Friday, February 26, 2010

Whytecliff Night Dive 25/02/2010

After aborting a Thursday evening night dive last week due to the Olympics, I figured it was high time to get out for one. Also, it was getting closer to my next set of dive training, and trying to get in as much diving as possible was a good thing.

The original location was supposed to be Porteau Cove. Mihai had not dove that at night yet, so we decided on that. Unfortunately, Olympic traffic changes made it so that we thought the park was closed. We drove all that way, only to give up and go to Whytecliff. The traffic cones appeared to be blocking the road completely. Later checking showed that it was supposed to be open. Blah. Checking before we left would have been a good idea, but who knew. At least I knew that my planned Nakaya dive for this coming Sunday would be a go. We missed the turn off to Whytecliff as well, and had to turn around and come back. It was just not going well!

The night was quite nice at Whytecliff. It was partly cloudy and the half-moon was out so it was pretty bright. It was also not raining and the parking lot was nice and dry. Gearing up took a bit longer because Mihai was checking out the fit on some new fins. The night was wearing on! I knew it was going to be a late one.

The tide was extremely low, which was a bit problematic. The water level was way down past the sandy part of the beach and we had to cross the exposed slippery rocks. Also, visibility was extremely poor. There was a tonne of particulate matter in the water. I figure you could at best see 10 feet. Finally, even though we should have been diving on slack tide, there was some kind of crazy currents going on.

We decided to head along the right hand rock wall out to the day marker because visibility was so bad. Keeping track of the rock wall in the dark and the poor conditions was a big challenge. The dive itself wasn't too bad. We made it out to the day marker and poked around in the rocks and crevices. The highlight was a large rhinoceros/golfball crab. There were a lot of young ling cod and kelp greenlings too. I ended up turning the dive early because I was worried about the current. On the way back, my primary light failed on me and I had to deploy my backup light. It was a nice bit of practice, but I was pretty annoyed. In the end, I believe it was just the battery. I had not charged it since the boat dive on Sunday, so it had been on at least 2 or 3 hours which was getting close to its maximum burn time.

After the light failed, I lost track of the rock wall and we ended up out on the sandy bottom with no reference. I had a compass heading and was following that, but Mihai thought it was a different direction and we had a bit of a discussion underwater on who was right. I was the dive leader, and all I could do was trust my compass, so I kept us heading my way. We did run into the rock wall, so at least I wasn't completely off. We were getting very shallow again and I lost control of my buoyancy in the last 2 meters and ended up surfacing. At that point, I just called the dive. Too many problems, and I was not feeling very comfortable any longer. It was still a 40 minute dive, so that was good. However, my air consumption rate turned out to be better than normal, so that was a good thing.

I tried out my light on shore and it came on but went out again twice. That's when I started suspecting the battery. Another small problem was the smell. Our dive gear smelled awful. There was certainly something in the water! Rinsing it down in the tub didn't help much either. It will fade, but just another niggling issue to a whole slew of problems.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Howe Sound and Indian Arm Boat Dives 20/02/2010 and 21/02/2010

A big weekend of great diving!

Saturday was a trip planned through IDC with the Sea Dragon. Adrian had asked if I'd be in to some diving this weekend, and we decided on a boat dive. Jason ended up signing up too, so we ended up as a trio. It worked out pretty well as we were well matched for air consumption and bottom time.

The ride out was a bit cramped. I had originally arranged to hitch a ride with Adrian, but two other divers needed a ride too, and he agreed to take them as well. A nice gesture! With all the gear though we fit just barely. I had brought along two cylinders as I was diving Nitrox, so that added quite a bit. Anyway, we made it and car pooling more is always better! And helpful. I hitched a lift back home with Jason though so it ended up being more comfortable.

It was completely clear and sunny, but nippy. We got underway after 9, so it was a late start. Kevin and Jan made Jason and I very happy by taking us to some brand new (for us) dive sites. We started on Christie Islet, and for the second dive did Pam Rocks.

