Another Memorable Day in Howe Sound

These pictures are courtesy Bob Bailey from Washington State, who also sent along his impression of  last weekend’s diving.

Thanks Bob to the gang from the Emerald Sea Dive Club !

Here’s Bob’s note:

It was a perfect day for diving aboard the roomy “Topline” – Sea Dragon’s new charter boat.

Sunny weather, mountains gleaming with new snow, and calm seas gave promise to a good day.

The boat pulled up to our first dive site – Cowan Point – and we dropped into surprisingly good 30 to 40 foot visibility. As we made our way down the wall, cloud sponges started appearing at about 80 feet. At 100 feet they were getting shapely and interesting. At 120 feet we found a large one that sheltered a red fur crab, snapped off a quick picture, and started making our way back up the slope, letting a gentle current carry us along. Small, sandy shelves provided a foothold for sea pens and tube-dwelling anemones, making me wonder if we would see dendronotid or tritonia nudibranchs … but not on this dive.

We paused when Cheng found a tiny grunt sculpin nestled in the arms of a red sea star, taking pictures and watching its herky-jerky antics as it appeared to be seeking a comfortable perch among what must’ve appeared to it as giant cushions. Further on we came across a beautiful, and quite large painted anemone.

While I was taking pictures of it, Cheng discovered a beautiful janolus fusca nudibranch with a tiny flabellina “dive buddy”. A short while later, perched on a rock, we discovered a small but colorful juvenile Puget Sound king crab. By then we had worked our way up quite shallow, and so we did our safety stop and ascended in a sheltered cove to find the boat waiting nearby to pick us up.

After a leisurely surface interval we did our second dive at Worlcombe Island. Once again the wall structure proved to be both interesting and full of life.

Colorful patches of pale zoanthids and orange cup corals punctuated a variety of different colored sea stars and green sea urchins. Yellow-margin dorids were abundant on this dive, along with the occasional janolus fusca.

Toward the end of the dive I found a grunt sculpin peeking out from an abandoned giant barnacle shell. Nearby another grunt sculpin was flittering about seeking its own shelter. We did this dive as a series of switchbacks up the wall, and surfaced to find ourselves not 30 feet from where we had descended. It was another fine dive with surprisingly good visibility and a delightful variety of creatures to see.

Overall it was a memorable day in Howe Sound.

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