It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Q-Tip by Kick

Photo by Clinton Bauder
I mentioned in my last post that I was lamenting the fact that we couldn't do a shallow shore dive at Lobos, considering the awesome viz in the cove.  Well, as luck would have it, I got to do just that on Saturday, with Clinton.  I was originally slated to help Rob with a class, but ended up being absolved of that responsibility.  So I went for a fun dive with Clinton instead.  There had been some leopard shark sitings recently, so I decided we should go look for some of our own.  So I told Clinton that his mission was to find a leopard shark.  So we decided to drop on the east side of the cove and swim out toward Granite Point.  The east side of the cove and Middle Reef is usually a good place for leopard sharks.

We got into the water at a lowish tide, and found really good viz right by the ramp.  We swam not too far on the surface before deciding to drop in the cove, and swim out across the sand.   A couple minutes into the dive, Clinton excitedly waved at me, and what do you know? he'd found a leopard shark!  I looked at my gauge and saw that it was 4 minutes into the dive.  Leopard shark, check.  What next?  The leopard shark was of the skittish variety, so he really didn't stick around long.  Clinton did manage to get one shot off on his camera to at least prove that we did see one.  We continued on and found a nice school of blue rockfish in the kelp in the sand to the east of Middle Reef.  We stopped there for some pictures and video.  The fish really didn't seem to mind Clinton's strobes at all.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
From there, we meandered across the sand and eventually we hit Granite Point Wall.  We were moving along pretty slowly, stopping for pictures of video here and there.  We stayed pretty high up on the reefs, instead of following the bottom like I usually do.  I guess that's because the viz was so good, so we could see everywhere (including down to the bottom) from up there.  There were a lot of fish.  We encountered several nice-sized schools of blue rockfish, and one big school of perch a bit further out (around 70 or 80 feet).  There were also the usual lingcods scurrying about.  Like I said, we were hanging out pretty high up the reefs on the way out, so we were in the 50 to 60 foot range pretty much the whole time.  Then suddenly we were at 80 feet, and I realized that we had gotten pretty far out.  Eventually after about an hour, I suggested we turn around.  I was getting cold, and I figured that while the swim in would be faster, it wouldn't be that much faster, so an hour was a good time to turn it.  At this point, Clinton suggested that swim out from the reef a little and then loop around.  Okay.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
So we swam out and then I saw below me, a little rock out in the sand, covered with metridium.  Really?  I couldn't believe that we had swam all the way out to Q-Tip, but I was sure that that's what I was staring at.  Clinton was scratching his head, which pretty much confirmed that he was thinking exactly what I was thinking.  Clinton zoomed down to get some pictures.  I attempted to follow him, but my ears were just not cooperating, so I was stuck at 80 or so feet while.  So I figured this would be a good place to hang out and be the silhouette :)  Turns out that was a good plan, because Clinton got some awesome shots there!  Once we were finished with that, we headed in along the edge of the reef.  When we got back to the main wall, I was looking around in the rocks for little critters, when I saw what I thought were a lobster’s antennae poking out from a crack.  Hmm.  I contorted myself every which way trying to see back into the crack, and it just wasn’t happening.  So I signaled Clinton and made a hand signal for antennae and pointed out the crack.  Then he spazzed out a bit around the crack and came back reporting that he thought he saw something.  Later (after the dive) we discussed it and he said he thought he had caught a glimpse of a lobster, but couldn’t be sure.  I guess he has seen them before at Monastery and I’ve seen a carapace at Lobos, so there must be some of them around.  After that, we headed out over the sand and intercepted Middle Reef pretty close to the tip on the east side.  We crossed over the reef and eventually popped out on the sand channel, where we found yet another school of blue rockfish hanging out in the kelp.  Yawn: :)

Photo by Clinton Bauder
Since the viz was awesome, when we got to the worm patch, we kept on going.  When we were over the sand in maybe 15 feet, I suddenly noticed an absence of Clinton.  I turned around and saw him preparing to get pictures of something in the sand.  Another leopard shark?  No, but still pretty cool – a thornback ray.  He was pretty tolerant of us inspecting him and flashing him with strobes.  Yay.  We were with him for quite a while.  Eventually we had everything we wanted, so we headed in and surface just a few kicks from the ramp.  Clinton told me that he was tempted to call 7 minutes of deco to make the dive an even 2 hours.  I wouldn’t have been too please with that, since I was pretty well-chilled by this point.

Conditions on Sunday
We hung out on the surface for a while, waiting for Ted and Ben to get out of the water, since we figured they might be interested in joining us for lunch.  And they were.  We headed to RG Burger for some mediocre milkshakes (which never happens at RG!).

I was originally supposed to dive again on Sunday, but the combination of my misbehaving ears and a turn in the weather convinced me to go for a little hike instead.  I followed the path over to Monastery, and traversed all of the little offshoots from that path.  So I got to meet the thumb in person.  Somehow its skinny vs tall aspect ratio was not quite as I expected.  I also walked down to the water at Coal Chute Cove, which I didn't realize there was a path to.

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