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Sponge Hill

(quicklinks)

- by Nicolle Pratt (Dive date: August 2003)

Imagine descending down your anchor line, and descending, and descending. Although visibility is good this day, you still lose all ambient light after 30' in our cold waters. The water is black and still you continue to descend. It is absolutely silent, not another boat on the water. It is eerily foggy topside and you still descend in a long single file with your lights slicing through the water having little effect on the vastness. And finally, after what seems like a long slow journey, you start to see something below. You check your depth gauge. It reads 120'...you have less than 10 minutes remaining.

The Dive Site: This is a very deep pinnacle starting at about 110' at its highest point. It is very rocky and irregular dropping off quickly into much deeper water. The abundant life on the formation: Cloud Sponge, thus the name of the dive site. It is very deep and in my opinion, cannot be truly explored or appreciated as a recreational diver.

Sea Life: As this site is deep, I wasn't able to explore as much of it as I wanted. I did spot a couple Lingcods and a few rockfish. There were a number of Coonstriped Shrimp and Decorator Crabs strewn amongst the Cloud Sponge, which was the most abundant life on the site. There were large formations of both live and dead sponge, some intermixing with one another. Cloud Sponge will range in color from white to orange. Most of the sponge I have seen and photographed in Hood Canal are a milky white. Cloud Sponge belong to the Glass Sponge family which are typically deep-water sponges. This family of sponges gets its name, because these sponges are not soft like your kitchen sponge. The support structure (the skeleton) of the sponge is made of silica, a hard glasslike substance that can cut easily through dive gloves and be irritating to the skin...so no touchy!

As with Flag Pole Point East, Bryan encountered a Six Gill Shark at this site on a previous dive when I was out of town! And to add insult to injury, the day before this dive Gunter and crew encountered a 12+' Six Gill Shark. So gearing up for this dive, I had camera ready. I was hoping to not only have my first Six Gill Shark encounter, but I, unlike my dive buddies, had a camera and was going to document it! Alas, it was not to be. Apparently there was a 6-7' Six Gill on the site as we were descending and our lights spooked it before I had a chance to see it. It's a conspiracy I say, a conspiracy!

Until then...this is as close as I got.

Important Dive Site Notes: This site is a deep underwater pinnacle only accessible by boat located in the middle of the canal.

Current: As with many dive sites in Hood Canal, this dive site is not current intensive.

Caution/hazards: This is a very deep site starting at 110' at its highest point. It is a pinnacle located directly in the middle of the canal with deep water on all sides. This makes it hard to anchor on and there is a potential that the anchor could slip and not catch again resulting in stranded divers and a lost boat. This site is not recommended for inexperienced divers. Deep diver training (at a minimum) and appropriate equipment are essential. This dive site would likely be more enjoyed by technical divers with deeper depth and greater bottom time limits.
 
Directions:
The pinnacle sits directly in the middle of the canal South of the Pulali Point dive sites and North of Triton Cove. You will not readily find this site listed on Northwest dive books.
 
Nicolle's personal note: This site is a tease because of its depth, but one that has made me start to consider expanding my dive training to include technical training. Although at this point in my dive training any dives there for me will be short, I welcome returning as long as I am the first one down the line with my little pen light. I doubt its tiny beam would scare off a Six Gill Shark!

 

Nicolle Pratt
(503) 287-5328
Portland, Oregon
nicolle@pnwscuba.com