The Ob Tube

The Observation Tube (usually called the Ob Tube) is a gateway to another world.  It is a vertical metal pipe, or tunnel, through the sea ice leading to a small (one person at a time!) glass observation platform about 10-15 feet below sea level.

The Ob Tube is located just a couple hundred meters offshore of town, but, because it is on sea ice, safety procedures must be followed to visit it.  The rules require that one travel with a buddy, perform a safety sign-out at the firehouse, and carry a VHF radio.  After dinner one night a small group of us went to check it out.

Dave climbs down the Ob Tube.

I went last.  We had to tell each person when their 10 minutes was up.  Everybody wanted to stay in the tube for longer, partly because it was much warmer underwater (just below freezing) than on the windswept surface of the ice.  Mostly, though, they want to remain because it is really fascinating.

It was late evening, but the sunlight shone through the ice with a pretty greenish light.

Late evening sunlight filtering through the sea ice.

Besides looking at the sea ice, I enjoyed looking at some large but delicate ice crystals that formed on the outside of the tube, and a large school of small fish that stayed just a little too far away to see very well.  The most interesting thing, though, was hearing the pinging sound made by seals as they swam nearby.  I did not see a seal underwater, but some people have.