What's so special about diving in Washington state?

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Posted by Merry on February 22, 2022 at 18:56:19:

In January, Phil and I made the long trek to the Seattle area on a quest for the mighty tiny Pacific spiny lumpsucker in Puget Sound. It's a different type of diving up there - dive time is based on currents or tides, which are a trade-off for Zen-type shore entries. What, no timing sets or hustling through the surf zone?!

What a beautiful state - magnificent trees, gracious and friendly people! The dive shops are loaded with coldwater gear and give great fills. In a word, we loved it and hope to make it back there soon.

The hospitality and enthusiasm of local divers made the trip fun and memorable. An indispensable guide to that area is pnwdiving.com, run by Eric Askilsrud. Eric updates the latest reported visibility at 23 dive sites, as well as providing dive planning tables for current and tides, plus more.

We dove three sites - Redondo Beach, Three Tree Point, and Keystone Jetty on Whidbey Island. Eric Askilsrud and Dave Hicks advised us safe times to dive and what conditions were typical. I won't lie, visibility was pretty low due to runoff from all the rain we brought with us.


Juvenile Aleutian moonsnail, Cryptonatica aleutica
ID thanks to Jeff Goddard

Juvenile blackeyed hermit crab, Pagurus armatus

Graceful rock crab, Metacarcinus gracilis, formerly Cancer gracilis

Striped sunstar, Solaster stimsoni


We met up again with Scuba Jess, Eric Askilsrud and Bill Horist

Phil at Three Tree
Phil at Three Tree

Three Tree entry - yes it's that easy.
Scuba Jess was wonderfully helpful to us on this trip (note the lumpie t-shirt).

Grunt sculpin, Rhamphocottus richardsonii

Bay pipefish, Syngnathus leptorhynchus

Pacific Spiny lumpsucker, Eumicrotremus orbis, landed on Phil's stage for a brief moment

Saddleback gunnel, Pholis ornata


One of the most unique parts of the trip was our ferry ride from Mukilteo to Clinton, Washington, on Whidbey Island

Keystone Jetty

Due to ferry traffic, diving is limited to the left side of the jetty and strong current prohibits one from swimming past the end of the breakwall.

Stephanie Collins-Russel, Jessica Alexanderson, Rebecca Black - avid Pacific Northwest divers!

Acanthodoris nanaimoensis

Dendronotus albus

Dirona albolineata

Triopha modesta - very similar to the next nudibranch

Triopha catalinae

A new-to-us nudibranch, Onchidoris evincta

Male scalyhead sculpin, Artedius harringtoni

King of the Hill, male scaly head sculpin

Bering hermit crabs, Pagurus beringanus

Sharpnose crabs, Scyra acutifrons

Painted anemone, Urticina crassicornis

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