Emerald Sea Photography
The Fox Island Bridge is a hidden jewel among South Puget Sound dive sites. The site is buffeted by strong currents coming from the Tacoma Narrows, so it does not receive much diving pressure, but those same currents make this one of the best dives in Puget Sound. Timing your dive around these currents is critical when diving this site from Shore. Entry is easy from the public boat launch parking lot on the South end of the bridge, swim out to the bridge stanchions and you'll have a great dive.
Currents: We've found the ideal window for diving his site is about 1:45 minutes prior to Slack before ebb at the North Tacoma Narrows current station. Stephen Fischnaller has the current corrected at this site for about 2:20, which we find to be a little too early, often the current is still ripping until it calms down about 2 hours or less before slack in the narrows.
Dive this site on a day with a low exchange, and you will be rewarded with richly colored bridge columns that are just covered with life. On my last dive at this site I think I spotted almost ten different species of Nudibranchs. If you're after nudis, this is Nudibranch Central. On another recent dive at this site, I was able to photograph 7 species of nudibranchs (including the photos on this page): White lined Dirona, Three Lined Aeolid (bottom photo), Janolus Fuscus (photo to the left), white dendronotid, Sea Lemons, Spotted Dorid (middle photo) and a Clown Nudibranch, along with several juvenile species.
When diving from shore, you'll have a nice shallow dive, slowly swimming from one bridge support to another and admiring the incredible abundance of marine life supported by our nutrient rich waters. If you bring a boat with you, the boat launch is a little dicey, but works for lighter boats. However, have the boat drop you in by the middle supports and you'll have almost 60' of water to work your way slowly up and down the supports, which are just loaded with anemones, nudibranchs, sea stars, sculpins and fish.
Driving Directions: Take the second Gig Harbor exit after crossing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Take a left at the top of the off Ramp and just follow the signs to Fox Island. You'll cross the Bridge and find the Boat Ramp and Dive Site on the right side at the South End of the bridge. You can't miss it.
For a second dive, the Fox Island West Wall is easy, or you do actually have time to dive this site, and then dive the Fox Island East Wall, as you should hit that site right at slack in the Narrows. If you're here with a boat, Z's reef makes a nice second dive.
GPS Coordinates: 47° 16.645' N 122° 38.959' W . There are also boat ramps at Wollochet or you can launch at the Day Island Marina if the Fox Island Ramp is a little too scary (it's OK at High Tide, but VERY shallow a lower tides). As usual, if you like the pictures, click on them for a larger version.
Skill Level: Advanced due to the very strong current, which must be timed precisely.
Fox Island Bridge is fun little dive that would be perfect after doing a dive at Sunrise Beach! The currents are intense at this site, so diving before each slack is a must! Once you've figured out slacks and when to be in the water, enter the water and swim out along the jetty. Swim over to the first set of pylons, when the current is comfortable enough for you, than descend down and enjoy the beauty this current-swept site has to offer. The first thing you'll notice when you drop down are the thousands or bright orange sea cucumbers! Follow your compass heading towards the next set of pylons and dive onwards. Maximum depth in the middle of the bridge is no deeper than 60 feet. Although there is no right and wrong way to do this site, it's probably best to swim out to the middle pylons and work you way back. Each pylon is covered with anemones, massive colonies of large acorn barnacles, and long kelp beds that flow from each pylon like long locks of hair. Throw in schools of perch, rockfish, cabezon, lingcod, greenlings, and a plethora of invertebrates, it makes for a very beautiful and rewarding dive.
Duly named, it's the bridge that crosses Fox Island. Hop on I-5 South from Seattle. Drive to Tacoma and take the Highway 16 West Exit. Cross the Tacoma Narrows bridge and take the Olympic Drive/Fox Island exit. Turn left onto Olympic Drive NW, onto 56th which than becomes Fillmore Drive. Turn left at the T intersection onto Wollochet Drive. Turn right onto 40th St. Turn left onto 70th. At the T intersection, turn right onto Ford Drive and follow this road across the bridge. Immediately after the bridge, turn right into the boat launch and parking area. Gear up and dive from there.
I dove this site with Brad Congden, Jeff Rosenfeld and Micaela. Brad introduced himself to me via the net (and this site!) and volunteered to lead our merry group of divers on this dive. What a treat! Brad did a great job playing Divemaster for the day and we all had a great dive. This site reminded me a lot of some of the San Juan sites as well as Waterman's Wall. There's a lot of life in and around the pylons, so if you don't mind spending some time looking, it's a neat dive. There's not a lot of large life here, so if you're looking for fishes and large 6-gill sharks, this isn't your site. I give this site a big One Thumb Up on the Parker Scale.