It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Breakwater Night Dive

I guess everyone was bitter about the lack of diving last weekend, so we did a night dive at the Breakwater with Clinton and Mike. We met up at the Breakwater around 7. There are a couple of down sides to night diving during the winter. First, it was really cold out, so before we even hit the water, I was chilled. Second, when it is cold and dark, the Breakwater bathrooms seem like a great setting for the opening scene of an episode of Law & Order (you know, the part where they find the dead body). Not to mention that by the time you get out of the water, the bathrooms are locked. Anyhoo, we decided to head out over the sand off the wall and look for little sand dwelling critters, and if that got boring we would head to the wall.

The water level was super low, so it was a bit of a hike to the water. On the plus side, all of the rocks were exposed so no rocks to trip over. On the swim out, we saw several moon jellies. I guess someone survived the storm. When we were at the Breakwater on Saturday afternoon (not diving), it was like a sea nettle graveyard :( There were tons of sea lions out on the breakwater, and they were barking up a storm. It was actually sort of stressful swimming out with all of the noise. It seemed like some sort of sensory experiment. I couldn't really hear most of what everyone else was saying, but for once, I was glad that my Otter Bay hood makes it hard to hear on the surface. We swam out pretty far; it didn't seem that far, but Rob claims it is the farthest we have ever swam out on the wall side before dropping. He further claims that if we were diving alone I would never let him swim us that far out before dropping :P But the water was like a lake, so why not. We dropped in 40 feet, and started inching along over the sand looking for macro critters. And I do mean inching. That's one benefit of diving with 3 guys shooting macro, don't have to worry about getting left behind :P

There were tons of little shrimp or something in the water that were pretty annoying. They kept swarming my light, which was kind of grossing me out. We saw a bunch of little octopuses, as usual. One of them was curled up in an abandoned shell of maybe a black-eyed hermit crab. That sort of shell. It was curled up in it with it's head sticking out. It was adorable. There were tons of Hermissendas out there of all different color variations. I saw a lot of them on eel grass, and even more of their egg bundles on eel grass. Clinton or Mike found an Acanthodoris brunnea, and the boys took turns taking its picture. At some point, I noticed a sea lion was sitting about 2 feet from me, perched on the sand. I've seen plenty of sea lions zooming around me, but never had one come up and sit next to me. He hung out there for a moment even while I was signaling then others, and then he took off, leaving a puff of silt in his wake. I also noticed tons of cool looking shrimps. I suck at shrimp ID, but there were a couple different types of neat red ones, the usual dock shrimp (everywhere), and one with an interesting white pattern on it (which I saw on the pipe recently with Matt). At some point, Rob started signaling me as he swam towards something, and I went over and it was a squid! Neat. I was hanging out shining my light on it with Rob and Mike on each side of me taking pictures. Very flashy. After a little while, a second one showed up, or maybe he was always there and I just didn't notice.

I noticed Clinton and Mike lining up to take pictures of something, so we headed over to take a look. It was a big Triopha maculata, in the tan color variation. I have only seen one before, and it was small and orange. But I recognized it from either Clinton's website of the Sea Slug forum. It was big. Clinton and Mike were going to head shallower (ppfft, single tank divers), but Rob was still taking pictures of yet another squid. So we stayed behind while he was finishing up with that. When he (finally) finished, I signaled that I was freezing, let's get moving. I headed us so that we'd be heading toward the beach but would intercept the wall, with the plan to then follow the wall in. We hit the wall quicker than I expected and followed it in. There were lots of fish out on the wall, including a bunch of juvenile rockfish. Rob also pointed out a big octopus along the bottom of the wall. It's head was about the size of a softball. We followed th wall in and came in. Walking out of the water was painful because my feet were numb and my legs were cramped from the cold. I think I need to cover a little more ground if I want to last longer than an hour :) 76 minutes, 46 feet, 50 degrees

It was even colder outside, which was pretty painful with a wet head and hands. And of course, the Breakwater bathroom was locked, grumble. After chatting for a while, Rob and I got dinner at Chili's (whose only redeeming quality is that it's open until 11 PM even during the week). The temperature in the restaurant wasn't exactly conducive to post-dive warming. Anyway, we headed home and I quickly nodded off, shirking my responsibilities of keeping him awake. Then I was rudely awaken by a cop pulling Rob over because he was driving as if he were drunk. Once he established that he was just tired and not drunk, he was actually super friendly. I was surprised that there wasn't really any scolding involved, since it was totally warranted. Rob mentioned that we had been diving and that he took pictures, and the guy was really interested, and wrote down the Cold Water Kitty URL :)

All of the evening's pictures are available here.

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