Christie Islet is here:,+Greater+Vancouver+Regional+District,+British+Columbia&ll=49.499573,-123.301953&spn=0.003881,0.008433&t=h&z=17

It's not much to look at! We dove around the south west side of it. It was a nice dive, but less life than I would have thought to see. The bottom was a mixed bag of large rocks and ledges, so it was interesting terrain. There was a mooring line that we could descend on, which was also nice. I found out later that Shay the boat operator I'd be with the following day had placed that mooring line there. There were some really big nudibranchs and anemones, as well as some scallops but not much else that really jumped out in my mind. Jason was leading the dive, and we did a big circle back to the mooring line. When we got back, we still had gas left, so we headed back out for a bit. We did come across a big mass of ling cod eggs. It looked like white Styrofoam beads. On the way back, I lost track of our orientation, and paused to wait for Jason to head us back. But he ended up sitting there waiting too! I had to get his attention and get us moving again, but it was no big deal. The second dive group had come down much later than us, so we were starting our ascent when they came down. Boy did it look like a sand storm because of all the sediment stirred up! But there were some new divers in the group, and proper propulsion and fin control take time to get the hang of. On the ascent, Adrian and I were at a shallower depth and I could see Jason at the bottom of the line looking around for us. It took a bit of signalling with my light to get him to finally look up and see us. It's funny how we forget to look in three dimensions. Adrian tried out his spare air canister on the way up, and on our safety stop I practised deploying my surface marker buoy. It didn't go too badly, but could have been better. I had a hard time clipping the double ended bolt snap back onto the spool to secure the line. In the end, I couldn't do it. I'm glad I didn't drop the spool, otherwise I'd be hauling up a lot of line!

From Christie Islet, Pam Rocks was very close, just a bit to the south. I had heard a lot about diving with seals there, since there were usually a lot of them and they were always curious. The sun was shining, and we sat on the bow of the boat for a while soaking up the sun. I ended up almost getting a sunburn! So much for winter diving! We did have an equipment failure though. Adrian's fin strap broke on him, but a replacement was found. A very good example of why having spares around is a good thing! I made a note to add a strap of that type to my save a dive kit. Also, I had to remember to bring my oxygen analyzer on every dive, because sure enough I left it at home and someone needed one on this dive too!

Pam Rocks is here:,+Greater+Vancouver+Regional+District,+British+Columbia&ll=49.487678,-123.299539&spn=0.003882,0.008433&t=h&z=17

We ended up diving around the south west side of it. Unfortunately I didn't realize that we could have and should have went south east. There were a lot of interesting underwater rock channels and boulders that way. Oh well, I will know for next time! It was a neat dive. I found some treasure too in the form of a lead weight from someone's belt. Lead is expensive! We also found a puget sound king crab, something of a rarity in my eyes because I'd never seen them in Howe Sound before. He was a fairly big size, but half the size of the ones in Port Hardy. We also came across an Oregon triton. Later we had a debate over what kind of decorator crabs were there. The argument was that the ones we were seeing were not decorated at all. Looking in my marine life book later showed that there are two kinds of decorator crab. The graceful decorator crab decorates a lot, while the longhorn decorator crab does not. Kind of funny that it's called a decorator crab when it doesn't decorate! The end of this dive was the prettiest since we came up shallow and hung out near a rock wall covered in red fronds (which turned out to be an algae called slimy leaf). The sun was streaming down through the water and it was just great.

The day was over too fast, but I knew I had more great diving the next day!

On Sunday I was lucky enough to be invited along on a boat dive in Indian Arm. Alan Johnson was doing some practice dives leading up to a deep technical survey of a wreck in that area. Some of their team members cancelled so they needed to fill out the boat spaces to make the trip actually work. Myself, Evan and Terri were those lucky folks. We ended up diving as a trio and had a great time.

