Category: Britannia Beach


Too Much Work, Not Enough Diving…

January is gone, and I haven’t managed to get in the water this year! I’ve been travelling a lot with work, and fighting a nasty cold — On top of that, one of our ferrets passed last weekend, so the opportunity hasn’t been there.

In the meantime, however, Josh and the local GUE community have been busy with the Britannia Beach Project Baseline. Here’s the official website.

Anton North has a great write-up of a Project Baseline dive they did last weekend.

Anxious to get back in the water soon….

Project Baseline dive at the CCGS Ready

The Stern of the Ready

A pano shot stitched together from 8 photos of the Ready.

We went for a dive to kick-off the Project Baseline for Britannia Beach / the Ready. Unfortunately our dive was cut short due to an issue with one of my team-mate’s regs, but I did manage to get a few good shot in, including the 8 photos required to stitch together the above photo.

That was my first good attempt at using Hugin to stitch together photos, and it worked amazingly well, especially considering the fact that the current was pushing me into the wreck and changing my perspective with each successive photo!

Not too much else to note from this dive, and only a few photos in the gallery below. Even though it was short, it was still a good dive and we had fun. The visibility was great, so I’m looking forward to getting back out there before the spring to take some more pano series of the wreck.

After the dive, since I had plenty of gas left in my tanks, and this will be my last chance to dive for potentially over a month, I hi-tailed it down to Whytecliff Park with my drysuit still on and equipment assembled in the back of the Jeep to join up with Paul and Steve for a dive out in the Cut.

Photos below:

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Back to Britannia

Originally intending to dive at Furry Creek today, Josh and I drove out to Oliver’s Landing to scope out the conditions. After seeing the very low tide with a long, rocky entry, and the tens of people fishing along the shore, we decided to drive out to Britannia Beach and dive the wrecks out there instead.

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Squat Lobsters are easy to photograph.

The low tide had cleared out some of the silt, and below the first few meters of literally zero viz, the visibility opened up to nearly 5 meters or so, and a bit more deeper. The second dive was a different story, as the incoming tide brought back a lot of the sediments near the wreck. Our second dive’s descent out in the bay was perhaps one of the most fun descents I’ve done recently, where we sank through seemingly over five meters of chalk-like water where we had to maintain physical contact so as to not become separated. All of a sudden, everything turned dark and the visibility opened up to over five meters, but was nearly pitch-black. We headed down to 20 or so meters where it seemed to bottom out but there was nothing see but sand and pricklebacks, so we hooked back to the shallow recks.

Having not been out there in over a year, it was interesting to see the changes that have occurred. The wooden fishing vessel butted up against the CCGS Ready had decayed somewhat since I last visited. The radar mast had fallen over, increasing the amount of clutter on the west side of the wrecks. The superstructure in general looks like it had collapsed in upon itself, with the funnel lying on the ground when it had still been firmly attached to the top of the superstructure in February 2012.

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The Fishing Vessel’s Funnel near the bottom in Aug. ’13

Ship Wreck

The fishing vessel’s funnel in Feb. ’12, before the superstructure collapsed

The CCGS ready is still as in-tact as it was a year ago, but there is an increased amount of life growing on the wreck itself. A great comparison photo (in-spite of the atrocious viz) is the propeller, which had nearly no life on it last year.

Coastguard Cutter Wreck

The CCGS Ready’s port screw in Feb. ’12

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Josh behind the same propeller in Aug. ’13

The photo above on the right is a good demonstration of how useful it would be to have a second strobe. I had the one strobe all the way out to the left, but had to angle it in a bit to get everything illuminated. ¬†You can see the atrocious backscatter on the left side of that photo, and how it’s not quite as bad on the right. If I had two strobes, one way out to each side and both angled out, I could illuminate everything well without quite as much back-scatter in silty conditions like this.

Some interesting notes about the life in the area, was the huge number of sea urchins, which in some places were gathered in groups of what must have been over a hundred individuals. I’m not sure what causes this kind of clustering, or if it’s natural/healthy/normal or not. I’d have to defer that to biologist familiar with urchins.

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Carpet of Sea Urchins

Plenty of squat lobsters and shrimp in the area, as usual. Since they’re so easy to photograph (Since they don’t run away readily!) so a lot of photos of those. Not too many other photos that really stand out this time around.

Also of interest were the hundreds of dungeoness (?) crabs living at the three to six meter zone between the wrecks and our entry point. There were so many crabs scuttling away from us that they stirred up enough silt to severely reduce the visibility; It was almost as bad as an open water class ;). A quick video below:

All in all a fantasic couple of dives. Diving with GUE buddies (in this case Josh) always reinforces why I like the system so much. Even when I’m concentrating on trying to get a photo, maneuvering around with precise fin kicks, I always saw Josh’s light in my peripheral vision. A quick circle of my light and a quick response from him and I knew we were both okay. Practicing S-drills randomly on the dive helps build confidence as well.

