The purpose of this page is to provide some information and images on common local creatures that we may encounter during our dives. The images were mostly taken at our local sites of Whytecliff and Porteau Cove, although some pictures from nearby sites on the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island have been included as well. For those who are curious about what kind of critters they may encounter, or those who want to know a little more about what they are seeing during dives, this page is for you!

Buffalo Sculpin

Scientific Name: Enophrys bison

Location: Alaska to California

Habitat: Intertidal to 65 ft

Camouflaged and motionless, this fish is easily overlooked even by experienced divers.

Fried Egg Jellyfish

Scientific Name: Phacellophora camtschatica

Location: Japan, Siberia, Alaska to Chile

Habitat: Pelagic

Like it’s name, the fried egg jellyfish looks like it was freshly cracked into a pan. This jellyfish primarily feeds on other jellyfish.

Giant Pacific Octopus

Scientific Name: Enteroctopus dofleini

Location: Japan, Siberia, Alaska to Mexico

Habitat: Subtidal to 5,000 ft

The largest octopus in the world, giant pacific octopus have been recorded with an arm span up to 24 ft and a total weight of 160 lb! This baby octopus has a whopping arm span of 5 inches.

Hairy-Spined Crab

Scientific Name: Acantholithodes hispidus

Location: Alaska to California

Habitat: Subtidal to 550 ft

Covered in hair-tipped spines, this type of crab has orange-coloured claws lined with white molar-like teeth. The crab in the picture was sitting comfortably in a cloud sponge.

Harbor Seal

Scientific Name: Phoca vitulina

Location: Alaska to California, Northern Atlantic, Baltic and North Sea

Habitat: Coastal

Harbor seals are always a welcome sight to see, resting comfortably on rocks just before a dive. Seeing them underwater is a much rarer find!

Kelp Greenling

Scientific Name: Hexagrammos decagrammus

Location: Alaska to California

Habitat: Intertidal to 150 ft

The kelp greenling female often lays her eggs in giant acorn barnacle casing.


Scientific Name: Ophiodon elongatus

Location: Alaska to Mexico

Habitat: Subtidal to 6,600 ft

Overfishing has significantly reduced the population of this species. One of the larger local fish, these guys are always a treat to encounter during a dive!

Lion’s Mane

Scientific Name: Cyanea capillata

Location: Alaska to Mexico

Habitat: Pelagic

The world’s largest jellyfish with tentacles up to 100 ft long! Stings from this jellyfish really hurt.

Painted Anemone

Scientific Name: Urticina crassicornis

Location: Alaska to California

Habitat: Intertidal to 100 ft

These anemone come in all sorts or colours, but can be distinguished by their long banded tentacles.

Puget Sound King Crab

Scientific Name: Lopholithodes mandtii

Location: Alaska to California

Habitat: Subtidal to 450 ft

Built like a tank, this crab starts out a uniform bright orange, but becomes more colourful as it reaches adulthood.

Quillback Rockfish

Scientific Name: Sebastes maliger

Location: Alaska to California

Habitat: Subtidal to 900 ft

This commonly seen rockfish can live up to 95 years.

Red Rock Crab

Scientific Name: Cancer productus

Location: Alaska to Mexico

Habitat: Intertidal to 300 ft

This crab has very powerful pincers that can deliver a nasty nip. This one was happily clinging to a shell!

Spiny Dogfish Shark

Scientific Name: Squalus acanthias

Location: Alaska to Mexico, Northern Atlantic, Siberia

Habitat: Intertidal to 4,105 ft

Our local resident shark! Seeing this tiny shark during the summer months is fairly common.

Stellar Sea Lion

Scientific Name: Eumetopias jubatus

Location: Alaska to California

Habitat: Coastal

Glancing up from the nudibranch or anemone you were looking at to see one of these creatures gliding gracefully by is always a wonderful experience. In some nearby areas, stellar sea lions congregate in the thousands, making diving with them a possibility. In these areas, the sea lions have become used to divers and will come and play!

Tiger Rockfish

Scientific Name: Sebastes nigrocinctus

Location: Alaska to California

Habitat: Subtidal, surface to 984 ft

This type of rockfish is territorial and can often be found in it’s “home” crevice.

*Photo credit: Andrew Zang

*Reference: Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest – A Photographic Encyclopedia of Invertebrates, Seaweeds and Select Fishes by Andy Lamb and Bernard P. Hanby