I had wanted to dive Indian Arm for a while. The VT-100 was up that way, so that was a start, but most of the area was only accessible by boat. The first dive site we went to was called the Fish Bowl, and it was on the south end of Croker Island. Here is a Google map link:,+Greater+Vancouver+Regional+District,+British+Columbia&ll=49.430176,-122.863771&spn=0.001943,0.004216&t=h&z=18

I had hitched a ride with Terri that morning, and she was determined to lobby for the Fish Bowl because she had done it the previous year and it was very interesting. It was a depression in the rock much like a big bowl, with rock walls on the outsides that went down to whatever depth you cared for. The south east rock wall was supposed to be the more interesting though. To the west, it got shallow and boring. It was also a fantastic opportunity to try out my new larger capacity cylinder. Terri and Evan were diving doubles, so I wouldn't be as limited by gas. It actually ended up being the longest dive I had been able to do, just over an hour! The dive itself was one of the best I've had. Terri led the dive and we followed the rock wall around and then hung out in the main fish bowl portion for the remainder. The wall turned out to be not as interesting as I would have thought, but it was sheer dropping off to nothing. That was cool. There were a lot of chitons on the wall, and a few anemones but the rock was pretty smooth without many crevices and nooks for things to hide in. Once we got back into the fish bowl, that's when it became the most interesting. The sun was very strong, and the entire area was lit up beautifully. There were many sunken trees with their rotting roots still attached. They must have been uprooted and got water logged in the area. Lots of tube worms riddled the old tree trunks, and the wood was shot through with white fibrous mold-like stuff. There were schools of fish in the fish bowl too, so it lived up to its name. Mostly sea perch I think. There were tonnes of longhorn decorator crabs over everything. Terri found a red rock crab and was tickling it. She also found a helmet crab or maybe a hairy crab and had it in her hand. I can't recall. There was also a baby rhinoceros crab. It really was an awesome dive, and great to be able to keep up with two other more experienced GUE divers. Evan said later that my buoyancy was better compared to Port Hardy. I joked that he only said “better”! It was a good thing though, there is no such thing as perfect in diving. You always have room for improvement. We did end up loosing Terri for a minute on the dive though. Fortunately she knew our direction and we were able to meet back up. That was the only mistake to an otherwise perfect dive.

The dive boat we were on was called the “Cheers”, and it was skippered by Shay. He had a very nice boat, different from what I'd been used to on the Sea Dragon. The main cabin was dry, so you took off your drysuit on the rear deck and hung it up. It was very comfortable. We also had great food. Home-made sandwiches on focaccia bread along with home-made soup and lots of tea, coffee and water. Each diver station had it's own dedicated water bottle. I ended up taking a bottle that was not mine, though!

It was a long but pleasant surface interval. The technical divers needed 2 hours on the surface before their next run, and we spent it on the upper deck relaxing in the sun. Terri had brought some really awesome cheese and salmon pate. We were so spoiled.

The last dive was Racoon Island which is here:,+Greater+Vancouver+Regional+District,+British+Columbia&ll=49.340846,-122.904063&spn=0.003894,0.008433&t=h&z=17

We dove the eastern side of it, which was a pretty nice wall dropping off to nothing most of the way. Near the mid-point, it slopped a lot and was white sand which worried me since I thought we ran out of stuff to see. But the wall picked up after that and turned into a really interesting jumble of rocks and red kelp. I took us shallower than probably necessary, but there was the sun streaming down into the water again, a field of interesting rocks and crevices, and red algae fronds swaying everywhere. It was great. It was also a very long dive again, over 50 minutes, and this time I was only on my steel 100 cylinder! I was quite happy with my gas consumption rate. We debated later over what fish we saw, but there was certainly a nice big school of shiner perch. The smaller eel-like fish we came across we weren't so sure of. I didn't see all of them, but I think we decided they were probably some kind of prickleback or gunnel. Without a camera it was difficult to remember their actual markings and shape. Alas no octopus, even though Terri was designated Octopus Hunter. We looked in and under everything! Oh well.

