It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fishy Friday

On Friday, Team Kitty was out on Phil's boat. The forecast looked pretty good, and Rob came with his wetnotes jam-packed with GPS numbers for all the various sites we should consider. After some chatting about the conditions and what sites would be doable that weren't always doable, we settled on Pinnacle Point Wall. Rob and I have been there once before, but Kevin hadn't been there before. Rob was eager to go back there with scooters. I remembered it being shallower than it is, I guess because there is a peak that comes up shallower, which is where we dropped and spent a good bit of time on the last dive. After being assured that it was deep enough to make good use of our gas choice (wouldn't want to waste that extra 10% Helium), we decided to go there. It did seem like it would make for an excellent scooter run, since it is a pretty long reef.

After a short ride out to the site, we found ourselves in dead calm water, which was nice. I remarked while we were getting geared up or doing gear checks that it was nice for once not to be getting knocked around or feeling seasick while getting ready, which always makes me feel rushed. Rob had a pretty specific idea of the path he wanted to take along the wall, so he led. I refused to shoot the bag on principle (actually because my wrist was bothering me), so that left me with the role of Deco Queen (my favorite). When we flopped into the water, there was literally no current. Again, nice to be able to take a minute on the surface without trying to keep track of the line. The water also looked very clear -- we could see very far down the limp noodle of an anchor line. After everyone got their scooters and cameras sorted out, we headed down the line. I was leading, since I am, shall we say, the weakest link, when it comes to descents (especially having just gotten over an ear infection). I wow'd the boys with a 60 foot per minute descent, and then handed over the lead to Rob when we got to the reef.

Right next to where we dropped there was a giant column of rockfish. It was one of those "most fish I've ever seen in one place" type of columns. And the great part was, they didn't seem to mind us at all. We were zipping around on scooters, Rob was taking pictures, and they didn't scatter. There were also a variety of fish in the column. It was mostly blues, as usual, but there were some others in there too -- a decent number of olives, and a few canaries (Rob regarded my claims of canaries in the school with extreme skepticism, until we reviewed Kevin's video and watched a canary swim right out of the school toward the camera). There were also a lot of Chinas hanging out on the reef -- don't know if they were just out for the show or what. I noticed one that had his jaw hanging open, waiting for a tasty morsel to drift in, I guess. I have a feeling there were some other kinds of fish, that I am overlooking. I noticed there were also a lot of canaries hanging out deeper, under one of the overhangs of the wall. Anyhoo, we hung out there for a bit, not really moving very much other than to scooter around the school of fish. I found a really cool looking little fish that was hanging its head out of a hole. It was one of those long thin sort of snakey looking fish (like a ronquil). I signaled for anyone interested to come take a look, and Kevin rounded the corner from where he was, shined is light directly at the fish, and well, that was pretty much the last I saw of the fish. Actually I could still see him after he hid in his hole, but not nearly as well.

Eventually Rob suggested we move along as planned. We scootered for maybe a minute, and came across a deeper small pinnacle (if you can even call it that) off to the side of the main structure. We went over there, I pointed out a rosy rockfish or two to Rob, and I guess Rob decided that this really wasn't nicer than where we started, so we just headed back over there, to enjoy the fishies some more. I perused the reef for macro critters briefly, but I think the only thing that really interested me were some trilineatas (which I found in a couple different spots). I also noticed there were quite a few Aldisa sanguinea (the yellow shade, not the orange) out and about. I happened upon Rob shooting some fish column glamour shots and decided to place myself in the frame and pose along with them. While I was hanging out there, I noticed what looked like a skuffle going on in an elephant ear sponge on the wall. I looked over to see two painted greenlings doing their weird mating dance (I guess?). It was quite entertaining to watch. There were blue rockfish all over the place, and the one fish (male, I am guessing) seemed like he was trying to get them to leave. It was pretty cool. I called Rob and Kevin over. Rob came over and took some pictures. Kevin just sort of gave me an okay. I was certain he must not understand what I was showing him, so I insisted that he come over and get some video. Then he realized what I was showing him :)

Not long after that, it was time to go. As Rob was stowing his camera and Kevin was pulling the bag out, I was entranced by another few trilineatas on the reef, right below me. So entranced that I sort of missed the part where it was time to go and I was deco captain. Oops. We headed up and found that there was still absolutely no current, top to bottom. We were "drifting" within site of the anchor line until about 50', when Phil pulled the anchor. At 60', I looked up and could see the line all the way up to the boat, and Phil standing over the side of the boat with the float he uses to pull the anchor. Oh yea, did I mention the viz was awesome? We had a pretty uneventful deco, and it was even warm! Well, warm for those of us who take drysuit maintenance seriously :) I wasn't cold at all until about the 10' stop, when my hands got a little cold. Pretty unusual. When we got back to the surface, I remarked how nice it was to be able to take our time getting out of gear and slowly hand gear up to Phil. It was so calm, I couldn't stand to get out of the water. All in all, it was an epic day, with calm water, no current, great viz, and hundreds of fish!

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