Tuesday, July 26, 2016

HMCS Annapolis 23-24/07/2016

GUE Project Baseline Halkett Bay - Station Location Guide

GUE Project Baseline Halkett Bay consists of two stations, Station A and Station B. Stations consist of a PVC pipe float, a placard, and a Secchi disk. Recently test PVC pipe enclosures were also added for potential temperature logger installation.

Station A Location

Station A is directly on top of the main bridge, at about 15 meters / 50 feet of depth. It is very easy to locate.


Station B Location

Station B is more challenging to find. The most straightforward method is to head towards the bow. Upon reaching the circular area where the gun turret used to be, head to the starboard side of the deck. Descend down the ship hull, using the cut-out as a reference point. Another reference point are the Roman Numeral depth markings down the side of the hull in that area. Upon reaching the bottom at about 30m, take a compass bearing of 270 degrees. Proceed up the sloping bottom for about 1-2 minutes. You will pass over a line leading to an old crab trap. If you pass over the crab trap, you are too far to the right. Once you reach the 25 meter / 80 foot contour you should see a large outcropping of smooth rock. In the middle of that rock wall is Station B. If you miss the station, search along the 25 meter / 80 foot contour and you should find the station. Finally, if you have swam for more than 1-2 minutes, you have missed the station. The station is not far from the ship. Please note a further challenge: since this station is away from the reference point of the ship, it could be difficult to get back. Do not spend additional time searching if you do not find it immediately, and return to the known reference of the ship.

A potential (but untested) additional method that may be easier is to proceed directly to the bow. Descend there, and proceed north east to the 25 meter / 80 foot contour and follow this until you hit the rock wall.


See the below rough map for a more visual presentation.

It was a very productive weekend for GUE-BC on the Annapolis. Vlad, Kevin, and myself gathered enough information to put together the above guide. And it was a  lot of fun! First, the video compilation.

Liz Tribe had a wreck class come over from Nanaimo to train on the Annapolis, so we decided to go along. It was a perfect weekend for it, maybe a bit on the hot side, but not bad. It also gave me a chance to check out the new Sea Dragon Charters office in Horseshoe Bay. They could do nitrox fills, right there!

On the first day, Vlad and I used our scooters to locate Station B, which had been moved previously. It didn't take us too long to find it, once we had some details from Dave and Sam. After we located it, Kevin Swoboda joined us to install some of Vlad's test enclosures, and to take visibility and temperature readings. I also noted quite a large sunflower star at Station B, and submitted the sighting to the Aquarium. It was the first sunflower star I had seen in over two years. This was Station B.

 At Station A we did the same readings and installed the test enclosures. Unified team diving wins again, with the dive going off without a hitch, all work accomplished, and fun had by all! This was Station A.

 And here we were on the way to Station B.

Vlad and I had a great time scootering around. Vlad got a good picture of me.

The Annapolis had even more life on it than the last time I had been. The anemones were really starting to take hold.

There was a swimming scallop in the helicopter bay.

And a rockfish on the smoke stack.

Vlad found a winged sea slug, very cool!

There were an incredible number of fried egg jellyfish out. Several were caught on the ship railings. Here was a neat picture of Vlad and his camera rig and a fried egg jelly. I know I got a tentacle over my lip, it stung, but not as bad as a Lion's Mane sting.

If you would like to see the rest of the pictures, they are here:


We also had the opportunity to check out the second nearby dive site "Inner Sanctum". If you had enough of diving the wreck, the Sea Dragon crew could drop you off on a nearby wall. It was the best of both worlds really. Even better, there were reports of a resident wolf eel there.

Vlad and I started the dive, and began searching for the wolf eel. We were dropped at a rope hanging down from shore. From there, we descended to about 21 meters. We saw some very nice giant nudibranchs.

And a hairy lithoid crab out in the open.

But the highlight was finding the wolf eel. I had thought it would be much sooner in the dive, but it was a good 10 to 15 minutes before we came across the perpendicular log that we were told to pay attention for. Then, just beyond that in the jumble of rocks, we found the den.

So if you were looking for the den, stay around 18-21 meters, and look for the log about 10-15 minutes into the dive. We found a log very soon after descending, and that was not the right one!

All the video and pictures that I got were also submitted to the Vancouver Aquarium ABIS project page.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Whytecliff Park 13/07/2016

Sam and I went out for an evening dive at Whytecliff. We went in at the Cut, and despite a very brown surface layer had a very good dive. I didn't take any video or pictures, just used my eyes. All the photos below came courtesy of the Emerald Diving Species Index.

We saw painted greenlings.

Kelp greenlings.

Many copper rockfish.

And quillback rockfish.

There was a juvenile yellow eye.

Crimson anemones.

Golf ball crabs.

Fried egg jellies (many caught by giant plumose anemones).

Lots of giant nudibranchs.

Also lots of white lined dironas.

The highlight of the dive was a giant pacific octopus under the boulder just beside the plumose gardens. We checked under the plumose garden plaque, but nothing was home there.

I also spied many of what I thought were Kincaid's Shrimp all over a cloud sponge, but more of a transparent colour variant. In the Pacific Marine Life book, it was noted that a transparent variety could often be found on cloud sponges. I probably should have gotten video of this. Next time!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Topline Post-Canada Day 02/07/2016

After an excellent time celebrating Canada Day, we went out with the Topline on the Saturday. It had been quite a while since we had gone out with them, and it would definitely be fun!

