TXD is pleased to feature Norwegian diver Morten Sætrang Haakonsen. You may have seen some of his photos in the TXD Instagram and TXD Facebook feeds; now you can read about his adventures on technical diving in Norway! As this goes to press, he’s in Chuuk diving the Truk Lagoon, so we expect to hear some great stories of his adventures in the South Pacific! In the meantime, enjoy learning a bit more about Morten and diving in Norway. – Editor
I’m a Norwegian living in Norway. Normally I’m located in the suburbs of Oslo, our capital. But for the time being I’m on loan internally in my company so I spend most of my time in Bergen, on the west coast of Norway. Which is great because this is where some of Norway’s best diving is! My day job is in Bane NOR. A state-owned company responsible for the Norwegian national railway infrastructure. Here I am a high voltage technician controlling the power and electricity for all the railroad in the western part of Norway. I work shifts, so lots of free time to go explore and go diving in Norway!
How did you start diving in Norway?
As long as I can remember I have spent the summers in or near the ocean. When I was around 5 years old I would dive a metre or two down and pick up small pieces of green glass that had been sanded down smooth over the years. I took a CMAS freediving/snorkeling course when I was 10. It wasn’t until 2011, when I was 19 and just had started as a high voltage lineman apprentice with some money to spend, I took up scuba diving. I took the PADI Open Water course while on family vacation in Greece, but didn’t dive for a year after that due to settling as an apprentice. During the summer of 2012, I walked into the local dive shop and asked if they could help me getting started diving in Norway. Twenty minutes later I was doing my drysuit theory and doing my first drysuit dive the same day. Less than three months later I had started on my divemaster course and in 2014 I became a PADI instructor.
What is your highest level certification?
Depends on the type of diving. I am a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, PADI Freediver Instructor (first in Norway!), PADI Tec Trimix Diver, IANTD Advanced Rec Trimix Instructor and IANTD Full Cave Diver.
Diving in Norway, do you teach?
I hold diving courses during afternoons and weekends for Oslofjorden Divecenter, when I have the time. This year I have mostly focused on holding PADI freediver courses, but I also do everything from openwater to tec.
Any interesting projects you’re currently working on?
I just upgraded my camera rig so I’m spending a lot of time getting to know my new camera. I’m thinking about creating a website and getting more involved with the photography side of diving and starting to write some destination pieces and/or diving related articles.
And a little about the diving…tell us about your all time favorite dive in Norway
I think I’ll go with the first time I saw a small-spotted catshark on one of my regular dive spots. After several years, and several hundred dives on the same location always looking for it, I was beginning to think it was more a myth one could find it there. But while I was holding an advanced course for my two younger siblings; there it was! The elation I felt was indescribable, the joy I felt about finally seeing this famed legend after years of looking is one my best memories ever. My younger brother and sister kinda thought I had went mad for the rest of the dive and after I was grinning like a fool. I went back the day after with a camera and found it again, taking some pictures. This was in 2015, since then I have only seen it once!
What about your current technical diving kit?
Waterproof 7 mm wetsuit hood and gloves, Ursuit Softdura custom tailored drysuit, Hollis F1 Batfins, Hollis M1 mask (best mask ever, I own 3!), Suunto Eon Steel as a primary computer, with a Suunto Vyper as a back up, close to all my dives are with twin 12 litres steel cylinders, with a ATS harness and wing, two Apeks Tek 3 first stages and two Apex XTX 50 second stages. For lights, I have a Metalsub 5000 lumen cable light for primary with two Tecline handhelds for backup. I also just purchased a Scubamafia #1 Travel primary, so looking forward to testing that.
And of course my camera rig which consist of a Nikon D500 with a Hugyfot aluminium housing, and 2 YS-D2 strobes.
Who do you enjoy diving with most?
Melissa Taanevig. My former divemaster and now fellow instructor. However I travel a lot, so I dive a lot with new people from local diving clubs, and people I meet through Facebook dive buddy groups.
What is your favorite diving spot in Norway?
Plura, a cave system used for diving in northern Norway. I go there every year for 1-2 weeks, sleep in a tent and dive in freezing waters. It’s amazing! It’s called the Plura week and cave divers from all over the world have attended. We usually have around 50-60 divers there!
And your diving bucket list; when you’re not diving in Norway?
I am going to Chuuk lagoon for the first half of November so that will be one of them! I also really want to dive the caves of Florida and Mexico, freedive with humpbacks in Tonga and of course go to Galapagos. The list goes on and on!
What’s next for you in diving?
Next for me in diving is focusing on photography. For now I mostly just share my work on Instagram. I play with the idea to make my own website. I also want to get certified for rebreather diving, so that will hopefully happen during 2018 or 19. I’m also working on my freediving skills, and hopefully will be able to start with competitive freediving. Next year I will also start holding advanced freediving courses for Oslofjorden Divecenter in Norway.
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