Canadian Splash: What Lies Beneath West Hawk Lake

Scuba Diving a Meteorite Impact Crater in Manitoba

Welcome to West Hawk Lake, where scuba diving transcends the ordinary and becomes a thrilling voyage into the heart of Manitoba. Here, travellers don’t stumble upon its serene shores by accident; they arrive with a purpose – to explore an underwater world of astronomical proportions.

A Scuba Diver Observing A Small Bass At The Miller Beach Dive Site In West Hawk Lake A Crater Lake In Manitoba, Scuba Canada

West Hawk Lake and It’s Unique Formation

Cradled within the heart of Whiteshell Provincial Park, West Hawk Lake reigns as a geological marvel, earning its rightful place among Manitoba’s most captivating natural wonders. This pristine body of water covers a total area of 3,685 acres, with a maximum length and width of 7.2 kilometers and 4.8 kilometers respectively. With its depth plunging to an astonishing 110 meters, West Hawk owes its existence to a cataclysmic event that unfolded 150 million years ago during a period of geological time known as the Jurassic Period. In a cosmic collision of celestial forces, a massive impact meteorite struck the Earth’s surface, leaving behind a colossal bowl-shaped crater. The tremendous explosion force of the impact has been estimated as being equivalent to that of a 25 Megaton blast. Over eons, this crater was subsequently eroded and modified by the scouring action of glacial ice, which retreated from South-Eastern Manitoba approximately 11,000 years ago. Meltwater from the retreating ice filled the crater forming what is known today as West Hawk Lake.

Whiteshell Cottages Manitoba Logo

Escape to the lake in one of Manitoba’s most sought-after cottage areas. With vast, dense forests, plenty of wildlife and incredible lakes, Whiteshell cottages offer a beautiful selection of cabins and waterfront real estate ripe for the picking. Discover your home away from home in Whiteshell Provincial Park, located just over an hour’s drive from Winnipeg.

Yet, it’s not just the lake’s creation that captivates visitors; it also has a fascinating history. Indigenous peoples have inhabited this region for generations, their presence marked by rich cultural heritage and a deep connection to the land and water. The lake has witnessed centuries of stories, from indigenous traditions to early European exploration and settlement.

For modern-day adventurers, diving into West Hawk Lake isn’t just a journey into its depths; it’s an opportunity to connect with the past. This intersection of geological wonder, natural beauty, and historical significance makes West Hawk Lake an extraordinary place to explore holding secrets from a time long gone.

West Hawk Lake Crescent Beach In The Heart Of This Crater Lake In Manitoba

Scuba Diving into West Hawk’s Meteorite Impact Crater

While West Hawk Lake, and Whiteshell Provincial Park, are renowned for their stunning surface views, what lies beneath the waterline of this Canadian destination is equally mesmerizing.

West Hawk Lake is one of the most popular diving sites in the province of Manitoba. This is in part because of its ease of accessibility and proximity to Winnipeg (about 1.5 hour drive) but also because of the interesting things seen beneath her cool clear waters.

A Submerged Sign Post In West Hawk Lake Manitoba, Canada Scuba Diving

Despite its northern location, West Hawk Lake is home to a surprising variety of aquatic life and an environment that supports this thriving ecosystem. The lake holds a range of fish species, including lake trout, whitefish, bass and perch, as well as other freshwater creatures such as crayfish and turtles. As scuba divers some of the species most likely to be encountered are perch, bass crayfish and turtles.

The lake offers several exciting dive sites and attractions. Divers can explore the underwater wreckage of boats and structures, witness the geological formations up close, and encounter unique submerged artifacts such as bathtubs, training platforms and a sunken canoe. Shore dive sites are both accessible and suitable for divers of various skill levels, making West Hawk Lake an ideal destination for divers looking to expand their experience.

A Pair Of Bison On The Plains Of Manitoba, In Riding Mountain National Park, Canada

Want to read about another great Manitoba scuba diving site? Head up north to the province’s Riding Mountain National park and dip your fins into Clear Lake. The lake is considered a unique lake for the prairie parkland thanks to its low amounts of nutrients, or oligotrophic nature. This gives it a clear look but also make it a suitable source of clean, fresh drinking water.

