Seattle Dive Tours
DEMA Show

DEMA Show

I’m flying off to DEMA Show 2013 (Diving Equipment & Marketing Association) this morning for a week of scuba industry training and seminars in Orlando. Florida. While there, I’ll be hearing about the latest training updates, getting caught up on risk management, and taking in lots of marketing and industry news. When not in sessions, I’ll be checking out the convention floor, seeing all the new diving products and travel destinations for 2014. Looking at my schedule, the next three days will be pretty jam packed, but I’m hoping to also connect with my professional peers and meet new people as well.

Back in Seattle, our Divemasters will be leading our dive tours daily, taking visitors on beautiful scuba diving tours of Puget Sound. You can also check out our Facebook page for updates on diving activities (and to see if our K & J pod Orca are back  playing in front of downtown Seattle). You can also follow us on twitter for more news & updates from DEMA Show 2013.

Giant Pacific Octopus

Giant Pacific Octopus

Good news for scuba divers as Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has put in place new rules on Giant Pacific Octopus harvesting in Puget Sound and Hood Canal. The new rules set aside seven sites where harvesting is now prohibited:

The back story on all this started last year when a local diver legally harvested a Giant Pacific Octopus at Seacrest Park in West Seattle. There are traditionally strong social norms within the Northwest diving community regarding not taking wildlife from popular dive sites, and the initial pictures of the diver holding a dead octopus on the beach at Cove 2 were pretty shocking to most in the dive community. While the diver technically did nothing wrong, and he has since apologized for his actions, the resulting public outcry led the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to call for a review of Giant Pacific Octopus rules. Check out this article in the Sunday New York Times magazine on the incident.

The Giant Pacific Octopus is the largest octopus species and can be found at recreational diving depths, while weighing up to 33 pounds with an arm span of up to 30 feet. They usually eat invertebrates such as crabs or clams, or even fish or occasionally birds, as this news report shows. Giant Pacific Octopus can live up to 5 years in the wild and are considered to be extremely intelligent.

With new protections in place as of October 6th, the chances of seeing a Giant Pacific Octopus are better than ever. To start your adventure, just book one of our daily day or night dive tours, or e-mail us and jump into our monthly PADI Advanced Open Water class.

Just a quick post- I’m currently scuba diving in Curaçao, part of the Netherlands Antilles, just off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean. While I’m away, we’ll still be running our daily dive tours and taking advantage of the great fall visibility and abundant marine life in the Pacific Northwest.

The scuba diving in Curaçao has been amazing with reefs filled with tropical fish and colorful corals. While I’m here, I plan on conducting a few REEF surveys on fish abundance at the local dive sites. Have a great week!

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Early fall brings the arrival of an unusual Pacific Northwest creature, Hooded nudibranch, (Melibe leonina).

Hooded nudibranch (Melibe leonina) by Eva Funderburgh Hollis

Hooded nudibranch (Melibe leonina) by Eva Funderburgh Hollis

Hooded nudibranch arrive for a few weeks in September/October in large numbers, clinging to eel grass and kelp, and feeding on small larva and small invertebrates. They catch their prey by extending their hood out and down, wrapping it around the prey, then eat eating it whole. When in danger, Hooded nudibranch can swim long distances by lateral-twisting movements.

During fall, we can sometimes see hundreds of Hooded nudibranch on a single dive. Good bets for dive sites include Redondo Beach and Seacrest Park. At the end of the dive, divers can use their safety stop to observe the Hooded nudibranch in the shallows. Ready to see the many Hooded nudibranch for yourself? Book your guided dive tour today.

Nudibranch taken by Seven Seas Scuba Divemaster and Northwest photographer Steve Zedekar

Nudibranch taken by Seven Seas Scuba Divemaster and Northwest photographer Steve Zedekar

Seattle is starting to settle in to its familiar fall weather pattern of warm, sunny days and clear cool nights- a perfect time to try scuba diving in the Northwest and explore the best dive sites in Seattle and Puget Sound. Water temperatures remain relatively warm while visibility improves to some of the best of the year. Fall also brings with it stunning bioluminescence, with millions of microscopic invertebrates creating a glow in Puget Sound water during night dives.

Both Steller sea lions and California sea lions have returned from their breeding rookeries in Alaska and California to join our year-round Harbor seal population to rest on Seattle beaches. As always, Seattle Dive Tours works closely with Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network to identify and protect resting seal pups.

Underwater, fish and invertebrates look even more stunning in the clear, cool water. Copper rockfish and Brown rockfish are plentiful, while Nudibranchs such as White-lined Dirona, Opalescent Nudibranch, and Yellow margin Dorid are all reaching their largest sizes of the year, plus our own Puget Sound Giant Pacific octopus is usually around for a viewing by our scuba divers.

Our PADI professional dive guides will be at the Northwest’s best dive sites in Seattle this fall to show both visiting and local divers the amazing beauty of Puget Sound.

Harbor seal pup resting in West Seattle

Harbor seal pup resting in West Seattle

August has been an incredibly busy month for us here at Seattle Dive Tours! PADI Instructor Richard and PADI Divemasters Chris, Chen and Brian have been working hard to show all of our divers the beautiful marine life around Seattle and Puget Sound.

Over in West Seattle, across Elliott Bay from Downtown, a very large GPO (Giant pacific octopus) has taken up residence under a small sunken boat at Seacrest Park. Our divers have had a great time taking a peek at this Puget Sound native in its natural habitat while also checking out the While-lined dirona Nudibranch that has been seen in increasing numbers. Redondo Beach (just South of Seattle) has also experienced an increase in GPO numbers, in addition to the smaller Red octopus.

Late summer and fall are also the best times to experience bioluminescence in Puget Sound during night dives. Towards the end of a night dive during our safety stop, we will circle around and point our dive lights towards our chests to block out all light. Then we will wave our hands around to see the thousands of beautiful glowing dots in the water.

Seal pup mania has hit Puget Sound this month as well. Recently weaned harbor seal pups have been coming ashore all over the Seattle area to rest and warm up before resuming their foraging activities. As always, it’s important to not disturb harbor seal pups, and at Seattle Dive Tours we have been reporting harbor seal pup sightings to our local NOAA Marine Mammal Stranding Network volunteer group, Seal Sitters.

With fall almost here, and with it some of the best diving conditions of the year, now is the time to book either a day tour or an exciting night dive with Seattle Dive Tours.