Ansell Place is a well-known shore dive spot for Vancouver-area divers. It's also a popular freediving spot. Back in the '90's when I lived in Vancouver, I had never heard of it. I don't think it was in any of the diving guidebooks at the time. I assume there were divers diving it back then though. I was in the Vancouver area recently and wanted to dive somewhere I've never been before in Howe Sound so I came here on Jan. 3, 2016. Ansell Place is the street you use to exit off the highway, but the dive site is at the end of a street called Citrus Wynd. There is a wooden set of stairs and then a trail down to the beach. The trail/steps isn't very long, but it's steep and many local divers refuse to dive here from shore because of the uphill climb after the dive. I didn't think it was that bad. Unless you played sports when you were a kid, you'll probably be fine. I showed up at high tide and crawling over the half-submerged boulders in the shallows while trying not to bash my cameras against the rocks was a challenge.
Swimming out from shore, there was an almost flat rocky slope with some boulders. This area was covered with small green urchins. Visibility was around 30'.
I swam straight out and the bottom soon dropped off in a wall (the top of this wall was maybe 30-40' deep if I remember right). There wasn't much life on the top section of the wall. It seemed starkly bare.
At 70-80' deep there was a small overhang . I think this is the "cave" that is supposed to be a popular feature at this site. It was about 15' wide, 5' high and maybe 5' deep. At least that is my impression of it from memory. There was a feather star and a few copper and Puget Sound rockfish it it. I saw a tiger rockfish, but it swam into a crack at the back of the overhang before I could get a picture. There were a couple of small cloud sponges at the South end of the overhang. The visibility at this depth had dropped to only 10-15' so it was pretty dark. A Steller's sealion charged out of the gloom and almost bumped into me. It was too quick for me to take a photo.
Below the base of the "cave", there was a steep slope of sand. The visibility wasn't good enough to see if a rock wall started up again below me. The marine chart shows the bottom plummeting to over 400' deep. I swam South along the wall and it's base quickly became deeper. I swam along it between 90 and 105' deep. There were several small cloud sponges and some boot sponges. One of the cloud sponges had a grunt sculpin in it and another had a decorated warbonnet. I didn't see any anemones down here.
I had built up enough nitrogen so I swam back up the wall to between 50-60' deep. Again, the wall up here was pretty bare. I headed back North towards where I started.
I reached the area that was North of the entry-point. This area wasn't as steep. There were wide, sandy ledges and rock slopes. My maximum depth here was about 60'. Below that, it seemed like a wall dropped down farther, but I didn't have the air to go down it. This area is supposed to have a wolf-eel den, but I don't think I was deep enough to see it. There seemed to be more invertebrate life at these medium depths than the area I had just seen farther South. There were a few swimming anemones, feather stars and tube-dwelling anemones. Other than a lingcod and a buffalo sculpin, I didn't see many fish. The most common fish seemed to be gobies and small sculpins. I also saw a dead salmon being eaten by crabs.
I swam South in the shallows back to the entry-point. I saw some kind of salp or ctenophore drifting by. It was about 2 feet long.
I think this was a decent enough Howe Sound dive, but I think I like the "Cut" and the day marker at Whytecliff Park better. From what I've seen, Whytecliff has more fish, anemones, feather stars, etc. Maybe I would have been more impressed here if the visibility was better at the bottom of the wall. If I lived in the area, I'd be back a few times, but since I hardly ever get to do any diving over here, I don't think I'll be back to this spot.