Prezin-tense

On Friday it got up to 7° C.  We thought it was lovely and warm, most locals thought it was chilly.  So, we went for a dive after we visited the boat.  We went back to Madrona point near Parksville.  It's a great spot with easy access.

Once one is in the water it's easy, just head due North (magnetic).  As one heads out over the eel grass and sandy slopes there is a series of three cliff faces.  The first is perhaps 2 m high, second perhaps 4 m, the third between 6 & 8 m and bottoms out just below 25 m depth.  The first thing that strikes you as you drop over them is how much they look like "sea cliffs".  Of course they do, they are sea cliffs.  When the glaciers were around the sea level was very much lower than it is now.  More than likely these faces were eroded back by wave action in ancient times.  The proof of the idea is in the bottom cliff/wall.  There are numerous clefts, nooks, splits, etc. that could easily have been produced by waves, but not by underwater currents.

They are great places for fish and other critters to hide.  Nice to have a bright LED dive light!  It's quite easy to expend a large number of bubbles exploring each hidy-hole.  At last, the tell tale signs of clam shells, crab carapaces, etc. are scattered out at the foot of the wall.  Peering into this crevice  is rewarded with a glimse of a few suckered tentacles way in the back.

The other thing that struck us was how desolate the whole place was.  We had been there previously in Summer and Fall, but this is Winter.  Above water it is warm enough for crocuses to be sticking their tips out.  We could not identify anything that would be the aquatic "crocus".  All the flora seemed limp and very much like it had stopped growing four months ago.  The aforementioned eel grass was green, but didn't seem 'vibrant'.  There were a few nice orange sea pens on the sands, but, all the mobile fauna (fish, crabs, sea stars, etc.) just seemed to be hanging out quite bored in the 6° C water.

Perhaps the two highlights to the dive were critters that were there because it was winter.  Bronwen's good eyes spotted a sculpin like creature that was wiggled down into the sand.  We of course "couldn't see him", so we got a really good look.  Identifying him at home revealed that he was a Plainfin Midshipman.  The book said that it is quite rare to find them during the day.  Later as we were making our way back up we were buzzed.  I was madly pointing over Bronwen's shoulder as she was madly pointing over mine.  Two sea lions cruised by and did their inquisitive, swirling dance around us.  They do seem to want to know what is making that funny sound, bubble, bubble.

Lots of people wish they could fly; I wish I could move like a sea lion under water: fast, agile, no extra skin, no tank!  Oh, yeah, I guess I/we are lucky to be able to be down there at all.  Hope you can enjoy it soon.         eric