Posted by Merry on October 20, 2015 at 16:51:04:|
In August, Phil and I joined John Bibb for 5 days of dynamic wall-diving in the magnificent water of Browning Pass. Countless divers, naturalists, and scientists have touted this area as the best cold-water diving in the world.
The staggering amount of colorful marine life in a backdrop of pristine wilderness cannot be overstated. Nutrient-rich, strong currents result in a fight for space as marine life piles atop other marine life. The topography at many sites is unique and highly variable. For example, an island in the channel can have a steep wall on one side, but gradually slopes to a sandy bottom on the other side. Wall diving affords the opportunity to experience a series of different habits ranging from the intertidal zone to those below recreational depth. As habitats change, so do the specifically-adapted animals and algae. Pick a spot on the wall face and descend, but donít race past the first 10 feet Ė you might catch a glimpse of a perfectly camouflaged penpoint gunnel hanging out in palm kelp.
Toronto couple, Rick and Cindy Rogers, shared this trip with us. Rickís superb photos and write-up: http://divertrek.com/diving-into-gods-pocket-british-columbia/#more-2615
Godís Pocket Resort is located on Hurst Island, one of a group of islands comprising God's Pocket Marine Provincial Park.
Judging from other diverís posts on the internet, thereís no shortage of praise for owners Bill and Annie Weeks, and we heartily concur. Bill, Annie, and their staff, have done an incredible job making the resort a pleasant, relaxing, well-oiled machine. Chef Shona and Elizabeth prepared scrumptious, fortifying meals that included homemade bread and rolls. Typically, there are three boat dives a day plus the option for a night dive off the pier. Divemaster Jason manned the dive elevator, shuttled camera rigs, and was always available to help with this or that. GPR is simply a beautifully run, incredibly hospitable, perfectly serene, total package.
The 41-ft aluminum dive boat, Hurst Isle.
A 25-year veteran of the area, Captain Bill has intimate knowledge of the regionís dive sites, currents and tides. Without his expertise at timing the tides, judging their strength, and forecasting updrafts and downdrafts, devilish current could take you who-knows-where. Although Bill gives detailed briefings, diving here requires some independence and navigational skills. I often felt as if I were the first diver to experience the mystique and grandeur of a particular spot.
At the stern of Hurst Isle is the famous diver elevator. Bill said the elevator was originally designed for emergencies, but they decided that using it is an efficient way to get divers back on board. Just keep your fins on, step on the plate, grab the rails and the next thing you know, youíre on deck. I carried my camera rig on the elevator ride.
Besides underwater awesomeness, thereís magic topside, too. For example, late one night, Annie knocked on our doors to let us know that the wolves were howling softly. On our way out in the morning, I saw three river otters climb the bank near the point. Phil frequently pointed out bald eagles as they perched above the bay.
John Bibb found it amusing that the nudibranchs were so large that he could easily shoot them using a wide-angle lens.
Phil with Jason, DM.
The Gnarly Red Irish Lord. Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus
This fish slays me. With those intricate colors, it has to be an interior decoratorís dream. It says: throw pillow.
This, too, is the red Irish Lord, not a brown Irish Lord. It has a stripe of 4 rows of scales under the dorsal fin as opposed to 6-8 rows in the brown. Also, this fish had red and purple pigments, which gradually became more muted as I snapped away. The brown Irish Lord doesnít have these colors.
Camouflage is no problem as the red Irish Lord can slowly change color to blend into the background.
China rockfish can live 79 years! Sebastes nebulosus
Scalyhead sculpin, Artedius harringtoni
Kelp greenlings are notoriously skittish, so getting a photograph may depend on luck.
Male kelp greenling, Hexagrammos decagrammus.
Female kelp greenling
Fantasy Island grows larger than life wolf eels, Anarrhichthys ocellatus.
Ah, crustaceans. On ANY dive, poking out from EVERYWHERE, were claws from countless crabs, the rest of whose bodies were concealed by dense marine life.
Juvenile Puget Sound King Crab, Lopholithodes mandtii
Graceful Crab, Pugettia gracilis
Toothshell Hermit Crab, Orthopagurus minimus
Maroon Hermit Crab, Pagurus hemphilli
Greenmark Hermit Crab, Pagurus caurinus
Juvenile Bering Hermit Crab, Pagurus beringanus
Spot Shrimp, Pandalus platyceros