The Ratfish of Dillon Rock

Location: Dillon Rock in Shushartie Bay, Port Hardy, British Columbia

Yaayyhhh Shushartie Bay! It’s such a great place to visit. We are usually able to observe lots of black bears on the beach, the shore hiking is great (unless you run into a black bear!) and the kayaking is excellent. Dillon Rock is a famous dive site and is a pinnacle that barely breaks the surface at the entrance to Shushartie Bay. Regardless of the visibility, it is always a crowd-pleasing dive with lots of wolf eels (7 at last count), lots of giant Pacific octopus (gpd’s to use the local vernacular), a beautiful kelp forest, rare vermillion rock fish and loads of ratfish swimming around on the flats just off the rock.

I’ve always had a special fascination with ratfish. They are an ancient fish, likely unchanged for millions of years, and part of the “shark family.” Most people are unaware that they are the most venomous fish in the North Pacific. The males have evolved with their sexual organ in a very unusual place – the middle of their “forehead”! I’ve experienced very unusual behaviour with them during night dives in which the ratfish swim up and “headbutt” themselves against my chest. I prefer to think that behaviour has nothing to do with the position of their sexual organ!!

–Captain Mike


Weather: Overcast with light rain showers, west winds 10 knots, flat calm in our anchorage, air temperature in the mid-60’s.

Water: 10ft visibility in a surface plankton bloom, clear but dark underneath, water temperature 48 °F.

By Nautilus Staff

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