Sunday, September 11, 2016

Whytecliff Park 07/09/2016

Vlad, Sam, Todd an I planned to get out for a dive at Whytecliff. It was Sam's last dive in Vancouver as he was moving to Ontario. Unfortunately logistics worked against him and he wasn't able to make it.

There was a lot of rain on the way to the dive site, but it cleared up nicely once I arrived. Todd was already there having made the long drive from maple ridge. We had a good time chatting and gearing up while we waited for Vlad.

Once everyone arrived we checked out the Cut entry. It was good, with a rising tide and clear of logs. The visibility also looked good! I had been a bit worried due to the recent algae bloom.

In the water, the visibility did indeed hold up. Gone was the summer surface layer and you could actually see the bottom! I would say that the vis was at least 20 to 30 feet.

Right at the start of the dive we came across something interesting. A dead skate, partially eaten, was sitting on the bottom with a happy crab continuing to make a meal of it. All the pictures here were taken by Vlad.

We spent a lot of time looking at the cloud sponges, marveling at their huge size. Vlad was specifically looking for dying ones, as it looked like there were more of those lately. Hopefully it was not a trend as the large cloud sponges at Whytecliff were truly a fantastic feature.

I noted a juvenile yelloweye rockfish, as well as a very nice tiger rockfish. I believed I also saw several yellowtail rockfish, and a few brown rockfish too. I wasn't sure if the rockfish diversity was increasing, or I was just getting better at identification. I would make sure to submit my findings to the annual rockfish abundance survey.

There were an impressive number of golf ball crabs out, along with some spiny lithoid crabs. Usually those were hiding in cracks.

We didn't come across any octopus, but we did meet several groups of divers in the plumose gardens. It was quite neat to see the glow of lights as the groups met.

The highlight of the dive was in the shallows of the bay. While we swam in at least two harbour seals came and stayed with us. They were using our lights to hunt fish. It was very cool that they stayed with us for so long. Normally you might see them for a second but that was it. This time you could almost reach out and touch them several times. Granted it was a bit startling to see a big shape buzzing past you, but it was worth it.

With all that was going on, we ended up with an 80 minute dive. But, our planning took that into account and our average depth was within limits. A great time!