Monday, July 27, 2009 – Vancouver Island, Canada at Cape Scott
The sun rose right into our porthole this morning. It was so bright and intense that I got up at 6:30AM to close the porthole cover so we could sleep in. After spending the previous week in gray weather blocking out the sun seemed wrong on many levels; but our cabin cooled down immediately after we closed the porthole and we dropped right back to sleep. And we enjoyed the rest of the day in the bright, brilliant sunlight.
Cape Scott is a sweet little cove on the massive Vancouver Island with two important sites: 1) The famous Dillon Rock dive site, and 2) The mud flats where bears come to feed. Mike briefed us on the dive, the bears, and the zodiac tour, and as we broke up the dive briefing Mike’s 9-year-old daughter Emily said, “Hey is that a bear?” Off on the mud flat was a black bear wandering the shoreline, looking for food. Shannon got a picture of it.
Picture by Shannon
Dillon rock underneath the marker
Bringing out the toys
Dive #1: Dillon Rock
Dillon Rock is a well-known dive site with a light marker on the top, boasting rich underwater activity. We launched into the kelp and dove deeper until we found the fun it offered. Among the nudibranches and black rockfish were a few wolf-eels – long, odd-looking fish with bulbous faces. Often they’re out of their crevices and happy to interact with divers, but on this dive they were all holed up. Their heads were large and gray, so you can find them if you’re looking for them, but I can’t vouch for the fact that they’re purported to be up to 7 feet long.
The skiff at Dillon Rock
Here’s a little background on the giant pacific octopus (aka octo). The majority is not “giant”; not like a giant squid or the big octos of our children’s books, but they are larger than octopuses seen elsewhere in the world. And they are – as Captain Mike described – much like dogs: they’re smart and they like to interact with divers; but “on their own terms”. Much like you approach an unknown dog by extending your hand and letting it sniff, you approach an octo by slowly extending your bare hand (no gloves) and letting it “taste” using its tentacles. If it’s interested it will continue to feel and taste until it gets bored or wants to be left alone. The key is not to let it wrap itself around your head, not because it intends to do harm but because it might be curious enough to remove your mask and regulator.
Good to know.
So on to Dan’s find. There, in between the cracks of the rocks we could see the suckers of a massive octopus. It was huge. We could only see bits of different arms but it stretched six feet of crevice – that’s a lot of octo. What happened next is best described through the words of Dave, who couldn’t stop laughing when we finally surfaced: “That was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen! There’s Dan, pointing out what a HUGE octopus he found. And then what does he do? He takes off his glove and sticks his hand into the crack. It was like a cartoon! Out comes these massive arms, wrapping itself around his arms and pulling him in! Did you see Dan’s eyes? When he finally got free his eyes were big and round, like, ‘Holy shit! That was close!’ I couldn’t stop laughing!”
Dan would later recount on the skiff, “The only reason I got out is because the octo let me go.” I wish I’d had my camera!
Bear Watching (sort of)
Dan took a group of us out on the Zodiac for what he called “Dan’s Black Bear Tour of Fun”. We cruised around the shallows of the little bay, often cutting off the motor and waiting patiently for the black bears. None came, but during our trip we did get some trivia as well as time in the sun. Vancouver, for example, is the 8th largest island on the planet. (Greenland, incidentally, is #1)
Seagulls chased by a bald eagle
Though the Zodiac tour ended it was still a gorgeous day and Shannon and I didn’t want it to end, so we took the kayaks out for a paddle. The tide had come in so the mudflats we’d seen the black bear on had disappeared under seawater, so it makes sense that there were no bears – what self-respecting bear comes out in the middle of high tide when there are no clams?
Anat and Shannon beneath a ceiling of birds
Shannon, bald eagle watching
The reason we “lost” Anat on the first dive was because she’d found an octo of her own, so we used the second dive on Dillon Rock to find it again. Though I’d vowed to stop taking my camera underwater since none of the pictures take, I was determined not to miss any more classic octopus moments with Dave and Anat. I’m so glad I did. My buoyancy is terrible when I try to take pictures it was absolutely worth the trouble. Anat found her octopus immediately, removed her glove, and slowly extended her hand. We waited for the octo to extend an arm but instead it extended something else…
Dave, playing peek-a-boo in the kelp
Dave and Anat
For dinner we had the highly-anticipated crab cookout. On the top deck of the Nautilus the crew set out a delicous feast of salads, Dungeness Crabs, hot dogs, and of course vegetarian foods for our vegetarian divers. It was a really lovely way to tie up the almost-end of our trip – taking in the sun and enjoying the company.
Shannon, happy to be firing up her marshmallows
Even happier *g*
We spent that evening exchanging photos and downloading pictures for the DVD that Dano was going to make that evening.