On February 1, while everyone was busy watching the Superbowl, we led a small group of Marker Buoys on two dives at Keystone Jetty. This site is located near the Port Townsend ferry terminal on Whidbey Island. It is a bit current sensitive – there is some danger of getting swept around the end of the jetty and into the ferry terminal if you dive it on an ebb tide. Both of our dives began just before slack, so we were able to enjoy this amazing site without having to swim against the current.
The main attraction at Keystone is the abundant marine life. You don’t need to go any deeper than 50-60′ to encounter a diverse community of fishes and invertebrates, including kelp greenlings, lingcod, and numerous species of rockfish, sculpins, and nudibranchs. The abundant plumose anemones covering the boulders are truly a sight to behold. One can also dive the pilings on the east side of the inlet.
Many species of fish reproduce this time of year in Puget Sound, including lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus), the largest member of the greenling family (Hexagrammidae). These fish typically spend the majority of their time resting on the bottom and pay little attention to divers, but during the winter, the males ferociously guard their eggs, which resemble clumps of styrofoam. Near the beginning of this video, a small male lunges at the camera in an attempt to keep Matt away from his nest.
We also encountered two large giant Pacific octopus (Enterocopus dofleini). This is the largest species of octopus in the world, often exceeding 100 lbs. However, they only have a lifespan of three to five years. They are nocturnal and spend the daylight hours sleeping in their dens, but you can sneak a peek at their tentacles if you are brave enough to shine your flashlight in there.