It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dialula Lovefest

Today, I dove at Point Lobos with Rob and Matt. The plan was to do some nudibranch survey for the BAUE nudibranch project for dive 1, and do whatever for dive 2. It was overcast and chilly when we got there, and the water was really really high. Like sloshing up into the parking lot from the ramp high. This made for a delightfully easy entrance into the water though. There was also a super clean path down the left (as you face the water) side that must have been power-washed in the past two days (didn't notice it there on Friday). We decided to survey the two shallower transects, unless the surge was too bad and then we'd move to the deeper ones.

We swam out and descended in about 25 feet of water. It was surprisingly choppy on the surface, which is why we descended sort of early. I was getting sick of getting mouthfuls of salt water. We descended on rocks, not the sand channel. I started to take us in a direction which I believed would take us to the sand channel (while simultaneously heading further out). Rob told me I was going the wrong way, but I was really sure of it, so I waved him off (hoping not to turn out to be wrong :P). In a couple minutes, we hit the sand channel, and I was relieved. We soon got to the area of the shallowest transect, and I took us over there. The sand was really kicked up -- the water was a very nice blue color, but there were tons of sand particles moving around in the surge. In hindsight, it might have been better to move to the deeper transects considering how surgy it was. It made it pretty hard to point stuff out to Matt while I was surveying. As we swam up to the transect, I saw a Tritonia festiva before I even settled in to start the count. So, I surveyed the transect, which was pretty uneventful. I actually did not see very many nudibranchs, which was sad. When I was finished, I was glad to move on to a deeper and hopefully less surgy area.

We headed out further, and after a visit with the wolf eels (both of whom were home, although I could only see the male's head), we went to the next transect. We saw quite a few moon jellies on the way, some alive, some dead, some being eaten. As I came around the corner right before getting there, I noticed a few rocks that had piles of Dialula sandiegensis on them. Most of them were paired up and mating. There were probably 15 to 20 of them on two rocks right next to each other. Unfortunately they were all on the rocks next to the transect, and not on the transect :) Again, I didn't really count too many nudis. And nothing was very exciting except for one little Limacia. It was actually pretty nice looking, because it was on a nice big patch of yellow sponge, so it stood out very nicely. And I thought the orange and red/orange on the Limacia looked nice with the banana yellow backdrop. I also saw two big Doris odhneri right off of the transect. I was pretty bitter that I could not count those, since I was recently noting that I see them pretty frequently but never on the transects :( At some point during the dive, we picked up a seal as a fourth dive buddy. He followed us to this transect and was pretty much hanging out with us the whole time. He snuck up on me at one point while I was sticking my head in a crack looking for nudibranchs, and scared me when he came down from above me and stuck his nose in my face :) He was sticking his nose in the same crack as me for the rest of the time we were there.

Aside from the survey, I did have one exciting find. I was looking at a patch of Middle Reef, and saw a warbonnet! I froze for a moment, because I didn't want to scare him off with any sudden movements. I slowly signaled to Rob, told him to cover his light, and showed it to him. He was pretty excited. I was so glad that Rob was shooting macro (which he debated up until the last minute the previous night). Shortly after that, the fish got spooked and swam into a hole. Rob managed to find the hole, though, so he could get some shots. Even more exciting, there was another one in the hole with him! What a cute couple. Middle Reef seems to be full of happy couples lately. Shortly after that, we headed back to the sand channel and ascended. When we got back to the ramp, we went down to look for the monkey face eel, who we haven't visited in a while. Rob found him pretty quickly and we showed him to Matt. Unfortunately, he wouldn't eat today :( The water was amazingly clear right by the ramp. I found two big bushy Hermissendas down there too. 51 feet, 74 minutes, 50 degrees

After that dive, Matt and I were freezing. We tried to fill Matt with Argon, but the stupid inflation thingy on his DC drysuit has a different nipple on it than our hoses, so we couldn't. He decided to go to Otter Bay to get a new hood instead of doing dive 2. So it was just Rob and me for dive 2. We decided to head out to the Cannery Point area and doodle around with the critters in the hydrocoral. The tide had gone quite a bit out, but it wasn't too bad getting in the water. I perfected my walk off of the ramp until I flopped into the water. We took our 40 cuft bottles with us just for practice (and because, ya know, you look cooler if you are carrying a fake deco bottle), and getting into the water with it was no problem. The water was much calmer than in the morning. We swam out and descended in about 30 ft of water. On the way out, we saw more moon jellies, and right before descending, we saw a little sea nettle. It was very cute. Rob led us out along the sand channel, hugging the reef on the west side. We header northwest over the reef before we got to Hole in the Wall and swam between the ridges back there and around Lone Metridium. The viz was better out here, maybe 25 to 30 feet. We saw another big pile of mating Dialulas. I think this one had even more than the other two. I wasn't looking particularly closely for macro subjects, I was mostly just enjoying the very colorful walls over there. We used to dive this area all the time, but ever since I got doubles, we have stopped. We should really go there more often, it is nice and easy, and very colorful. There were lots of cute little crabs scurrying around, and I saw a lot of sculpins curled up on the reef. I also saw a particularly small Tritonia festiva.

When we got back to the sand channel on the way in, we were going against a bit of a current. I felt like I was kicking and getting nowhere, but I was just glad that Rob was suffering from the same affliction :) The viz was also quite bad over the sand, I would say around 10 feet. On the way in, we switched to our bottles. Rob says I pull the reg out like a girl, and need to do it like I mean it :) After that, we headed in and ascended around the edge of the cove. We surface swam in, and then the adventure began. The water level was super-low on the ramp, there was about 1 foot of water on the ramp when the water came in, and none when it went out. Dionna came down and took my bottle and Rob's camera. There was water swooshing around across the ramp, so I kept getting dragged back and forth as I tried to find a good place to crawl out. Finally Mark Lloyd directed me to a little nook on the north side of the ramp, and as I trying to claw my way out, he pulled off my fins and hoisted me up and gave me a hand out :) Phew, that would have been a real mess without some surface support :P Thanks again to Dionna and Mark for plucking me and our gear out of the water. 66 feet, 69 minutes, 51 degrees

We headed over to Vivolo's for some apres dive bisque with Matt. Yum yum.

More pictures from the day are here.

No comments: