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Snorkeling the Channel Between Indian Island and Marrowstone Island

Posted: Tue Sep 06, 2022 7:21 pm
by 60south
And now for something completely different... :norris:

I went out snorkeling between Indian Island and Marrowstone Island, in the newly-reopened channel. The backstory on this area is that it used to be naturally open, flushing out the water in the bay and providing habitat for wildlife. In 1958 they built a causeway between the islands, so they filled in the channel. The result was a messy, muddy swamp.

In a partnership between WA, the Navy, and the Port Gamble S'klallam Tribe, they recently opened it back up again. It's been about two years now and the changes are remarkable! Wildlife, birds, geese, and other critters have come back. Scow Bay is cleaner. And the channel is filled with life! Tons of crabs, mussels, sculpins, all kinds of stuff.

It's not deep, just a few feet even at high tide. Definitely go at high tide. There's some light boat traffic now and then, so it might be wise to tow a dive flag/float if you do it. I used the current prediction for the nearby Port Townsend Canal, and it matched up rather well. Go in just before slack at the end of an ebb tide and it will take you down the channel (currents can be RIPPIN'!), and then it will flip to take you back at the flood. I wasn't sure if the reverse would happen, so I got a tow from a friendly boat.

Edit: Found the history of when they built the road and the recent project.


youtu.be/-_2QN1BkHg8

At the west end of the bridge is the Isthmus Trail, actually part of Indian Island County Park. There's some rough parking and a trail down to the water.
map.png
I got in the water around 630pm, just as the ebb tide was slacking. The current really does drop suddenly, like it shows in the chart. This day was a mild exchange and the currents were... exciting. I might like to try this during a really good rip!
tide.5990.png

Re: Snorkeling the Channel Between Indian Island and Marrowstone Island

Posted: Wed Sep 07, 2022 6:57 am
by eh.haole
Life will find a way 🦀

What are some more good snorkel swims?

I've been doing 2-4km shore snorkel swims occasionally in a hooded 5mm surf suit 7mm booties gloves whenever it's calm and the vis is good enough to see ~2(+) meters to the bottom. Core seems warm enough with a good pace. A neon shirt, hood, or swim float sounds smart.

I haven't noticed any orca yet, I wonder if our transients are as polite as the kiwi ones?


youtu.be/bTIcQMwYC1o

Re: Snorkeling the Channel Between Indian Island and Marrowstone Island

Posted: Wed Sep 07, 2022 10:49 am
by oldsalt
Sixty: I really hope to meet you some day. Your video ranks with Jan's Driftwood Ponds as seeking sealife in overlooked places. I didn't realize the channel had been re-opened. Both islands are part of my past, Indian from my navy days, and Marrowstone as a sailing stopover (Mystery Bay). Way cool.

Eh. As a whale nut, and former snorkeler, the video astounds me. I think of ScubaMom's "be my chum."

Thanks, Curt :rawlings:

Re: Snorkeling the Channel Between Indian Island and Marrowstone Island

Posted: Wed Sep 07, 2022 2:06 pm
by 60south
eh.haole wrote: Wed Sep 07, 2022 6:57 amWhat are some more good snorkel swims?
Under the docks and along the breakwaters in Port Townsend. Lots of life! Bait balls, crabs, all kinds of stuff. Look out for boat traffic.

North Beach in Port Townsend, maybe. Kelp and schools of small fish. Beware of currents, which get worse as you go farther out.

Fort Worden marine science pier. Anomone city!

The pilings near Keystone Jetty on Whidbey should be good. I'd go at slack on a low tide.

The jellyfish ponds at Driftwood park on Whidbey. Great fun!

Anybody else? Suggestions?

Re: Snorkeling the Channel Between Indian Island and Marrowstone Island

Posted: Wed Sep 07, 2022 2:22 pm
by eh.haole
Keystone yes that does work, though the slack can be short for surface activities. I gave myself the willies 'freediving' a bit there (to ~12 meters) as you can never really see the bottom (or top) unless you're right by the rocks. Same for Iceberg Point on Lopez.

I have not snorkeled the Driftwood Ponds yet. Good idea!