3 Routes
Highlights of the Area

Port Hardy

Along the north end of Vancouver Island is a virtual liquid Eden, otherwise known as Queen Charlotte Strait. At the south end is Johnstone Strait, home of several pods of killer whales and schools of dolphins and porpoises. Sighting killer whales from the surface in Johnstone and Queen Charlotte Straits is a common occurrence but an underwater encounter is extremely rare. The Pacific white-sided dolphins, on the other hand, are often attracted to boats that ply these waters and may circle inquisitively as you snorkel among them.

The waters off northern Vancouver Island are known for their dense profusion of invertebrate life. Walls are burdened with colonies of pink soft coral, large clumps of sponges, giant barnacles and several varieties of anemones. The basket star is a common sight as it displays its fibrous web of arms to capture small prey from the nutrient-rich waters. Most of the species of rockfish common to the coast can be found here as well as lingcod, wolfeels, warbonnets and sculpins. This area is also noted for some of the swiftest tidal exchanges in the world. At famed Nakwakto rapids the large volume of water in Seymour Inlet flushes through a very narrow opening to cause tidal currents that can exceed 20 knots! Diving here at slack tide draws you into a kaleidoscope of life and colour. Huge clusters of crimson-lipped gooseneck barnacles and brooding anemones cling tenaciously to the rocks along with giant mussels and rock scallops encrusted in coralline algae. This area is serviced by a selection of mainland or island-based lodges or live-aboard dive vessels.

Doug Pemberton.

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