It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lobos Day

Photo by Clinton Bauder
On Saturday, there was a BAUE gathering at Lobos. When we first started doing these events, I tried to find new (to me) dive buddies, but I eventually got sick of inviting people to dive with me -- since no one ever invites me to dive (isn't that sad?). So this time around I was lame and ended up diving with Clinton. Not exactly a new-to-me buddy :P Matt and John were brushing up on some of there T1 skills and wanted someone to video some of it. So the plan was one long-ish dive with Clinton and then a long-ish dive video'ing the boys. Clinton and I scootered out to Granite Point. He was shooting macro, so finding nudibranchs and such was the plan.

Clinton and I managed to be the first team in the water, despite feeling like we were dawdling as we got ready. The tide was pretty high, so the walk into the water was not too treacherous. We got our scooters (and my stage bottle) off of the float, and headed out on the surface. Right around the mouth of the cove, the kelp was really thick and there was no obvious path to go through, so I suggested dropping there. I was leading, and was relieved to quickly find the sand channel. The viz was a bit murky on the way out, but right around 40 feet, it seemed to abruptly open up and get blue. We continued out to Granite Point Wall, where I would say the viz was good but not great. We first headed around to the back of the wall, and poked around in the channel there. Right as we came around to the channel, a harbor seal came darting down the wall and across the channel. I was hoping he might come and play with us, but he didn't show himself again. After poking around in the channel for a bit, we eventually meandered up to the top of the wall, and looked around in the kelp. I saw mostly the usual slug suspects, and anything that I saw that might be remotely interesting to photograph (e.g. Limacias) were tucked into cracks. So after about 15 minutes of that, I suggested we headed north to find another spot.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
I decided we should go to the little rock with hydrocoral that Rob likes. There always seem to be Dendronotus albus, trilineatas, and often Hilton's nudibranchs over there. We hopped from wall to wall until we got there, and then we clipped off our scooters and spent the rest of our time kicking around there. I found a few Hiltons, though Clinton said every time I found one, it ended up curling up into a completely unphotogenic position for him... silly slugs. There were also plenty of the expected slugs, and a lot of Hermissendas and Rostangas with egg ribbons (some pretty big). The one other strange find was this tiny neon orange thing that looked like a mini-crab or bug to me. I found it, then lost it while I tried to get Clinton's attention and then found it again after I finally stopped looking. Now that I have seen it in it's fully photographed glory, it's actually kind of icky looking.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
Something like 75 minutes into the dive, Clinton gave me some signal that I didn't quite get. He said something along the lines of "I can't see well". At first this seemed like a slightly disturbing signal to get from a buddy, until I looked around and realized the water around us had suddenly gotten green and murky. It was weird. In the space of a few minutes, we went from maybe 40 foot blue, relatively clean viz, to 15 feet of green murk. We theorized that a whale came by and peed on us. A few minutes later we decided to head in. After scootering for about a minute, the viz cleared up, though in the sand channel it was definitely worse than it had been on the way out. On the way in, we passed Mark, Dionna and Jo on the way out at about 30'. They gave us a signal about a camera that we didn't understand. Apparently Mark's camera ran away during the dive :( (I actually thought this was a joke at first, because we'd been joking about the prospect of him dropping his camera before the dive -- guess it's best not to joke about these things). We scootered back in to 12 or 13 feet, at which point I decided it was annoying to keep track of Clinton on the trigger in the murk. So we ascended there and finished the journey on the surface. I found a big hole in the ramp on the way out. I don't know if it is new, new to me, or just an extension of the old hole on the north side of the ramp.

After a surface interval and some lunch, I headed back into the water. The plan was to meet the guys out at their SMB and do some video, since they were already in the water. Cynthia and Erik were getting geared up, so I asked if I could tag along with them for the swim out. I made Ted (who was standing around in his drysuit) escort me down the ramp, since the tide had receded a bit and now the slope of it was really slippery. We swam out to the float just as they were coming up from a dive -- perfect timing. Unfortunately the camera that they had brought along wouldn't turn on, so my services were not required. So I just went on a dive with Cynthia and Erik instead. They were headed to the Hole in the Wall/Lone Metridium area. The viz in the sand channel was much worse than the first dive, and by the time we got past Hole in the Wall, it was dark and green. What a difference a few hours makes. We hopped from ridge to ridge, but I have to admit that in that viz, I didn't have a good idea of where we were at any given moment (for instance, I'm not sure if we made it past Lone Metridium or not... I just know we were on one of those parallel ridges west of HitW). At some point on the way back in, we swam over Jo and Clinton. Clinton said we were near Lone Metridium when we swam over them. So we probably did pass it and just didn't see it.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
I saw a few critters of note. First, on the way out, on top of HitW reef, Cynthia pointed out a kelpfish blending in with the coralline algae. I've never seen one that color; it looked a lot like this one. Second, out along one of those anonymous ridges, I was shining my light in a crack (looking for whatever) when I saw a small orange and white striped fish. It had a lot of narrow stripes, and the while stripes had a blue-ish edge to them. It looked like a tropical fish! The only thing even remotely similar to it that I could think of is a blue-banded goby. After a bit of googling, it looks like they sometimes have blue-lined white stripes. I didn't really find any reputable fish ID sites mentioning this color variations, but a google images search found several pictures with mostly white stripes (not that you can believe what you read on the internet...). Finally, Cynthia pointed out a San Diego dorid on the way back in (on the little ridge along the sand channel just east of HitW reef), whose spots were really small and barely brown.

As we came around HitW on the way in, it felt like we were swimming in molasses. Dionna had mentioned some "strange currents" along the sand channel on the way in from the first dive. I guess this is what she was talking about. On the way in on the sand channel, there was barely any current though. After we got out, I rinsed my gear (Rob will be so proud) and hung out until Matt and John got out of the water. I was mooching a ride home from John, since Rob was staying down in Monterey through Sunday. Beto was kind enough to take my gear back in his truck and move it to Rob's van for me. When Clinton got out, he said that they had found a new wolf eel out in the area where we were. I didn't see the wolf eel, but I'm including his picture here, since it's just too cute not to post :)

Thanks Clinton for the pictures in this post.

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