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UPDATE: Shell oil protesters move protest barge

After getting a substantial amount of bad press for damaging marine life while anchoring a “protest barge” off of Seacrest park, Shell oil rig protesters have relocated to another spot just north of Cove 2. In the end, they simply cut the cables and left the concrete anchor blocks, as attempting to pull everything up would likely cause further damage to the dive site. They claim that this somehow rectifies the situation, as they contributed new habitat for marine life to colonize. It’s not particularly good habitat compared with the pilings that they damaged, but hey, who’s keeping track?

The protest organizers have been in full-blown PR damage-control mode for the past week or so. The media appears to be somewhat biased in their reporting of the situation, claiming that the damage was minimal. This blog contains photographic evidence to the contrary, but they can’t let facts get in the way of their “narrative”. The group itself has issued a series of non-apologies, including the gem from this article:

“Of course the last thing we wanted to do was to do any harm to the sea life,” said Bill Moyer, executive director of the Backbone Campaign. “If we could do damage by putting down an anchor, imagine how much damage an oil rig could do in the Arctic.”

Yes, thank you for trashing our dive site and then attempting to make the whole fiasco you created into a “teachable moment” to further your own agenda. For the sake of a stupid PR stunt, you guys have just alienated numerous local divers, the majority of whom are already conservation-oriented. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t have called you out on your BS in the first place. You have just demonstrated your hypocrisy, arrogance, and supreme ignorance of the underwater world to people who would have been your natural allies in the struggle to preserve marine habitat. Way to go, Backbone Campaign. Way to go.

Rainy Day at Edmonds

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A medium-sized lingcod hanging out near the Cathedral.

This afternoon, I decided to pay a visit to one of my favorite local dive spots, Bruce Higgins Underwater Trails in Edmonds. My dive buddy Erin and I headed in at low tide and encountered many interesting fish, including numerous quillback rockfish, some extra-large lingcod, and a very agitated cabezon. The visibility was mediocre at around 10 feet, which seems to be pretty typical for this time of year.

Skyline Marina

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Two large Puget Sound king crabs (Lopholithodes mandtii) cozy up to each other in the shallows.

After diving in the Puget Sound region for nearly two years, Matt and I finally got around to diving Skyline Marina in Anacortes with the Marker Buoys. About 2 hours north of Seattle, this site is frequently named as one of the most beautiful and interesting dives in the area. We timed so that we hit slack before ebb (3.2F > 6:22 PM > 1.0E), and the current situation was perfect. It would have been a fantastic dive if it hadn’t been for the less than stellar visibility, which was less than 5′ all the way down to at least 90′.

I can see how this site would be a phenomenal place to dive under better conditions. One of the most striking aspects of this dive was the fields of colorful sea cucumbers decorating the granite slopes. I also saw my first Puget Sound king crabs in the wild; two rather large individuals were holed up in an alcove at about 20′, possibly engaged in some sort of mating behavior. Their coloration closely resembles the surrounding rocks, and I probably would have passed them by had they not been pointed out by another diver. I also noticed that there were numerous red Irish lords and kelp greenling hanging out mostly in the 50-80′ range.

After spending a fair amount of time in the 60-80′ range, Matt and I decided to gradually make our way up the slope and did our safety stop at about 20′ in the large seagrass bed close to the entry point. Overall, it was an interesting dive, and one I would like to try again later in the year when the visibility is better.