Located in a relatively quiet northern Seattle suburb is one of Puget Sound’s most beloved dive sites, Edmond’s Underwater Park. Set aside as a marine sanctuary in 1970, it is maintained by volunteer divers who have established a gridded trail system known as the Bruce Higgins Underwater Trails. Various man-made objects have been sunk there over the years to provide habitat for the diverse community of fish and invertebrates. This, in turn, attracts thousands of SCUBA divers to the park each year. Fortunately for us, this awesome dive site is located a mere 20 minutes from our house.
We decided to dive here this morning with a group of six other members of Marker Buoy, an extremely active dive club in the Seattle area that boasts over 100 members. One of the benefits of belonging to this organization is that many of the members have acquired an extensive knowledge of numerous local dive sites, so it is easy to find experienced people to dive with on a regular basis.
We entered the water at high tide and did a surface swim to the second buoy past the jetty. There was a dense bloom of Noctiluna, a dinoflagellate that is frequently responsible for creating the infamous “red tides”. Luckily, once we descended, the visibility was relatively good (approximately 20 feet).
There were many fish out today, including several brown rockfish and painted greenlings. These species seem to prefer hanging around the structure provided by the buoy moorings and several large concrete tubes. The rest of the landscape is typically inhabited by extremely large lingcod and cabezon. These species have typically behaved somewhat aggressively toward us in the past, but seemed to be more subdued this morning. The sandy areas were crawling with dungeness crabs and hundreds of small shrimp that were moving too fast for me to get a good look at them. Every square inch of the structures was packed with invertebrates, including thousands of tiny barnacles desperately grabbing for drifting food particles. Many large sunflower sea stars (some approaching two feet in diameter), had positioned themselves over the barnacle clusters with their stomachs extended, slowly dissolving and feeding off of them. Other species were also present, including mottled, ochre, and giant pink sea stars. We were also able to spot several sharpnose, kelp, decorator, and maroon hermit crabs, lined chitons, and a couple of ridiculously large sea lemon nudibranchs.
Overall, this was a nice dive. I got in 47 minutes of bottom time on a steel 72 tank with 650 psi to spare, and my average depth was 27 feet. The limiting factor today was the cold; there is still a leak somewhere in the left arm of my drysuit, and I am unsure if it is a small tear in the fabric or a leaky dump valve. I will definitely have to examine this issue further in the pool, where it is nice and warm 😉