It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, July 16, 2011

BAUE Wharf Dive

On Saturday, we attended a little BAUE get-together at the wharf. I think the wharf is awesome, because it can have lots of different kinds of nudibranchs. And it is best to dive with a group, so you can spread out the pain of having a surface support person. The last BAUE wharf dive featured a lot of surge and terrible, terrible viz. You don't really need very good viz for a good wharf dive, but the surge was pretty annoying. The forecast was looking a bit better this time around. When we got there, the water was crazy flat. After a little briefing, and the realization that nobody else wanted to dive with us, Rob and I got geared up and headed into the water. We trudged through the water for as long as I could stand and then we put our fins on and I instantly thought we should have trudged further :) Because swimming in almost-standing-height water is pretty dang annoying too. After what seemed like forever, we got to the bend in the wall, and we dropped and swam to the pilings.

The first few pilings closer in always seem to be very encrusted with the red bryozoan. They are a good place to look for fringeheads, but otherwise kind of dull, in my opinion. The pilings further out seem to have better nudibranch substrate (unless you are looking for Hermissendas). But when you are at the wharf, you have to look for fringeheads; it is part of one's duty as buddy-of-macro-diver. I find it not that hard to find fringeheads in the red bryozoan, but pretty tedious. So I looked around and after finding I think 4 fringeheads for Rob, I decided that was enough and suggested we swim out a bit further. There were a couple of slugs I was hoping to see here -- Polycera atra, because I almost never see it, but have seen many at the wharf before; and Doto amyra, which I see all the time, but always deep (except at the wharf). We swam about for a bit and I spotted a nice looking piling that was all fuzzy with hydroids and quickly set my sites on that. I found it was teeming with Eubranchus rustyus (first), and then some more leafing through hydroids eventually turned up some Dendronotus frondosus. We ended up seeing zillions of both of these slugs all over the place throughout the dive. Rob was not very pleased with my insistence that he take pictures of the Eubranchus, but eventually he found some good specimens.

Rob found the first Polycera atra (and maybe the second and third), but eventually throughout the dive I saw quite a few, and I assume Rob did as well. In the end, I did not find any Dotos at all :( We did see lots of Spanish shawls, and a couple of their egg masses, oodles of Hermissendas, mostly of the grey variety, and some trilineatas. I also found a cute little Adalaria jannae (or was it Onchidoris muricata? :P) slithering across a red bryozoan. On such a tiny little backdrop, it really seemed to be moving quick! There was one other interesting slug find, which was a yellow dorid with white dots. I thought at first it was the usual Doriopsilla, but it didn't look quite right. Then I wondered if it was the Doriopsilla mimic -- Baptodoris mimetica, which I have "never seen" in the sense that I have never noticed I have seen it :P Its back seemed way bumpier and more spotted. I made Rob take some pictures (which of course he thought was crazy, since he thought it was a Doriopsilla). After looking at the pictures, I think that's probably what it was and Rob "could believe it". But when I suggested it might be worthwhile to process and post one of the pictures (after he was already finished with the pictures from that dive) he didn't seem to agree. Hmph!

We headed in and I told Rob that I wanted to look at the concrete wall on the south end, since it sometimes has different stuff on it. We eventually made our way back there, and while I was looking on the wall and about to give us, Rob pointed out a Pacific electric ray that was swimming around. Woohoo! I knew I stuffed my hero cam in my pocket for a reason! So I whipped that out and followed the ray around for a while. It was just swimming around, then would lay down for a bit and then get up and swim around again for a while. It was really neat. Plus it was fun to use the hero cam for the type of thing it is more meant for... videoing in very shallow water.

From there, we headed in. We stopped in a couple of feet of water to look at the green anemones, and eventually we surfaced in about 3 feet. Rob took his fins off before surfacing and then found out the hard way that we weren't actually quite shallow enough for him to comfortably walk :P I swam for a while longer on the surface before popping my fins off. The beach was much more crowded than it had been when we got in. Once we were out of the water, I got out of my rather sandy drysuit, and we joined everyone for a potluck picnic on the pier. After that eventually broke up, we headed to Taste of Monterey and then Oh Sushi with Kevin (who, like us, was staying in Monterey that evening, since we had a boat on Sunday).

All of the pictures from the day are here.

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