It's not everyday you stumble upon a field of feather dusters. What? Feather dusters? Yep. The Northern Feather Duster Tube Worm to be more specific. Found, in this instance, on a deep wall on Steep Island, just outside of Campbell River.


Steep is a fantastic dive site, presuming you have a skipper that can read the fast currents and drop you in the water at a safe, and fun time. The dive begins in 60 to 100 feet, a section of the vertical wall covered with tube worms. Now tube worms can be found in other sites throughout BC (in fact, from Alaska to California), but this is the only place I have seen, or heard of, where they are in abundance locally. This entire section of wall is covered with them. Large clusters of these 2 inch diameters worms, consisting of a long light grey tube around 30 inches, into which the purple feather duster-like plumes, called radioles, retract.


The species is highly light sensitive and will withdraw quickly into the tube if a shadow passes over it. Its blood contains chlorocruorin instead of hemoglobin and they can regenerate their plumes if a predator nips them off.


The radioles contain a 'food groove' that serves as a size-filter. The smallest particles, which fit in all the way to the bottom of the groove, are usually eaten. Moderate size particles, in the upper parts of the groove, are often glued together to build the tube. The largest particles, too large to fit within the groove, are usually rejected. The radioles are also used for gas exchange, like gills.


The tube worms are also great cover for a range of marine life, with puget sound king crabs and ling cod often seen resting within, or on the worms.


From a divers perspective, the tube worms offer a feeling of being somewhere otherworldly. A dive on the Steep Island tube worms feels like a deep dive in the middle of the ocean. It feels like you are visiting the Mid Atlantic Ridge, or the moon of Europa.


It's otherworldly atmosphere may be why it's influence is noticeable in Avatar. The scene of Jake Sully touching plants in the Pandora jungle, that promptly retract into tubes - these are basically tube worms!



It's that wonderful time of year again when steller sea lions (and some Californian's) flock to the rocky shores of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Ready to feast on the herring that come into the area for their annual spawn, the sea lions are often the subject of many documentary projects. This year however we were pleased to be part of an ongoing alternative arts project that aims to capture and present the herring spawn in a very new and innovative way.


Our job was to assist fellow videographer Maxwel Hohn (seen above), and underwater photographer Tiare Boyes. Between Seaproof.tv and Maxwel, we've probably done more sea lion diving and video than anyone, and we've now become the go-to experts for most filming projects that feature sea lions on the west coast.


The final project won't be live until the end of the year but we'll post something here when we have more details.


In the meantime you can see more of Maxwel's incredible work here, and learn more about Tiare here.

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