There's an almost-confusing list of similar names for marine features in the Sooke area. Starting at the top, there's Sooke Basin, Sooke Harbour, Sooke Inlet and finally, out in the open Strait of Juan de Fuca, Sooke Bay. At the end of Ella Road, there's a gravel public access  path that leads to a wide stretch of pebble beach in Sooke Bay. The pebbles are piled up in a steep dune, along with with the woody stems of stalked kelp. At the end of the trail, if you look out to the left, there is a massive bull kelp bed that is visible even in winter. This whole area is very shallow and gently-sloping, but the bull kelp and the stalked kelp on the beach made me think that there might be some rocky areas out there. I've read in several places that macrocystis giant kelp has been recorded in this area as well. I drove here on a rainy, misty, Sooke-like day (Jan. 28, 2011). I staggered and slid down the loose pebble beach to the water (fortunately there was only a tiny swell) and swam out on the surface towards  the beginning of the kelp bed. The pebbles ended close to the beach and then there was flat sand. I swam out about 200 meters and I could see the bottom below me about 10 feet deep the whole time. Eventually I descended and continued to swim out. The bottom was a flat plain of sand scattered with large and small boulders and stalked kelp. Visibility was about 15 feet. There were a few fish-eating anemones and large yellow nudibranchs. There weren't many fish. I saw 3 small kelp greenlings, 2 gobies, an Irish lord and a small copper rockfish. I didn't see any giant kelp. My maximum depth was 30 feet. I surfaced from this depth to see where I was and the shoreline was a long way off. On my swim back I saw some eelgrass beds, a few purple urchins and an octopus den under a boulder. I didn't see any large reefs, just more of that scattered rock.   The dive was tolerably interesting (swimming to see what was living around the next rock, and the next one, and the next...) and it covers a huge area, but I wasn't impressed enough to plan on coming back soon.
pebble beach
border of pebbles and sand
stalked kelp on rocks
fish-eating anemone on boulder
yellow nudibranch and stalked kelp
fish-eating anemone and sunflower star
fish-eating anemone and sunflower star
yellow nudibranchs
large boulder
fish-eating anemone
shells from octopus den
fish-eating anemone
Irish lord on side of boulder
Irish lord on side of boulder
nudibranch on sand
sunflower star and eelgrass
looking down at stalked kelp on rocks on sand
fish-eating anemone and urchins
fish-eating anemone on large boulder
small copper rockfish in middle of picture under boulder
small copper rockfish in bottom left
anemone and sunflower star
border of sand and pebbles near shore
parking at end of Ella Road
big turn-around area at end of road
end of path
back up path
social housing project near trail