A Scuba Diver Underwater Along The Rocky Wall Of The Meteor Impact West Hawk Lake In Manitoba, Scuba Diving Canada

Cat’s Ass Dive Site

The Cat’s Ass dive site is the most frequently visited area within West Hawk Lake. It is a shore diving site situated off Section A of the campground. Divers typically enter the water directly from the point, which leads them to the edge of an underwater wall. This extensive wall and ledge system extends in a northerly and north-easterly direction for a considerable distance. Depths at the base of the wall vary, ranging from 7.6 meters (25 feet) to over 18.3 meters (60 feet). Along the base of the wall, divers can find various items to look at, including remnants such as a signpost, a bathtub, and a small boat. To the east of the dock, the rocky face descends to approximately 7.6 meters (25 feet), where there are two wooden platforms used for training exercises.

West Hawk Lake Map Of The Cat's Ass And Blackpool Scuba Diving Sites, Manitoba Underwater

Where to Dive the Cat’s Ass

GPS Coordinates: 49.7458, -95.2093
Address: West Hawk Lake Campground, Manitoba, R0E 2H0
Entry is done off the point and from there divers can follow a rock wall down to the underwater playground.

A Creepy Underwater Mummy Face In West Hawk Lake, Manitoba's Meteor Impact Lake, Canada

Blackpool Dive Site

A mere stone throw away from the Cat’s Ass diving site, along the northern and western shores of Blackpool, lies a relatively shallow area with a sandy bottom ranging from 6 to 7.6 meters (20 to 25 feet deep). This particular area features rocks and boulders of various sizes scattered across the bottom. Venturing further to the north-west, scuba divers will encounter an underwater landscape resembling a submerged forest. Here, numerous fallen trees are scattered across the lakebed at depths of ranging from 9 to 12 meters (30 to 40 feet). At the 9 meter (30 foot) mark divers are encouraged to keep their eye’s peeled for a substantial quartz vein gashed in the rock work.

West Hawk Lake Map Of The Cat's Ass And Blackpool Scuba Diving Sites, Manitoba Underwater

Where to Dive Blackpool

GPS Coordinates: 49.7458, -95.2093
Address: West Hawk Lake Campground, Manitoba, R0E 2H0
Located very close to the Cat’s Ass dive site – along the northern and western shores. Use Cat’s Ass entry to reach this site.

Joey Scuba Diving Along The Bottom Of West Hawk Lake A Meteor Impact Crater In Manitoba, Canada

Miller Beach Dive Site

Miller beach is another West Hawk Lake shore diving site that is located just two minutes away by car from the Cat’s Ass. A moderate snorkel is necessary to reach buoy positioned above the reef. The site’s reef tip is situated just 1.2 meters (4 feet) below the water’s surface, while descending along the walls will take divers to a silty bottom at depths of 13.7-15.2 meters (45-50 feet). This site is characterized by shorter walls.

During the summer season, divers can spot bass swimming above the thermocline, which typically forms at 10.6 meters (35 feet) in mid-July. Since this area experiences frequent boat traffic, it’s important to use a dive flag and exercise caution during ascent.

Miller Beach Scuba Diving Site On West Hawk Lake, Manitoba Underwater

Where to Dive Miller Beach

GPS Coordinates: 49.7500, -95.2109
Address: West Hawk Lake Campground, Manitoba, R0E 2H0
Entry is done at the beach with a snorkel to reach the buoy and reef. A dive flag should be towed to keep boats away.

Scuba Diver Joey Hovering In The Water Above A Dive Platform At The Miller Beach Dive Site In West Hawk Lake, Manitoba Scuba Diving, Canada

A Double Shore Dive at West Hawk Lake

Dense forests embrace the water’s edge, and a striking shoreline adds to the spellbinding allure of West Hawk Lake. The thrill of exploring underwater worlds has taken us to various corners of the globe, but this time, we found ourselves diving into a hidden gem right here in our home country. West Hawk, a lake in Manitoba formed by a meteorite impact millions of years ago, beckoned with promises of adventure, and neither Joey nor I could resist the call of the deep.

