It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Friday, March 13, 2009

Northern Kitties

Rob and I went to Seattle for a long weekend, with the joint purpose of visiting family and doing a little diving. Lynne managed to round up tanks for us, and also some local dive buddies to show us what there was to see. On Friday, we met up with Scott (who we met on his recent trip to Monterey) and Jeanna to dive Cove 2, which is a beginner dive site right in Seattle. Rob and I were extremely bitter about how "close to home" the dive sites are up there! We got to the site around noon, and the topside weather was great! It was unseasonably warm and sunny. Scott gave us an overview of what there was to see where at the site, and the route that we would take. We got geared up and headed into the water. The tide was pretty low, so it was a bit of a walk down the steep beach to the water. However, since there was no water movement whatsoever, it wasn't exactly a Monastery entry :)

Rob and I were mainly interested in seeing the slugs at this site, from what we had been told about it. Rob packed macro for the entire trip. Scott told us that it is often the case that you will see tons of slugs of one species (which varies over time), but we might not see a huge variety. The site consists of a sloping silty bottom, with logs and various pieces of man-made junk down there for stuff to grow on. The most notable piece of man-made junk are a bunch of big i-beams and a little wreck called the Honey Bear. We dropped in about 25 feet, and saw some sort of jellyfish in the water on the way down. We dropped at a buoy, and at the bottom there was a line (or more like a rope) running down the slope. We meandered along that for most of the dive. The silty bottom is really silty -- just moving your light around to get a look at a little nudibranch is enough to send up plumes of silt. But the silt also settled down fairly quickly.

The highlights of this dive were the variety of nudibranchs, the metridium on the i-beams, and the lingcod. There were several lings guarding their nests, which was cool because they would swim right up to us and stare us down. I saw at least 3 nests with intimidating lings circling. The i-beams at 80 to 90 feet were incredibly densely covered with metridium. There were orange metridiums (a treat -- I've only seen one in Monterey!) all over the place too. But the sheer number of white ones growing on the beams was what was really impressive. And then there were the nudibranchs. As we followed the rope down the slope, I very quickly ran into a Flabellina verrucosa. I was delighted to find such a pretty aeolid as my first slug find. We ended up seeing several more of these on the dive. The other cool finds were a Janolus fuscus (I found a tiny one perched on a rock, but when I moved my light to signal the others, I blew it off of the rock and onto the sand :( ), and a big pile of mating Aeolidia papillosa on an i-beam. They were a speckled purple color and they were huge compared to the ones we see in Monterey. We also saw several other cream-colored ones like the ones we see in Monterey. Other slug finds included a Dialula lentiginosa (we think), lots of Dialula sandiegensis (which look quite different than ours), Onchidoris muricata, a tiny Dirona albolineata, and some Limacias. There might be some pedestrian nudis that I have forgotten. Not bad considering we weren't expecting a lot of variety. Oh, and at the very end, I found some very interesting slug in 10 feet of water, but as I was getting left behind by the team, I had to swim ahead to get Rob. Then I couldn't find it again :( I think it was some sort of Ancula, but I can't be sure.

Oh and there was also a decorated warbonnet that Rob found on the i-beams. That was cute. He was totally curled up and camouflaged, but his headdress was unmistakable when Rob pointed him out to me.

We basically swam in until we could stand up. After that we headed over to the little restaurant by the cove for some chowder. It reminded me of the Breakwater deli, except that the woman there was actually friendly to the divers :) Thanks to Scott and Jeanna for leading us on a fun dive.

After Scott posted his pictures from the dive, we found out that he had found a new-to-him nudibranch, Onchidoris bilamellata, that he hadn't shown to us (bad buddy!). We were a little bummed about that (and Lynne taunted us about it!).

All of the weekend's pictures are here.

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