Shore Dive at Porteau Cove

Tue 21 February 2017 by Tom Lightfoot

On Tuesday, February 21, Don and I went for a shore dive at Porteau Cove. This was the first dive of the year for me and one of the first breaks in what had been a very harsh winter. It turned out that the weather that day was fabulous. The visibility was pretty spectacular as well.

Porteau Cove is a great place to dive in January, February and March if the weather is good. Besides the good seasonal visibility, the big draw is the lingcod breeding season. At that time the male lingcod are guarding egg masses and they become quite territorial.

Until a few years ago, a few Vanapneists and I were regular contributors to the Vancouver Aquarium's annual lingcod egg mass survey. We'd count how many egg masses that we could find per unit of time searching on the bottom. At Porteau, you wouldn't find the egg masses so much as the guard lingcod would find you. Ten years ago we'd find over a dozen egg masses in a dive session and feel like the lingcod had chased us out of the water.

This year felt quite different. We only found three or four egg masses and guard males and didn't feel at all threatened. The prime real estate on top of the wreck of the Grant Hall was only occupied by a young lingcod that didn't appear to have any eggs. I don't know what has changed but I'm a bit worried.

On a more positive note, Don and I saw a small sunflower star on the swim back to shore. It was about the size of my hand but it was the biggest I'd seen since 2013 with the big die off. The biggest that I'd seen since that time was a two inch star during last year's Mayne Island eelgrass survey.

Big thanks to Don for driving!

Here are the photos: