Sunday, July 15, 2018

Tyee and Madrona 07/08/2018

Jim Dixon had me over for some diving in the Nanaimo area, and it did not disappoint!

We hit up Tyee Beach first. It had been some time since I had been, and there were major improvements. Gone was the brambly path, to be replaced by a park, a bathroom and change area. Quite the upgrade!

Jim and I planned to scooter out to Dolphin Beach along the wall that ran to the left of the Tyee entrance, then come back. It was a great looking day.

On the wall, we came across four nice Puget Sound king crabs. Here was one of them.

We also saw three tiger rockfish, which I was quite excited about. I don't get to see these that often. Jim laughed later that he couldn't figure out why I kept pointing them out, because he saw them all the time. A highlight was the large yellow-eye rockfish. That was one thing that Jim didn't see shallow that often.

The best part for me though, was the lewis moonsnail at the end of the dive. These ugly things were always awesome to me!

I made a funny video out of our moonsnail encounter here:

For our dive at Madrona, it was even better. I joked with Jim that we would see 8 octopus and 6 wolf eels. He was definitely skeptical.

We scootered out to the big wall, and right at the start, came across a juvenile wolf eel in a crack. I was super excited! Jim signaled me if I would take some video, and I signaled back yes. When I reached into my pocket, no camera. With a sinking feeling, I pulled everything out to double check. Nothing. I got Jim's attention and signaled that I lost my camera, and to go back and search. I hoped I had just not clipped it off properly and that it had slipped out onto the sand. While looking, I replayed gearing down at Tyee. I then remembered that for some reason I had put my camera back into its case and put it into my dive bag. Certain that I knew it was not lost, I called off the search. Good that I didn't lose it, bad that we kept seeing so many great things!

In the end, we saw 6 octopus, 3 wolf eels (a juvenile and a new mated pair). Scores of opalescent nudibranchs, 1 big sunflower star and 5 smaller sunflower stars, a bright red gunnel, and a juvenile yellow-eye rockfish. There were a few pretty lion's mane jellyfish to round things out.

It was a truly epic dive. Madrona never seemed to disappoint!

Alert Bay 06/07-10/2018

Heather and I planned some diving in Alert Bay, and it turned out excellent as always. I took a side trip to visit Sointula as well. It was a Finnish community on the nearby Malcolm Island. It really was pretty!

An eagle greeted us on the way over.

The beaches of Sointula...

Our diving adventures were under the old breakwater as usual. Our first critter was a large helmet crab trying to remain inconspicuous.

The giant plumose anemones were spectacular as always.

I found a skateboard of all things!

The large painted anemones on the dock pilings always made good photo subjects.

The Red Irish Lords near Alert Bay were not as colorful as some, but they were still amazing.

A saddleback gunnel tried not to be seen in the shallows.

The visibility was excellent as always. Here is a shot looking up towards the surface between the dock pilings.

Another photogenic Red Irish Lord.

A moon jelly. We saw a few small lion's mane jellies as well.

I got a good picture of Heather waving to the camera.

Diving under the old breakwater always reminded me of being inside a Cathedral.

There was a very cool green kelp isopod. The picture came out blurry, but the video of it swimming turned out better. I had only seen this in the Aquarium before.

What was very encouraging were all the giant sunflower stars. Every time we have been back now, we have seen more. The sea star wasting disease seemed to be abating. We made a point of submitting all the sightings we made (I think there were 6 total, compared to last year when we saw 2).

I wasn't sure if this was another Red Irish Lord, or a buffalo sculpin. It sure was cool!

I put together a video compilation as well. I hope you enjoy!