Photo: Osprey anchored in Storm Bay. Sechelt Inlet
Sunlight bounced off calm water reflecting blue skies overhead. Looking out over the small bay from Osprey
's cockpit, I remembered my resolve to get at least one photo of each anchorage we stayed at. I grabbed my camera and climbed into the dinghy. Casting off from Osprey,
I rowed toward the shallow end of the bay, where the sun angle would give me a good photo of both the bay and boat.
I was drifting with the current while I adjusted my camera, when I happened to look down at the water. The bottom was only 2-3 ft below. I immediately, forgot the planned photo and instead peered down at the sandy bottom. A large moonsnail with its fleshy foot wrapped around its round shell came into view. Several moon snail egg cases littered the bottom around it; this was obviously a good habitat for moon snails. Flat fish dashed across the sandy bottom, leaving trails of suspended sediment. Several starfish were nearby. Then, I gasped with surprise as the dinghy drifted over a large bed of green sea urchins. I associated sea urchins with rocky bottoms and didn't expect to see any on sand, let alone a huge patch of them. In fact, I associate sandy bottoms with not much of interest. And it wasn't even a particularly low tide!
I was thrilled to see the sea urchins until several days later when I read a report in the Vancouver Sun about recent studies at Hakaii Research Institute. A researcher there has found that starfish eat sea urchins and the recent starfish wasting disease rampant on this coast has led to an increase in the number of sea urchins, which in turn has led to a decrease in kelp. Storm Bay isn't the sort of place where I would expect to find kelp and we did see starfish there, but never having been there before, I couldn't judge the cause of the numerous urchins. I just hope it's not bad. In this time of starving orcas and other environmental tragedies, we unfortunately have to be leery of so much.
Photo: Green sea urchins in Storm Bay, Sechelt Inlet