My opinions of snorkelling are well known to my friends who have been with me the few times I’ve done it. It’s generally a tease for me, where I see awesome things that I can’t get pictures of because I have to rocket to the surface like a whale breaching to get more air. Sometimes it’s the only option though, and the Great Tide Pool is a cold water snorkel adventure that shouldn’t be missed!
The Great Tide Pool is on the exposed side of Wouwer Island, one of the westernmost islands of the Broken Group in Barkley Sound. At low tide, a small channel and ring of stone is all that separates it from the open Pacific. The Great Tide Pool itself is up to about 4m deep, and warmer than the surrounding water owing to its isolation from currents and it has its own ecosystem as well, completely different from the one just outside the protective ring! As a potential dive, you’d want to be there for high slack tide, then drift the channel between the ring and the smattering of rocks and islets that make up the channel during low tide! While it is a snorkel location, it’s still the Pacific Northwest, so a full length wetsuit of at least 5mm is essential. Depending on where you get dropped on the island, you may have a short hike ahead of you, so good footwear and some water are important to!
The Great Tide Pool is rife with life and has a great diversity of kelp, seaweed and other marine flora. Tiny Slender Kelp Crabs and their robust Northern Kelp Crabs are in great abundances, as are Bat Stars in all their shades and numerous other sea stars. Tiny sculpins dart from cover as you float over them, and schools of juvenile Rock Fish congregate in the cover of the seaweeds and kelp, so young that they can only be described as “Young of the Year” until they’re large enough to ID properly. Larger fish, like Lingcod, sometimes find themselves trapped in the pool as well, and hide in the patches of eel grass. Along the rock ring, you can find Ochre Stars and various anemones in shallow pools, as well as even tinier sculpins. Over all the photo opportunities are great, and the macro potential is good as well.
While I’m not generally a fan of snorkelling, this is one of the few exceptions where I have to say: “Get out there and snorkel this thing!”, as awkward as that sounds. Bring a bag lunch, a litre or two of water and make a day of it. The Great Tide Pool truly is a great spot, and not to missed if you find yourself in the Broken Group!