Brilliant life under the sea near Chemainus

Brilliant life under the sea near Chemainus

New Year’s Day dive to the barges brings delightful discoveries


Chemainus Valley Courier

Gordon Bell and Kathleen Fenner had a 65-minute dive in Chemainus by Hospital Point to the barge on New Years Day.

“We were pleased with the visibility and I had the camera with me,” noted Fenner.

Following are some of her observations for a greater appreciation of the undersea world nearby.


Studdly is the name we have given to this male Scalyhead Sculpin. This is a small species of fish, maximum of four inches, where the males guard the eggs. Last year we witnessed Studdly twice with females. Each female will lay eggs that have a bit of a different colour hue to them. We watched the number of eggs clutches increase from only one clutch (he had a female with him when we first saw him with only one clutch) until later in the season when we counted 10 different colours of egg clutches.

Studdly on New Year’s Day was looking to seduce some more females of his species. After looking at me, he sort of hid in his shell where he has two egg clutches and obviously was not interested in me. He is a fish with a purpose and obviously good at what he does.


Vibrant colour covers the ocean floor in Chemainus. Starting in about 35 feet of water and half way between Kin Beach and Hospital Point, you come upon a beautiful anemone field. Some of these anenomes get to be close to three feet tall. We are lucky in Chemainus to have such a mix of the white and vibrant orange. Our normal experience has been to find predominantly one colour or the other, but in Chemainus waters we have a bright mix of colour.

Northern Kelp Crab

These small crabs are numerous in the shallows. They can easily be spotted on the rocks at hospital point.

White lined Dirona

This is one of our beautiful sea slugs in Chemainus, a White lines Dirona. When you dive, you learn that slugs can be quite beautiful. We have a huge selection of nudibranches, sea slugs, that make the Chemainus waters their home.

Under the Barge

Colours and life abound both on the topside of the sunken barge and the underside! You can see plumose anenomes, northern feather duster worms, as well as other invertebrates.

Anemone field

Getting to the sunken barges requires some underwater navigation. On our underwater swim to the barges we always go through the anemone fields. It’s nice to see the beautiful colours that resemble flowers.


Brilliant life under the sea near Chemainus