The trip took a lot longer than most of us planned. There was a huge distance to cover, and the dives were long. We ended up not leaving until about 5:30. Still, you couldn't ask for better time spent. Here are some pictures of the scenery.

My double tank set is nearly complete too. So soon, I'll be lugging around over 6000 litres of gas and about 150 pounds of gear. Not so great out of the water, but in the water it will be great!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Wreck of the VT-100 14/02/2010

With the Olympics on, I wanted to plan some dives in the opposite direction of the Sea to Sky highway. There were a few dives sites up the Indian Arm that I'd been wanting to check out so this was a great motivating factor to do just that.

Doing some research, my options were White Rock, Whiskey Cove and the wreck of the VT-100. I picked the wreck because I figured it would be more of an incentive for folks to come out. Also, if it fell through, Whiskey Cove was just a few minutes to the south and made a good backup dive site.

The VT-100 had some interesting facts. All the details are in this link:

Wreck detail link (map of wreck near last pages)

In summary though, it had some interesting history. Formerly the YMS-159 which saw service as a minesweeper in WWII, it was sold as surplus and was renamed Vancouver Tug 100. Then vandals set fire to it and it sank. For a long time people called it the HMCS Cranbrook, but that was a mistake and was corrected not too long ago. The article above has a lot more details on the story. I found it pretty interesting.

At Porteau Cove, another YMS class minesweeper was sunk called the Nakaya. People say that the Nakaya is arguably a more interesting wreck. It's a longer swim to the Nakaya though, but I am planning to see that one too soon.

Some details that are nice to know for diving the VT-100 follow.

Bathroom facilities only exist at Belcara Park, so go before you leave! All along the road are private boat docks and launches and houses so be careful and respectful. There is limited parking on the shoulder of the road. There are no “official” parking spots. Just get the car as far off the road as you can. This is a Google street view of the parking area. The dive site is right beside it. Right by the small no parking sign is the trail that goes down to the water. There are no steps, but there is a rope to help you. The trail is pretty steep and slippery. It's hard to spot the trail but it's there. Here is a Google Map link of where you need to park. Basically you just go down the trail, get into the water, and head on a 330 degree compass heading until you run into the wreck. It lies about 300 metres off the eastern shore of Bedwell Bay and the depths are 55 feet at the bow, 42 feet at the stern.

When Jason and I arrived, we had a hard time finding the dive site. There was a white buoy out in the water that tricked us for a while. The wreck is not marked in any way, unlike the wrecks at Porteau Cove. The white marker is far far to the south of where the wreck really was.

We asked a resident where divers normally go, but they didn't have any useful details. Finally we found where we needed to be. Funny enough, another pair of divers arrived just then so we were doubly sure we were in the right place. There was room for 3 or 4 cars at the side of the road so that worked out. Mihai arrived not long after and so we were all there and ready.

It was an awesome day. The sun was out, and it was over 10 degrees. It felt like a summer dive. The water was still 8 degrees, but I didn't expect much different. There was a lot of dog “business” everywhere. I'm not sure if it was local residents purposefully not picking up after their pet to discourage divers, or if it was just lazy people. Regardless, it was pretty disgusting. I ended up getting dog poop on a lot of my gear and shoes. Yuck. There was a big bald eagle in the tree beside us though, so that was pretty nice at least.

The divers ahead of us seemed to be having some problems and we watched them surface soon after they went down. It didn't look like they were in the right area. They moved over a ways and I think they found the wreck then. Their bubbles gave a bit of a visual reference on where we probably should end up.

