Mediterranean at times. However, there is a whole array of marine life, differing at each location and there are over 50 different dive locations just around Zeeland.
Diving does not stop in Zeeland, the North Sea is for the more adventurous, out there where the diving is deeper and more demanding. Orientation around wrecks is a must, and new parts of the wreckage are always being uncovered, some even still lie undiscovered.
During the summer the dive sites can be busy and crowded, but there is always another site around the corner and another time to go under! As already mentioned, Zeeland has over 50 dive sites, each varying in both water conditions and underwater life. Typically the dives are shore-based and progress along a wall or dike. The most of life can be found in the first 10m of water, then slowly descending to 20 – 25 m there are other reefs and different creatures.
On most dives you will be amazed at the numerous crabs, lobsters, anemones and star fish. In some areas, such as under the Zeeland Bridge, the ground cover of brittle stars can be 100%. That is quite something, even when compared to tropical conditions.
The dive sites of the Oosterschelde require careful planning to catch the slack waters and entries are often not for the faint hearted. However the variety of sites means that there is a site for everyone and every occasion.
The Grevelingen is non-tidal and can therefore be dived at any time during the day. This allows peaceful planning for occasions such as Ocean Diver training dives. The life in the Grevelingen differs quite considerably from that of the Oosterschelde where the salt content of the water is higher due to the dams constructed at the sea entrance of the delta region. The Grevelingen is abundant with small fish such as blennies and butterfish and the Oosterschelde is home to lobsters and edible crabs. Be warned though, these must remain in the water, their removal is forbidden and they are strictly protected under Dutch law.
Diving the North Sea is generally carried out from hard boats, which can be hired for the day. This can be done as a club or on an individual basis. The boats leave from all points up and down the coast. Generally they are de-commissioned fishing boats so you steam out to the wreck, leaving the low lands of Holland behind, relying on the electronic equipment, the atmosphere and excitement rises as dive stories are exchanged (and exaggerated).
The dives themselves are as exciting as the stories, descending down the shot line into the depths when at a certain point your reference above is gone and the reference below has not yet appeared. Soon, the wreck is in sight, a quick orientation as to your exact position and you leave the line exploring with your buddy. Crabs and lobsters are larger than those along the coastal waters and plumose anemones decorate the wrecks in an array of white and orange feather balls. The sight can be breathtaking. For the serious wrecker, there is always the excitement of finding that piece of brass, porthole, or even the ship’s bell !
See the pages “Gallery” to have a better idea of how’s diving in The Netherlands !