San Diego divers David Hershman, Jarrod Nash, Erin Cosgrove and Michael Bear were pleasantly surprised to encounter good conditions on the Yukon Saturday, after several weeks of inclement weather and less than ideal conditions on the high seas.
The weather was a balmy 75 F., the surface calm and underwater visibility was 20-25 ft, depending on the depth. Schools of dolphins could be seen frolicking in the wake on the way out to Wreck Alley.
The Yukon is a formerly Canadian Mackensie-Class destroyer, the size of a football field, 366 ft long, lying on its port side in 100 ft of water 1.8 miles off Mission Beach, where it acts as an artificial reef to attract fish and local marine life. It was sunk in 2000 by the San Diego Oceans Foundation and later gifted to the city of San Diego.
Marine life seen on Saturday's dive included Blacksmith fish, Sheepshead, Tube-Dwelling and Strawberry Anemones, many large, white cauliflower-like Metridium anemones, growing both inside and out of the ship.
The Yukon is a large ship, with several deck-levels and holes cut into the hull to allow divers to penetrate at will, but caution must be used, especially when conditions are less than ideal and care taken that divers not enter the ship unless their experience and/or training allows them to do so. There have been several fatalities since 2000.
Nonetheless, it has proved a stunning success in its original intent to become an artificial reef and attracts divers from all around the world every year, who come to experience its unique underwater features.
The Yukon's sister ship, the Saskatchewan, was sunk by the Artificial Reef Society of Canada and lies at a similar depth off Vancouver Island.