Flagpole + Sund Rock, Nov29+Dec1 2019

Tell us your tale of coming nose-to-nose with a 6 gill [--this big--], or about your vacation to turquoise warm waters. Share your adventures here!
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Flagpole + Sund Rock, Nov29+Dec1 2019

Post by iotium » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:59 pm

The wife/buddy and I went to Hood Canal for the long weekend after Thanksgiving. Friday afternoon as we drove up the canal on 101 we were treated with clear skies, sun, and glass-calm water. However 20 min later when we got to Mike's Beach Resort to pay the exorbitant 45$ fee and get the key and a hand-drawn dive site map from 1998 (with a "work in progress" note on it), the wind had suddenly picked up to 15kts and there were thigh-high waves crashing on the beach. We made a somewhat sporty entry near the no trespassing sign and swam out and dropped on the shallow reef. We initially headed 120 nominally to find the knuckle, totally missed it, but then headed south and luckily stumbled across it. We realized afterwards there's actually a buoy anchored right to the knuckle itself.

The knuckle was splendid, with big schools of copper rockfish, wolf eels, a large GPO, and little anemones covering some of the rocks.
rocks and rock fish at flagpole
rock covered in anemones
GPO at flagpole
We also found a few cloud sponges along the way, complete with little crabs inside.
cloud sponge at flagpole
little crab in cloud sponge
I also found a few patches of these eggs that I couldn't identify. Anyone recognize them?
eggs at flagpole
The next day we had more clear skies so we went hiking up Mount Ellinor and then hit up the town of Hoodsport: distillery for weird gin, winery for mediocre wine, and the model T for delicious deep fried green beans.
mount ellinor
Sunday we went to Sund Rock. Our first dive was along the north wall and almost immediately found a giant cloud of tiny shrimp. Many local critters seemed to be feasting: rock fish, anemones, crabs, etc. We would later find several of these clouds scattered around the wall. Here's a video I got of swimming through one of them: https://youtu.be/xH5MXcsvmsA
buddy with cloud of shrimp
cloud of shrimp
wolf eel at north wall
Our second dive was along the south wall. The wall itself was just covered in shrimp, scattering and darting as our lights came across them. They were all sizes and colors and tragically I am equally inept at both macro photography and invertebrate identification, so that's about all I can tell you but man they were beautiful.

We also encountered lots more wolf eels, which were more photogenic:
wolf eel at south wall
We came across a strange fish hiding underneath a rock that I've never seen before and couldn't identify. Here's a video: https://youtu.be/mJ3t_SNI-sM
Anyone know what it is?

Near the end of the dive we found a tree covered in anemones and mussels.
anemone covered tree
Last edited by iotium on Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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I've Got Gills
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Re: Flagpole + Sund Rock, Nov29+Dec1 2019

Post by YellowEye » Wed Dec 04, 2019 2:30 am

Very cool!
$45 for two divers at flagpole now? Wowza, especially given that sketchy drive down and the long swim. You're lucky you found the site getting there entirely by compass... I always use the buoy. Cool site though for sure!

Your "little crab in a sponge" looks to be a squat lobster... a hood canal favorite!

Cool shrimp clouds, not sure on the id of those.

Your fish under a rock looks to be a staghorn sculpin or possibly a plainfin midshipman?

The small orange "anemones" are zooanthids, technically a coral.

Not sure about those eggs, did you see the dad?

Looks like a fun weekend!
Get out of cove 2 and explore!

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Re: Flagpole + Sund Rock, Nov29+Dec1 2019

Post by Penopolypants » Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:00 am

The eggs look like cabezon eggs, but YellowEye is right, the dad is usually around.....and is not afraid to smack you to remind you of your place!
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Re: Flagpole + Sund Rock, Nov29+Dec1 2019

Post by Greg Jensen » Wed Dec 04, 2019 6:37 pm

The fish is a midshipman. The clouds of 'shrimp' are mysids.

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Re: Flagpole + Sund Rock, Nov29+Dec1 2019

Post by iotium » Wed Dec 04, 2019 9:17 pm

Thanks everyone for the identifications!!

After googling, I think the unknown fish is definitely a plainfin midshipman. My fish ID book (Humann/Deloach) says they're common to abundant but I think this was my first sighting.

We did see a cabezon at Flagpole, but it was no where close to the eggs - it was sitting out in the sand.

Also - does anyone else find the Hood Canal to be a bit saltier than the Puget Sound? Just going off taste alone, it definitely seemed that way.

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Re: Flagpole + Sund Rock, Nov29+Dec1 2019

Post by Gdog » Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:20 pm

Wow, looks like you enjoyed some really great vis!

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