A few weeks ago, my friend Marissa over at Postcards to Seattle and I got Nitrox certified. It’s something I’ve been interested in doing for awhile since being able to use Enriched Air allows you to dive for longer and you’re less likely to feel fatigued when you’re done. Plus, the course only takes a couple hours in a classroom to complete, so the time commitment is minimal. However, both of us were a bit bummed to not have a dive included, so one morning before work, we decide to check out the Edmonds Underwater Park.
Despite growing up in the Edmonds/Mukilteo area and getting both my regular and advanced dive certifications here, I’ve never dove this particular spot. The park is protected, meaning no fishing, crabbing, shrimping, etc is allowed. There are several wrecks sunk intentionally for divers, and the variety of sea life is supposed to be great. It’s one of the most popular places to dive in Washington, and it’s about time I check it out for myself.
We arrive at Brackett’s Landing a little before 7am to get ready for our dive. It’s a beautiful day and I can’t wait to get in the water to explore.
The water in Puget Sounds stays a chilly 45-55 degrees year round. Many divers, our dive master included, choose to wear drysuits to protect from the cold. While I’m dry suit certified, Marissa isn’t (though she will be soon!) and the rental cost is $125. I’ll be just fine with the wetsuit included with the rest of my gear at just $40. Plus, it turns out I’m not even a little cold. I get so overheated while getting ready that the cold water feels quite good. I should also point out that I grew up swimming in these waters, so perhaps they don’t feel as cold to me.
We review our dive plan on the map (this place is so much bigger than I expected!) and make our way down to the water.
Finally it’s time to get in the water!
Marissa is ready with her GoPro and I have a camera dangling from each wrist. We can’t wait to get in and photograph this underwater world.
This is where I have to make a confession. When it comes to diving, I’m completely dependant on my dive master to ensure I’m ready to go. After my initial certification, I have only dove in situations where the company takes care of everything. My only tasks are to put my gear on, keep an eye on my air and have fun. I haven’t used any of the skills I learned way back in scuba school for over ten years. So it doesn’t even occur to me to check if my air is on. And when it comes to our predive safety check, I don’t have a clue know what to look for. I’m so embarrassed! But it’s a good lesson in self-sufficiency and I’m glad for the reminder. One of my goals is to go out diving in the Puget Sound on my own (and a dive buddy), without the assistance of a dive master. These are the things I’m going to need to remember if I’m going to make that happen.
Since we’re doing a shore dive, we start our dive in waist deep water. I had no idea so much life existed this close to the shore. Flat fish blend perfectly with the sand and are only visible when they dart away from us as we approach.
The nutrient-rich waters of the park are home to a variety of sea life. Greenlings (pictured below), anemone, starfish and red and green kelp are found in abundance.
As we get deeper, the water gets greener and visibility decreases. The lack of light makes it difficult to get clear, sharp photos, but overall I think these turned out alright. On my GoPro, I used a pink filter for the first time, to offset the greenness of the water.
This is a lingcod. It looks prehistoric and terrifying, but pays us no mind as we swim by.
Did you know some rockfish can live more than 100 years? They are among the longest living fish on earth.
The Puget Sound is also a popular place to find Dungeness crab. Out of all the crab species, these are the tastiest, in my opinion. But here in the park, they are protected.
There is also an abundance of shrimp here, though they are more difficult to photograph. They don’t like to hold still for the camera.
This is a kelp crab, also known as a spider crab because of it’s long, spidery legs.
Nudibranches are also a common sight. This one practically glows in the dark waters and is about an inch long.
About halfway through the dive, I have to give up on taking photos and focus on my buoyancy. I forgot how different diving in cold water is compared to warm, tropical water. Our full wet suits make us much more buoyant and even with double the weight, I find myself floating to the surface unexpectedly. The boots I’m wearing with my fins cause my feet to float higher than by body, arching my back and causing some pain. I can’t believe how much I’m struggling. It feels like I’ve never done this before. I do my best to maintain neutral buoyancy and vow to get out here more often to work on my cold water diving skills.
This dive has been one of the more difficult I’ve ever done, and very eye opening for me on the skills I need to work on. I have a lot to learn to be more self-sufficient and maintain buoyancy in cold water. This weekend I’ll be taking my Rescue Diver course and I look forward to improving my skills! Marissa and I also hope to do more diving around the Puget Sound and experience all the variety it has to offer.