3 Routes
Highlights of the Area

West Coast Vancouver Island

Barkley Sound on the exposed west coast of Vancouver Island is at the focal point of dive opportunities in the area. The Pacific Rim National Park adjacent to Barkley Sound is one of the most spectacular parks in Canada, renown for its fine sandy beaches that stretch for miles and lush rain forests of towering spruce and cedar. Sprinkled throughout Barkley Sound is the Broken Group, a series of islands and shallow reefs which support a profusion of marine life. Wolfeels, octopus, several species of rockfish including china rockfish and vermilion rockfish, and huge ling cod inhabit this rich area. The nutrient-rich waters also host a fantastic variety of invertebrates such as purple-ringed top snails, usually found grazing on clumps of lacy bryozoans, brightly-coloured tube worms, finger sponges, large fish-eating anemones and many species of nudibranchs. Barkley Sound is also famous as being the other area in B.C. where the six-gill shark has been seen by divers.

Weather conditions and fog can be unpredictable in this area and have accounted for hundreds of shipwrecks over the last two centuries. Not much remains of the old wooden sailing ships but steel ships that have gone down in the past 60 years such as the Vanlene and the Thiepval, now coated with a luxuriant growth of life, attract many wreck enthusiasts. Other areas accessed by liveaboard charter operators periodically include Clayoquot Sound, Nootka Sound, Kyuquot and Cape Scott. The west coast of Vancouver Island is a prime whale watching area during the annual migration of the grey whale.

Doug Pemberton.

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