It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Wharf

Photo by Mark Lloyd
On Saturday, BAUE had a little dive get-together at the Wharf. Since you have to have surface support to dive here, we never get to dive here. So we figured if we did a group thing, a lot of people could get the chance to dive with just one or two people volunteering to do surface support. Rob volunteered to do surface support for the first dive. I dove with Mark and Cynthia. I was glad that Mark showed up looking for a buddy, since I was hoping for some good critter-peeping and wanted to have a macro photographer in tow to capture any good finds :) The turnout was not that good, I'm guessing because of all of the talk about zero viz and red tide that had been swirling around during the week.

Photo by Mark Lloyd
Well, the talk turned out to be quite accurate. In stark contrast to our 80 feet or so of viz the day before south of Lobos, we had like 5 foot viz opening up to maybe 10 foot viz as we got further out. We surface swam right to the pillars because I wasn't convinced we could manage to not lose each other if we dropped in the sand and then swam to the pilings. The first several sets of pilings are covered with the red bryozoan, which, as far as I can tell, is not really home to any interesting nudibranchs (just Hermissendas). It does however seem to house tons of fringeheads. The first fringehead I stumbled upon was actually in a big chunk of bryozoan laying on the bottom (growing on a maybe football-sized rock). I saw him peeking out as I swam over it. I showed it to Mark, who started snapping shots. That particular fish was pretty cooperative for the camera, I think. Not as skittish as others. Later on, I saw several more peering out from the bryozoan on the pilings.

Photo by Mark Lloyd
It was really surgy, which made looking for (and even more so, photographing, I gather) little critters quite annoying. I didn't think the bad viz was that big of a problem for the dive, since it was all macro stuff to look at anyway. But the surge was really annoying. We eventually made it to the further out pilings where there is substrate other than red bryozoan. I prefer these pilings, since they have more of a variety of things living on them. On our last dive here, we saw tons of cool nudibranchs, so I was hoping for a repeat of that. There were a few good finds (but overall not quite as good as last time). First, I found an Acanthodoris rhodoceras. I didn't know what it was at the time, but I definitely remembered seeing it from the ID book. I quickly found Mark and insisted he get some pictures. Then I found Mike (who was diving with Clinton) and he got some pics. I could tell that Clinton was in the middle of a tense standoff with a small fish he was trying to shoot, so I didn't want to bother him. Turns out he would have preferred I had interupted to show him the slug. I told him that it was implied that Mike was supposed to pass it on. Other slug finds that I liked included an Adalaria jannae, a bunch of Melibes and Diaphorodoris lirulatocauda, and a ton of Triopha maculata.

Photo by Mark Lloyd
At some point I gave up on finding Mark everytime I found something cool to shoot, and decided I was going to just point things out to the closest photographer. Right about then, I found the first Triopha, and it was laying flat on a piling. I saw Mike, pointed it out to him, and just then, Mark swam around a piling and looked at me like I was a traitor. It's true, I was. Later on, I noticed some kind of hydroid that the Triophas seemed to like, and once I identified that, I was seeing them all over the place. So Mark had plenty of opportunities to get some shots of them. We had seen several Melibes swimming in the water, and eventually Mark pointed out a spot on a piling with some Melibes. There was a patch of Corynactis feasting on one Melibe, and then next to them, on a patch of piling that wasn't covered in Corynactis, there were some more Melibes that were happy to be alive. Mark told me after the dive that he had actually seen the slug swimming in the water and then swim into the piling, at which point the anemones clamped down on it. By the time he pointed it out to me, it was just like bits of Melibe sticking out from the piling -- it was hard to figure out what I was looking at at first! Nature can but rough.

Eventually we turned the dive and headed in. We swam all the way back to the concrete wall at the base of the pier, which I have never been to before. The wall itself looked like a great place for slug hunting. I saw more of the same (including a huge Diaphorodoris, big enough to easily point out to Mark), and I think an Aldisa cooperi. I found that interesting, since I have only seen these slugs at deeper than 100'. But Clinton reminded me that it had been spotted in a tidepool in the Big Sur area, so it's not too surprising to find one in the shallows.

By the time we got out of the water, Clinton had already looked at and ID'd Mike's pics of the Acanthodoris (and berated me for not showing it to him).

1 comment:

Kenn said...

More updates please :D

Cat-related are acceptable. Rabbit pictures will be distributed in return.