It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Monday, September 3, 2007

Beto's Reef

Rob, Kevin, and I went to Point Lobos today and did a dive to Beto's Reef. We met at the gate before the park opened, and chatted with Harry Wong, who was scooting with Jonathan today. Harry asked us if we were "practicing" and I told him we were practicing diving Beto's Reef :) They were planning on going to Twin Peaks or some such site that is out of my range. After we got into the park, Rob, Kevin, and I headed up to the top of the hill to check out the water. It looked pretty calm. We ran into another dive team up their contemplating their dive plan, and chatted with them briefly. At least one of them is on Scubaboard, and has apparently read some of my reports (and you know how much Kitty loves meeting blog readers). After a bit more putzing around, we decided to get dressed and gear up. The plan was a pretty straightforward dive to Beto's Reef, with possible visits to Sea Mount and Itchy and Scratchy (our pet wolf eels) on the way in. I was leading. And we were each supposed to do a valve drill (fun fun) at the beginning. You may have noticed that I've been leading a lot of dives lately. Apparently I suck at leading dives, and Rob sucks at not leading dives (or rather, letting me lead dives), so we've been working on that. Rob says that I have become "mad with power" from leading so many dives. Bwahaha.

In the past, I have gone to Beto's Reef two different ways. One is to go to Lone Metridium and then head North (which tends to put you just west of Beto's Reef, but close enough to see it on a decent viz day); the other is to go straight from Hole in the Wall, by going NNW or so. I think that in theory the Hole in the Wall route is faster, so that is how I was planning to go. We swam out on the surface for a while, and dropped in 40'. I am sure Rob wanted to swim further, since he likes the death swims, but since I was mad with power, I decided where to drop :P We dropped down, hung out for a minute, and each did our valve drill. While we were doing them, I noticed we were drifting back into the cove, which made sense since the tide was clearly coming in when we were swimming out. Actually, while I was doing my valve drill, I assumed that it was just me, nervously finning while I valve'd and moving us away from where we started. Then when Rob was doing his valve drill, and we were drifting in the direction of Rob's feet, I figured it was unlikely he was nervously kicking himself backwards (although he does have a fabulous back-kick), and figured out what was going on. Anyhoo, after we were done, about 10 minutes into the dive, we headed out along the sand channel. I eventually started to skirt the edge of the reef, and we hit hole in the wall. After briefly marveling at its beauty, we were off. There is a rock just north of hole in the wall that I like, so I was checking it out for some nudibranchs. Didn't see anything too exciting though. So, we were heading NNW, and then I realized I had veered a little too west. Then I saw lone metridium in the distance. Whoops. I also saw some lights in the distance -- Jonathan and Harry. We swam over to lone metridium to say hello to them, and watch them switch to their deco bottles. Rob took some pictures, and Kevin flipped over to look at the surface, which we could see from here (60 feet-ish).

We headed north from there, and after just a couple minutes, we saw it just to our right. In hindsight, I think I actually prefer the lone metridium path, because there is less time spent over boring sand and rubble reef. Although there is a nice elephant ear sponge in like 70' if you go the other way. We slowly worked our way down the reef, where I saw lots of nudibranchs. I kept signaling Rob to look at a nudibranch, and I could tell he was like... leave me alone, I'm trying to shoot wide-angle! I saw several Tritonia festiva right away, and continued to see more during the dive. I also saw a couple of Spanish shawls, which I've only ever seen once before on a shore dive (at MacAbee). I also saw a bunch of Triopha catalinae, one quite small; a small Cadlina flavomaculata; and tons of the usual suspects (Cadlina luteomarginata, Doriopsilla, San Diego dorids). There were also lots of pretty elephant ear sponges and several gorgonians. And some glassy tunicates (thanks Dionna for helping me to identify them), which I have never seen before. There were the usual rockfish in holes, which seem to be everywhere at Beto's Reef. I also saw these sponges which I have only ever noticed at Beto's Reef, but which are all over the place there. I forced Rob to take a picture, so I could ID it. It looks a lot like the picture of Microciona parthena in Gotshall's invertebrates book, although it claims the range is SoCal.

Kevin happened to be diving 30/30, so Rob and I each took a swig briefly to see what we thought. I have 3 comments on my Discover Helium experience (in the order that I observed them): 1) I swear it made my teeth cold; 2) wow, this is much easier to breathe; and 3) I didn't feel any different breathing it, but when I switched back to my reg from his, it seemed much more trivial than when I switched to his from mine (what can I say, I have a history of tangling my hoses while "intoxicated"). So that's something I guess. After the dive, Kevin said that Rob took a couple breaths off of it, and then after he handed it to me, he was wondering if he was ever going to get it back. I guess I was waiting for something magical to happen, but it didn't. So eventually I gave it back, before Kevin ripped it out of my mouth :)

We headed back and almost instantly hit Sea Mount. I never realized just how close it is to Beto's Reef, but I guess it helps when the viz is about 60 feet :) We swam past it, pointed it out to Kevin, and just kept heading in. We hit the sand channel and swam in along that. We punted on Itchy and Scratchy due to gas constraints. Once we were in about 20 feet of water, we were joined by a school of blue rockfish (nice sized ones, too). They were swimming in front of and among us. I felt like I was part of the school. Then we started to swim through this dense brownish streaky particulate just hanging in the water. I was wondering if it was blue rockfish poop, and after getting sufficiently grossed out by that concept, I thumbed it. 105 feet, 93 minutes, 50 degrees

No cats were harmed in the making of this report, other than having to pry my dive computer from Pepper's jaws to get the depth and time (mmm, bungee).

Pictures from the day are here.

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