Beer Bottle Octopus Janolus Nudibranch

Sunrise County Beach Park

Sunrise Beach County Park is located just north of Gig Harbor at the south end of Colvos Passage and is subjected to very strong currents from the Tacoma Narrows. Sunrise is one of the best shore dives in Puget Sound. The main feature of this site is a 25 foot high rock wall that runs parallel to the shoreline, just South of the entry. The top of the wall starts at about 35 fsw with the base at about 60 fsw. The wall is full of cracks, crevices, fissures and holes which are hiding places for a plethora of curious critters.

Countless varieties of marine life can be found along the wall; however, it is the Wolf-eels which really steal the show. Numerous resident Wolf-eels live at this site, and they are used to divers and are obviously used to being hand feed. They will frequently venture out of their dens to interact with divers by swimming around and through your arms, legs, hoses, etc. (no doubt looking for lunch). If you do handle these animals, please be careful and remember they are wild animals, which should never be restrained, or even held firmly.

While I know of no incidents of divers being bitten by a Wolf Eel, I have seen many Wolfies crunching up an Urchin like its Jello (see the photos below), so I’m not sticking my fingers in their mouth, and I recommend you don’t either. Feeding these animals is altering their behavior and inhibits their natural fear of man. While I don’t condone feeding them, I’m not above taking advantage of the altered behavior for a few candid photos! ;-)

The only down side to this site is the steep path down to the beach (and the climb back up in full gear), which we overcome by making this a boat dive. Many of the local charters take divers here routinely, and it’s not uncommon to see all three of Rick’s boats over the site. Due to the high currents at this site, we only dive it on very low exchanges and try to get in the water at least 90 minutes before predicted slack water. More information about timing the currents for this dive can be found in “Northwest Shore Dives”.

This site can be a bit busy when the charter boats hit, but we usually manage to just finish up our dive as the boats begin disgorging the bottom tilling Puget Sound Frog Fishes. GPS coordinates for the wall at Sunrise County Beach Park are 47° 20.848' North and 122° 33.334' West.

Below is a series of pictures of a Wolf Eel making quick work of a Sea Urchin, which is their favorite food:

Click on any of the pictures above for a larger version.