It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, June 3, 2007

East Pinnacles

Rob, Clinton, and I went out on the Escapade this morning. There were only 8 or 9 divers on board (although Mark and Dionna were carrying enough tanks for quite a few more :P), so it was nice and spacious on the boat. The water was super calm as we headed out, but it was a little foggy. I figured the fog would clear, since it is often foggy in the morning. Just as we left the harbor, a sea gull pooped on my head. Luckily I was wearing a hat. I felt something fall right on the top center of my head, and figured it was either bird poop, or a big drop of water. I asked Rob to look at the top of my hat, and sure enough it was not a drop of water. Hehe. On the way out (just a little past Point Pinos), we ran into a pod of dolphins. Or should I say pods of dolphins. There were dolphins everywhere you looked all around the boat. At first we ran into some Risso dolphins, and then we noticed some that were riding the bow wake didn't have dorsal fins -- they were Northern Right Whale Dolphins. Eventually a bunch of common dolphins showed up to join the party. It was so cool. I've never seen more than maybe 10 dolphins at once in the water. I would estimate there were 200 or 300 dolphins, but it's pretty hard to guess when there are that many :) And I've only ever seen common dolphins before. The Rissos were big with funny shaped heads -- when we saw them swim by the boat underwater they looked REALLY big. Their coloration was interesting, the white scars really made it look like they'd been torn up. The northern right whales were very enthusiastically bow riding, which was cool to watch. Plus they don't really look like dolphins because of the lack of dorsal fin. The Rissos took a turn bow riding too, which Clinton claimed was unusual. The Rissos and common dolphins both made some impressive jumps. We were probably hanging around watching the dolphins for about a half hour. Beto took some video, and Jim was taking pictures. Hopefully something will come of that. If so, I will post the links later.

We continued on to East Pinnacles in Carmel. I've never been there before. The plan was to stay there all morning, so we could do one long dive, two hour-long dives, or whatever we wanted. We hopped in to do our first dive, which we planned for one hour. We descended and I was having some ear problems. Clinton drops like a rock on descent, which I admit is fun, but my ears do not always cooperate. Anyhoo, I made it down alright though a bit slower and we hopped to the next pinnacle from where the anchor was. The viz was about 30-40 feet, with a fair amount of light at 60 feet. I noticed a long piece of kelp bent way over on the pinnacle where the anchor was... it didn't occur to me at the time that this was because of current :) Anyway, we got to a spot with some nice hydrocoral (Rob mentioned beforehand that he wanted to shoot hydrocoral, and Clinton was shooting macro, looking for nudibranchs), and we hung out there. There was a little rock wall (about 25 feet tall), with some rocks that sloped down next to it. Between the vertical wall and the angled walls, there was sort of a channel, where we spent most of the dive, looking at the various rock faces. There was a slightly annoying current going, such that I kept getting blown to the end of the vertical wall and out of the channel. Somehow Clinton and Rob managed to hold themselves steady enough to take pictures. But I kept finding myself at the end of the channel again :)

Near the beginning of the dive, I saw 4 Hermissendas, all in the same area. But I didn't see any others for the rest of the dive. Several of the sections of rock were covered in strawberry anemones of various colors. There were patches of different color, much like on the pilings at Wharf 2. And some tall strawberry anemones, which I think are neat -- their "trunks" are so pretty. I also saw several egg yolk jellyfish, which I've never seen before. They are one of the kinds of jellyfish I always see beautiful pictures of, but most of the jellyfish I have seen are not that beautiful. But finally I saw some pretty ones! (I still want to see a sea nettle though!) They were various sizes, some had bells that were just larger than a fist, and some were probably about 8 inches across. Rob also found a Limacia cockerelli. It was a nice big one, and you could see its red rhinophores very distinctly (unlike the one I found at Lobos a couple weeks ago, where it was too tiny and bunched up to see them). Clinton pointed out two tiny nudibranchs, a Cuthona fulgens and a Catriona columbiana (those are pictures he took on this dive), so I guess he was successful on his mission. They were both probably just a few millimeters long (I don't know how he finds these things!). He also saw a sea spider (also a picture from this dive), but didn't show it to us because it was so difficult to see (as you can tell from the picture, a strawberry anemone looks huge next to it!) Rob also pointed out a smallish (1 to 2 inches across) hot pink anemone to me. I inspected its column, and it was hot pink with white spots, so I am thinking it was just a very small white-spotted rose anemone (awww, a baby). This makes me wonder... I've seen some small hot pink anemones before that I figured were just something I wasn't familiar with, but maybe that's what they were too.

