The SS Capilano is one of British Columbia’s top dive sites. The 122 foot long cargo steamship struck a submerged object at approximately 9:25pm on the night of September 29th, 1915. Captain Nelson was not immediately informed of the strike, as it was so soft crew members believed the vessel just hit a log, a common occurrence in BC waters. It was only when he heard the ship’s whistle echo off an island – in just 5 short seconds, that he realized something was seriously wrong, and the ship had veered off course.
The Captain steered the vessel towards a small port where the Capilano was inspected from bow to stern… no leaks. Nothing. Nada. Captain Nelson decided the voyage would continue. Around 1:30am on October 1st, 1915, the ship was felt to be listing to port. The crew were stunned to find around 2 feet of water already on board. It is thought that when the Capilano struck the submerged object, possibly a rock, it became wedged into the hull, like a cork.
Sometime later, it worked it’s way free and the water poured in.
At around 3am, the crew abandoned ship in a large lifeboat. According to testimony, the SS Capilano finally sank below the waves at approximately 5:30am on October 1st, 1915.
The ship lay undisturbed for around 60 years before it’s discovery by a fisherman in 1975.
The site of the SS Capilano is now known as one of the very best dive sites in British Columbia. Sitting in 130 feet of seawater the wreck is just within the limits of recreational diving, and is a fantastic dive, and training site for technical divers.
The SS Capilano is covered with life. If one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, then one Captain’s shipwreck is a diver’s gold mine. The SS Capilano is a giant, colourful condominium of pacific marine life at it most vibrant and healthy. A stunning site for photographers and videographers.
The cargo hold – now a giant open area to freely descend slowly into, like the belly of a beast, is a site to behold. Shining a light in the corners as you go, you’ll see a dozen or more lingcod scatter like rats in all directions. It’s quite simply stunning; the life here is insane!
Rockfish are in abundance of course. No BC site would be the same without our little punk rocker friends, with some occasional large ones dotted around, but general numbers are reassuringly positive.
Dive charters to the SS Capilano can be booked through Pacific Pro Dive & Marine Adventures. It's one of our favourite sites, with a rich mixture of history, marine life and adventure. Only beneath BC!
Swimming 50km in British Columbia waters isn't everyone's idea of fun, but for three ocean swimmers from Victoria it's a personal quest to help shed light on a unique ecosystem - the Great Bear Rainforest.
Proving that you don't have to be a scuba diver to learn more about what lays beneath BC, this Minimentary we made last year follows the three swimmers as the swim from Ocean Falls to Bella Bella.
Saanich Inlet, near Victoria, becomes a jelly haven during the summer months. Willis Point is a residential area overlooking the Inlet, but few residents there know that it's a BC jelly hot spot.
During July and August, parts of BC see a large increase in the numbers of moon, fried egg, and lion's mane jellies. Another fantastic hot spot is the Sechelt Inlet on the Sunshine Coast.
Moon jellies look like little moons, and at the time of this video, they weren't really there in their usual high numbers (we were a little early in the summer). Fried egg jellies look like, you guessed it, fried eggs. Lion's mane jellies have a huge trail of tentacles behind them, and are in fact the largest species of jelly in the world - found right here in BC!
Jellyfish aren't scary sea monsters waiting in the darkness to sting you to death! They are majestic, beautiful creatures that look more like aliens from outer space, than anything from this Earth. These jellies do have stinging cells all along their tentacles, however, the sting is mild with fried egg jellies, and a person wouldn't really feel a moon jelly sting even with contact. The lion's mane has a more potent sting. Though, everyone is different in how they would react. The lion's mane and fried egg can both sting if they touch exposed skin, however, their stings generally aren't that bad; not compared to other species of jellies in warmer waters.
We love jellies, and BC has some incredible encounters just waiting beneath the surface. They are fascinating animals and much fun to discover underwater!
Did you know: Jellyfish aren't fish at all! They belong to the same category of animals that includes corals and sea anemones. So why are they called fish? Good question, probably because they live in the water and in olden days anything that lived in the water was thought to be some type of fish.
The Heber River is a stunning part of British Columbia. Perfect for a swim, a snorkel, a scuba dive, freedive, or just a sunbathe! A few hours northwest of Campbell River on Vancouver Island, this location offers crystal clear water, amazing submerged rock formations, and at the right time of year, salmon by the thousands.
This video was taken before the salmon run, on a day of fun discovery, proving you don't need an ocean to explore underwater. If you're interested in exploring beneath the Heber, we'd advise you to go with a professional tour guide such as this one, or with someone that knows the area.
There aren't many things that can compare to sitting in the cockpit of a Boeing 737 as fish swim by!
