Powell River is a travel destination for many SCUBA divers and recently I had an opportunity to see for myself. It turned out to be an amazing dive.
I caught the 7:20 ferry from Horseshoe Bay. Two ferry rides and less than four hours later I was suiting up at Mermaid Cove. It's located located about 30 minutes south of Powell River, in Saltery Bay Provincial Park, just a kilometer from the ferry landing.
This park is the first (provincial or state) park that I have seen to sport a dive flag on the road sign. They put in change rooms and rinse showers for divers. Best of all, they have a wheelchair ramp for disabled divers. Getting in and out of the water was really easy.
There is a buoy about 50 meters from the entry point and I swam out to it before dropping. Looking down just before dropping, I noted that I could still see the bottom. I thought that is must be shallow but still the vis seemed great. It was not until I stopped my descent, a couple of feet from the bottom, that I realized how good the vis was. Both my computers read 45 fsw!
Looking around, the first thing I spotted was the Mermaid about 5 or 8 meters away to the East. It's a beautiful sculpture about two meters tall. After taking several pictures of the mermaid I started swimming towards deeper water.
I discovered a bottom made up of mostly smooth, hard rock with several walls and terraces leading down to well over 100 fsw.
The rock was covered in all sorts of invertebrates, many entirely new to me. There I found many huge Boot Sponges and Feather Stars, Decorator Crabs, Sea Pens, Crimson Anemones, Slender Shrimp, and more.
The site is reported to have lots of GPOs but I did not see any nor any likely crevices or crab shell midden. Perhaps the terrain changed beyond the area that I explored before turning my dive.
As soon as I turned my dive at 105 fsw, I realized that although I had descended a series of terraces, the way back up started with a 50 foot wall.
Just when I peaked over the top of the wall, something caught my eye. Two huge marine mammals were scooting along at fairly high speed, one behind the other. They passed about 20 feet from me, a little shallower and closer to shore. They did not stop for me but swiveled their heads, giving me a look over, continuing on without pausing. Each was bigger than my living room chesterfield. Very exciting. Not sure I wanted them to stop and come to play. Perhaps these were Stellar Sea Lions. Unfortunately my camera was set up for macro-only and I could not get a photo. Maybe next time.
Closer to my safety stop, I encountered a photographic treasure trove. Imagine hundreds, maybe thousands of Hooded Nudibranchs all within a few meters of each other in a kelp bed. I really enjoyed the challenge of trying to find a clear and interesting shot of these alien-like creatures.
I am sure that I could dive this site 50 times without exhausting the opportunities to discover beautiful creatures and terrain. I will certainly go back.