Every six hour over 400,000,000 cubic meters (520,000,000 cu yd) of sea water forces its way through a three kilometer (1.9 mi) long and 150-metre (490 ft) wide strait, with water speeds reaching 22 knots (41 km/h, 25 mph) in and out of the Saltstraumen just outside Bodö in Northern Norway, making it the best water show on the planet.
Just let this sink in for a minute….
The Saltstraumen has the strongest tidal current in the world. Vortices known as whirlpools or maelstroms up to ten metres (33ft) in diameter and five meters (16ft) in depth are formed when the current is at its strongest.
According to Wikipedia the Saltstraumen has existed for about two to three thousand years. Before that the area was different due to post-glacial rebound. The current is created when the tide tries to fill the Skjerstadfjorden. The height difference between the sea level and the fjord inside can be up to 1 metre (3 ft 3 in). When the current turns, there is a period when the strait is navigable.
Pretty cool, huh?
A paradise for sports anglers, and seabirds
Saltstraumen is the most powerful maelstrom in the world. The water speed has been measured at over 20 knots, and more than 3,000 m3 of water flow across the entrance to the fjord every second. Saltstraumen is very rich in fish, some of which are famously big. In fact, the largest pollock ever recorded was caught here. Cod and catfish are common catches for sports anglers. Many seabirds spend the winter feeding here, with eider and white-tailed eagles present in particularly large numbers.
Safari with expert local guide
Saltstraumen Adventure organizes white-tailed eagle safaris and sea fishing trips with expert local guides. Sign up for the safari and fishing adventure of a lifetime and enjoy Norway’s best water show.
Paradise for sports divers
Compared to many other diving destinations in Norway, Saltstraumen is like a live widescreen Full HD 3D TV for sports divers. The sense of letting yourself being carried by the current, first one way and then another, is simply unforgettable. Giant shoals of fish, all kinds of shells, snails, crustaceans, moss creatures, ascidians, starfish, serpent stars and angleworms add colour to the experience. Enjoy the view beneath the waves at Saltstraumen dykkercamp.
A colourful myriad of species
The rocks that line the fast-flowing channel are the habitat of species including the sea fan, bubble gum coral, dead men’s fingers, breadcrumb sponges and sea lilies, which filter the nutritious waters. Two stony coral reefs have been found outside the threshold, and sports divers have also identified a reef of horn coral just inside the threshold. There is good reason why Saltstraumen has been put forward as a marine area of protection.
A treasure chest of cultural memorials
Remains of Stone Age settlements have been found on both sides of Saltstraumen, along with cultural finds from the Iron Age. Godøy was a chieftain’s seat in the 900s. Chief Raud the Strong was based in the area, as described in Snorre’s saga. It is likely that the early settlement grew up here on account of the rich biological diversity to be found in the fast-flowing tidal waters.
Your meeting with the coastal people of ages past
Tuvsjyen is an activity centre in Saltstraumen, featuring authentic food preparation using ancient methods and fresh ingredients harvested from the sea. Prepare your family’s catch in cooking pots from ages past. Activities, games and accommodation in a naturally beautiful and creative environment. The experience brings to life the local Stone Age culture from 9800 years ago. Visit www.tuvsjyen.com for a taste of the Stone Age.
Text and photos: Tor Kjolberg