Explored November 19, 2022
Location: 50°19.423'N 124°45.142'W
Previously explored by EDSBC members
Freediver Rating: Not rated
Skill Level: Not rated
Non-Technical Diver Rating: ★★★
Skill Level: Intermediate
Technical Diver Rating: Not rated
Skill Level: Not rated
Channel Island was an exploratory dive that did not make the recommended list, however this is a site that we are keen to return to in order to expand our survey.
A keen group of 8 non-technical divers explored this site. We look forward to returning with a team of technical divers and freedivers.
The wall on the north side of Channel Island drops steeply down well past fifty meters. The topography was interesting - rubble piles, sheer walls, overhangs, and boulders giving plenty of area for marine life to anchor and thrive.
Immediately upon entry, our divers descended to 20m/65ft and entered a large cloud sponge garden. From 20m/65ft - 40m/130ft and deeper, massive cloud sponges covered the steep wall and overhangs. As far as the eye could see in the outstanding visibility, the wall glowed white with abundant sponges. Sharp-lipped boot sponges grew amongst the cloud sponges.
A wide range of invertebrates were found amongst the sponges, including Puget Sound king crabs, spiny lithode crabs, slime stars, and giant Pacific octopus. Above 20m/65ft, orange finger sponges and giant plumose anemones anchored on the walls and rubble piles.
Quillback, copper, and juvenile yelloweye rockfish schooled amongst the sponges. Lingcod and kelp greenling could be found at all depths of the dive. Above 15m/50ft, small schools of striped perch swam amongst the giant plumose anemones and rubble piles. A large male Steller sea lion curiously swam past two buddy teams a few times.
Overall, it was a very interesting dive with an abundance of cloud sponges. This abundance is likely caused by the freshwater runoff entering Toba Inlet, bringing with it silt, sediments, and importantly, silica that all glass sponges need to grow.
This is a site we're very interested in returning to. Next time, we'll bring more photography equipment, and proper gases and equipment for deep exploration in the cloud sponge garden.
Photos: Trisha Stovel, Krystal Janicki, Manfred Lippe