Hunt Rock

Date Reviewed:September 2002
Location:Gordon Channel
Access:Boat dive
Site Description:Pinnacle Dive
Main Attraction:Rockfish, invertebrates, wolf-eels, YOU NAME IT!

Hunt Rock is probably one of the best known dive sites in the Port Hardy area. It is right up there with Browning Wall, regarding notoriety. However, it is a very different dive than Browning Wall, and the conditions can be more challenging.

Hunt Rock's main claim to fame are some friendly Wolf-eels that are nicknamed "Hunter" and "Huntress". On my two dives here, I have found Wolf-eels, but none of them have been diver friendly like those at the wreck of the Themus, Dillion Rock, or even Sunrise Beach for that matter. However, despite the lack of affectionate Wolf-eels, this is one of my favorite dives in the Port Hardy area.

Hunt Rock is located in some fairly big water, and is subjected to nasty weather and swells, especially from the northwest. It is not always diveable, and should only be done on slack water, preferable slack before flood. A strong ebbing current here has the potential to push you off the wall and into 200+ feet of nothingness. Next stop: Japan. The nice thing about being out in the open is that vis sometimes runs a bit better than normal at this site. Both times I have been here, vis below 50 fsw has been in the 50-70 foot range. NICE!!!

The "rock" is actually comprised of two pinnacles that rise from depths of over 200 feet to close to the surface. The southern pinnacle sports a shear face on the western side, and tapers down more gradually to the east. Both times I have been here so far, we have dove on the southern pinnacle at slack before flood. We get to the site early and watch the current. When the Bull Kelp is able to break the surface (because the current is letting up), over the side we go. We descend the 25 feet or so to the top of the pinnacle, then follow a "channel" cut through the rock that heads to the west. Where this channel ends is where the wall begins! The wall here is simply awesome, and just brimming with life.

The reason I LOVE this site is three fold. First, this site offers good opportunities to see some of the larger and/or more unusual marine life in the area, like Yellow-eye Rockfish, Wolf-eels, Giant Pacific Octopus in the open, and Tiger Rockfish. Second, the western wall here is just dripping with invertebrate marine life - maybe not quite as vibrant as Browning Pass, but a spectacle to behold nonetheless. And third, HUGE schools of rockfish hang out here. Giant schools of Black and Blue Rockfish hover above and just off the wall. One of my favorite things to do at this site is locate one of these schools and gently swim out into the midst of it. If I control my breathing and make no sudden moves, the school usually surrounds and engulfs me. The curious rockfish come right up to me to check me out. Everywhere I look I see rockfish - it is quite awesome! I just make certain I do not loose perspective of my depth or where the wall is during these interludes.

On my dive here last summer, I was also fortunate enough to see a "freak" rockfish - a Black Rockfish that was almost entirely white! In addition to the Blue and Black Rockfish, expect to find more schooling Black Rockfish above the wall in the kelp beds, along with schools of Yellowtail Rockfish. I have also seen decent sized schools of Widow Rockfish at this site, also hovering mid-water. To round out the rockfish collection, there are Tiger, Quilback, China, Puget Sound, and Yellow-eye rockfish that make Hunt Rock their home as well.

The first dive I did here, I did a quick tour of the wall, then headed around the side of the wall to the south. I was disappointed to find nothing but acres of White Metridium, Red and Purple Sea Urchins, Kelp Greenling, and some lone Lingcod, rockfish and a Wolf-eel. The backside of Hunt Rock was nowhere near as breathtaking as the front side. On my second dive, I spent ALL my dive time on the wall or above it in the kelp bed. My advice is spend as much time as you can on the wall, as it offers the best diversity of species and a kaleidoscope of colors!

It is very easy to get deep here. In fact, this is the deepest dive I have done so far in the Port Hardy area at 121 fsw. At this depth, I found a Tiger Rockfish and Wolf-eel kind of hanging half out of its den. Massive Yellow-eye Rockfish can also be spotted at this site on occasion, but are usually deep (below 80 fsw).

In addition to the rockfish and Wolf-eels, expect to see countless invertebrates, Lingcod, KelpGreenling, small sculpins, the occasional Giant Pacific Octopus, and most other species that make this place so great.

Upon ascent, I do a 15 minute safety stop and hang out in the bull kelp, playing hide and seek with rockfish and greenlings. All to quick the dive is over, and it was time to get back on the boat.

As I stated before, this is serious diving out here. With an experience captain and dive master, the right currents, and cooperative weather, it is a piece of cake. However, it would not take much to make this dive a real challenge. Conditions can change very quickly in exposed sites such as this one.

Whenever we dive in this part of the world, we always do so with Bill Weeks and Annie Ceschi of God's Pocket Resort. I have never tried a different dive operator up here, and have no reason to do so. As far as I and thirteen of my diving friends are concerned, Bill has perfected the Port Hardy dive vacation. We have stayed with God's Pocket Resort the last two years and see no end in sight for return trips. Awesome diving, overwhelming hospitality, world class food and service (thanks Grant and Jeannie!), and Bill and Annie's great personalities (not to mention Lewis!) keep us coming back. Bill truly loves what he does and has the utmost respect for all the wildlife in this area, making a vacation here very special. What more could you ask for? If you are extremely lucky, you will get an opportunity to dive the Browning Pass area with God's Pocket Resort. Diving with Bill and Annie is the most enjoyable diving I have done - anywhere in the world. See God's Pocket for more info, and tell 'em Keith and Jon sent you!

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