Near the end of the dive, Rob whipped out his wetnotes and told me that he had found a shy fish and I should cover my light so he could show it to me. We are pretty sure it was a mosshead warbonnet (unfortunately Clinton did not see it, I'm sure he could have identified it). It was really cute. It was just sticking its head out when I got to it, but Rob said when he first came across it, his body was out too and he backed in when Rob shined his light on him. As a funny aside, Rob actually completely misidentified the fish in the note he wrote to me, so when he showed me the fish, I was pretty confused. But it was alright, since it was a really cool, cute fish. Just after we finished looking at the fish, Clinton signalled we should head in. Rob and I simultaneously noticed a wolf eel below us, just hanging out on a rock! There he was, splayed out in all his glory. I have never seen a wolf eel before (yes, I'm very underprivileged... Clinton couldn't believe I'd never seen one before). He swam around a little and then settled into a crevice. No pictures, since it was a pretty brief encounter, just as we were heading in. We returned to the line, and had a bit of current on the ascent. It seemed like I was swimming a little the whole time, just to stay in place. It's a good thing we ascended on the line, the teams that did not had to have a current line thrown/swam to them. 65 minutes, 69 feet, 48 degrees

We hung out on the surface for a bit, I went through the oh-so-painful process of getting out of my drysuit enough to go to the bathroom (again, someone should really invent a P-valve for chicks... it's annoying enough to have to de-suit on shore, but on a pitching boat it totally sucks), then we headed back in. I started to descend and at about 18 feet, my ears were killing me, so I went up to 15 feet, and signalled to Rob I was having ear trouble. He slowed down his descent, but I was just stuck there. So he signaled to Clinton and ascended and I met him at the surface. 15 seconds later, Clinton popped up and said his camera's leak detector was going off. Oy! So we told the boat we were okay, but Clinton told them he had a camera problem and needed help. The rescue diver dove in and swam a boogie board out, and Clinton put the camera on that and he paddled it back in. Great service for a camera-in-distress! Rob noted that it made him feel better to know that if he ever needed to be rescued, they were so speedy at getting into the water and out to us. Clinton and I assured him that since he is worth less than Clinton's camera, he wouldn't get such good service :) So, we got back on the boat to regroup. Clinton was out, and given my ear problems, I didn't feel like getting back in just to find out that I really wasn't going to make it below 15 feet. We also only had 35 minutes left until the boat was supposed to be heading back. Oh and I was a little tired from the swim back to the boat (the boat had swung away from us during our brief foray undewater). So we punted. 18 feet, 1 minute, 58 degrees :)

While we waited for everyone else (well, just Beto, Dionna, and Mark, since the one other team had already finished their second dive), Rob played around with Clinton's and Jim's cameras, and they talked lenses and such, since Rob is considering getting the same camera model that they both have. I was feeling a little queasy, which I suspect had more to do with all the junk food I ate on the surface interval than seasickness. I do enjoy the Escapade's bin of junk food :) Apparently, Beto et al. saw a shark (which they couldn't identify) on their dive. Dionna said it was like 5 feet, and Mark said it was more like 3. Hehe. After consulting a book, it turned out to be a spiny dogfish. Made me slightly regret not getting back in. The ride back in was uneventful, we didn't see 100 dolphins or anything.

Once we got back, we chatted in the parking lot for a while, and I met Barbara Dwyer. She and I have conversed over email but never met -- she has two cats who look an awful lot like Oreo and Pepper (and have similar attitudes from the sounds of it). After that, Clinton, Rob, and I headed to Turtle Bay. And I finally tried something new! I have had chicken enchiladas everytime I have ever gone there (the red sauce is addictive!). So I tried something new... the baja fish bowl. It was tasty.

Clinton's pictures are here. Rob's pictures are inlined... will update later when he gets around to putting up a gallery.


platypus rex said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
platypus rex said...

Adrienne still rocks!

Rob said...

platypus sux.

platypus rex said...

but Adrienne still rocks!