It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mediocre Diving at Point Lobos

We went to Lobos today for what were supposed to be two low key dives -- the first at Cannery Point and the second at Middle Reef. Rob was shooting macro, so he wanted to look for little stuff in hydrocoral and nudibranchs. Of course our simple, low key plan got less simple when a scooter was offered to us. Yes, that's right -- one scooter, for the two of us :P So we decided we could use it to scoot out to a site, with one of us in tow. Since we were just going out to a site we could kick to anyway, if the scooter pooped out from the extra load, that was okay, we had plenty of gas. With this new plan, we decided we'd head to Three Sisters for dive 1, and then Middle Reef with Don and Elissa for dive 2.

We dropped very close to the ramp (ahhh, I love scooters), and headed out. The viz was really bad right in there (bad as in, I almost lost Rob on the descent, except that I could see the orange floats on his strobe arms). But it opened up pretty quickly, in about 20 feet of water. I was in the very fun tow position (that's holding onto the back of Rob's crotch strap, with his butt in my face and his thighs around my neck), and after a couple minutes, I was wondering why we were over rocks (looked like Middle Reef) instead of the sand channel. I couldn't see much else, but I did see a big Doris odhneri go by (which, as it happens, Clinton wanted Rob to take some pictures of if he saw any). After a while, my shoulder started to bother me from holding on. So I stopped Rob, and told him that I needed a break, and I didn't think we'd make it to Three Sisters, so let's just hit Cannery Point. He says okay, and writes that we are at Middle Reef. Duh. Then he suggests that I could tow him. I tried that for a minute and decided that wasn't going to work. So we kicked for a bit, until we hit the end of middle reef (or what I consider the end, around 65 feet). Somewhere in Middle Reef, during the portion that we were kicking, Rob found a big cabezon. We managed to check him out for a while and Rob got some pictures without disturbing him. By the end of middle reef, the viz was pretty good, about 30 feet. We had ended up on the east side of middle reef -- apparently Rob meant to head north to the sand channel and then looked down at some point and realized he was going east. So we circled around the end of it and then we went back on the scooter. I adjusted myself a little and found a more comfortable way to hold on, that didn't put so much strain on my one arm.

I was pretty surprised that all I saw was sand the whole time I was being towed, and then Rob stopped at what looked like one of the little walls parallel to the Lone Metridium (behind Hold in the Wall). Apparently Rob circled us north of Hole in the Wall, which is why we were over sand for so long. I had to ask him to confirm that we were where I thought we were. I never did see the metrid, but Rob says he saw him on the way in. He apparently stopped or slowed down and circled it with his light, but since I had his butt jammed in my face, I didn't really notice. Anyhoo, the first little wall had some hydrocoral on it, so Rob went right to work taking pictures. I found lots of little crabbies and ring snails in the hydrocoral, and pointed out what I found to Rob. Rob also found this mystery blob on the hydrocoral which is pictured at right; if anyone knows what it is, please let me know. [Edit: Clinton has ID'd this as Pedicularia californica, which, according to Dave Behrens, is a very rare species that science knows very little about]. Other than that, I looked around at the wall to see if there was anything interesting. Nothing unusual -- tons of San Diego dorids of all sizes (they seem to be out in full force these days), and I found a few Rostangas. Other than that, the usual stuff. Near the first wall, I think, Jonathan and Anibal scootered by. Later on in the dive, we heard some more scooters nearby, but we couldn't find where they were coming from. It was probably David and Dionna. We worked our way out along a couple of the walls. We saw a really big vermilion rockfish, hanging vertically in a crack. About 60 minutes in, I signalled to Rob that I was freezing and we should head in. So we turned around, and Rob proceeded to stop and take pictures of several tiny things while I was freezing to death. I finally told him we need to actually head in. So we went back into the towing position and headed in. Around 40 feet in the sand channel, I asked if I could play around with the scooter. So I was zipping back and forth while Rob kicked along beside me. It was fun. Eventually I handed the scooter back to Rob, because I thought he might want to play around with it. But he misunderstood, and signalled me to go into the tow position. So I did, and we headed in. Eventually the viz got ridiculously terrible again (at about 15 feet), so we ascended. Then we surfaced scootered in. 89 minutes, 69 feet, 49 degrees

We had some water and snacks on the surface interval, and then we headed back in, with Jonathan, Don, and Elissa. I took Stagey along, for practice (and because I was borderline in terms of how much backgas I had -- could have done the dive, but might have to cut it short). So, we got into the water, and Rob handed my stage down to me. We went down to look for the monkeyface eel, which Rob found immediately. He wouldn't eat when I held out kelp, but that was okay. He was in a pretty open spot, so we could see him well. After everyone got into the water, we started to head out, when Jonathan asked if anyone wanted a scooter for the surface. Then I noticed he had two scooters clipped to himself. So I took one, and towed Rob, who apparently also had Don hanging onto him. And Jonathan towed Elissa out. Nice, no surface swim for anyone :) But then I was stuck with the scooter. In hindsight, Jonathan and I should have just gone off and done a scooter dive. Instead, we were diving with Rob, and Elissa and Don were team two. We were going to try to find the two wolf eels we found a few weeks ago. And look for nudibranchs of course. Swimming with the scooter clipped off was a big pain, especially in the poor viz -- if I got caught up in kelp and took a minute to work it out, I would lose the team. The viz cleared up around 20 feet on dive 1, but it was quite bad until about 30 feet on this dive. It was also harder to get up close to the reef and look for small things with the scooter hanging next to me. Jonathan and I were periodically going for little spins around the reef while Rob was taking pictures. That was pretty fun.

I eventually settled into a good way to handle the scooter while it was stowed, so I could look for stuff. I found a Berthella that was pretty big. I was sure it was a Berthella, but I couldn't find rhinophores anywhere. I finally found one peeking out from under it. Rob found an Aegires (actually he says he found two, but only showed me one). And we each found some Rostangas -- Rob found one that was the smallest I've seen, and then tried to show it to Jonathan. Not sure how well that worked. Rob did find a Doris odhneri to take some pictures of, but it wasn't near eggs (which is what he was looking for). We also saw a couple of very bushy Hermissendas. Rob found a cute little kelpfish hiding in some red kelp, and took some pictures of it. We did not manage to find the wolf eels, but that's because we couldn't find the structure they were living in. So there is still hope that they are still around. I looked around transect 4, hoping to find some Festive Tritons, which we saw a bunch of last time, but did not see any. There were tons of San Diego dorids on this dive too. Eventually I called the dive because I was freezing. Rob and I switched to backgas, and headed in (on the scooter, he was towing me). We ended up taking turns towing (since there were 2 scooters and 3 people) so we each got to have some fun scooting around. I was having a lot of trouble towing Rob, but I could tow Jonathan pretty well -- he holds on a different way. Rob and I will have to try his way next time. 74 minutes, 46 feet, 49 degrees

Overall, the diving was just okay. Forgive me if this report is a bit unenthusiastic :P Afterwards, we went to RG Burger with everyone. The milkshake latency was not as bad as last time, but they made up for that in food latency :) Oh well, it was still tasty.

Pictures from the day are here.

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