This March, over 30 members from two dive clubs, the Emerald Sea Dive Club from Edmonds, Washington, and Eugene Dive Club from Eugene, Oregon, took to the water to gather sea life. The divers ranged in age from 10 to 80 years old. Jerry Dollar and his daughter have been doing this dive since 1987. The divers came for the sheer love of exploring these waters. Their mission: to slowly navigate the murky water to acquire this year’s temporary residents for the Camp Casey Sea Lab.
The Sea Lab tour provides a secret peek at new discoveries each year, offer visiting students a chance to pause and marvel. Crabs, sea urchins, mossy rocks, sea cucumbers, and even an octopus, were among this year’s collected sea life. Over 900 students have already visited Camp Casey since the March dive to view these creatures.
What happens to those captured? They live in tanks for a few months, in natural water drawn from Puget Sound, circulating through large tubes, which creates a comfortable environment. They are released in June, after the school groups have had their chance to see and learn.
Adjacent to Camp Casey is Keystone Jetty, one of the Pacific Northwest’s more famous shore dives. It’s found at Fort Casey State Park, right near the Coupeville-Port Townsend ferry terminal. Strong tidal currents have produced abundant marine life, including one of the best environments to find giant Pacific octopus, Octopus dolfleini, like the one divers collected for the Sea Lab this year.
The Sea Lab is a ‟must seeˮ for guests at Camp Casey Conference Center. The general public also has an opportunity to explore the Sea Lab during Camp Casey’s annual open house on Friday, June 14 from Noon-4pm.