Discovery Island

 

Location: Discovery Island is located near the southeast tip of Vancouver Island, about 3 miles east of Oak Bay.

 

Type: Boat and drift dive.

 

GPS: 48° 25' 4", 123° 15' 1"

 

History: Discovery Island was named in 1846 by surveyors, in honour of the 18th-century British Explorer Captain George Vancouver, who navigated the coastline of British Columbia between 1792 and 1794 in his ship HMS Discovery. The adjacent Chatham Island was named after his escort ship, Chatham.

The lighthouse at Sea Bird Point, the eastern end of Discovery Island, marks the junction of Haro and Juan De Fuca straits. These two straits form the border between Canada and the United States. The lighthouse was built in 1886 and manned for 110 years before being fully automated in 1996. Sea Bird Point was named after an American paddle steamer which caught fire and was run aground in 1858 to save the lives of the crew.

Designated as a park in 1972, the uninhabited and undeveloped 61-hectare Discovery Island Marine Provincial Park was once inhabited by First Nations people and resident lighthouse keepers. The island was once the home of the donor, Capt. E.G. Beaumont, who died in 1967 after living on Discovery Island with his wife for nearly half a century. Evidence of their once beautiful home and gardens overlooking Rudlin Bay can still be seen.

Above Water: The dive site and reefs are located at the western most tip of the island. It is best to launch from Cattle Point boat launch in Oak bay. This is a very unique diving area with a great deal of unexplored territory due to its limited access, however the island is a povincal park and a weekend excursion of camping and diving would offer excellent opportunities to photograph and explore this little island.

Underwater: The reefs are current swept and adorned with life. Depth ranges from 40 - 50 ft. (12 - 15 m.) in the shallows and kelp beds to 120 ft. (36 m.) and beyond on the deeper reefs.  The shallower reefs have abundant invertibrate life with large schools of rockfish and perch living among the rocks and kelp. The deeper reefs have small caves and overhangs covered with Plumose Anemones. Many of the more reculsive species of rockfish hide in these caves.

 

Hazards: Current and boat traffic. This is a live boat only dive site. Plumper Passage is famous for its erratic currents, sometimes reaching 5 knots. Try to dive on small tidal exchanges. Carry all of the necessary safety and signaling equipment.

 

Links:

History of Discovery Island: www.discoveryisland.ca

Lighthouse of British Columbia: www.fogwhistle.ca/bclights