My 16 Favorite Ocean Underwater images from 2016

2016 was a great year for me in underwater photography. In the early part of the year I spent lots of time in the river with juvenile salmon. But the summer and fall months I was happily exploring the ocean realm with a greater degree of enthusiasm. The rivers were flooded out from late summer so I was not spending my usual amount of time with the spawning salmon. Instead I was diving in the waters on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, Port Hardy, Campbell River and further down island. An area that has been gaining some popularity as a great dive region is around Parksville. Some new areas opened up due to recent land development and a lot of divers have been enjoying this area between Parksville and Nanoose Bay.

The highlight for me for sure were the two trips we did out of Winter Harbour in September. This was off the charts diving. We went way offshore in search of pelagics, and dove seamounts and islands around Brookes Peninsula. Circumnavigating Solander Island and diving on the South side of it was a real treat. This inaccessible spot is rarely visited by divers as it gets some of the worst weather and sea conditions in all of Canada. We had a near perfect day to dive it and were well rewarded. The abundance of mature and juvenile rockfish was amazing.

An October trip to Browning Pass was epic as well. Myriads of juvenile Rockfish and other life forms were seen there.

As I covered in a previous Blog post there has been a massive recruitment of Rockfish juveniles this year and it was a treat to see this in areas around Tahsis, Esperanza Inlet, Quatsino Sound, and Port Hardy.


Painted Anemone under the raging waters of the Roaring Hole, a shallow tidal passage on the mainland north of Telegraph Cove. This was during an amazing trip hosted by Nimmo Bay Resort in May.



At the Tideline. I find it fascinating swimming in the shallow waters at the convergence of tidelines. The accumulated life and debris at these spots can lead to some interesting finds.



Steller Sealions. An amazing encounter with curious Steller Sealions while Freediving at Vivian Islands.



A large ocean going Mola mola, aka Ocean Sunfish, during one of our trips off the West Coast of Vancouver Island near Winter Harbour. These pelagic travellers frequent BC waters offshore during the warmer months when the Kuroshio current pushes in close to the West Coast of Vancouver Island.



Four species of mature Rockfish compete for space in this picture taken at 130 feet depth in Quatsino Sound. Pictured from bottom left  are China, Yelloweye, Vermilion and Yellowtail Rockfish.



An unusual looking image for British Columbia waters. I took this picture in Browning Pass on the backside of Seven Tree Island, ( a lot of divers favorite site) where there is a large expanse of white sand at about forty feet of depth. By sitting the camera on the bottom and using a slow shutter speed combined with rear-sync flash I took this somewhat different image. Widow Rockfish juveniles were crowding everywhere on this site.



Multi-coloured Dendronotus Nudibranch, Dendronotus diversicolor, in Browning Pass. I used the same photo technique as previous image.



Leather Star, Dermasterias imbricate, near Browns Bay north of Campbell River. This position is used by seastars for releasing eggs and sperm cells into the water column. Or maybe its a Yoga pose.



Large Crimson Anemone, Cribrinopsis fernaldi, at the new Oakleaf Dr dive site near Parksville. Around the base of this particular anemone were loads of tiny baby Broken-Back shrimp which have a commensalistic relationship with these anemone.



Grunt Sculpin hiding in a discarded pipe under the Argonaut Wharf in Campbell River. These amazing little fish are a delight to see as the scurry around like mice on leg-like protrusions on their pectoral fins.



Feather Duster Tube Worms exploding out from a wall in Drury Channel on the Mainland north of Telegraph Cove. This species lives in high current passages and take advantage of the nutrients streaming by on every tide change.



A huge Egg Yolk Jellyfish is confronted by a diver at night in Tahsis Inlet. These picturesque jellies are frequently seen around Vancouver Island. I have not seen many though with such pronounced, long feeding tentacles.



Copper Rockfish, Sebastes caurinus, on a small shipwreck near Courtenay. Wrecks provide a home for a lot of sealife, and this one was crowded with young and very mature Copper Rockfish.



One of my most surprising moments underwater happened when I was coming up from a deep dive in Quatsino Sound. As I neared the top of the rocky pinnacle I was confronted by a huge school of unusual looking Rockfish. It took a moment to recognize these as young Bocaccio Rockfish. This was extremely exciting to me as not only had I never seen this species before, but they are on the endangered species list and not often encountered underwater. The adults live in water  deeper than Scuba divers typically go, but the young congregate in the kelp forests for a period of time. I hadn’t heard of anyone else seeing these fish and I was very happy to see so many.



On a particularly memorable dive in Quatsino Narrows the current slowed right down at the end of the dive and the fish and kelp just seemed to hang in space. These Black Rockfish were in very shallow water and offered a good composition.