Whidbey Island Critters

Fish & Invertebrate sightings and descriptions, hosted by resident NWDC ID expert Janna Nichols (nwscubamom).
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sat Apr 18, 2020 7:40 am

Wrap up of pictures from the Driftwood Pond dive.
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:18 am

Skyline wall, Fidalgo Island. Still under the Covid-19 cloud.
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Mon Apr 20, 2020 8:09 am

Skyline roundup
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Wed Apr 22, 2020 7:04 am

It has been over six months since I dived Holmes Harbor as with every dive there offered less and less opportunities to see marine life. Years ago, there was always something to see, but lately even the the hermit crabs and sea slugs vanished and my desire to swim a long way out to deeper water and rather poor visibility overall made me seek other Whidbey locations instead. Then I heard from my fellow Whidbey divers Joe and Tabitha that they found Sunflower stars there. So on Sunday I geared up and made the swim to the moored sailboat, descended through murky water down to the sandy bottom and indeed, there they were, juvenile Pycnopodia, using the concrete mooring block as they home. Welcome sight indeed. Here in twenty six feet, the visibility improved to about twelve feet, but as I swim back towards shore, it becomes a miso soup again, down to five feet visibility. And here I come across more of the juvenile Sunflower stars. I spent more time searching around and find few more. So maybe, just maybe, there are more of them around the area. :)
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Thu Apr 23, 2020 8:05 am

"There's Gold in Them Thar Hills !". well maybe not gold, but in Holmes Harbor there are plenty of them shrimps and Sand Dollars ... :) :) :)
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Fri Apr 24, 2020 9:43 am

Two species of snails I came across on Holmes Harbor dive - parasites and scavengers ...
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sat Apr 25, 2020 9:39 am

More good news. April 20. Sunflower stars now also found at Langley Harbor.
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sun Apr 26, 2020 9:32 am

Second batch of snapshots from the Langley Harbor dive ...
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Mon Apr 27, 2020 8:28 am

correction:
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Tue Apr 28, 2020 6:42 am

I returned to Holmes Harbor when the hight tide was higher in hope for better visibility on the deeper end where the Sunflower stars were last Sunday. Well, the visibility was even worse. But I did find two adult Sunflower stars and the juveniles were there too.
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Jan K
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Wed Apr 29, 2020 7:46 am

The sandy expanse of Holmes harbor is home to few other critters and objects besides sea stars.
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Thu Apr 30, 2020 7:19 am

Let the Moonglow brighten your day...
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Gdog » Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:18 pm

I love the naming of those anenomes, fitting! Great shots!

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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Scubak » Fri May 01, 2020 6:33 am

Wow! Those MoonGlow are very interesting. Not sure if I have ever seen them. Thanks for sharing.
Kirsten
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by oldsalt » Fri May 01, 2020 10:27 am

Jan: I really admire your ability to find interesting things in what many of us would consider ho-hum dive sites, such as Holmes Harbor or the Driftwood ponds. I've heard that an intelligent man is never bored. -Curt
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sat May 02, 2020 8:11 am

Thank you guys for your kind words :notworthy:

Looking at the two flooded gravel pits along the highway near Keystone, their shores littered with driftwood piled up there by the storm in December 2018, one could easily dismiss them as just another place for water birds to land and rest. Being very shallow, with muddy bottom, slimy algae lining its shores, it certainly doesn't present itself as a desirable place to dive. But they present slightly different picture below the surface. In spite of being so close to each other, they are quite different. Before the storm deposited all that driftwood, lot of it waterlogged littering the bottom, there were Cockscomb fish in one of them, but none in the other. Also one used to have clusters of Dead Man's Finger algae, the other had none. This pattern of diversity persists to this day. Cockscomb fish are gone, but small jellies and Japanese wireweed now demonstrate the curious phenomena of two worlds separated by few dozen feet and yet so different. And the dead zone in one pond has closer resemblance to Angelita Cenote in Yucatan, Mexico than anything in the neighboring pond ...
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sun May 03, 2020 9:50 am

Driftwood Pond. After visiting the Dead Zone - chasing after the cannibalistic Many-ribbed medusas.
Never a dull moment... :) :) :)
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Tue May 05, 2020 7:09 am

After long hiatus, ( last dive here was on November 1, 2019), I revisited the shallow and murky waters of Penn Cove. I am happy to report that the sea stars under the wharf are healthy and plentiful. Only two species of sea stars live here, Mottled and Ochre, but they obviously love it here. As do Graceful crabs and the Green sea urchins...
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Wed May 06, 2020 4:33 pm

Rest of the Coupeville wharf, Penn Cove dive on April 30.
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Fri May 08, 2020 6:29 am

May 1, 2020 Langley Harbor survey. As far as sea stars go, all seems to be OK for the time being. Visibility not so good due to planktonic soup.
Found healthy Sunflower stars, which this days is always a special treat...
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sat May 09, 2020 1:10 pm

Rescue #2. Dungeness crabs in lost traps set free. Swimming through planktonic soup rewarded with
two- headed Giant Plumose Anemone and Painted greenlings guarding eggs.
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Tue May 12, 2020 2:19 pm

May 5, 2020. First day of opening the gates to Washington State Parks. Keystone Jetty, here I come ! :)
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sat May 16, 2020 10:05 pm

Deception Pass, May 13, 2020. Although the gates to Washington State Parks finally opened on May 5th, the Pass currents kept us until this week from enjoying the underwater part. Surprisingly, and to our delight, there were no crowds and social distancing was easy. There were only two cars and three divers here ! :)
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Sun May 17, 2020 4:53 pm

In case you wonder what are the almost transparent pieces drifting by in the current on your dive - they are exoskeletons casted off by barnacles...
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Re: Whidbey Island Critters

Post by Jan K » Mon May 18, 2020 7:35 am

Deception Pass, Friday May 15. Two days later completely different picture, at least topside.
Parking lot filling up, fishing boats plowing the waters, fishhooks dangling in our underwater realm...
And also, more divers :)
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