Hello everyone and welcome to the first installment of Diver Dan’s “Diving Around the Sound” articles. First of all, I’ll tell you a little about myself and how I became such an avid diver. Being from Florida, I grew up fishing, surfing, boating, basically doing anything on the water. For years I spent the weekends offshore fishing Jacksonville and I always wondered what the ocean looked like a hundred feet below me. I was curious as to what kind of creatures and wonders lay beneath my feet.
When I was fourteen, I convinced my father to get SCUBA certified with me. Since then, I have logged over 500 dives in places like the Florida Keys, various Florida freshwater springs, Newfoundland, the Great Lakes, Costa Rica, the Bahamas, Cay Sal Bank, the Gulf of Mexico, and now Puget Sound. I cannot say which dive site is my favorite as all are unique and have totally different things to see. One thing is for certain, what we have here in Puget Sound is a real treasure and I implore anyone with an adventurous spirit to get into diving.
Diver Dan getting ready to go for a dive in Puget Sound
Diving Keystone Underwater Park
My first post will focus on a dive site just a short drive from the Seattle Metro area on Whidbey Island called Keystone Underwater Park. Keystone Underwater Park consists of two main dive areas. One area is the old wharf and the other is the rock jetty and both are easily accessible from the shore. This is another wonderful thing about diving Puget Sound; a boat is not necessary! Just pull your car up within 25 feet of shore, put your dive gear on, and jump in.
Welcome to the wild aquarium of Puget Sound, where sea stars and sea anemones await
What to Expect
To start the dive, begin at the old wharf and make your way over to the jetty. The pier maxes out at a depth of 25 feet so it is shallow and inviting to divers of all skill levels. When diving the pier, you can casually float through the pilings and examine all of the different critters that have made the old pilings their home. Various species of crab, barnacles, soft corals, and anemones call the old wharf their home. At the end of the wharf on the deeper side, schooling rockfish can be seen among the bull kelp in the summer. When they are present, I love to lie on my back and observe the rockfish with the sun shining through the water, something you may want to try.
Once you have fully explored the old wharf, there is a rope that will lead you from the southwest corner of the wharf all the way to the jetty. The swim takes about five minutes to get to the jetty so keep a look out for sculpins and flounder that try to camouflage themselves in the sea bottom. The jetty can get to a max depth of 55 feet so it is a bit more advanced than the wharf.
A giant Lingcod in action--these guys can get to be up to 5 or 6 ft in length
Check out the Creatures
The rock jetty is a perfect place to see behemoth Lingcod and one of Puget Sound’s most sought after critters, the Giant Pacific Octopus. Be sure to take your time and examine every nook and cranny of the jetty for these amazing creatures. If you come face to face with an ugly grey, elongated fish looking thing, don’t be alarmed, you’ve just come across a Wolf Eel! Wolf Eels may be ugly and menacing looking, but they are gentle (not if you’re a mussel however) and are very photogenic.
Sea stars come in all shapes and sizes--this one is particularly large!
As you make your way along the jetty it’s probably time to go back to shore as you’re probably running low on air. On your way back, swim further away from the jetty and marvel at the different colors of anemones, sea stars, and soft corals. When you get back to shore, there is a hot shower in the bathrooms located just a short walk away. This is especially nice if you dive in a wetsuit.
Things To Know:
- Keystone Park is a state park so you should have a Discover Pass, available for purchase online.
- Be aware that there is no diving after dusk without a permit so plan ahead if you want to do a night dive.
- You can get to Keystone Underwater Park by either going through Anacortes and over, the very scenic, Deception Pass or the more direct route by taking the ferry from Mukilteo over to Whidbey Island.
If you are not SCUBA certified and would like to learn more, there are many local dive shops around the Seattle area that offer beginning SCUBA classes. Because I dive around the Mukilteo area a lot, I like to use Evergreen Dive Service http://everdive.com/. Chad, the owner, is very knowledgeable and can point you in the right direction. Not sold yet on this diving thing? Consider attending the next monthly meeting of the Moss Bay Dive Club in Kirkland. We meet on the first Tuesday of every month at the Wilde Rover Pub in Kirkland and we would love to have you join us. http://www.meetup.com/MossBayDiveClub/
A fish hiding behind his piece of algae, attempting to blend in
Well folks, this concludes the first article of Diver Dan’s “Diving Around the Sound”. If you have any questions, comment below and I will be happy to answer!
Head on out Around Puget Sound...and Beyond