Rivtow Lion Artificial Reef Nanaimo BC

The Rivtow Lion is a 150 foot (47m) World War II tugboat.  She spent many years in service by the British where it was used to as a support vessel in the North Atlantic.  It was tasked mainly with towing ships back to port that had been damaged by torpedoes.  The Rivtow Lion was sunk in 2005 by the Nanaimo Dive Association just inside Departure Bay in Nanaimo.

The Rivtow Lion lies in sheltered water and makes for an excellent dive regardless of what the weather is doing out in the straight.

This is primarily a boat dive but locals have been known to also dive the Rivtow by launching their paddle boards or small paddle boats at the Brechin boat launch where the Rivtow is just a short 10 minute paddle away.

Parking Availability

There is ample pay parking at the Brechin boat launch.  Don't forget to purchase a parking pass or you'll find yourself with a ticket as this lot is actively patrolled 7 days per week.  All day parking is just $6.00.

Bathroom Availability

There is a bathroom facility with both men and woman restrooms available at the entrance to the Brechin boat launch.

Rivtow Lion Dive Plan Suggestion

There is really only one dive at the Rivtow Lion.  Jump in the water and follow the buoy line down.  Depending on which buoy you're tied up to, you'll either be dropping onto the bow or onto the stern.

The entire ship has abundant plumose anemone, but the largest and most densely packed are found on the lower portion of the port side and towards the stern and prop/rudder. Much of the starboard side is covered with sea vase tunicates.  There are various species of rockfish all over the ship.

If you take your time looking in all of the little holes and cracks throughout the ship you can find mosshead warbonnets scattered throughout the wreck.

The Rivtow Lion is a great dive with plenty to see.

Nanaimo Dive Outfitters takes divers out on this wreck regularly and it's just a short 5 minute boat ride from the boat ramp.

Difficulty: Beginner Or Advanced
Recommended Gas: Air or 32% Nitrox
Depth: 86 Feet or 25 Meters To Bottom

Common Species On The Rivtow Lion

This is just a small sample of some of the interesting species that can be found while diving on The Rivtow Lion.

Mosshead warbonnet
Mosshead Warbonnet

Mosshead Warbonnets can be found along all over the ship.  Pay special attention to cracks and holes around the exterior.

Sea Vase Tunicates
Sea Vase Tunicates

The lower starboard side hull of the Rivtow Lion is covered with a field of Sea Vase Tunicates.


Lingcod are very common to see on the Rivtow Lion with a few monsters of the deep lurking around.

Buffalo Sculpin
Buffalo Sculpin

There are numerous Buffalo Sculpins around the Rivtow but they really blend in well can be hard to spot sometimes.


There is a wide variety of different rockfish species present on the Rivtow Lion artificial reef.

Plumose Anemone
Plumose Anemone

The lower port side and the stern of the Rivtow are covered with fields of white and orange Plumose Anemones.

Visibility Reports

Rivtow Lion Wreck

Visibility Date Jul 30, 2023, 12:00 pm

Visibility Conditions Tide Rising

Visibility Conditions Good Visibility (30-40 ft)


Very good below 40 feet.

Videos From The Rivtow Lion

Videos from local content creators diving the Rivtow Lion artificial reef.

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Closest Dive Shops To The Rivtow Lion

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