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Port Hardy, Vancouver Island, Canada. September 2011

Candy Striped Shrimp

At the start of September I clocked up the air miles, by zipping straight from the Maldives to Vancouver Island in Canada. I thought I was going to have to miss out on a trip to Canada in 2011, and then I spotted a gap between my Maldives and Indonesia trips and decided I had to go. The jetlag was pretty tough going Maldives, UK, Vancouver, UK, Indonesia. But in Canada I got my reward. I love the diving there and I was blessed with stunning weather (no rain) and my most photographically productive trip yet to this destination. In the Maldives I was diving in just a pair of shorts and a single KG of lead. Canada was rather different I was wearing much more insulation (thanks Fourth Element) and using close to 20kg to sink me. I travelled with Peter Rowlands and joined up with old buddies and excellent underwater photographers Todd Mintz, Rand McMeins and Jamie Morphy. Team Orange as we're also known (don't ask).

We started the trip down in Victoria and did a day of diving out at Race Rocks with the impressive male steller sealions. They grow to 3m in length and can weight a ton and they are incredibly fast and agile in the water. But were very friendly during our visit. The females had not returned yet, so the males weren't too pumped up with hormones. We dived with Ogden Point Dive Centre, who treated us really well.

Then it was time for the main course after the long drive up to Port Hardy in the north of Vancouver Island. We were once again on the liveaboard Mamro with Capt Dan Ferris, and has a really fantastic time, Dan always getting us in the right place at the right time. The scenery in Browning Pass is fabulous. So colourful, so rich and all topped with a kelp forest reaching up into the sun beams. The life is even better, with star attractions such a giant Pacific octopus, red irish lord (below) and wolfeels. There are many invertebrates, super size ones, such as foot long nudibranchs and enormous starfish, and tiny beauties, like the candy striped shrimp (above). I shot many weirdoes, from warbonnets (a relative of the Yarrel's blenny from Scotland) to pygmy cancer crabs and the black and white sea flea. And much more.

Team Orange

I used the Nikon D700 for wide angle and the D7000 for CFWA and macro. The Nikon D700 was in the Subal housing with Subal's 45 degree viewfinder and I used the Zen 230 dome with the Sigma 15mm fisheye and Nikon 16-35mm lenses. The Nikon D7000 was in the Nauticam housing with Nauticam's 45 degree viewfinder, I used the Zen 100 mini dome for wide angle and the Nauticam macro ports for close ups. For lenses I used the Tokina 10-17mm, 60m and 105mm. I used FIT +5 and Subsee +5 dioptres (which have very different strengths, the Subsee being much more powerful). For strobes I used the Inon Z240s (for wide angle) and Inon S2000 strobes (for macro), which were electronically triggered from the D700 and optically triggered from the D7000. I used a SOLA 600 focus light. The other important accessory for photography was my White's drysuit, which offers exceptional shoulder flexibility and I believe has really improved my cold water photography.

This gallery of images is online and NOT PASSWORD PROTECTED. You can see a gallery of some of the images from this trip here.

Puget Sound King Crab

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