When we got into the water, I really understood what people meant when they said “muddy bottom”. The whole trip out to the wreck was one big mud flat. There really wasn't much to see in terms of life. There was one or two lone plumose anemones jutting up out of the mud. A toilet? Yes, there was a toilet lying on the bottom on the way. There were a few boulders, too. Overall, a featureless desert. Sure, there was lots of stuff living in the mud, as well as crabs running around, but it just wasn't that interesting to me. But, it did give an opportunity to practice careful propulsion. If you didn't, the resulting silt storm made seeing next to impossible.

It seemed like forever before we found the wreck, but it was only maybe 7 or so minutes into the dive. The VT-100 was pretty much just a pile of debris. It was vaguely ship-shaped, but the vast majority of it had rotted away. There were several bulkheads still standing which wobbled dangerously. The gun turret that I read about was still there but was not very impressive. We circled the wreck once, and then headed back. There were a lot of graceful decorator crabs and longhorn decorator crabs on the various bits of broken rotting wooden hull. Some schools of perch were swimming around too. However, compared to the Grant Hall at Porteau Cove, the VT-100 was pretty barren.

On the way back to shore, I did see some Northern hairy chitons and a a small tanner crab. We also came across two other “wrecks”. On the muddy bottom was a small white skiff, sunk and upside down. Beside it was a larger fibreglass speed boat. Not that interesting, but unexpected!

The final ascent up to shore was the best. The sun had come out, and was streaming down into the water. The visibility opened up a lot too. Being able to see the surface while swimming underwater was very cool.

On the second tour around the VT-100, we saw the marine life high-light, a golden dirona. It was spectacular.

In the end, I was glad to check out this wreck, but I don't think I'd go back any time soon without a good reason. There were certainly more interesting dive sites to visit.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Whytecliff Night Dive 09/02/2010

This night dive was supposed to take place with Alan at the Cut. However, his primary light failed, so he canceled. Fortunately, Mihai decided to come along, so I still got to dive albeit with some extra issues!

There was some plague of lighting problems as Mihai's UK light also had problems on the dive. It would turn off, and he'd have to smack it to get it going again. This happened 3 times. I found out later that this was a loaner light, since his real UK light was off being repaired for the same problem. I had thought the UK series of lights were pretty good, and I'm sure they are. However, I've seen problems with both Mihai and Jason in their use of these lights. Maybe just bad luck though.

A further problem was car trouble. I had borrowed a car to go out since I was originally going with just Alan. When I got the car back, it wouldn't start anymore! What a pain. At least it waited until I got back to the garage to quit, so that wasn't so bad.

Mihai had problems not only with his light, but also with his fins. He had put on thicker thinsulate booties so he couldn't get his fins off his feet. Eventually with a lot of tugging, I got them off, but ended up falling over too. One of his dry gloves popped off just before we entered the water, too. The low tide made the entry kind of bad since there were a lot of slick rocks with sharp barnacles. I had cut my suit boot on something like that before, and was very leery of walking on them. I think I got away ok this time, with no punctures.

The dive itself was good. We ended up exploring the rock reef that Jason and I dove the previous Sunday. The octopus we found in the hollow log was home which was awesome. It was low tide, so the log was right under us when we entered the water. To find the log, we just walked down to the change-house on the east side of the beach, walked down the stone stairs, entered the water directly south of the big tree with the rope on it, and just went south from there. I was pretty surprised to see it so quickly, though. I had to revise my identification of the octopus. It was a giant pacific octopus, not a red pacific octopus. I got a good look at its eye, and it did not have the three knobby "eyelashes" that distinguish a red pacific octopus. He certainly looked peaceful sleeping there. How he slept with me shining a 21 watt HID light in his face, I don't know!

There was not as much new life as I had expected might be out at night. There were many coonstripe shrimp, and some really huge ones too. Maybe 5 inches long, the biggest I've seen. There were lots of the yellow rimmed nudibranchs, but not a lot of fish. There was a decent buffalo sculpin, and quite a few cool flounders. Oh and again lots of red rock crabs nearer the shore on the rocks at the end of the dive.

