Yesterday was a good day for snorkelling at the Ogden Point Breakwater in Victoria, BC. The sun was shining and the iconic artificial structure provided shelter from the cold wind so the surface was calm. The vertical visibility from the surface was about 5 metres, which is typical for this time of year. After some dives I struggle to find even a single decent photo but this was one of my most productive sessions.
This video shows what to expect when you first take a look below the surface.
This one shows a white-spotted anemone. Normally anemones look best when their tentacles are fully extended but I am glad that this specimen had them retracted because it allowed the distinctive white spots of the column to be seen easily.
The video illustrates one of the difficulties of capturing images while snorkelling. The anemone was one of those photographic subjects that was too deep to get a good image of with the camera held at arm’s length from the surface but also too shallow to dive down to. I was able to get close to it for very brief periods by being inverted but kicking to hold myself down was largely futile because the tips of my fins were mostly flapping in the air.
In contrast, both this six-armed star and the chiton were less than 1 metre below the surface.
When people ask “Did you see any fish?” my answer is usually “Yes.” with this being a typical example. Some more solitary fish like “ling cod” are larger but are also common at the breakwater. Within the next few months I expect to see some very large schools of “bait fish”.
One of the things that makes the Ogden Point Breakwater such a good place to see marine life is the way it was built with large stone blocks that have gaps between them. Those spaces are the best places to look for life because the shelter they provide makes them a safer habitat for many creatures. A common routine for exploring the breakwater is to simply swim along and peek into every crevice you find.
The small fish in this video is taking the need for shelter one step further by hiding between urchins that are themselves living in a gap between blocks.
This video shows a nudibranch. The suborder is Doridina but I am not going to identify it more specifically than that. Whenever I upload a photo of a dorid nudibranch to iNaturalist it seems that someone who knows more than I do comes along and explains why the species is something similar to but different from what I thought it was so I change my identification to what that person says. Then someone else, apparently equally qualified, comes along and says that my original identification was correct. They also explain their reasoning. Since I am in no way qualified to side with one or the other in such situations, I just don’t bother any more.
I am pretty confident that this one is a blood star. It feeds primarily on sponges.
The blood star in this video is not solid orange like the previous one but the white area at the centre does not include the entire disk the way the one in my previous blog post does.
What looks like a branching pale violet plant is a locally common hydrocoral. It is present in most of these videos. This one just happens to give a good view of its segments at the very end when the video stops.
This video gives a better view of hydrocoral in general.
My best guess is that this is a fish-eating anemone but it would be easier to ID with a better side view of the column.
This video just shows multiple species living close together.
I originally described this as a case of a sponge living on the back of a hermit crab in a mutually beneficial relationship. Then my friend Sara, author of Snorkelling Adventures Around Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands: The Ultimate Guide, pointed out that is a much less common baby Puget Sound king crab.