The rest of the photos from today are below the jump:

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Forgotten Photos from Britannia, May 2012

A Crab

A little crab hiding in a pipe

Getting my camera ready for some diving tomorrow, and flipping through photos to delete to clear up some space on my SD card, I was shocked to find some photos I didn’t remember processing. Double-checking my log book and this blog, I realized they were photos from Britannia Beach from quite a while ago, May 20th 2012 to be exact.

I’m not sure why I never got around to editing and uploading these photos. Not too many great ones, but the photos on the left is pretty memorable. I remember (from reviewing all the shots that didn’t turn out!) how awkward it was to try to light him up properly for a good shot.

Jelly

Comb Jelly

The photo of the funny looking Jellyfish on the right turned out quite well, however doesn’t truly reflect how amazing these little creatures are. They white lines are on their body are actually rows of scilia that give off an interesting iridescent effect if you pay close attention. It also reminds me of something out of Star Trek…. The ocean is full of interesting creatures.

 

As usual, more photos below.

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Easter Sunday dive at Britannia Beach

Squat Lobster

Squat Lobster!

Grunt Sculpin

A Grunt Sculpin. Usually these guys live in barnacle shells, but this guy was hiding under the wreck.

A Fish

I like the focus on this shot.

Britannia Beach is currently one of my favorite dive sites, as the wrecks harbour an amazing amount of life in a concentration that I haven’t seen elsewhere locally yet. (Although I suspect Porteau should be similar now that I’m getting better at spotting critters.)

With all the nooks and crannies, the site is home to various types of crabs, including several types of decorators, squat lobsters, varius sculpins, shrimp and much much more. The best part is that the dive is relatively shallow, so I can manage long dives on a single tank. The first dive we stayed down for 60 minutes, the second was somewhat shorter.

I took the opportunity on this dive to experiment with aperture settings on my camera primarily to get different focus effects, but some other results came out of this, notably green backgrounds. Even with the small range of apertures available on my Powershot G10, going from small to large meant the difference of black backgrounds to green backgrounds, and a large change in depth-of-field.

Several treats for me popped up on this dive. First, I found a squat lobster which posed nicely for me. Next, while searching under the hull of the Ready, a colourful rock moved and caught my eye. Upon closer inspection, it was a Grunt Sculpin, the first I’ve seen. Unfortunatley it was a couple of feet away under the hull, so I had to put my single strobe out to the side to try and fit the camera under the hull and avoid back-scatter from the silty water. I managed to get some good shots as he hopped around the bottom. Afterwards, Paul found a Buffalo Sculpin which posed very nicely as I took many a photo, adjusting camera settings each time.

There were also several Lincod faithfully guarding egg masses around the wreck. I gave them all a wide-berth to not agitate them and give them reason to chase me away….

I also came across a couple of male Tanner Crabs fighting over a female Tanner Crab for mating rights. I took a video of the end of the fight: (The video is a bit green from the water, I didn’t set up the white-balance before taking the video, since I was in still-photography mode..)



This was one of my best dive days in a long time. I really enjoy the diversity of life at this site, and seeing new and cool animals is always a highlight of a dive!

See the rest of the photos below:

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Britannia Beach, Feb ’12

Coastguard Cutter Wreck

A large propeller, with a Lingcod sitting on it.

A new site was recently discovered by the Shipwreck Exploration and Conservation Society, containing several wrecks which have sunk over the past few years. Some friends had dove it the previous week, and located lots of interesting things. Finally being free and not having to work on a weekend, I joined them this past weekend to explore the sites.

As a quick note to any divers who may be heading out to these wrecks, they have many fragile parts and there are several Lingcod egg masses in the area. Please be careful to not damage these wrecks, or disturb the endangered life in an area slowly recovering from the damage done over the years by the mine run-off. Good buoyancy and and propulsion skills are a must, as these will quickly disintegrate from too many unskilled divers abusing this site.

Coastguard Cutter Wreck

Looking along the bow of the coastguard cutter wreck

Initially we dove a site away from the two main wrecks, and explored some smaller sunken boats and a bunch of “junk”. In the top 30 or so feet near our exit point, there was a rock bed which held a nice amount of life, providing opportunities for some nice macro photography.

It was really interesting diving the two wrecks, however without a wide angle lens, and a camera that doesn’t handle poor light that well, taking photos of the wreck was difficult. I managed to get some good shots after playing around with settings however. Fiddling around with the white balancing of the RAW photos in UFRaw yielded some interesting results, but ultimately I think black and white provided the best results for the wreck photos. I was left wishing I had a wide-angle lens, and a camera with better low light sensitivity…

Shrimp

A neat shrimp, just over 1 inch in length. I must have taken 30 photos with various settings to get it just right...

 

Swimming up and down the two wrecks provided for some interesting macro opportunities as well, as life is taking hold on them. From some larger nudibranchs, various fish, and tonnes of shrimp. These made me wish I had a macro lens! I think I might opt for some macro wet lenses for my case in the next little while…

Once again, I urge the utmost caution with this site. It’s very fragile, and will deteriorate very quickly if we as a dive community do not take care of it.

Below are the rest of the photos:

 

 

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