Summer in the Sound: Good viz & an octopus sighting at Porteau Cove

This past weekend we organized one of our regularly scheduled local fun dives; this one was to Porteau Cove in Howe Sound. This dive in particular attracted a large group of divers of a variety of experience levels from Open Water to Divemasters in Training, Instructors and Fundies hopefuls. It was a great mix of divers with a lot of enthusiasm amongst the group. We brought the barbeque out and some opted to grill up some grub between dives.

We got in the water for the first dive at high tide and descended on the Granthall. Considering the weather the last couple days the visibility was surprisingly good, perhaps 15-20ft/5-7m. We broke off into smaller groups and my group found one of the other groups clustered around a bunch of crab carnage under the Granthall. We waited for them to finish up and took a look for ourselves and sure enough there was a decent-sized octopus in a den. From here we toured the top of the wreck where the group was able to check out the numerous Plumose anemones, lognhorn decorator crabs and a particularly formidable lingcod. Eventually we meandered over to the “jungle gym” and upon spotting another cluster of dead crab debris we found another, more substantial, octopus residing amongst the girders. This time around I made sure to give my light to those that didn’t have one with them as even in the daylight it can be difficult to see into these hiding spots without one.

After a leisurely surface interval we hopped back in for the second dive on a much lower tide. The viz had deteriorated a bit, but it was still nothing to complain about for early July. Some of the divers remarked on the beauty of Porteau above the surface and on the spectacular view due to the mountains surrounding us on all sides… some even still snowcapped. Sometimes I take for granted what an example Porteau Cove provides of BC’s stunning wilderness. We enjoyed a shorter surface swim back to the Granthall and did a similar route to the first dive because why not go look at some octopus again? This time we were able to enjoy some more time on the Jungle Gym and aside from the octopuses, encountered several ling cod and a few rockfish. As we were swimming in to the shallows for our safety stop I suddenly realized that looking up through the typically green-hued water there was a swirling school of herring above us. As I watched, I realized that it was seemingly endless. There were thousands of these little fish that seem to be bringing so much life back to the Howe Sound. I’ve never seen anything like it in the Sound. It was a very cool and very surreal sight.

Upon talking to AJ and Alex who were with the other groups of divers, we realized we all witnessed this same school at different parts of the dive site. It must have been absolutely massive. Another diver at the site reported watching a seal feasting on the fish earlier in the day and on the swim back to shore from the second dive I watched a loon bobbing for its lunch.