Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Another great day of snorkeling at Bowen Bay today.

This afternoon I cruised both ends of the beach and the extended rocky headlands. At the north end of the beach I swam as far as the next beach along, under the pier to the west of Bowen Bay beach. Heading west from Bowen Bay beach, you travel over some very rocky terrain covered mostly in bladder rack and a tall seaweed that looks a little like a fir tree. There are great forests of this, and they obscure kelp down below. Lots of stuff hides in here, most common are the shiners, with the breeding males quite large and black. Today there were three species of crabs scurrying over the rocks (yellow and purple shore crabs and large red rock crabs) and lots of ochre sea stars hiding at the base of the rocks. Several sculpins and a goby were seen here too.

Heading further west around the point towards the pier, there is a large flat and shallow area covered in a thick green algae. There were schools of what I think were herring here - very take and relaxed and not jittery at all. I could just drift into their midst without a problem. These were large schools, the largest was maybe a couple of hundred. There was also a school of needle fish here too. I turned at the second beach and swam back for a look at the south end of Bowen Bay. Swimming together, Aine and I swam all the way along the rocks and under the first pier in the photo and into the bay. We saw shiners, crabs, a juvenile black rockfish, a small cod and more of the herring. Also the same sea stars and less crab action on the steeper rocks. The little bay at the end is quite rocky and the water was very murky in there from plankton. No sign of the bay pipefish today, but on the way back we saw these gorgeous tiny fish swimming at the surface in small schools. They were no longer than an inch and the had a bright irridescent spot at the base of their tail. Their bodies were long and thin. Very beautiful tiny fish.

The water was really warm today, even down at ten feet where I dived looking for flounder and rockfish. Cloudier than last time though with maybe eight feet of visibility although nothing came clear until it was two feet away.

Finished the evening off with an impromptu picnic of cheese, bread, fruit, tabouleh and fresh picked huckleberries with friends we ran into. A lovely, quiet Bowen sunset. The beach was quieter than it had been on the long weekend and populated by more friends than strangers.