It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Two Bays for the Price of One

Okay, I totally stole that line from Clinton. I hope he doesn't have it trademarked or anything. Saturday was the BAUE recreational boat. There were a lot of doom and gloom predictions about the weather and how we wouldn't make it to Carmel and would have to just hope to find some shelter somewhere in the bay. As we headed out, it was definitely a little choppy even in the bay. As we came up to Aumentos, there was a dramatic pause, at which point Jim went up to the wheelhouse to talk to Greg. Apparently the Silver Prince (which was doing a so-called "Big Sur" trip) had made it around to Carmel. Now, I'm not sure if the decision was made to continue on because they had a favorable report, or if it was more that if they made it around we were going to make it around, but in any case, we kept on going. I didn't think it was a particularly horrible trip, though there was the occasion moment where I thought the boat was about to tip over. Melissa assured me that we were probably fine as long as the rails weren't in the water. Even though the conditions didn't seem too horrible, I felt surprisingly queasy. But I managed to hold down my breakfast.

We pulled up to East Pinnacle and before long we hopped in the water. I was diving with Jim and Erik. Jim was leading, since I mentioned my inability to navigate at the Pinnacles. As soon as we got down the line, Erik told me that one of my backup lights was on; that's what I get for testing them before the Fundies dives last weekend (err, I mean, I check them before every dive). The viz was quite good, which was a pleasant surprise. People who had been diving Lobos in the past few days had been reporting not very good viz, but I would estimate it was at least 50 feet. Of course, that didn't stop me from spending the dive with my face buried in the reef, looking at slugs. It was a really sluggy dive! I noticed a lot of those hydroids on the kelp that look like Corambes (okay, maybe Corambes look like the hydroids, not the other way around). So of course I had to mount a search for Corambes. After looking at a few kelp leaves carefully, and finding nothing, I sort of lost interest. Then a couple minutes later, I swam over a kelp leaf that was at just the right position for me to see a Corambe in profile -- I saw it's rhinophores sticking up and got quite excited. I made Jim and Erik come over and take a look. I am sure they were both like WTF? I have no idea if Erik is interested in slugs in the least :P Then a minute later I found a hydroid and showed it to Erik so he could see how they looked so similar.

My other really exciting slug find for the dive was a little white slug also on a kelp leaf that I swam over. When I first swam over it, it looked totally foreign to me... it had bright white cerata that were frilly yet bulbous... kind of like cauliflower. Once I got a bit closer I saw that they weren't actually bulbous but were branched, like a Dendronotus. In the process of trying to show it to Erik, I knocked it off of the kelp leaf :( and then while trying to shepherd it back to the kelp it ended up on my finger! Well, since it was there, I might as well give it a thorough inspection. It had speckles on its body that I would describe as orange. I showed it to Jim too, who seemed to appreciate it despite his usual disdain for small slugs. Eventually I let it fall back into a field of kelp -- I hope it found a nice leaf to settle on. My best guess was that it was a Dendronotus frondosus, based on its size, shape, etc. though the color didn't match what I expected. After talking to Clinton and scouring the internet, apparently there is quite a lot of variation in the coloration.

Eventually we came back to the anchor line (phew... good thing Jim can navigate because I was totally oblivious with all of my nudi-peeping antics). We hung out there for another 10 minutes or so before thumbing the dive. It was a bit surgy, but there were lots of slugs to look at. I found two Cuthona divaes, and tons of trilineatas. When I saw the first Cuthona, it was totally in the kelp salad, getting blown around in the surge; yet I made Erik claw his way through the kelp salad to see it, hehehe. Of course the next one I found was totally out in the open and easy to spot :P All in all, it was a great dive. I was thrilled with all of the slug sitings, and everyone else was thrilled with the good viz! We decided to head back to Monterey bay for dive 2. Clinton remarked that he didn't know why we were heading back, as the ride back wasn't even going to be rough; I told him I thought that was the idea. Once we got into the bay, there was a poll about where to go, and a few of us mentioned Shale Island. After all of the slug action on the first dive, I was feeling optimistic about the shale.

Clinton and I buddied up for the second dive, which was perfect for my slug hunting goals. We actually were initially planning to caravan with Jim and Erik, but once we got down the line, we saw how laughable that was. So we parted ways and it was just Clinton and me. When we had pulled up to the site, there were already two boats on it, so we anchored one ridge over from the island. Jim gave us a heading to the island but suggested we could just find a ledge we liked and dive whatever. He also said that if we didn't make it back to the anchor, shooting a back and getting a pickup would be no problem. When we first got down the line, we were in some rubbly, not very interesting or distinct ledges. We wandered along them until we found a real ledge and then followed that. When we first found it, I wondered if it was Shale Island, but I didn't really know. In any case, it was similar. The shale was totally covered with those barnacles; in fact when you look down at it, it has almost a furry appearance.

We found some cool slugs, but nothing super unusual. First, I found a little guy on a hydroid, which I almost thought was just a piece of tan and white sea gunk except it was just so symmetric. So I pointed it out to Clinton, hoping he wouldn't look at me like I was crazy for pointing out a piece of sea gunk to him. Happy squeals came from his reg, and he started shooting. After reviewing the pictures, he has officially pronounced it a "Dendronotus frondosus?" :P Clinton showed me a giant Aegires, and after that I kept seeing them all over the place, and they were all unusually big (and very speckled). The last time I was at Shale Island with Lynne and Rob, I saw a few of them in normal size... I guess they have been eating well since then! I also saw several Acanthadoris hudsoni -- I was looking for A. lutea but did not see any (though Clinton did :( ). I also found a Cadlina-looking slug but it looked almost peach-colored to me, with bright gold flecks, so Clinton got some shots of it; probably a Cadlina modesta. My final find was a tiny little octopus hanging his head out of a hole (the mythical fringehead octopus) and changing colors. Very cute, but he pulled his head into the hole as soon as I pointed him out to Clinton.

At some point during the dive, I signaled to Clinton that we should turn. He gave me the "I have no idea where the anchor is" look, so I asked if we should just keep going and shoot a bag. So that's what we did. Of course I did the honors of shooting the bag, since Clinton has a mysterious camera-related condition that prevents him from shooting the bag :P We came up a bit away from the boat, but luckily the wind was pushing us toward the boat, so by the time the anchor was pulled, we had made our way to the gaggle of other divers who had come up on bags (but much closer to the boat). Short ride back to k-dock, followed by lunch at Turtle Bay. We ran into Matt, Leah, and Greg leaving as we arrived; they reported not very good viz at the Metridium Field.

Thanks to Clinton for the pictures in this post! All of the day's pictures are here.

1 comment:

Clinton said...

The two bays for the price of one line is definitely not mine, all credit to Tim Doreck for that one.