Diving with Sea Lions! Hornby Island Trip Feb 2016
I hope you all have been enjoying this lovely Spring weather, while getting some amazing diving in too! As another chilly February passed we got to enjoy our annual shop trip to Hornby Island. You may be pleased to know that the Sea Lions are still an absolute blast to dive with! Incredibly interactive and playful with divers, they are more concerned with having fun than anything else; but they are not afraid to remind you who the boss is under the water. Just imagine going into a room filled with excited and curious labrador puppies (that are the size of bears!).
We arrived at Hornby Island Diving Lodge around 5pm. We got our things settled and had a lovely dinner before our evening night diving activities. The food provided for us by our lovely hosts at the lodge was AMAZING! (A big shoutout to Amanda and Rob and their staff for the preparation and effort they put in for us). After taking in the beautiful location during a brief site introduction and tour - we all went to gear up and go for our first dive of the trip - an exciting night dive from the shore. Fortunately the shore entry for our night dive was only a short jaunt from the compressor house. We were also asked to note down and study any Lingcod egg masses we found. (You can also get involved with this - for more information visit: http://www.vanaqua.org/act/research/fish/lingcod-survey)
So like most dive trips out to the beautiful, world-class diving location that is Vancouver Island, it starts with a ferry ride. It was lovely bunch of folks yet again with this trip, so there was never a dull moment. We had a few 'returners' who knew what to expect, in addition to a couple of first-timers to Hornby. As we boarded the last ferry from Denman Island, you could definitely feel the excitement build for the adventurous weekend ahead!
The visibility in the water was incredible! At almost 20 meters it was easy to find the abundance of life that was out that night. In the shallower section we enjoyed not only the bioluminescence, but also our other regular fun friends like Graceful Kelp and Decorator Crabs, Urchins, Nudibranchs, Anemone, and so much more! As the buddy pairs slowly returned from the dive (Kevin and Lisa staying in for the whole hour!) you could see the enjoyment and anticipation for the next couple of days diving. After the dive we hung up our gear and relaxed until bed, everyone making sure to get a good nights sleep in preparation for the Sea Lions!
After a superb breakfast on the Saturday we donned our gear and boarded the Dive Boat. Whilst we didn't have the greatest weather during our stay, it made no difference to the sea conditions and there was only a small amount of surge whilst the visibility was still very nice. Our first day of Sea Lions was a nice taste for what was to come the following day. During the first dive with the Sea Lions they were a little less inquisitive, although still interactive. They love playing with fins and nibbling on anything the protrudes from your gear (Make sure to remember to take your snorkels off!). Most of all they love to show off for the camera. When diving with Sea Lions, it is a humbling experience because you really realize how cumbersome us divers are under the water compared to the incredibly graceful sea lions!
After the sea lion dive we popped back to the lodge for a quick (but again delicious) lunch and to change tanks. Then we were back out on the boat and heading to Toby Islands for a beautiful wall dive. Once again there was an abundance of life including octopus, rockfish, lingcod and some free-swimming nudibranch and some of our group took the opportunity to explore the deeper sections of the reef. A few sea lions also dropped by to say hello - still very playful from the morning dive!
After the exciting day of diving we made the most of the sauna at the lodge and settled down for dinner. Then we got ready for the evenings activities. There was the option for a second night dive or the chance to visit Island Spirits Distillery. Most of the group took up this invitiaion with enthusiasm, however Tim and Paul (the 'true' divers) went for a second night dive. Despite a slightly stronger current the vis was still spectacular and the highlight of the dive was seeing a stubby squid! After the evening events we all relaxed in the lodge and enjoyed some fun card games - Paul especially!
We woke up a little earlier on the Sunday so we could avoid being rushed to the Ferry at the end of the day. Of course another scrumptious breakfast followed by some phenominal Sea Lion diving. On the Sunday they were much more involved and very playful, to the point that when we were leaving the water to the boat, they almost followed us onto the boat. After we said goodbye to the Sea Lions, we went back to the Lodge for quick lunch followed by ourfinal dive of the weekend. The dive was at a new site near the Day beacon off Fort Cove. It was a supoerb boulder reef and was packed with Lingcod (and Lingcod egg masses), Puget Sound King Crabs, Yellow Eye Rock Fish, and the other usual suspects.
An incredible and successful weekends diving complete we all packed up and headed back to mainland Vancouver - everyone eager to see the photos and videos they took whilst there and already excited to come back to Hornby on a future Trip!