Ogden Point FreediveFri 07 July 2017 by Tom Lightfoot
It had been years since I last dove Victoria's Ogden Point breakwater. Growing up there, the breakwater was the default option when we couldn't think of any place better to go. Now that I'm living on the mainland, it has become a destination. The fringing kelp forest and attendant diversity of marine life is something that we just don't get on the other side of the strait.
Getting over to Victoria without a car is a bit of a challenge but it can be done with a bit of planning and patience. It is defintely easier on a week day when the buses and ferries aren't so busy. With scuba equipment this would be impossible but I can pack most of my freedive gear into a duffel bag, wear the weight belt around my waist and carry the long blades in my hand. Hiking up to the bus isn't too bad and the bus/skytrain ride isn't too bad either, especially if I can stuff my gear under my seat.
Fortunately for me, my former Vancouver dive buddy, Jaime has moved to Victoria and has Wednesdays off, so our schedules fit perfectly. She was able to pick me up at the ferry terminal so that we could get out there together and chat along the way.
Jaime revealed that the Ogden Point dive shop is now closed. One of the perks of freediving the breakwater was the opportunity to have a hot coin-operated post-dive shower and change in the dive shop. Alas, we would have to resort to either a jug of hot tap water or a rinse in the ocean.
The dive itself was great. It was a sunny summer day so we had lots of light, the water was calm and the visibility was good. We got in at the second bend and basically stayed there.
One thing we noticed though was that the usual schools of juvenile rockfish that we would normally see hanging out under the canopy of bull kelp were nowhere to be found. We didn't find much in the way of fish until we got down to 18m or deeper. Jaime surmised that the fish were scared off by the noise of the whaling boats that were returning to the Victoria harbour. All of the whale watching boats made it pretty noisy underwater. All I can say is that I would hate to be a whale in these waters.
As we got colder and more tired, we found ourselves diving more in the kelp forest. This is frankly the best part of diving the breakwater. I love to go under the kelp canopy, hold on to a bunch of stems and take in the moment, watching the amber sunbeams and the little fishies hanging out in the shade. We would have happily stayed longer but hypothermia was setting in.
A huge thank you to Jaime for picking me up at the ferry and being my dive buddy for the day.
Here is a video of what it looks like to swim through the kelp forest:
Below are the photos of the day: