SUMMARY: A boat dive in Saanich Inlet with more than just cloud sponges.                                     LOCATION: On the south- west  shore of Saanich Inlet,. A buoy marks the dive. Swim down the slope until you hit a wall.                                                                   WHAT TO SEE: There is a wall that drops straight down from about 70-80 feet. I don't know how deep it goes. There is a piece of reef jutting out from one end of the wall at about 100 feet with lots of medium -sized cloud sponges on it. Quillback rockfish and lingcod live in and around them. There may be more sponges further down the wall. When I looked over the cliff I saw at least one down there. There are crabs, starfish, swimming anemones, nudibranchs and solitary tunicates here and there. There is a rock face covered with zoanthids at 70 feet. A lingcod was lying on them and guarding an egg mass when I swam by.                                     CONDITIONS: The main group of cloud sponges are about 100 -120 feet deep. The buoy is anchored in about 40-50 feet of water. Current is not a problem. Avoid this dive in late spring or early summer when plankton can ruin the visibility in Saanich Inlet. When I was here one day in early march, I looked up from 120 feet deep and could see the boat on the surface. Probably the best visibility I've ever seen. 30-100 foot visibility is more typical.
CLOUD SPONGE ON WALL
CLOUD SPONGE ON WALL
ON THE SURFACE
CRAB ON SPONGE
MOON JELLYFISH UNDER BOAT
DIVER AND ALABASTER NUDIBRANCH
SWIMMING ANEMONE AND DIVER
LINGCOD AND ZOANTHIDS
QUILLBACK ROCKFISH ON SPONGE
QUILLBACK ROCKFISH AND SPONGE
DESCENDING
CLOUD SPONGES
SEASTAR
CRAB ON CLOUD SPONGE
ASCENDING
COPPER ROCKFISH AND ZOANTHIDS
SUNFLOWER STAR ON SHALLOW WALL
SHALLOW WALL
BOOT SPONGE ON DEEP WALL
QUILLBACK ROCKFISH AND ZOANTHIDS
NUDIBRANCH ON MOORING LINE
QUILLBACK ROCKFISH AND CLOUD SPONGE
QUILLBACK ROCKFISH
BORING SPONGE
DIVER OVER WALL
LOOKING UNDER BOULDER AT LARGE OCTOPUS
KELP GREENLING
QUILLBACK ROCKFISH NEAR CLOUD SPONGES
ROCKFISH
AT CHRISTMAS POINT
MOORING BOUY
DIVER AND SPONGE
CLOUD SPONGE
SPONGE
        I came back on New Year's Day, 2007 with Richard and Al on Richard's boat. It was pouring rain so visibility was down to about 40 feet (still not too bad). We went to the sponges as usual and on the way back up, a huge Steller's sea lion charged in, spun around us and sped off. I wasn't fast enough for a decent picture. It was dark down deep so even with the fast film (ASA 800) and camera settings of 1/30 sec. and f5.6, most of the pictures didn't turn out. I should have moved in closer to let the strobe do most of the work.
QUILLBACK ROCKFISH AND SPONGES
DESCENDING TO SPONGES
UNDER BOAT
CLOUD SPONGE
OVER SPONGES
KELP GREENLING
UNDER BOAT
CLIMBING LADDER
DIVER OVER SPONGES
SAFETY STOP
SAFETY STOP
JELLYFISH UNDER BOAT
JELLYFISH UNDER BOAT
GRABBING LADDER
THE SEALION PICTURE THAT GOT AWAY
SAFETY STOP
AT BOTTOM OF MOORING LINE
JELLYFISH UNDER BOAT
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