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Blakely Rock Reef
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Topography: Rocky reef strewn with small walls, ledges, and boulders.
Puget Sound marine life rating: 4
Puget Sound structure rating: 3
Diving Depth: 75 feet
Highlight: Frequent wolfeel and giant Pacific octopus sightings. Wide variety of colorful invertebrate species, including huge sea lemon nudibranchs.
Skill level: Intermediate
GPS coordinates: N47° 35.682’ W122° 28.684’
The view west from the dive site. At least twice as much area is exposed at low tide. The southeast shoreline of Bainbridge Island is in the background.
©2008 Keith Clements, All Rights Reserved
Access by boat: Blakely Rock prominently stands east of Blakely Harbor. The rock is readily visible at high tide and sports a large black and white navigational marker. This dive site is located on the east side of Blakely Rock and is occasionally marked with a buoy. The GPS coordinates listed above were taken while anchored at the buoy. I anchor at the coordinates when the buoy is not in place.
Shore access: None
Dive profile: This is not a deep dive, but it can be current intensive. Most of the interesting structure that is between 45 and 60 feet.
The anchor block for the marker buoy is located in about 35 feet of water in the midst of rocky structure. I descend the anchor line and follow the rocky faces downslope to the east until I reach about 50 feet. I then hold my depth and follow the structure north where I quickly come to a more defined 5-10 foot tall wall laden with a large fissure. I find this wall the most prolific part of this dive site and the best opportunity for spotting wolfeels. The wall eventually becomes shallower to the north, although rocky features cascade downslope from the wall to about 60 or 70 feet. Less dramatic rock structure extends to the southwest of the anchorage and eventually fades out in about 60 feet of water. Boulders and other rock formations continue downslope to as deep as 80 feet in places along the southern reaches.
I make a mental note of a few distinctive physical features when I initially get to 50 feet of depth so I have a good idea of where to reacquire my ascent line at the end of my dive. If I can’t find the line, I head west into shallow water where I perform my safety stop. Areas of the reef gets slightly deeper to the west before getting shallower.
My preferred gas mix: EAN 38
Current Station: Admiralty Inlet
Noted Slack Corrections: None
This is a current intensive site. I only dive here on light exchange days when the maximum flood is less than 1.0 knot at Admiralty Inlet. Flooding current affects this site more than ebbing current. I have done several dives on light floods (maximum current less than 0.8 knots at Admiralty Inlet) at predicted slack and encountered very little current the entire dive. I have also done dives on moderate exchanges and encountered heavy current the entire dive, even at slack.
·Don Armini boat ramp (West Seattle). Approximately 5 miles from the dive site.
· Current: Strong current off-slack and at slack during moderate and heavy exchanges.
· Exposure: The east side of Blakely Rock is very exposed to wind. Surface conditions can deteriorate very quickly.
· Boat traffic: Moderate boat traffic, especially during boating season. Sailboat regattas sometimes use Blakely Rock as a
· Fishing boats: Salmon and bottom fisherman occasionally work this general area.
· Snagging hazards: Discarded fishing gear existing throughout this site, including fishing hooks, monofilament fishing line, and
some small derelict fishing nets.
Marine life: A rocky reef and stiff current are two key ingredients needed for creating a marine life haven - and this site has both.
This site is a good bet for finding wolfeels and giant Pacific octopus. I have the most success finding wolfeels in the long, narrow fissure along the northern wall. I sometimes find large giant Pacific octopus sharing this fissure with wolfeels. Octopus also establish dens under many of the boulders in deeper water on the southern section of the reef.
Copper, quillback, and brown rockfish all thrive throughout this area. Painted greenling, kelp greenling, small lingcod, and perch are abundant. Careful observation may yield a grunt sculpin, red Irish lord, buffalo sculpin, longfin sculpin, or warbonnet.
Invertebrate life flourishes on the hard and rocky reef structure. Large glass tunicates, huge sea lemon nudibranchs, and orange spotted nudibranchs are but a few of the spineless inhabitants. Sections of the reef are covered in colonies of beautiful zonathids. Broadleaf kelp grows thick during spring and summer over large sections of the reef, particularly in shallow areas.
Blakely Rock serves as a refuge for a number of harbor seals. Curiosity occasionally gets the better of one of these shy mammals and it will come over to investigate a bubble blowing diver. I often see groups of seals sunning themselves on the north or west side of Blakely Rock on warm days.