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Cool Critter Sightings!

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Black Penpoint Gunnel?

Black Penpoint gunnel?
Photo and text ©2011 Georgia Arrow

We were diving Three Tree Point North and were at the trailer of the golf ball boat in about 45fsw. I spotted a very nice red Crescent Gunnel. While trying to show it to my buddy I saw a little bit of black debris sort of swim away from the area my light was spotting. It looked like nothing but it moved in an odd manner for a bit of debris so I took a closer look. I stared at it for a long time trying to decide if it was something-it was only about ¾" long and with my old eyes I just couldn't tell what it was. I figured it wouldn't hurt to take a photo or two and check it out later. Thinking I would have a nice laugh on myself later on, I started snapping pics. After 3 or 4, the "debris" moved-it was definitely swimming, not just drifting. I watched it hide behind a rock-well, a pebble. I waited and it showed itself again and I took a few more shots. The jury is still out but the consensus is that it could be a very tiny Penpoint Gunnel. No one has ever seen a black one before that we know of at least.

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Breeding Tubesnout

Photo and text ©2011 Tina Seawell

At Bruce Higgins Underwater Trails (Edmonds Underwater Park), I recently spent 30 minutes in 17 feet watching the mating Tubesnouts. Here's a photo of a breeding male tubesnout. It's not very good, but you can see the orange pelvic fin. Those little guys are fast, and they jerk when they move.

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Tidepool Snailfish

Photo and text ©2011 Paul Senness

While at our safety stop at Keystone Jetty my dive buddy Julie Cunningham found this fish nestled in the kelp stalks. I took the photos and upon exiting the water we tried to identify what it was. As this was a Whidbey Island Dive Center shop dive we had several divers who took a look at the pictures including experts Mary Jo Adams and Jan Kocian. We consulted "Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest" by Andy Lamb, but could not make a solid identification. I sent the photos off to Andy and his best guess is that it's a Tidepool Snailfish.

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Fringed Sculpin

Photo and text ©2011 Bob Brown

It was on a vertical wall at MacKenzie Bight (Victoria area), with little indentation or much growth to attract your eye, at about 80 - 85 feet. Typical Saanich Inlet dive in fairly good visability below the 20 feet of surface murk, but dark and needing a light. It was about a foot below a 10" - 12" high Glassy Tunicate which drew my attention. I was photographing the tunicate then noticed the sculpin. I'm sure I would not have seen the sculpin if it had not been for the tunicate. They were close enough that I tried to get both in the same picture.

It was very well camouflaged as you can see from the photo and blended right in. It did not move in reaction to me, my dive buddy (Dave Robichaud), my light or camera flash. It was about 5-6 inches long.

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Spinyhead Sculpin

Photo and text ©2010 Michael Johnstone II

This guy was on the deeper clay wall at Mukilteo State park in 70' of water high tide, at about 5:30pm. This puts him right in the middle of the wall on a small ledge. I actually had time to get several shots of him so I believe he was confident that his camouflage made him invisible to me. Had I not been in danger of losing my buddy, I'd have gotten some better quality pics. In all honesty, I was on the return pass of the wall & probably did swim right over him the 1st time. It appears he is covered with sand/shell fragments which leads me to believe he burrows. I cannot verify that though. His eyes gave him away.

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Mola Mola off Port Townsend
(aka Ocean Sunfish)

Photo ©2010 Richard Zade

While diving at Point Hudson in mid-November, diver Mark Peil spotted this rare visitor to the Pacific NW. He was able to not only get video (although his camera was set on macro so it's a bit blurry, but not bad!) but also get fellow diver Rich Zade's attention and Rich was able to get a nice still photo of the smiling fella. The Black and Yellowtail rockfish were very interested in the Mola Mola and followed him around.

Here's the video that Mark Peil was able to shoot.

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Blackfin Sculpin

Photo ©2010 David Jennings

Seen around 90 feet at Sund Rock in September. This species was sighted on several different dives during the week. Usually found deep in Hood Canal by trawl surveys, but not usually by divers.

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Pacific Tomcod living in tentacles of Lion's Mane Jelly

Photo and text ©2010 David Jennings

In my effort to find new species of fish at Sund Rock, I started to examine the currently abundant Lion's Mane jellyfish to see if I could find any fish hanging out in their tentacles. I found a list of possible species that others had detected, so I went to take a look for myself to see what I could detect. On the two Lion's mane jellies that I looked at, each had a single individual fish hanging out.

I got a few pics, a couple of which were decent. It appears that, much to my surprise, the fish associated with the jellies were Pacific Tomcod.

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Adult Yelloweye Rockfish in Hood Canal

Photo and text ©2010 Janna Nichols

Mark Peil was diving in central Hood Canal in August and spotted a fish that divers rarely get to see in its adult form - a Yelloweye Rockfish. These fish normally live very deep, and unless you're a tech diver, your chances of seeing an adult are slim. (Juveniles are found about 70 feet and deeper). Yelloweye are also on the Endangered Species List, having been heavily fished until the populations crashed.

Mark swam with it for some time, and got this video. The following week he took me out to the spot, and there it was, hiding under some large boulders! We went back the following week, but didn't see it. :(

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Longnose Skate

Photo and text ©2010 Mary Kelly

Octopus count Sunday morning January 17th, dive buddy Karlista Rickerson and I were diving Tramp Harbor on Vashon Island. We go there a lot and usually find something interesting - big or small. We were near the fishing pier in about 25 feet of water looking at the assortment of squid jigs and nudibranchs when she spotted this Longnose Skate laying on the bottom. I managed to take several pictures, each one closer when I noticed the intriguing shape of the eyes and pupils. The creature allowed me to get within a couple of feet and snap this picture. We left it alone after watching it for a bit and finished our dive. It was yet another great day underwater in the Pacific Northwest!

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Adult Pacific Cod

Photo ©2010 by Pete Naylor and text ©2010 by Dana Michaels

On Jan. 9th, 2010, I did my first night dive at Redondo Beach. Three of us headed down the large rope line that heads roughly southwest off the HCC pier. At roughly 75ft (it was a very low tide) we came upon the statues and boat that has the carousel horse in it. I knew GPO's like to hide under boats so of course I looked under it. What I saw was new and exciting to me. All I was able to make out was the bottom half of a large silvery fish with a big eye and a single barbel. I was very excited about my discovery, so the next day I rounded up a local fish ID expert - Pete Naylor. He was able to bring along his camera and snap the photo you see. He quickly ID'd it as a Pacific Cod. When I told Janna Nichols about my discovery, she stated that it was a rare find and possibly was a female laying eggs. Two weeks later, I dove there again but the Cod was gone.

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