I was trying again to dive at Beechy Head (Oct. 24, 2009), but despite low wind, there was a long swell coming in from somewhere. Most of them were only about 3 feet high, but when I went to the Beechy Head point in East Sooke Park, some of the swells must have been about 6 feet high. I would sink down in the troughs and loose sight of everything except the walls of water. Then I would rise up to the top and watch the swell roll along the shoreline right where I wanted to tie up my boat. So there was no diving at Beechy Head for me today. I motored back into sheltered Becher Bay and over to Frazer Island, which is a large island in the middle of the bay. There are tiny rocks and islets around the island. I chose the South-East Islets for a dive since the chart shows the steepest drop (to about 100 feet) and a current of up to 2 knots. I tied up to the rocks on the side of the islet facing Cheannu Marina. The bottom dropped off immediately through some kelp and urchins to about 20-30 feet deep. Visibility was around 20 feet. This wall ended at a plain of silt covered with brittle stars and some silty boulders. I swam along the rocks hoping to find the deeper area. Eventually there was a wall going down to about 75 feet deep. Visibility was worse down here, probably only 10 feet or so. There were lots of tiny strings of plankton(?) floating around. This wall was grey and covered with silt. I didn't see many fish at all. Since I was in Becher Bay, I was expecting to see some vermilion or canary rockfish. I soon saw a red blob ahead of me and there were my vermilion rockfish. There seemed to be a loose school of them hanging around the rocks. They were all pretty small (6-8"). There were also some canary rockfish. My maximum depth here was 86' around some reefs at the base of the wall. I swam back up to the top of the wall at 40-50 feet deep. There were more rockfish up here (vermilion, canary, black, yellowtail, quillback, copper) as well as some kelp greenlings. There were clusters of plumose anemones around the canyons of rock. I tried to go back up to the shallows, but the reef didn't go above 40 feet so I ascended up a stem of bull kelp and found that I had swam the opposite way that I though I had. I was out in the middle of nowhere North of the islet. I still don't understand how that happened. Anyway out here in the muck, there's a reef with vermilion and canary rockfish. I swam back on the surface to the islet and descended again on the East side. Here the rock was a straight-down wall to 60 feet deep. It was still pretty silty below 40 feet deep, but there were a few anemones (fish-eating, plumose), zoanthids and orange colonial tunicates. There was no sign of current. I saw some more vermilion rockfish. This is the wall I was looking for on my first half of the dive. If I kept following it, it eventually would go below 100 feet deep according to the chart, but because of my earlier navigation problem, I didn't have the air. I went back up to the shallows under the boat where there was the usual silt-free colour. There were lots of urchins, fish-eating anemones, encrusting sponges, tunicates, etc. I found a big Puget Sound king crab 15 feet deep under my boat. I held it up for a self-portrait to show it's size before releasing it with an "alien abduction" story to tell.
tied up to islet
fish-eating anemone and urchins in shallows
urchins and anemones under boat
under boat
seastar on shallow part of wall
fish-eating anemone on wall
vermilion and canary rockfish over silty bottom
kelp greenling
vermilion rockfish on wall
remains of crab trap buried in silt
vermilion rockfish
vermilion rockfish
canary rockfish
black and yellowtail rockfish
plumose anemones near top of wall
quillback rockfish and orange colonial tunicates on wall
plumose anemones
plumose anemones
rockfish and anemones in bad visibility
rockfish and anemones
urchins and rockfish
copper rockfish
rockfish and zoanthids on boulder
rockfish at top of reef 45 feet deep
nudibranch laying eggs
vermilion rockfish
vermilion rockfish
plumose anemones in bad visibility
Puget Sound rockfish in crack on 2nd wall
different plumose anemones
urchins etc near top of 2nd wall
urchins at top of 2nd wall
more plumose anemones with accessory sea star
anemone in shallows
urchins in shallows
painted anemone in shallows
rock in shallows
small fish-eating anemone
small fish-eating anemone
orange colonial tunicates
orange colonial tunicates on rocks in shallows
black rockfish under kelp
painted anemone in shallows
leather star in shallows
anemone under kelp
seastar and urchins in shallows
fish-eating anemone
seastars and yellow sponge next to stalked kelp
anemone, etc in shallows
Puget Sound king crab
Puget Sound king crab
Puget Sound king crab
fish-eating anemone
Puget Sound king crab
under boat
small swell at South-East Islet
Beechy Head
Beechy Head
Seal by South-East Islet
looking over kelp from South-East Islet to Bedford Islands
looking across to Frazer Island
looking into Becher Bay
South-East Islets with Frazer Island in background
on South-East Islet
piece of giant kelp
piece of giant kelp on boat
Frazer Island and South-East Islets panorama
looking across to Frazer Island panorama