Last week we met with Josh who works for Puget Sound Restoration Fund. He is involved in hatchery efforts to raise juvenile abalone for outplanting. Josh and Dr. Dinnel discussed how they wanted prioritize the diving for this summer. They both seemed to think it was a good idea to focus on a few sites (instead of all six) to achieve repetitive surveys. Josh also taught Anne B. and I a few things about abalone. We start the abalone surveys this week!
We have been doing a variety of training dives. Last week Anne B. and I went on a snorkel so we could get a feel for the Straights. Nate also took us off Shannon Pt. beach as a checkup dive. On this dive we went to the salt water intake pipes to check on the CTD mooring.
Later in the week we practiced rescue diver skills in Rosario Bay in Deception Pass State Park.
We have been learning about the importance of tidal planning. Even with careful planning there is still a high degree of variability in the straights of the San Juan’s. Nate told us that tidal currents are often localized and factors like atmospheric pressure may affect the predicted exchange times. This local variation was very clear on our first boat dive. We jumped in next to a kelp forest off a rock wall along Burrows Island. There was a prominent current going one way and strong eddies close by that would take you the opposite direction. Staying oriented in visibility less than 5 feet and in dynamic current took focus and was also a lot of fun! Nate had us answer some questions at depth to see how we think underwater and then handed us a dive slate that said something like, “let’s see where this current takes us, stay together.” Even in poor viability there was so much to see including rock fish and a small (unidentified) fish that tried to clean Anne B. and my neopreme gloves.