Monday, May 25, 2015

Whytecliff 20/05/2015

Evan Soukas and I went out to Whytecliff Park for some skills and a fun dive. It was a pretty nice evening, with the tide on a flood. Sea to Sky Scuba (formerly the Edge) had some divers out, but they had not been out in the water yet so we hoped the vis was OK.

On the swim out to the Day marker, we passed two men on the rocks. I noticed that they had three flourescent orange lines running down into the water. We adjusted our course to avoid entanglement, then I realized what they were doing. They were crabbing in the marine protected area that is Whytecliff Park. Once I realized what they were doing, I advised them loudly from the water that what they were doing was against the law. They claimed that they did not know. I pointed out there were signs posted clearly stating that harvesting marine life at Whytecliff was prohibited. They did pull up their three traps and left, so that was good. The toll-free number to report poachers was 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP). You could also fill out a form online.

The other problem with this was divers would not expect fishing in the bay. Since these traps were put into the water in a popular place to swim through to get out to the Day marker, they could easily cause entanglement. I certainly wouldn't expect to be swimming along and blunder into a line in that area, or even worse, have a trap land on or near you. Thankfully they did leave.

We checked out the crack on the way out to the Day marker that usually had an octopus, but he wasn't home. This crack was at about 30-40 feet of depth, and could be found fairly easily if you followed the contour past the rusty metal boxes. The vis wasn't too bad actually. Other life we came across were the plumose gardens (always pretty), and a Kincaid shrimp (picture courtesy of DFO).

There were many gumboot chitons, as well as yellow margin dorids. On the dive the previous week at Britannia Beach, I hadn't seen any nudibranchs at all. It was good to see some. We also came across an interesting clam, which in the end I really couldn't identify. It was interesting in that its siphon was quite a bright orange.

At the end of the dive, we did some skills, deployed and SMB and did an ascent practice to the surface. We came up quite a ways from shore, a lot farther out than I had expected. It was a long swim back!

Monday, May 18, 2015

GUE-BC Project Baseline Britannia Beach 16/05/2015

Josh organized a GUE-BC Project Baseline Britannia Beach dive to collect some data. From the Baseline website summary "Project Baseline empowers passionate citizens to observe and record change within the world’s aquatic environments in a way that fosters public awareness and supports political action". Data gathering projects were hard to maintain, with high initial enthusiasm, but getting regular visits were tough. Invariably it would be the same people going out, which got old quick even with high levels of enthusiasm and commitment. Josh did a great job driving it, but always needed more help.

The data gathering aspect of Project Baseline was designed to be as easy as possible. At a station, only depth, temperature, and visibility had to be recorded. A diver just needed to illuminate the visibility plaque, back away, and at the point where the two outside bars blurred together, record the distance. This was a picture of what the visibility plaque looked like. You could see that the outer two bars were still visible.

You did need some way to record the distance, but you didn't need to bring a tape measure. A piece of line with a knot tied in it at that point, then measured later would do. Or a line with regular intervals marked on it could be used.

Part of our goal on this dive was to make finding the stations easier. There were only two stations, but there was no guarantee that everyone could find both. The first station at the stern of the Ready was relatively easy to find. Josh's plan was to run a line from the bow of the Ready, along the bottom to the second station at the Cape Swain. 

We met up at the parking lot at the Galileo Coffee company. John took a group picture. From left to right: Dave,  Dennis, Nick, Anton, Alex, Evan, John and Josh.

It was low tide when we did the dive, and the plan was to swim to the first dock piling and drop on the Ready. John got a picture of the beach. It really was low tide!

There were a few problems at the start of the dive, with a leaky o-ring on an LPI, and a flooded scooter. Unfortunately this meant that the scooter team had to leave them behind, but the o-ring was fixed easily. Crossing the road was a bit of a challenge too, as there was a huge amount of traffic going up to Whistler for the long weekend. Frogger, anyone?

Alex and I dropped on the Ready, and in less than 3 meters there it was. Visibility was better than it had been on the last dive we did at Britannia. When descending on the Ready you needed to be quite careful, as the wreck is a real wreck. If the visibility was bad, there was a good chance of you landing on broken bits of the wreck. There were quite a few sharp edges and bits.

Alex and I found the first station at the stern of the Ready and took the first readings. The visibility was pretty good, I measured it to be 4.9 meters. We found the wheel of the "mystery wreck" located beside the Ready.

We came across a lot of perch, ling cod and dungeness crabs. There were no nudibranchs though, which was odd.

We found the line that the other teams laid, and followed that to the second station. The start of the line was tied as planned to the bow of the Ready.

Since the bottom didn't offer much to tie off to, tent pegs were used. We joked about the pegs, as we didn't know if they would float away. Josh discovered that the pegs he bought at Canadian Tire were neutral though. Good to know for the future! Dave laid the line, and did a good job.

The second station was shallower, and the visibility was definitely worse there. I took a picture of Alex beside it.

I took the measurement as 2.1 meters. We met up with Nick and Evan on the way. At the base of the station were two interesting sculpins.

We followed the line back to the Ready, and discovered half of an empty white egg shell. It was about fist-sized, so it wasn't a small bird. It probably was a Canada goose egg shell. At the Ready, we did some skills. Dave did some bottle switches, and Alex and I did some valve drills and S-drills. I got an interesting picture of one of the port-holes, totally encrusted.

I got another neat picture of a shrimp hanging out on the side of the wreck.

 Finally we just followed the bottom contour up and finished the dive. Here is the video I got from the dive.