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Lake Washington I-90 Bridge

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Our point of entry, located underneath the I-90 bridge.

Yesterday, Matt and I went out with a group from the Marker Buoy Dive Club to explore an area most Puget Sound divers don’t usually bother visiting: the area underneath the I-90 bridge over Lake Washington. We haven’t been diving in freshwater since leaving Michigan two years ago, so it was nice to get back into the weeds and encounter some lentic ichthyofauna that we hadn’t seen in a while. I also enjoyed taking out 5 extra pounds of lead and giving all of my gear a good rinse!

The main attraction on this dive is the remains of the old Lacey V. Murrow floating bridge, which sank during a storm in 1990, taking a bunch of trucks and construction equipment with it. Many of the objects that went down have been salvaged, but the bridge is still down there, with large sections still mostly intact.

Our group entered the water underneath the new bridge, swam about 50 yards out, and then descended to about 40 feet. The visibility was surprisingly good, but as soon as we got past 30 feet, we were enshrouded in near complete darkness. It did not take long to locate the remains of the old bridge. It rested at 60 to 70 feet, and was largely intact, with very little was growing on it. Fortunately, it seems that invasive zebra and quagga mussels have yet to colonize Lake Washington. Aside from the bridge and a few piles of assorted junk/Rainier beer cans, there was not a great deal of large debris down there. The substrate was silty and barren, and it felt like we were exploring the surface of some alien planet.

We did manage to catch glimpses of a few creatures down there, however. There were several crappie hanging around the bridge railings, and we encountered a shoal of small yellow perch at about 80 feet. A few large crayfish had made their homes in some of the pipes, and I caught sight of a tiny sculpin trying to hide itself in the silt.

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A black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) hanging around part of the sunken bridge.

Overall, I think that this dive is severely underrated. Several divers I have talked to have claimed that once you’ve seen it, there’s no need to visit this site again, but I disagree. There is a lot of history to this site, and probably many cool sunken treasures to be found in the muck. This was an awesome experience for me, but perhaps I’m just a Michigan diver at heart.

** Photos courtesy of Steve Kalilimoku.

Christmas Eve Crabbing

This afternoon, Matt and I decided to grab some crabs at the oil dock at Mukilteo. The end of crab season approaches, so we want to get in as many dives as possible. We arrived at the T-dock at about an hour after low tide and walked north along the rocky beach toward the oil dock. Visibility was mediocre to poor today, at about 10 feet. We chose to explore the middle third of the dock this time and stayed between about 30-45 feet throughout the dive. There were some very large Dungeness and red rock crab out there still – we got two 7 1/2 inchers this dive. There were not many fish out there this time of year, just the usual quillback rockfish, painted greenlings, and pile perch. Overall, we had a decent haul – 4 large dungies and 4 red rocks.

Needless to say, Christmas Eve dinner was awesome. We were looking for some different recipes for crab, and decided to try this one out. It was fantastic – the crab and basil definitely go well together!

Crab Fettuccine with Basil Cream Sauce

Crab cakes

I decided to do another leisurely dive at Mukilteo yesterday and returned with even more crab. Since I’ve been landing so much lately, I’ve had the chance to perfect my crab cake recipe, which I’ve decided to share with you today. This one is simple, has the perfect consistency, and holds together fairly well. They’re also Matt tested and approved. Enjoy!

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  • 1 lb fresh crab meat
  • 20 saltine crackers, finely crushed
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbs butter

Combine crackers, mayo, pepper, salt, and parsley. Fold in crab meat. Melt butter in a large skillet. Form mixture into patties and sauté in butter until golden brown on each side. Serve with tarter sauce.

Crabstravaganza 2014!

On Sunday, Matt and I successfully conducted our first crab hunt. I had been wanting to do this since we first arrived in Seattle, and was planning on a bountiful harvest of succulent Dungeness this summer, but unfortunately, fate had other plans. So when I found out that crab season had been extended until December 30 for certain marine zones in Washington, I was ecstatic. We decided to conduct our hunt at the Mukilteo T-dock, where I have seen throngs of Dungeness and red rock crabs during past dives.

Since Matt had not been out in open water for a while, we decided to warm up with a leisurely dive at Edmonds first. The visibility was still excellent, over 30 feet in some areas. Massive schools of shiner perch, pile perch, and tubesnout swirled around us. We also encountered a spotted ratfish, quillback rockfish, cabezon, and numerous massive lingcod. White-lined dirona nudibranchs covered the seafloor.

After a relaxing 50 minute dive, we filled up our tanks again and headed to Mukilteo. The visibility was excellent here as well, but we did encounter a bit of a current as we headed into deeper water. However, we did not need to go past 40 feet to harvest some decent-sized crab. Most of them were congregating under the dock, as expected, along with dozens of spotted ratfish. For an idea of what it was like, here’s a video of some freedivers rounding up Dungies near the oil dock, which is several hundred yards north of where we were diving. The crab population was not nearly as dense at the T-dock, but we still managed to get a good haul.

It took us about 50 minutes to round up 4 Dungeness and 4 red rock crabs of the appropriate size and gender. We tossed them in the cooler and headed home to feast on our bounty. Matt steamed them and served them with red potatoes, which was a simple but delicious meal. We had about a pound of meat leftover, which we plan on using for crab cakes. We will definitely be going back for more soon!

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Crabs in the cooler!

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Three of our delicious Dungies, steamed and served with red potatoes. Nice presentation by Matt!