Sites and Critters

Video tour of the underwater urban environment

As terrestrial beings, we often look out over an urban landscape and see the coastline as the city’s boundary. It’s hard to remember that there’s a whole world down there – a patchy landscape of riprap, sunken boats, used construction materials, discarded appliances, and networks of pipelines – all inhabited by a suite of creatures that are as adaptable to urbanization as the Norwegian rat, the raccoon, and the coyote. (Yes, coyotes are urban dwellers too! Link.) Below is another video diary of some of the habitats types and critters I commonly encounter underwater in Seattle.

The video starts with one of my favorite dive buddies – SCUBA instructor and diver extraordinaire, Rhoda Green. She’s in front of the grain terminal in the north side of Elliott Bay (you can see the Seattle skyline in the background). My video skills at this point certainly aren’t winning any awards, but my hope is to provide a sense of the variety of urban habitats we commonly encounter underwater. In order, you’ll see tire reefs, corrugated metal pipes, concrete slabs, and riprap. I then switched to common critters we see: Coonstripe shrimp (Pandalus danae), northern kelp crabs (Pugettia producta), the frosted nudibranch (Dirona albolineata), a large nereid polychaete worm, and the moon jelly (Aurelia aurelia). Enjoy!

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