It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Pile of Kittens

Okenia felis

On Saturday, Rob, Kevin, Matt and I were diving at Lobos.  We decided to do a baby tech dive, to finally put the JJs to good use.  Okay, maybe a baby tech dive isn't actually putting it to good use.  Anyhoo, when we were discussing what to do, Rob suggested we could go Okenia hunting on the Road to Twin Peaks, so that's what we ended up settling on.  The forecast for the day was pretty "interesting" in that it looked like it was basically Armageddon from the boat-diving perspective (big wind, very short period swell) but okay from a shore diving perspective (smallish swell).  So it was just good luck that we were at Lobos and not on a boat!  And the weather turned out to be just fine for our dive.

The viz, on the other hand, was no exactly ideal.  In fact, it was really really crappy.  When we got to Hole in the Wall, the viz was pretty bad, and I was hoping that when we came around the corner, it would get better.  It did not.  Instead, it seemingly got worse, or maybe it just stayed the same and got darker.  I decided I was going to take some video, so I brought my video light.  Oh man, was that a mistake.  I had the light clipped off for a while, but then I decided I needed a light, since it was so dark.  So I got the video light out, and oy, the water was SO dirty, and add to that a video light, it was like I was diving in snow!  When we got to the base of the road, I found it was so disorienting to dive with the video light, that I had to stop and switch onto a backup light.  I had been falling behind the others a bit, and didn't want to stop and fall behind further, without a good light for signaling, but I managed to get Kevin's attention and stop and make the switch.  After going just a bit further up the road, I suggested that we stop and kick.  The viz was just too bad for me to scooter any further.  I kind of can't believe we even made it that far in that viz!

So, we started meandering up the road, looking for some critters.  It turned out to be a pretty successful critter peeping dive.  First, I found an Aldisa albomarginata.  And while showing that to the others, I realized there was a basket star right next to it!  Not too surprising, considering how dark it was.  But then, Matt made an uber-find... he found a pile of Okenia felis!  That's right, not just one or two, but a pile... of four!  One for each of us :)  We were all of course immediately transfixed, and oohing and ahhing at them.  Then Rob started to swim away, and I signaled him, to ask why he wasn't going to take a picture.  Then I looked down at his camera, and realized he had packed wide angle.  Doh!  Who brings a wide angle lens to an Okenia hunt!?!  But I'm not sure if that was the best find of the dive.  We continued along, and I eventually ended up on a small wall, and I was just inching along with my crappy little scout light, when I saw a cute little fish head.  And an even cuter littler fish tail.  I couldn't believe it, but I was staring right at a grunt sculpin!  Needless to say, I was SUPER excited.  I managed to call the boys over and they got a look without the fish getting scared away by our lights.  I was really sad that Rob didn't have a macro lens.  Sigh.  I think this is probably my best find so far this year.

Every kitty's favorite slug
Not too long after that, it was time to head back.  Just like on the way out, I was lagging behind a bit, I'm not really sure why, but it seemed like Rob and Matt were leaving us in their dust, and I was just barely keeping up with Kevin.  Then right as we approached the first Sister, my crappy little backup light started flickering.  I signaled Kevin, who stopped so I could switch.  I only had the one backup light, so Kevin gave me his.  There was then a very confusing and amusing exchange, where Kevin gave me his backup light, and I gave him mine, so he would have a backup if his primary went out.  He had no idea why I was handing it to him, since he still had one backup on him.  He figured I was just too lazy to stow it myself, hehehe.  Then as he was stowing it, it got cross-clipped, and I had to fix that. Phew, once that was all set, Matt and Rob were long gone.  We didn't think there was really much chance at all of finding them, given the viz, and since they were elbow-to-elbow when we last saw them, we quickly gave up the search and just continued on in.

Kevin led us in, and I must confess to being a little disoriented by the time we made it to the sand channel.  I thought we were still to the west, and was surprised when I discovered the sand channel.  But we headed on in from there without any (more) drama.  We ended up thumbing it from the sand south of the worm patch, but still in over 20'.  We scootered in on the surface and found that Matt and Rob hadn't returned yet.  I was a little surprised, since it seemed like we got a bit delayed.  I guess they looked for us for longer than we looked for them, so they were even more delayed (or maybe they were having fun, and they just claimed they were looking for us :P).

We went to RG Burger for lunch, where we met up with a few others who had been diving at Lobos.  The service at RG is reliably pretty bad, but they really outdid themselves this time.  I think they might be on the blacklist for a little while.

Rob was back at Lobos on Sunday again, and this time he brought the proper lens and managed to find the Okenia pile again and get some pictures (included here).  Sadly, he could not relocate the grunt sculpin :P

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