Mill Cove Marina - Bedford waterfront
Bedford Hwy, Bedford, Nova Scotia
Certification Level: Open Water/Great training site
Mill Cove is a convenient dive site with an extremely easy entry that’s located within the Halifax urban core. This site is frequented by local divers throughout the late fall and winter, due to the improved water clarity and lack of boat traffic during the off season. A vast array of sea life can be found here, including abundant sea stars, sea urchins, several species of anemones, scallops, nudibranchs, rock crabs and toad crabs, to name a few. Like most sites in the harbour the bottom is heavily silted, so buoyancy control is key to avoiding stirring up sediment and decreasing visibility.
At both the end and the side of the ramp, the bottom falls off sharply, forming a wall that quickly descends to about 25 feet/7.6m. Note that all depths quoted here are relative to mid-tide, so depending on the tides, the actual depth may be +/- 3 feet.
The ramp and jetty are built on a foundation of rock. The bottom composition near the jetty is therefore rocky, but as you move away from the jetty, it is primarily silt.
The jetty runs at a magnetic bearing of 30 degrees, but it is important to note that compasses do not work close to the jetty, due to the amount of iron in the structure. Abundant marine life coats the sides of the jetty. Take your time and get a close-up look. Cracks and openings are present in the jetty, and with good visibility, it is possible to see from one side through to the other. The openings should not be entered, however.
A second jetty is located on the other side of the cove and has similar characteristics and sea life. It can be reached either by a surface swim (watch out for boat traffic), or underwater (see note above about compass bearings).
Entry / Exit
This site has an easy entry and exit site at the public boat launch ramp found next to the wharf. There is a large parking lot at the launch which makes for an easy walk to the ramp. Be aware the ramp can be slippery at times due to ice or tide level.
Bottom / Depth
The end of the entry ramp is found in 5ft to 15ft depending on the tide level. The ramp ends in a drop off where you will descend over a rock wall to approximately 5ft. Follow along the wharf where you will find depths around 20 – 30ft tide dependent. The wharf has steep rock walls filled with life and debris from the wharf now covered in marine life. The bottom composition is very silty and if disturbed the visibility can drop to zero quickly. Stay in contact with your buddy.
Good buoyancy is a must at this site due to the silty nature of the bottom. It is a relatively easy dive to navigate as you can follow the wharf. Please note that your compass will not work around the wharf. At the end of the wharf, you may notice a change in the current that will subside once you come around to the other side of the wharf. At the end of the dive the rock wall of the exit ramp allows for an easy 3-minute safety stop as you can hold on to the rocks (make sure not to disturb any marine life though!).
What to See
This is a great site if you want to see a variety of sea stars, sea urchins, mussels, nudibranchs, and sea anemones! You can also find gooseberry jellyfish, scallops, clams, crabs, and the odd lobster at this site. Please note there is a ban on harvesting (and eating) ALL bivalve shellfish from the Halifax Harbour.
At the end of the far side of the wharf you can see a large piece of canvas (possibly a sail) in about 20-35ft of water. Along the far side of the wharf there are tires, traps, a paddle and steep rock walls covered in marine life. Large and small pieces of rope, fishing line, and cable can also be found running along the bottom.
· The unpaved parking lot and boat launch (entry point) may be icy during the winter months
· This site is affected by runoff from rain a storm or heavy rainfall which can affect visibility. Allow for 2 tides cycles after a weather event to clear up visibility
· At the end of the boat launch there is a drop off. There is signage on the wharf indicating where the drop off occurs
· The bottom composition is very silty. The visibility can drop to zero quickly if disturbed. Stay in contact with your buddy
· Boat traffic could be an issue depending on the time of year. You can use a dive float or SMB to indicate divers below
· Loose rope, cables, and rebar can be found underwater. Carry a knife at all times and dive with a buddy
· Compasses do not work around the wharf and are not reliable for navigation at this site
· There are breaks in the wharf underwater. Do not attempt to swim through