- Published on Friday, 28 December 2012 21:17
- Written by IJ James
Generally when a goal is set and is not realized, the protagonist is disappointed. Sometimes though, while pursuing the initial objective, the goal setter is pleasantly surprised when an unexpected bonus occurs as a result of the effort. Kathy and Larry Collison of Arlington, Washington recently experienced just such a scenario.
Very early on the morning of September 1st, 1012, they travelled to Redondo Beach, just south of Seattle, Washington. Their quest was to see a bluntnose sixgill shark, a deep dwelling species known to lurk there and most likely encountered during hours of darkness in the summer. Slipping into the water at about 0500 hours, they descended to about 100 ft and waited, and waited. Alas, they saw no shark in spite of at least 30 ft of visibility. Finally, they were forced to abandon their goal in favour of some shallow time and a safety stop.
Moving into the shallows as daylight was breaking they arrived at depth of approximately 17 ft. At that point, Kathy noticed a strange looking fish, with ferocious looking teeth, partially buried in the sand and somewhat obscured by surrounding seaweeds. Kathy was able to take several images – two of which are featured here. With the assistance of chief REEFer Janna Nichols the Northwest Dive Club website, Kathy and Larry determined that this 12 inch/30 cm long fish was a Pacific Sandfish Trichodon trichodon (pages 89-90, in Coastal Fishes of the Pacific Northwest).
Very rarely seen due to its penchant for burying, the Pacific Sandfish is likely more common at sandy bottom dive sites than sightings would explain. Congratulations to Larry and Kathy who are among only a few divers to have seen and photographed this elusive species. Hopefully, this amazing encounter makes up for their disappointment of an early morning shark-less dive. ■