With a splash I glide into West Hawk’s dark waters, a sense of anticipation and excitement courses through my veins. We had talked to several divers on their surface interval at the dive site, hilariously named Cat’s Ass, and they had given us a wealth of information with regards to topography, things to see and how to navigate. The initial shock of the cold water is quickly forgotten as I submerge into the liquid embrace of this natural wonder. Beneath the surface, a world crafted by meteor and man unfolds.

West Hawk Lake's Cat's Ass Scuba Diving Site, Manitoba's Meteor Impact Lake, Canada Underwater

While not crystal clear – because we were diving in the middle of the summer months – the water had a dark green appearance to it and visibility was about 3 meters (10 feet). Perch and other finger length baitfish glint with silver as they flicker across the bottom. Plunging off the rocky ledge like and astronaut into space, Joey and I turn on our lights as we navigate this underwater terrain. Training platforms with a few fish lurking above and below materialized from the lakebed, then a windmill, and a sailboat. They were interesting finds, as was the bathtub, speedboat, canoe, a gnome garden and amazon ladies. Over the years, Manitoba divers had done a terrific job sinking things in strategic locations for unsuspecting scuba enthusiasts to find. Wondering in eager anticipation what else we might stumble across at this dive site kept us down in the cold for much longer than anticipated.

An Underwater Camp Fire On The Bottom Of A Crater Formed Lake, Manitoba's West Hawk, Canada Scuba Diving

Tiger And Gnomes Statues Resting On The Rocky Bottom Of Manitoba's Meteor Impact Lake, West Hawk, Canada

We did a fair amount of swimming, and ended our dive in the shallows to the north-west, also known as Blackpool dive site. This relatively shallow area with a sandy bottom peppered in rocks and boulders was where I was hoping to find some itty-bitty macro creatures to photograph.

Following a tanks swap and change in local, we did our second dive from the shores of Miller Beach. Once again the initial plunge into the cool water was invigorating. As we descended further, this dive sites wall-like geological features revealed themselves.

We bobbed along the reef using fixed lines that had been installed for easy navigation. Each line was like an underwater labyrinth bringing us this way and that until we ended up at an interesting sunken artifact. We marveled at the underwater rock formations, showcasing nature’s artistry with intricate nooks and crannies providing shelter for a variety of aquatic life. The lake’s resident fish population welcomed us into their world. Bass and perch were enthralled by our bubbles and we thoroughly enjoyed gazing into their vibrant orange eyes. After an hour of being underwater, we decided to head back to shore and call it a day.

A Bass Fish Swimming In The Dark Depths Of West Hawk Crater Lake In Manitoba, Canada Underwater

Wrapping Up Diving at West Hawk

West Hawk Lake is not just any ordinary lake; it’s a meteorite impact crater and as a result incredible depth and clarity, making it a captivating underwater world to explore. Diving into the depths of West Hawk was an adventure that took us to the heart of Canada’s scuba diving scene. The combination of fun underwater features, aquatic life, and the allure of exploring a geological wonder make this lake an unforgettable dive destination. It’s a testament to the incredible diversity of dive sites and unique places in Canada’s scuba diving landscape.

West Hawk Lake Meteor Impact Crater Sign In Whiteshell Manitoba, Canada

Practical Scuba Diver Information:

How unique is West Hawk Lake? Have you ever gone diving in a spot formed by a meteor impact?

Writers Note: This post may contain sponsored or affiliate links. We will make a small commission if you make a purchase through one of these links, at no extra cost to you. See full disclosure and disclaimer policy here.

Want to explore more diving in Manitoba? Take a look at our prairie province diving to discover more interesting Manitoba-based dive adventures.

West Hawk Lake Scuba Diving Pinterest, Canadian Splash

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  • What unique aquatic life or geological features have researchers discovered in the depths of West Hawk Lake, and how do these findings contribute to our understanding of the local ecosystem?

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