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Our last full weekend in February featured lots of happy divers and some of the highest tides of the year, also called a “King Tide”.
Tides are the vertical movement of water across Earth’s surface caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces of the Moon and the Sun and the rotation of Earth which manifest in the local rise and fall of sea levels. Tides are driven by the relative positions of the Earth, Moon, and Sun, the orbits of various planets, land formations, and relative location on Earth. In the lunar month, the highest tides occur roughly every 14 days, at the new and full moons, when the gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun are in alignment. King tides are the very highest tides in the year and are naturally occurring, predictable events.
The king tides in Seattle on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday last weekend were each over 13 feet, 3 feet higher than a normal high tide. King tides in previous years have been over 14.5 feet! Luckily, we had no storms or high wind to push the tides up even further. Next we’ll have to wait until early July to see some of the lowest tides of the year- perfect for combing tide pools.
Our divers didn’t seem to mind the king tides as we had flat, calm water and clear visibility to make for great diving and wildlife viewing. On Friday, we had Chase & Riley from Eastern Washington & Montana come out to try scuba diving with a PADI Discover Scuba Diving experience. Then we David from Los Angeles try a night dive Friday evening. Saturday we had David again plus Stephan from the United Kingdom for our Saturday guided dive tour. Sunday we had Colleen Norcott and her son, Kendall both our for a scuba refresher. My favorite memory of the weekend was hearing Kendall underwater on Sunday hollering into his regulator as he saw his first Giant Pacific octopus.
Sunday will mark the annual winter solstice. At 47° 36′ 23″ N latitude, Seattle is the most northerly large city in America, and with that we have one of the shortest winter days in the continental United States. On Sunday, December 21st, the sun will rise at 7:55 am and set at 4:20 pm, giving us just 8 hours and 25 minutes of daylight. The weak winter sun will just barely be above the horizon, peaking at 19 degrees at 12:08 pm before dropping back down below the horizon again at dusk.
Pacific Northwest native american tribes traditionally celebrated the winter solstice season with elaborate potlatches, featuring feasting, dancing, and gift-giving to form bonds and solidify relationships. This weekend, those interested in celebrating the winter solstice can try out the 26th annual Winter Solstice Feast in the artsy Freemont district, or try the winter solstice candlelight walk in Snohomish.
For scuba divers, the time around winter solstice means we can get started on our night dives extra early, this week at 3:30 pm to time our dive for dusk, when marine and terrestrial life are most active. Giant pacific octopus, Pacific spiny lumpsuckers, and several rockfish species are abundant this time of year, and combined with excellent water visibility in winter make this a great time to schedule a guided dive tour.
I’ll be attending a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife meeting tonight at the Seattle Aquarium. The department is seeking public comments regarding rules to extend protection to the Giant Pacific Octopus in Puget Sound. Currently, the Giant Pacific Octopus is not protected and the Northwest dive community would like to see marine reserves set up with no recreational harvests in several Puget Sound dive sites, including Seacrest Park, Redondo Beach, Three Tree point and others as well.
The Giant Pacific Octopus is one of our most well known species here in Puget Sound and protection would allow divers to experience this amazing creature without threat of harvesting. On guided dive tours where we have had the good fortune to see a Giant Pacific Octopus, our divers report that the sighting was the highlight of the trip. You can book a guided dive tour online or contact us for more information.
June 8th is World Oceans Day…
One of the organizations I’m involved in is Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF). REEF helps to educate the public about marine ecosystems, and enlists divers to help survey and study fish and invertebrate species.
As part to of my goal to help with protecting marine environments, I regularly conduct REEF fish ID surveys of Seattle area dive sites as well as when traveling. While abroad this year, I have submitted surveys for areas around Dangriga, Belize and Puerto Galera, The Philippines.
Here is a video that REEF produced on the Nassau grouper in the Cayman Islands.