It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Counting Slugs

Photo by Clinton Bauder
On Sunday, Rob, Clinton and I counted nudibranchs for the BAUE nudibranch project. Last time we managed to do all of the transects in one dive, so we decided to try that again. Conditions looked like they had deteriorated further since Saturday, though. When we came over the hill and could see Monastery, Rob and I both said "woah!" at how sloshing it was there. We figured we'd see how it was and then possibly do a second, all-fun (not that counting slugs isn't fun :P) dive. We each planned to count the transects that we didn't count last time.

The swim out was a little choppy, and the kelp seems to be making a comeback, which made it even more annoying. There was also lots of really nasty foam on the surface (which Rob affectionately refers to as whale piss). We dropped in really bad viz not too far out along Middle Reef. The viz was so bad, that as we swam out along it, I really couldn't recognize many of the usual landmarks, until we got to the end (the first two transects) and we were suddenly just there. We each counted a transect, in parallel, which was pretty uneventful. I didn't see anything particularly interesting, but I did see a lot of slugs. The surge made it a little challenging, though for periods of time the surge would die down. After we were finished, we headed to the next transect, which Clinton was counting. I poked around on the ledges behind the transect, and saw just a couple of slugs. I also saw one Rostanga on the transect. As it turned out, Clinton saw very few slugs on that transect (which was a bit of a relief, since the last time we surveyed, I saw next to nothing on it and felt a bit lame). Rob was taking some pictures with Clinton's camera while Clinton counted, and I was basically swimming backwards and forwards in place, trying to stay warm enough to make it through another transect :) I did stick my head in the crack dividing the two walls of the transect, and saw a pretty big lingcod in there.

Photo by Robert Lee
Then we headed to the final, shallowest transect. We actually got a little lost on the way there. We were too shallow, but we hadn't pass it yet. It turned out we had accidentally hopped over to the reef to the left. Whoops. We hopped back over towards the sand channel and found the transect pretty quickly. I was counting this one. I saw a ton of slugs on it, despite getting knocked around in the surge. I didn't see anything too exciting, but there were a lot of Berthella's, which I haven't seen on the transects very much. Rob signaled me to show me something and I swam over and saw something small and orange, that looked like a piece of sea trash. I looked closer (trying to avoid having my head banged into the reef in the surge :P) and it was a Triopha maculata (that picture is of a cream colored one, but they come in a bright orange color too)! That's not something you see everyday :) I also ran into a huge sheephead hiding back under an overhead on the transect. I was sticking my head under there scanning for slugs, when all of a sudden I saw a big eye. It was a monster. I called Rob over to show him, and he was gesticulating about how big it was.

Photo by Robert Lee
When I was finished, we headed in and ascended at the edge of the cove. The water had actually calmed down on the surface, which was good. I was not looking forward to climbing up the low-tide ramp with waves sloshing across it. Even better, when we got to the ramp, Jonathan and Greg came down to take our stage bottles and give us a hand up onto the ramp. We all quickly agreed that it was definitely a one dive day, and headed to Turtle Bay for dive 2 with David, Cynthia, Ted, and Jonathan (after finding out that apparently all of the Thai places in Monterey are closed on Sunday). 99 minutes, 60 feet, 50 degrees

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