Browning Wall in Browning Passage, Port Hardy, British Columbia

Location: Magical scuba diving on Browning Wall
It’s lovely to be back in British Columbia.  Scuba diving with mantas and dolphins at Socorro Island and submersible cage diving with great white sharks at Guadalupe Island is fantastic.   But we started running cold water liveaboard dive charters in B.C. eighteen years ago and it is a wonderful feeling to be back “home” even if it is only for 3 months this summer..   In-water visibility was surprisingly low on the last trip  –  we dove the Stubbs Island area, Browning Passage, Dillon Rock, Quatsino Sound, Kuyuquot, Tahsis Inlet and Barkley Sound in marginal vis before finally finding clear water around Race Rocks and Victoria on the last day of the charter!!  That’s very unusual as we usually find wide open vis at one site and then perhaps a plankton bloom at another site before getting back in great visibility when we move on.
This trip was different.  Pearse Island closeby Stubbs Island was wide open vis.  yahhyyyy.   Lucan Chute in Browning Pass was wide open at 40 feet vis.  yahhyyy again.    7 Tree and Snowfall were not so great with 10 – 15 foot vis.  And then it was my turn to divemaster the next splash at world famous Browning Wall.   World famous???  Yup, this is the dive site that was voted #1 in North America 3 years in a row in Rodale’s Diving.    I wasn’t sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised when I jumped in and looked around and realized that the vis was at leat 25 feet..   And what a beautiful site to look around at.  I had forgotten just how magical and beautiful Browning Wall is. Started the dive cruising along at 70 feet past towering walls of giant billowing white plumose anemones  (metridium) and soon found ourselves on the so-called red wall.  “red wall” because of huge sheets of red soft coral 40 feet high and covering every inch of available rock.  Couple that with schools of juvenile rockfish hanging just off the wall and fill in the colour palate with huge yellow sponge, brilliantly coloured anemones, basket stars, tunicates and hydroids and finally mix in loads of nudibranchs and crabs and it was quite a site  (sorry, bad pun).   Sometimes I forget just how much I love diving –  today was a clear reminder of how wonderful it is to jump in the water and how privileged we are to be able to visit another world and forget about our topside lives for 60 minutes at a time.  Finished the dive off with a very extended safety stop in the intertidal zone.   The intertidal zone  (surface to 30 feet) may well be the very best part of Browning Wall.  It’s certainly stunningly beautiful.  Just imagine poking through kelp  (sort of liking walking through a coastal rain forest) and finding “garden” after “garden” of brilliant white anemones reflecting the sunshine mixed up with bright orange sea cucumbers  (the kind that look like basket stars), green surf dwelling anemones (which are actually white but look green), red soft coral, orange cup coral and so on.   I could easily have spent a long time relaxing and watching all the little crabs and gobies and sculpins in my “garden” but regretably, my hour was up and it was time to head to the surface.   I love cold-water scuba diving!!!!!   Captain Mike
Weather: Hot, sunny, flat calm, 30 C air temp.  The weather feels like the end of July.
Water: Variable visibility depending on the dive site and depth;   10 – 40 foot vis.   Water temp 46 F.

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Paul Kreply
June 06, 2009 at 04:06 PM

Welcome back to diving in beautiful British Columbia. That was a great report for Browning Wall. Thanks for posting and have a great summer!

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