FINS IN THE FJORD
HOOD CANAL, Washington Big breath. Spsssss-hrrurrrr. Then bam into the 46-degree water. Cold sears my cheekbones and forehead, tries to worm under my cuffs. I descend the anchor line with Don Coleman, one of Pacific Adventure's owners.
Northwest diving is like a game arcade: stimulus, everywhere, at once. Equalize pressure in the sinuses, deflate the vest (BCD), pump air into the drysuit, don't shiver and before the battleship sinks entirely check out that copper rockfish!
Sea stars splay along the bottom. Some have that classic configuration, ready to top a Christmas tree. Others, of the sunflower variety, drape two dozen spaghetti-soft limbs over the rocks. Greedy eaters, they devour urchins, bivalves and even dead fish, capturing prey with over 15,000 sucker feet.
Sponge, kelp and invertebrates patchwork the reef: a maroon, mottled effect. The look's so good, the decorator crabs had to have it. They dress in algae and tiny seaweeds swapping these live accessories from shell to shell as they grow.
White and orange plumose anemones flutter like small mushroom clouds. My wake bounces a sea cucumber off its perch, plump body writhing in Matrix slo-mo. Don shepherds it home.
Want to read more? Of course. Buy the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Thursday, March 22.
(Yes, you could catch it online here, but you'd miss the wide-screen drama of Scott Boyd's bloody gorgeous photos. And for anyone in the greater Seattle area, that would be wrong, WRONG, I say. Diehards can also order copies for the next ten weeks from 206.464.2001).