It was a very shallow dive due to the low tide, so it ended up being quite long, 40 minutes. The average depth was only 7 meters, and the water temperature was 8 degrees. It was a pretty mild night too, air temperature wise.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Whytecliff Park 07/02/2010

Jason hadn't been able to do much diving due to work, so he wanted to do an easy set of dives this weekend to get back into the swing of things. My other buddy Mihai had been laid up with a sore shoulder. Jason and I planned to go to Whytecliff and mess around there. I needed to get as much diving in as possible before the start of my GUE Fundamentals course!

The IDC shop was running an Open Water course, so Landon and Alan were there that day. We chatted a bit with them throughout the morning, but they were busy with students.

It was a fairly nice day. Cloudy but not raining and fairly warm. We decided to explore the rock reef to the eastern side of the bay. I had been there before, but it was a long time ago so I was curious to see what I'd remember. Finding the reef was pretty easy so that was no problem at all. The reef seemed pretty small at first, but was actually quite large. A large portion of it was shallow though, around 10 meters. The deepest portion was around 18 meters, and bottomed out to sand. Touring around the reef we found tube-dwelling anemones , brown oval cup corals, an orange sea pen, and lots of yellow-rimmed nudibranchs. I was surprised to see a bright orange cooper's dorid or sea lemon. It had small red spots and was quite brilliant. I'd not seen one of those kind of nudibranchs before. Clinging to a rock was a swimming scallop which took off swimming when I waved some water at it. I also recovered a golf ball from the bottom which became my treasure for the day (I found a second one later on the next dive too). The distortion of the water really made it look huge. We followed the bottom back towards shore, and not far north of the reef on the sandy bottom we came across a long tree trunk. It was around 10 meters deep. By chance, I decided to investigate the end of it, and found that it was hollow. In that hollow was a pacific red octopus! He was very easy to see curled up in the log and it was a super good find. I spent a bit of time admiring a particularly large sunflower star (much bigger and more arms than the one in this picture) moving very fast along the bottom. It was very interesting to watch it move with its thousands of tube feet. There were also a lot of pacific sea peachs and bristly tunicates. It took me a while to identify the tunicates in my marine life book, since I thought that they were sponges at first. Finally, all over the rocks were lots of graceful decorator crabs and red rock crabs. The decorator crabs were a lot redder than those in the picture. There was also eel grass nearer shore, and some kind of tube worm protruding from the sand. I couldn't for the life of me find it in my marine life book.

After some lunch, we followed the west side of the bay out to the Day marker and the plumose anemone gardens. Along the way I found a giant pacific chiton which I had never seen in Whytecliff before. There were also some slime stars and a big buffalo sculpin. I thought that the buffalo sculpin was a cabezon at the time, but later I realized it just wasn't big enough, and didn't quite look right.

After we got back into the bay, I got some practice deploying my surface marker buoy. It didn't go that well! My lips were too cold to properly inflate it, and I had problems getting it out of my pocket. Instead of ascending straight up to it, we also drifted quite a ways away so it kind of defeated the purpose of marking where we were ascending. Oh well, more practice I guess! Alan laughed at us on the surface.

Finding the octopus in the log and all the cool nudibranchs were the highlights of this dive. It showed that you can see great things even in “boring” places like Whytecliff!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Howe Sound Boat Dive 31/01/2010

Yay another boat dive with the Sea Dragon crew! Jason was supposed to come on this, but work prevented him. Instead, my planned dive buddy was Vince, and I also ended up diving with Adrian whom I had met in November in Port Hardy.

I hitched a ride with Vince that morning. It was a bit foggy on the drive to Horseshoe Bay, but I figured it was just low-lying cloud. It was overcast again, but not raining so that was good. There were no marine warnings, either.

There was a new crew member on board, Kyle, filling in for Jan who was off to Montreal. Kyle was an avid diver, too. We got underway a bit late but not bad. The ocean was smooth as glass. It was quite strange. Kevin the skipper said he'd never seen it so calm before.

