5 Creatures You May Meet Under the Sea
“ Look at the world around you, Such wonderful things surround you, What more are you lookin’ for?” said the crab from Little Mermaid.
While admittedly we aren’t ones to take advice from crustaceans, there is truth in what the little guy was saying. It really is a different world beneath the Discovery Passage and the surrounding area. Healthy tidal exchanges make the Discovery Passage, a nutrient-rich waterway, making an ideal home for all kinds of diverse and colourful critters, some of which will scare and thrill you.
Get those wetsuits out, take note and start planning your checklist, here are 5 different creatures you might see if you come diving in our waters.
These are a favourite to see, with their uncanny resemblance to the grumpy old men from the muppets, you’d think they’d tell bad jokes at your expense. Wolf Eels are usually found in rocky crevices, caves and reefs, growing to be about up to 2.4m long and weighing in at about 18 kg with a life expectancy of about 25 years. Wolf Eels diets are serious fare, feeding on hard-shelled animals like snails, clams, crabs and sea urchins.
It is thought that wolf eels mate for life and are attentive to their young, with both the male and the females wrapping their bodies around the egg mass, taking turns going out to hunt. When you encounter one of these deep-sea creatures they can’t be missed.
Giant Pacific Octopus
These are the largest of any octopus specimen and average 16 ft long and weigh over 100 lbs. They have a relatively short lifespan living an average of four years. They primarily hunt at night preying on crabs, lobsters, clams and even occasionally attacking birds and sharks! Octopi are very intelligent creatures it is thought that they can actually recognize faces! In lab tests, they have made their way through mazes, opened jars and even mimicked the behaviour of other octopuses. If you want to hear some entertaining stories about these creatures and their natural mischievous nature, pop into the Discovery Passage Aquarium when they reopen.
Cabezon is a species of fish that live in our waters they are a species of sculpin. These fish are easily identified by their dorsal fins. Cabezon is usually found at around 200m and reside in rocky and muddy bottoms as well as occasionally kelp beds. These fish prey on crustaceans mollusks and fish eggs. A good spot to see cabezon are at the wreck of the HMCS Columbia. Fun Fish Fact: Cabezon eggs are toxic… who knew?!
There are over 30 species of sea stars that live on the Pacific north coast of North America. One of the most frequently sighted ones in our waters is the Ochre Seastar; usually purple in colour and can be sighted in intertidal zones, these stars are scavengers, but at times have high-end tastes, feeding on mussels and barnacle beds. The second most sighted sea star is the “blood star”, found in intertidal zones these feed mainly on sponges. The third and perhaps most fascinating starfish that call our waters home, is the sunflower star, this is the largest type of sea star and usually has up to 20 arms. They are also extremely flexible which makes them quite fast moving 1 meter per minute. Sea Star populations in the area have been targeted by disease over the last few years and many populations along the coast have been devastated, however, populations such as the Ochre sea stars have started to rebound strongly. You can see these at low tide along the beaches and clinging to the pylons of the argonaut wharf and Discovery Pier. If you do see these colourful creatures, please do not pick them up, respect their bubble and keep exploring.
There is a number of anemones that live in the waters beneath the Discovery Passage, that can be seen in multiple areas in the passage. Giant plumose anemones can also be found at Argonaut Wharf, these incredible anemones can reach up to 1m in height! Fun fact: these species are colonists and are usually found in large groups.
While under the sea you have an array of colours and variety, you can view these creatures in the tide pools on the Miracle Beach. Green burrowing anemones are often found in the sand or on rocky outcrops, surviving on a diet of crabs and other small creatures that venture too close to their tentacles.