Operator offers Arctic submersible adventures

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SEATTLE -- Zegrahm DeepSea Voyages here next year will offer two deep-sea expeditions aboard minisubmarines to explore the world's northernmost shipwreck, the 500-ton Breadalbane, and to search for the elusive sixgill shark.

According to Zegrahm, the trips will mark the first time that nonscientists will travel in the high-tech submarines, known as submersibles. Zegrahm said the submersibles, which are in scientific operation today, can accommodate two passengers and a pilot in a comfortable, one-atmosphere environment with a large window for viewing and picture-taking. The submarines can dive to a depth of 1,000 feet.

One expedition will explore the wreck of the Breadalbane, a British sailing ship that sank in 1853 off Beechey Island in the Canadian Arctic while searching for the explorer Sir John Franklin. Zegrahm said the Breadalbane sits upright and is remarkably well preserved 350 feet below Arctic ice in waters teeming with rarely seen marine life.

A specially equipped plane will fly passengers from Resolute, Canada, to Ice Station Beechey, where trailers specifically designed for Arctic living will serve as home base for the eight-day program. Near the base, large holes will be cut in the ice, and large cranes will lower the submersibles into the ocean.

Clients will embark on as many as four dives during the expedition, weather permitting. Between dives, marine biologists and historians will give lectures, and clients will be able to venture out on snowmobiles to view polar bears and other wildlife.

The cost of the trip is $9,980 per person, double occupancy, with 12 departures scheduled from March to May. The April 13 departure includes an optional four-day extension to visit the North Pole for $8,980 per person.

The second offering is a list of 28 five- and six-day trips called In Search of the Sixgill Sharks, scheduled from June 30 to Sept. 10. These expeditions depart from Hornby Island, situated off central Vancouver Island, British Columbia, where the waters of the Strait of Georgia are home to the giant shark.

Most shark species have evolved over time and have five gill slits. However, with six gill slits, these giant sharks (up to 25 feet long) are virtually unchanged from millions of years ago.

From the base on Hornby Island, clients take a boat ride to the "mission control" barge housing the subs. The five-day trips emphasize submersible diving, while the six-day trips combine submersible diving with scuba diving.

The five-day trip costs $3,890 per person, double; the six-day trip costs $4,980.

Both the Breadalbane and the shark expeditions include three meals a day. Air fare is not included in the price.

Zegrahm DeepSea Voyages, Phone: (888) 772-2366 or (206) 285-3743, Fax: (206) 285-7390, Web: www.deepseavoyages.com, E-mail: [email protected]

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