Puget Sound Boat Dive
Posted 11 December 2003 - 07:19 AM
The seven of us Marker Buoys showed up at 8:30 am; Ed, the Randy(i)'s, Steve Lacey, Paul Riggs, Tina and myself. After loading the usual ton of gear we got underway and got through the locks quickly.
Reaching Blakely Rocks the tide was starting to slack so we got ready to dive, taking a while for each buddy pair to get dressed and into the water. Going down the buoy line we ran into stronger than expected currents and poorish viz, maybe 15' or so. I gave Tina the 10 cent tour, taking her to the wolf eel den, where they surprised us with a large egg mass that they were tending. We enjoyed some of the small anemones, sponge and nudibranchs as we went back over the top of the ridge to go back down the slope to the deeper part of the dive. We reached 70' or so and started to swim through he boulder garden down there and look for critters. Swimming along I saw one of the boulders had eyes.
Huh? Yup, Tina and I both did a double take. Here was one of the largest Octopus I had ever seen, out in the open, sitting on a rock, blending into it with a brown and white mottling. It was just humongous. Its head was about 2.5 basketballs large. It was about the size of Tina (no relation) and when it stretched out its arms to examine us was probably 12-15' arm to arm and least 80-100#. And it was in no way scared. Quite the opposite, it was looking at us for, or to be, food.
We shook hands with it and let it start to examine each other. Even with us both hitting it with powerful HID lights it was just curious. It was pretty aggressive and we kept backing off and then petting it when it turned its attention on the other diver. It tried to put an arm over Tina's face and she wasn't too happy with that idea, nor was I when it grabbed my console. Tina got on the other side of me, as I cavalierly patted it on the head and scratched it between the eyes. Well, my cats like it…
Note: DO NOT DO THIS TO 100#, 15' MOLLUSKS WITH 8 ARMS.
It had had enough of this s**t and suddenly flew up so that all I was seeing was 15' feet of suckers and mouth flying at me. I'm not sure quite what I did, sort of a twisting, backwards half gainer. The Octo then swam off with a spurt and landed on a rock and glared at us in the gloom. We also had had enough of this s**t and swam the hell back up the slope. After circling around a bit (and seeing another Octo way back in the middle of a rock (where they should be), we spotted Randy and the others and found the buoy line, about an hour's dive to 70' max.
We motored over to Waterman Wall in Rich Passage and anchored there. Waiting just a bit for slack we also got divers in the water early and had a great dive along the ledges there. Again I was pretty familiar with the site and took Tina down along the 70-80' shelf to enjoy large amounts of sponge, corals and invertebrates. There were 100's of Red Irish Lords amongst the many fish present. We also spotted a Grunt Sculpin, a 6-7" Sturgeon Poacher, Painted Greenlings that had changed their color prior to mating, many very large Sailfin Sculpins 8-10" or more, bright yellow swimming Scallops, two nudibranchs in the process of laying eggs, and yes, another very large Octo in a den - Tina even thought it was bigger than the other one and jumped behind me. We didn't spot the large old wolf eel that I've seen there in previous dives much to my disappointment. Hope the old feller is ok. I guess we did about another hour or so, staying mostly at 70-85’. Nitrox rocks.
Ed kicked Komokwa into gear and we got back to the locks where we had a wait before going through the large locks with a barge and fishing boat. All in all we got back, tied up and home before 6:30. A great day that will stay with me for a while.
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Posted 11 December 2003 - 02:16 PM
I saw a hilarious photo taken by Jack Drafahl that was actually a self-portrait with an E. dolfini sitting on the top of his head! Octos are very tactile creatures and sometimes they just have to grab on to truly experience the moment...lol
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