Chemainus, British Columbia is home to the Boeing 737 artificial reef. Sunk in 2006 by the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia, the 737 is a unique dive site to say the least.
The plane was a former Canadian Air passenger plane, bought by, and donated by Air Canada once it had retired from service. The plane was cleaned, stripped of all harmful materials by experts, and sunk at a specific location off the BC coast as a marine life habitat.
The plane sits on 11 foot high stilts, making the fuselage about 70 feet deep. You can swim under its entire 100 foot length or wingspan before exploring all around it. It is stripped of all seating, but has overhead compartment areas and complete with rear cabin toilet!
Though the artificial reef has been there for 11 years now, life is minimal, but present. Orange and white plumose anemones, with a scattering of fish are the main residents, but that will change with each passing year. Over time, the former 737 will become a home to many more species.
For divers, however, the main attraction here is the chance to explore a passenger jet beneath the emerald waters of British Columbia.
For charters to the Boeing 737 contact Shepherd Charters.
Beneath BC doesn't always end at the water line. Nope. For divers it's generally a way of life, infiltrating most parts of our lifestyle. Tattoos and scuba diving go hand in hand with each other! We produced this a few years ago when Trisha was getting her "Beneath BC marine life tattoo" from Vancouver artist Jason Wainwright "Big J". To find Big J for your next tattoo, contact Royal Anchor Tattoos.
In 2009, renowned ocean pioneer Dr Sylvia Earle introduced us to the concept of Hope Spots, special places that are critical to the health of the ocean. This year her charity Mission Blue, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature have approved a new Hope Spot - Saanich Inlet and the Southern Gulf Islands, BC, Canada. Having been recommended for inclusion by Victoria dive store Rockfish Divers, it is hoped the new designation will draw attention to increased threats such as shipping and pollution, as well as increase educational interest in these submerged areas of British Columbia.
Not far off three years ago now the former Destroyer class vessel HMCS Annapolis was purposefully sunk to create an artificial reef, just 20 minutes outside of Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver. Over 7 years in the making, the former HMCS Annapolis is the latest artificial reef to be sunk in British Columbia. We were part of the first team to video the ship, the day after it sank, and (some of) the dust had settled. This video was made for Sea Dragon Charters, and was also seen on Discovery Channel's Daily Planet.
Three years later the wreck is doing fantastically. Life has made her home, with little creatures sneaking into every crack and crevice and turning the former warship into a giant underwater apartment block for life.
Divers visit the wreck every few days, researchers photograph and record the accumulation of life for future projects, and an otherwise bleak ocean floor (once destroyed by logging) is now home to more species than it has been for decades.
We'll be producing a Minimentary on the sinking of the Annapolis, so keep your eyes open!
This video is a few years old now, but still worth sharing! British Columbia has some of the best diving we've done in the world! It's nutrient rich waters make our emerald waters home to all kinds of life. This video is a collection of images recorded up and down the coast of Vancouver's Sea to Sky Highway, and parts of Vancouver Island including Victoria, Nanaimo, Campbell River, Barkley Sound, and Port Hardy.
We produced this video 4 years ago, at the very start of what has since become known as Sea Star Wasting Disease. The epidemic has wiped out nearly all sunflower sea stars up and down the west cost, from Alaska to California. British Columbia used to have blankets of sea stars walking around the ocean floor, devouring urchins, and well, just looking very pretty! Local diver Jonathan Martin talks us through the initial outbreak.
A good follow up video from National Geographic can be found here.
Diving in British Columbia is fun, stunningly beautiful, and like skiing, if you wear the right gear - warm and cosy! It's easy to dive in British Columbia with dive stores, charters, resorts, and training facilities all over the Mainland, Sunshine Coast, Interior, and Vancouver Island. There's no better way to explore our planet than by becoming a scuba diver!
Freediving is a sport rapidly growing in popularity, not just all over the world, but here in BC too. It's a great way to explore Beneath BC, and you're lucky enough to have the world's longest running (and best) training agency based right here in BC. Performance Freediving International offer a ton of courses from snorkeler, freediver, breath-hold survival, and a range of professional options. Once per year, the PFI family gather in Campbell River for the annual salmon run weekend and BBQ. Snorkeling the Campbell River is a lot of fun, easily accessible, and a family activity, so next summer, consider a swim with the salmon!
An incredibly spur of the moment video, shot mainly on an iPhone (no time to even go to the office and collect our microphones, tripods or big camera!). Local radio host Tymo from The Goat wanted to show his listeners what lays beneath his local Comox Lake. It was a little shocking for him to see what has been dumped in the lake - a source of drinking water for the Comox Valley.