I plunge into the cold, green waters of the BC coast and the fast currents immediately pick me up and take me on a wild ride. All of a sudden I become a member of the vast planktonic community that calls the Salish Sea, home.
While on assignment for National Geographic offshore British Columbia, we had the chance to get in the warm, blue waters of the Kuroschio current with as many as 30 blue sharks. They are fairly common and very curious so any time we stopped to fish they gathered around us. They are electric blue, very sleek and curious and a little bitty( they explore the world with their teeth). It was amazing swimming with them on this sunny day.
Steeler sea lion
This pup looks small, but that is just an illusion. Photographing Steller sea lions, which are much larger than California sea lions, is like entering a rollercoaster of playful teeth and acrobatic stunts. We love diving with the large colonies of these sea lions that arrive on the coasts of the Salish Sea in the fall. The green sea urchins on the bottom are part of an imbalance in the ecosystem that is destroying the kelp forests that once were abundant here. With renewed determination, we will continue working to protect these wild creatures and their wild homes.
While starfish are dying of a wasting disease just south of the border in Puget Sound, they are still thriving here in British Columbia. With their beautiful purple hues, they grace the intertidal area right in front of my home.
Every fall they return from the open sea, arriving on the creeks and streams of the Salish Sea and the Great Bear Sea in great big pulses. Their arrival is reason for celebration as the salmon feed the bears, the wolves and the people.
One of the things I love the most about diving in the Salish Sea, is that every square inch of the ocean floor is covered in life. Encrusting sponges cover the rocks and the exquisite leather starfish mingle with each other.
At 60 feet, most of the light disappears, so it is always a joy to encounter the bright tentacles of a pink anemone as it swings in the emerald waters of the Salish Sea.
One of the greatest thrills of my life has been to share the adventure with my partner, Paul Nicklen. For years I heard him tell the story of his encounter with a leopard seal in the Antarctic. This year we went together on assignment for National Geographic and he shared with me his favorite leopard seal spots.
Day after day we got into our snorkeling gear to intercept the large flocks of Adelie penguins returning to Steeple Jason island from the sea. Curious but shy, they eluded us in the cold, dark waters of the Falklands archipelago. Whenever we got a glimpse, it was like being in the middle of an underwater ballet.