The day was perfect, not too hot, but sunny. The boat wasn't very full, so we had lots of room, too. All told, there were five of us on board, not including Steve and Bob running the show. Perfect!

We had a bit of a problem getting out of the bay with some trouble with a pretty big branch. Sam lent some assistance gearing up quickly and un-jamming things. So we were on our way without much trouble.

Without going much further, the video compilation :-)

Steve took us past North Bowyer Island for a look-see, but the currents were running pretty fiercely, so we went to the back side of Bowyer first. The top surface layer didn't look very appealing, and we hoped that the generally good visibility reports lately would still hold true. We didn't have to worry, as sure enough, visibility cleared up nicely under 20 feet.

We had one of the best dives on the back side of Bowyer that I can remember. Many critters, and lots of good opportunities for photos and video.

Right off the bat, a very photogenic golf-ball crab.

And a spiny lithoid crab, surprisingly out in the open, and not hiding in a crack. He had a snack in his claws too.

And this one was trying to make a meal of a much larger sea star.

I wasn't quite sure what this sculpin was, but it was very pretty.

And a pretty swimming anemone.

Heather got some good video and pictures of an energetic swimming scallop.

A huge field of zooanthids.

And, we came across a small type of crab we had not noticed before, the pygmy rock crab.

There were huge masses of nudibranch eggs everywhere as well.

This poor sea star got away from something, and was regrowing almost all of it's arms!

Finally, we saw a very odd bivalve, but I wasn't sure what it was. Donna Gibbs from the Vancouver Aquarium helped me out, identifying it as a lampshell. It was in the big green Pacific Life book, but I guess I didn't look hard enough!

After a very relaxing surface interval, we motored over to North Bowyer, and the current had laid down considerably. Bob explained where we might find some wolf eels, and we planned to try and check them out. On the way, we came across a whole bunch of fried egg jellies, some caught by giant plumose anemones.

The wolf eels weren't home, unfortunately, but we had a great dive regardless. The highlight was a field of tube dwelling anemones being preyed on by giant nudibranchs. They were everywhere. One nudibranch tried to dive down on an anemone, but just missed. It was all in the video compilation.

I just missed the up-line on the way back, but we put up an SMB and ascended up the pinnacle. On the surface, the boat was not far away. So close! I would have to brush up on some navigation :-)

Kelvin Grove 30/06/2016

Kelvin Grove was so good on Sunday that we decided to go back on Thursday for an evening dive. Heather had helped get me a replacement glove system, and I was itching to try it out. I wasn't disappointed in the Kubi system, it was fantastic. Uncomplicated, reliable and easy to use. I also liked the extra dexterity from the thinner gloves as compared to the blue gloves I had used for so long. It was also really nice to take the gloves off easily.

It was a busy night at Kelvin Grove, just before Canada Day. Ocean Quest was out, and there were about 6 divers all-told (including us). The expanded parking really helped, with about 5 additional visitor spots. It was a very warm evening, and it was a bit sweaty gearing up and getting into the water, but it wasn't too bad. The surface layer was very warm (my dive computer showed 18 degrees at the end of the dive). You could really tell that it had been very sunny for the last few days. Off to the left on the rocky point there was a large group of people cliff diving. I didn't know you could get out there, and it looked like they used the rail line to walk out there. A fun long-weekend activity!

The dive was great. We did a bit of stage bottle practice, tried out Heather's black light (to cause things to fluoresce), and generally had a good dive.

We saw the same clown nudibranchs, still laying eggs.

The highlight was a large decorated war bonnet out in the open. Couldn't get much better than this! It was almost a foot long, and basically posed for us for quite a while.

There were more giant nudibranchs, and Heather saw one swimming on its own.

I think this was a bi-colored nudibranch, very pretty.

One sea star was regrowing several arms!

The fluorescence experiment worked somewhat, but we needed some additional filters. The light certainly worked!

Kelvin Grove certainly had given us some good dives, lately.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Kelvin Grove 25/06/2016

I hadn't been to Kelvin Grove in a while, and it was the perfect day for it. Some changes had been made there. Most notably the end of the cul-de-sac had been cleared and a new house was being built. It would have an amazing view. A better change was more parking! There were at least 10 spots now instead of the old 5. Very nice! Here was, the video compilation and pictures follow. Heather and I saw a lot on this dive.

Quite a few fried egg jelly fish.

Here was Heather posing with one.

Large clown nudibranchs laying eggs.

It looked like this sea cucumber was trying to eat one of the clown nudibranchs too.

A beaded anemone.

A whole mess of giant nudibranchs.

We also found a type of sea cucumber that we'd not seen (or noticed!) before. The peppered sea cucumber.

At the end of the dive, Heather found an impressive lewis moonsnail. Fantastic purple colour!

I was trying out a different drysuit to see how crushed neoprene and a neoprene neck seal would feel for me. It definitely was warm and flexible. I could see why people who do underwater work liked them, they certainly felt durable and substantial. The neck seal was a bit loose on me, so I ended up with quite a lot of water in the suit, but it wasn't cold. So all in all, a good experience trying something new. I firmly believed the more you know and tried, the better informed and knowledgeable you would be. Happy diver!