3 Routes
Highlights of the Area

Southern Vancouver Island

Forty kilometers (24 miles) across the Strait of Georgia, off the south coast of B.C., and easily accessible by air or by ferry from Vancouver or Washington state, lies Vancouver Island. The city of Victoria at the south end of Vancouver Island is the provincial capital and overlooks Juan de Fuca Strait, which joins Georgia Strait to the open Pacific. The intermingling of currents in this area supports a great diversity of marine life. Good shore diving opportunities with easy access can be found at several areas such as the Ogden Point breakwater or Ten Mile Point. Large ling cod can be found lurking in rocky crevices while a variety of rockfish patrol over clusters of large white plumose anemones. The rocky bottom is home to feathery-armed burrowing sea cucumbers, several species of nudibranchs and a variety of seastars. In some areas, the bottom comes alive when dozens of swimming scallops dart off in all directions like colorful sets of chattering false teeth.

One of the most exciting dive sites in the area is Race Rocks, which is only accessible by boat. Here, swift currents feed a bounty of multi-hued invertebrate life, such as giant barnacles, basket stars, brooding anemones and pink hydrocoral. The thick kelp forests are home to juvenile rockfish and provide a food source for grazing urchins. During the fall, these rocks become occupied by several hundred California and Stellar sea lions that seem to enjoy performing their underwater antics for visiting divers.

Besides the excellent diving in the area, the city of Victoria also offers many opportunities for exploration and shopping. Donít miss the B.C. Provincial Museum, high tea at the Empress Hotel, or the Butchart Gardens.

A major attraction, near the town of Sidney, 21km (14 miles) north of Victoria, is a project of the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia (ARSBC), the HMCS Mackenzie. This 110 meter (366 foot) destroyer escort has been made diver accessible and diver safe for properly trained wreck divers. Nearby, at Portland Island, lies the first project of ARSBC, the 57 meter (175 feet) G.B. Church. Several dive charter operators service this area and now penetration dives can be made by any certified diver.

Doug Pemberton

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