This beach (in Arbutus Cove Park) has become semi-popular with snorkelers and freedivers because of the field of seapens just offshore. I never really considered diving here years ago because the chart and sidescan image show a shallow, flat, featureless bottom. I decided to come for a dive here after all on Aug. 22, 2023.
        When I got here, I remembered another reason why I never tried diving here before. At the end of the sloping path, there is a long set of stairs leading down to the beach. If I remember right, I counted 67 steps, which I was not looking forward to climbing back up while wearing over 110 lbs of dive gear (plus a separate trip with my cameras).
        I swam straight out from the beach near the stairs. I had to awkwardly stumble out over the rocks in the shallows for awhile before the water was deep enough to swim.
        As I swam out, the rocks changed to sand. Eventually, I reached an area covered with eelgrass about 15-20' deep. Visibility was 10-15'.
        I reached the end of the eelgrass bed about 25' deep and started to see the sea pens just past it. I followed them out to about 35' deep and didn't reach the end of them. I felt some current out here, but it was still easy to swim against it. Other than the sea pens, there were lots of those striped nudibranchs that eat sea pens. Some of them were piled together and there were their egg masses all over the place too. There were lots of shrimp clustered around the bases of the sea pens and there were hundreds of little snake pricklebacks that look like tiny, skinny lingcod.
        I returned past the eelgrass bed back to shore.
        I think that although this site is fine for freedivers with their minimal equipment, it's not really practical for scuba divers. Like I mentioned, climbing back up those stairs wearing over 110 lbs of dive gear is not something I want to face again, unless there is a really good dive site at the bottom. -Although it might be worth it for the kind of psychological specimens that travel all the way to Indonesia or the Philippines to go "muck diving". In my opinion, there are other sea pen sites around Victoria with easier access.
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