We had some warm-water divers with us, so the first dive was an easy one at the Canyons, just south of Bowyer island. Vince and Adrian and myself formed a trio on this dive. I was hoping that we'd find the wolf-eel lair and that they'd be home. Unfortunately, they weren't. I'm not even really sure that I found their lair! I think I did, but the rock looked different. There was quite a bit of current too for such calm water on the surface. Our dive took us north for about 10 minutes, then we did a u-turn and came back south to the mooring line. On the way out and the way back I'm pretty sure I checked the right place for the wolf-eels. There were two pretty nice and big crimson anemones. We took a small wrong turn on the way back and ended up going too much to the east. I realized we were over the start of the wall that runs that way and turned us back, so we made it back to the mooring line with no real problems. There was a giant rock scallop right at the base of the line which was pretty cool. It was about 6 to 8 inches across. All in all, it was not a bad dive, and around 30 minutes. The visibility was ok, but not great, maybe 30 feet. Unfortunately, it was just uneventful. I liken it to a walk around your block. Sure it's nice, but it was nothing special.

Teri and Dave were on the boat too, and were diving double 130s. They were down a lot longer, of course, and ended up exploring the wall that we turned back from. I think they had a pretty good dive. The other group of warm-water divers had a few issues, but were generally ok. Vince practiced some of his dive-master-in-training skills, as he stayed behind when Adrian and I ascended and helped them out.

During our surface interval, and our trip to the next dive site, I learned from Kevin that they had a new boat coming. Apparently the new boat could hold 20 divers! I was excited to see what it would be like.

The next dive site was a new one for me, which was great. I had heard about Hutt Island, and Hutt Wall before. The island was just north of Bowen Island. On the north tip of Hutt Island was Hutt Wall. It turned out to be a really great wall dive, dropping down to around 80 feet of white sandy bottom. The wall itself was long and covered in life.,+bc&sll=50.176898,-108.193359&sspn=24.884928,64.160156&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Bowen+Island,+Greater+Vancouver+Regional+District,+British+Columbia&ll=49.408237,-123.383203&spn=0.012314,0.03

Stuff that I'm pretty sure I saw were a tubular vase sponge and a cloud sponge as well as a boot/chimney sponge . I checked inside the chimney sponges for critters, but only turned up a gobi or two. Underneath one of them though was a painted greenling. I had only seen painted greenlings before in Tuwanek, but apparently there were lots of them in Howe Sound too. I tried to get fancy and turned over on my back to get a better look at him. That ended up to be a mistake, as I had a very ungraceful recovery back to horizontal. Whoops.

There were the ever-present giant plumose anemones covering a lot of the wall, along with a pink scallop or two. A white nudibranch stood out on the rocks near the end of the dive. In the crevices were lots and lots of coonstripe shrimps. They looked a lot redder than the ones I'd seen before, so I had mistaken them for another type of shrimp. But apparently coonstripe shrimps can get very red according to my marine life book. The highlight of the dive had to be all the rhinoceros crabs. They were everywhere. There was also a hairy crab and a really big longhorn decorator crab. In another crevice I'm sure there was a butterfly crab, and swimming off of the wall were large schools of striped seaperch and maybe a puget sound rockfish or two. I noticed a poor spiral shell snail or hermit crab in a spiral shell bouncing down the wall at one point. I guess he got dislodged from above!

Hutt Wall had become one of my favorite dive sites after all of that. I had a bit of a leak around my drysuit neck seal so I was a bit colder and damper today which was a downside, but generally it was a great day for diving. I had also adjusted the webbing on my rig with the help of Alan and that made things better terms of my horizontal trim. So that was good too! Teri had invited me along to a dive she was planning in Dodd Narrows in April. It would be just after I got back from Port Hardy. Can't get enough diving I guess!