It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Slug Hunting at Lobos

Photo by Clinton Bauder
At long last, we finally managed to count nudibranchs on Saturday. We had been scheduled to do it last Sunday, but then we got blown out. So we decided to do it this weekend instead, and Clinton joined us. We wanted to do one fun dive further out, just for general slug-looking, and then on the second dive, we would count all 4 transects. For dive 1, we decided to go out to Beto's, since I always like looking for slugs out there. Since we were planning two fairly long dives, we all brought stages (Rob and I brought them on dive 1, and Clinton on dive 2). I haven't done one of those long surface kick dives in ages (a "death swim" as some would call them), and doing it with a stage was especially painful :) I was leading, so when I got us to about 35' (we could see the bottom, by the way), I decreed that we would drop there. I could tell they were both rolling their eyes on the inside.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
We swam down the sand channel, and then from Hole in the Wall, I took a 340-ish degree heading. Rob kept telling me I needed to go more north, and I kept slipping off course again. Eventually we hit the first sister, whoops. I actually like to err on the west side of Beto's and come up on the left side of it. This has the nice side effect that if you miss, you end up at the sisters :) Or at least, that's my excuse for getting us lost. We decided to just hang there (since we had been swimming for a while at this point). When we first got there, I noticed some lingcod eggs in a crack between two rocks, and there was a ling cod sitting on one of the rocks. Later on I eventually found a second bunch of eggs in a crack on the other end of that rock. The ling seemed to be alternating between which nest he protected.

Photo by Robert Lee
Rob and Clinton got to work taking pictures, and I was meandering around looking for cool stuff. There were lots of clown nudibranchs, including some really tiny ones. There were lots of cute little fish, sculpins, kelpfish, and the like. I pointed out a small red rockfish to Clinton (which apparently was a rosy rockfish). Rob found a nice little Dendronotus albus on a piece of kelp that was flapping in the breeze. He kept waiting for it to flap back in his direction so he could get a picture. A little while later, I noticed a bigger on sitting on top of the reef, in a much more photogenic location. I pointed it out to Clinton and moved along. Not long after that, we headed back in. We hit one of the ridges parallel to Hole in the Wall, and we were looking around at the stuff on it, when Clinton started poking at something in a bryozoan. Then whatever he was poking at fell off and was in his hand. He laid it on a rock, and showed it to us. It was apparently some sort of nudibranch; it looked like one of the ones that has a partial shell. It was definitely something I'd never seen before. It turns out it wasn't actually a nudi, but a snail -- Marsenina stearnsi. While we were hanging out there while Rob and Clinton took pictures of it, I found a bunch of Limacia's. Then I noticed Clinton taking a picture of something but he was really far away from anything. I swam over to see what was going on, and there were two painted greenlings doing some very odd mating dance. They looked like they were having seizures, and bumping heads while they vibrated. There was a sculpin curled up on the rock next to them, watching. After that, we headed in. In the sand channel in the way in, I could feel the tide going out, and there was tons of junk in the water being dragged out with it. I was dreading the condition of the ramp when we got out. The tide was very low, but the water was calm enough that getting out was not too bad. 111 feet (max), 92 minutes, 51 degrees

Photo by Clinton Bauder
We hung around on the surface for a while, and then we headed back in. The water was a bit choppier on the surface, and the swim out was not too fun. The plan was to survey all four transects. Two of them are right next to each other, so two of us could survey while the third hung out between and kept an eye on the others. Clinton and I were counting, and Rob was watching (and holding Clinton's camera, snicker). Rob left his camera behind (I told them to thumb wrestle over who got to bring their camera, and I guess Clinton won). We dropped a little earlier than usual because the surface conditions were so unpleasant. We dropped on the east side of middle reef, so it took a moment for us to get our bearings and head out. We got to the two far transects, and got right to counting. We had decided to start counting all nudibranchs, not just the ones on the list. I was glad, since there are almost always some that I see that aren't on the list, and I'm bitter that I don't get to count them. Of course, now that we had this new rule, I saw exactly zero that weren't on the list :) I didn't see anything wildly exciting.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
After we finished those first two transects, we headed over to the next one, which I counted while Clinton took pictures and Rob looked around. I found a Berthella, which I was happy about, since I don't know if I have ever managed to count one on the transects. Other than that, nothing too exciting on that transect. A lot of Cadlinas. We headed on to the final transect, which Clinton counted. Rob held his camera and took some pictures with it. I was just poking around, trying to stay warm. I found a Limacia and two Berthellas (one on the transect and one just off of it). I was totally jealous that Clinton got to count the transect with all the good nudis :) Clinton finished just in time for us to head to the sand channel and ascend. The conditions had deteriorated even more, and it was a bit of a choppy swim in. I was in a hurry to get out so I was swimming like mad, and kept having to stop and wait (which is funny since usually on the death swims, I can barely keep up with Rob and Clinton on the surface). Luckily the tide had come in a bit, though, so when we got to the ramp while it was a bit rougher, it wasn't too hard to get ourselves out. 61 feet, 85 minutes, 53 degrees

Oh, and we also visited our pet warbonnet. I even managed to find him this time, and I did a little jump when I found him, because he kind of "popped out" at me as I was scanning for nudis.

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