EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story is by Pieter Booth, who scuba dives at Burien’s Three Tree Point. Pieter wrote this story as a response to one we posted in Dec. 2014 showing antlers that councilmember Nancy Tosta discovered washed up on the beach:
Turns out the antlers ended up underwater, where Pieter and fellow diver Ed Gullekson also discoveredÂ them and returned them to their rightful (yet human) owner…
Story by Pieter Booth
Photo by Ed Gullekson
A couple months ago, I looked through The B-Town Blog because I was interested in getting to know what goes on in the community of one of my favorite scuba diving spots. When I saw that reader photos were frequently posted as a feature, I decided to send the editor the caption photo for this articleâ€”me with a pair of moose antlers on my head.
I later contacted Scott Schaefer and asked him if he would be interested in the story behind the picture. He said sure and asked me to write something up, so here it is:
Butâ€¦I’d like to preface the antler story by speaking a little bit about the underwater wonders that attract us to the public access point at SW 170th Street. I am an avid scuba diver and Three Tree is one of my favorite spots. I dove there 32 times last year. One reason I made so many dives there is that my dive buddy and I were monitoring the progress of the eggs laid by a giant Pacific octopus (or GPO) in her den. GPOs are an iconic creature of our waters. They generally live no more than 5 years, and the female spends about 9 months of that time tending her eggs. While she tends her eggs she never leaves her den, does not eat, withers away, and usually dies about the time the eggs hatch. Amazing dedication. “Olga” the GPO finally passed away as her eggs were hatching in August of lastÂ year, but it was not long before another GPO took up residence in the same areaâ€¦under the “golf ball boat”.
And this brings me to the thread of this article: Oh, the stories the sea could tell. For example, the “golf ball boat” is a 15-foot (or so) runabout that contains hundreds, if not thousands of golf balls. The legend I have heard is that the boat sank off the home of a golf pro who used the sunken boat as a target for chipping practice. But, I have a hard time believing that anyone could land so many balls on a 4 foot square target about 80 yards from shore and in 50-60 feet of water, especially without scattering at least as many on the seafloor around the boat. So, if that legend is not true, how did the boat get filled with golf balls?
Then there is the “plumbers’ graveyard,” an area of about 100 feet by 30 or 40 feet littered with toilets, the occasional bathtub and a few sinks. Again, the legend I heard is that a plumber lived (or still lives) in a waterfront home and in the days when dumping stuff in the sea was commonplace, used this area to get rid of old porcelain fixtures. Well, if you’re going to dump stuff in the sea, you can do a lot worse than porcelain plumbing fixtures. A variety of gunnels (little eel-like fish), sculpins, and shrimp love the cavities of the toilets and sinks, and make these things their homes.
Other underwater features include 2 large piles of intertwined large plastic culverts, concrete sewer pipe, some really large industrial iron castings that look like heat exchangers, a “forest” of small (2″ to 4″) PVC pipes that are about 3-4 feet long and planted into cement bases, a 6′ satellite dish and a 4′ high pyramid made from bowling balls, of all things. I have no idea who put some of these purposefully made structures down there but I appreciate the hard work that went into it.
All of these features create great habitats for a wide variety of marine life from invertebrates such as sea stars, shrimp, anemones, and nudibranchs (marine slugs) to rockfish, wolf eels, ratfish, flounders, harbor seals, California sea lions, and even the occasional sixgill shark (which I have never had the pleasure of seeing, unfortunately).
So what about those moose antlers? The antlers that I am modeling in the photo were once mounted on the front of the boathouse 6 or 7 homes east of the public access point. We divers used them as a landmark for locating all the underwater structure until one dayâ€¦gulpâ€¦they were gone. As I headed out for yet another dive at one of my favorite places in the whole Puget Sound, I saw that they had fallen off the boat house and lay on the beach below. Several weeks later after a couple of really high tides with north winds, I noticed they were no longer on the beach. As I was finishing my dive near the public access point, lo and behold, there were the antlers in about 10 feet of water. I signaled to my buddy to hold on and take a picture while I held them over my head. We then dragged the antlers, weighing at least 80 lbs., up the beach so that their owner could hopefully retrieve them.
So to the residents in around Three Tree point, please know that we divers love and respect the natural beauty that you have in your backyards and thank you for the polite hospitality you have always shown my dive buddies and me as you are walking your dogs and on morning strolls.]]>
I love the fascination of the underwater world and it’s fun to hear what our local divers are finding just off-shore from Three Tree Point. Thanks, Pieter for your tale. (And I, too, remember where the antlers had been hanging. I’ll have to look for them next time I’m walking on the beach to see if they’re back in their spot.)
Great story! Thanks for sharing.
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