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Me diving

Friday, July 6, 2007

Anacapa, Day 2

We (Rob and I, no Ben or Nils) were on the Spectre on Friday. As it turns out, the Spectre is a lot more doubles friendly than the Peace, because you have your own little cubby, that no one can intrude on, and it fits doubles. Oh well, now I know. The conditions were calmer on the ride out, so I was hopeful that the conditions would be better overall.

Dive 1 (Underwater Island). Rob led. It was pretty surgy close to the island, and there was current on the side of the island that was protected from the swell. So for dive 1, we did a dive that wasn't too close to the island -- Underwater Island. This site is a reef in the middle of sand, that rises up from about 55 feet to around 35 feet. Rob mentioned that it reminded him on Shale Island, and I can sort of see what he means -- there were ledges along the sides of the reef that had critters in them. We were warned of some current at the site, and it was suggested that we enter the water on the upcurrent side of the boat, so we could make it to the anchor line. We actually entered on the downcurrent side, and getting to the line was not a problem. We descended into some pretty poor viz. It was dark, and both milky and chunky, viz was probably about 20 feet on the reef. The rocks were covered with patches of Corynactis, and lots of Christmas tree worms (I especially like the blue ones). There were several Spanish shawls, although not as many as other sites from the day before. I think we saw one Mexichromis and a few San Diego dorids here too. That was it for nudibranchs. There were lots of garibaldi, which I took a few video clips of. We were told that this would be a good place to find octopus, but we did not see any. On the ascent, we lost the line at 20 feet. The current seemed to be worse above about 25 feet (I didn't notice much on the site, so we were maintaining visual contact with the line at the beginning of the ascent). We ended up maybe 200 feet from the boat. Oddly, there was not a current line deployed -- you would think if the current was bad enough to dictate which side of the boat to enter from, they would have deployed a current line. Oh well. We kicked back in without discussing how it was my flub that distracted us and allowed us to lose the line.

Dive 2 (Portuguese Rocks). I led. This was a really shallow site quite close to the island. It was a little surgy above 15 feet, but at 25 feet, it was fine. The viz was much better at this site, and the water much cleaner and blue. There is supposedly a cool swim through right up by the island, which we took a look at. There is sort of a channel you swim into before you get to the swimthrough, and there was some serious surge there, so we decided to pass. I suspect we'd actually made it past the surgiest point when we decided to turn around though :) I was at first not too excited about this site... the rocks are somewhat barren, in terms of encrusting life. There were not as many Corynactis, Christmas tree worms, etc. as the previous site. There were lots of sea urchins, garibaldi, and sea hares. This was apparently a good site for bat ray sitings, so when we decided to turn around, we swam out over the sand to look for rays. Just as we left the wall, we swam over a pretty uninteresting rock, but it had a pretty pink anemone on it, so I pointed it out to Rob (thought he might want to take a picture of it). As he was checking it out, I was staring at the rest of the rock, and I noticed a blue streak... there was a Navanax! I've never seen one before, so I was pretty excited. Rob took some pictures, and we continued on. We did not see any bat rays, so we eventually returned to the reef right by the anchor line. We decided to just hang out around there for a while. Rob was dawdling taking a picture of something (which I couldn't see, turns out it was a Spanish shawl), so I was checking out a rock behind him. I found a small Limacia cockerelli (which, you may remember from last week, is my favorite nudibranch at the moment). Rob took some pictures of it, while I shined my light on it, since he does not have a focus light (yet, anyway). We piddled around a little longer and returned to the boat. Even though the site wasn't necessarily the most beautiful, it was a cool dive, since we found some neat stuff.

After the second dive, I really had to pee. I was a little worried about my neckseal, but it came off okay. Now, slinking out of my drysuit and fitting into the head on the Spectre was a different matter. I have the DUI rock boots on my drysuit, and they are a bit annoying to put on and take off. So I generally try to avoid taking off my drysuit entirely between dives. Instead I just pull it down to my knees, but then you have 3/4 of a drysuit and 3/4 of an undergarment floating around in the bathroom with you. As some of you know, my Bare undergarment has a butt flap on it (okay, in real life I call it an ass flap, but I like to keep the blog clean), which I have made fun of on many occasions. The zipper on it sometimes gets stuck on my drysuit when I am pulling it on, so as far as I am concerned it is just a nuisance. When I was mumbling to Rob about fitting my drysuit in the head, he jokingly suggested using the butt flap. So I thought... hey, why not? So I used the butt flap. It was actually quite convenient. The secret to it is that you still have to unzip the front of the undergarment, so you can shimmy whatever you are wearing under the undergarment (I wear polypro biker shorts) down. So using the butt flap, I still had the 3/4 of a drysuit flopping around on the floor, but no undergarment.

Dive 3 (Cathedral Cove). Rob led. We've dived this site many times before, and it is my favorite site at Anacapa. It is a nice easy dive, with a nice kelp forest and good variety in terms of critters, small and large. We descended onto a rock with some nice Spanish shawls, so Rob started taking pictures. While I was waiting for him, a digital watch came raining down on me. I grabbed it, couldn't find any divers right above me, so I put it in my pocket. While I was waiting for Rob, I also found some fish for him to shoot -- a blue-banded goby and a very photogenic island kelpfish (thanks to John Yasaki, for the ID). Before we moved along, Rob pointed out this tiny Spanish shawl to me, probably 6 to 8 millimeters long, flapping in the surge. We were visited by sea lions throughout the dive. I think one of them was following us for much of the dive. When we first encountered him, he was swimming around us, checking us out, and then he settled in the sand and posed for us. Unfortunately Rob was shooting macro, and I was sans camera (dead battery). He was the most cooperative sea lion I have ever met, so of course we couldn't take a picture. While he was posing, a smaller sea lion came by to our left and was hovering in the water, chewing on his back flipper -- it was very Peps-like. I also found several tiny Hermissendas -- all under 1 cm in length. I didn't see any normal sized Hermissendas at all, only the tiny ones. I also found a new(ish) nudibranch. I think it may be the same as the one I found on red seaweed last weekend at Lobos. This guy I found right next to some of the same sort of red seaweed. I noticed it after finding what looked like some sort of slug eggs on the seaweed. Rob got a not-great picture, but good enough for ID. We think it is probably Aegires albopunctatus. I also eventually found two Limacias (separately). When I found the first one, I literally swam past it, and then backed up when it hit me that I had just seen something that looked like a Limacia. I also saw a Prostheceraeus bellostriatus (a polyclad worm which is considered a nudibranch mimic), and a small Mexichromis, plus tons more Spanish shawls, on this dive. Right as we started to ascend, I noticed some sort of jellyfish in front of us. At first, I just thought it was some sea junk, but then I noticed it had these regularly spaced out red horns, and when I looked closer, I realized it was a jelly. I looked in my jellyfish book, and the closest looking thing is Leucothea pulchra, although I am not very confident in the identification. As we were ascending to 10 feet, the diver recall went off. I think it is mildly annoying that on the Spectre, they do not give you a time limit for dives. Instead, if you are the last in the water and they feel like leaving, they will recall you. Rob and I argued a little at the 10 foot stop about whether we should finish our stop, which he insisted on. So I yielded, since he was leading the dive.

I definitely prefer when Rob is shooting macro -- while he is taking pictures of something, I can be looking nearby for his next subject.

Selected pictures from the trip are here in the BAUE gallery.
All of the pictures from the day can be found here.

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