It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Point Pinos by Scooter

We dove on Sunday with David and Jonathan. Since the swell was supposed to be small, someone (Jonathan maybe?) came up with the idea to dive Point Pinos. I thought it was unlikely to actually happen, but I suggested we swing by on Saturday afternoon to do a little recon. That didn't end up happening, but we looked at the bathymetry to figure out what we could do. After we saw the 1.8 foot reading on the buoy, we went by to take a look Sunday morning after we hit Starbucks. The entry was a little beach with a tiny cove that was lake calm. There were a bunch of geese hanging out on the surface there. There was also a seal and its baby bobbing around on the surface. The entry had lots of slippery looking rocks in the water that would need to be climbed over/around, much like Coral St when the tide is low. There was a little climb (maybe 8') down some rocks and then a big flat beach that we could stage our gear on. We decided we'd do it, and we returned to Jonathan's to wait for David. When he arrived, we headed back over to the site. Rob and I got there first, and since no one was around, I agreed to let him carry my doubles down to the beach :) Of course as he was walking across the parking area to the little rocky staircase, David pulled up. Doh!

Anyway, we staged everything on the beach, and decided to human buoy the scooters. David, Rob, and I got into our gear and climbed into the water past the rocks, and then Jonathan brought our scooters out to us, and then geared up and joined us in the water. David and Rob left their cameras behind, so no pictures today :( Anyhoo, after we were all set to get going, we scootered out on the surface to about the last rock, and descended there. It was quite sporty on the surface by the time we got to the drop point. The plan was to scooter out to the 60-ish foot contour and head to the west. We descended in about 30 feet, but it dropped quickly to 40 feet. The were a series of sand channels between reef structures; it was very canyon-y. We were in the 40 to 50 foot range for a while, it seemed. I noticed a grey puffball sponge at about 45 feet, which is shallower than I have ever seen them before. When we got out to about 60 feet, we started seeing the occasional patch of hydrocoral, which I wasn't really expecting to see. When we got out to about 60 feet, we continued along the reef (which ran NW-ish). At 15 minutes, we had gotten to a nice sized reef structure, which came up to 60 to 70 feet, and bottomed out in about 90 feet. Jonathan asked if we wanted to clip off here or continue out, and I said we should clip off (we had agreed to only put 15 minutes of burn time on the scooters on the way out).

We started poking around, and Rob pointed out a couple of Flabellina trilineatas to me. Then I noticed there were two more in the spot he was pointing to. Then he pointed out a nearby spot with a few more. We soon realized they were everywhere. Every rock I looked at, I'd see at least a couple. There must have been hundreds of them in total. It was really cool. I also noticed a couple of Dendronotus albus together (surrounded by trilineatas), and we eventually found several more of those as well. David found a teeny tiny Dirona, less than a centimeter in length. It was adorable (and surrounded by trilineatas :P). Rob eventually found another tiny slug on a hydroid, which I am pretty sure was a Dendronotus frondosus, and another tiny one that was really pretty. It was likely some sort of Eubranchus -- it looked a bit like Eubranchus sanjuanensis, but that is quite out of range. It was about 5 mm in length, but it was quite bushy. Finally there was a slug which I was sure was G. heathi, but which Rob swears was orange. I thought it was just a slightly oranger shade of yellow. It had a white gill plume and some black speckles. Rob thinks it was too long and skinny to be G. heathi. Aside from that we saw a lot of the usual stuff, including the longest, skinniest Limacia I have seen (which had a really prominent gill plume and would have been a fantastic photo subject :( ), D. sandiegensis (including the darker tan/brown ones), A. hudsoni, Triopha catalinae, various Cadlinas, and several Rostangas off the sponge. It was quite the slugfest. And all of this was interspersed among the occasional nice hydrocoral shrub of various colors. The water had a lot of particulate in it, but the viz was still pretty good (though green) -- probably about 40 feet.

Eventually Jonathan signaled it was time to head in, and we headed back. At about 30 feet, we sent a party up to check out where we were, and then we continued heading in. As we were stowing our lights to ascend there, we got dive bombed by two sea lions. After determining that we should continue in on the same heading, we continued. As we got in closer, it got very surgy. At times, we were scootering, but moving backwards. When we got to 20 feet, we thumbed it. While Rob and I were hanging at 10 feet (and I say "10 feet" loosely, since we were getting churned around), David and Jonathan ascended. There was rock coming up to about 10 feet, which should have been a sign that we were about to ascend next to the rocks. But it wasn't at the time :P On the way up from 10 feet, we got our scooters out and in position in case we had to move in a hurry. That turned out to be a good decision. When I came up to the surface, I was alarmingly close (but not in the about-to-get-my-head-bashed-in sense) to the rocks. I wasn't sure which way to go until I saw blue gloves flapping around and headed toward them. David was waving at me so I would know which way to go. We met up with them and headed in on the surface. It was still pretty sporty, but once we got into the cove, it was dead calm again. Jonathan went in first, dropped his gear, and came out for the scooters. Then we trudged in, and after falling on the rocks twice, I made it up the beach :P Actually the second time, I believe I had technically cleared the rocks and just fell in the sand :) 84 feet, 74 minutes, 46 degrees

It was a really cool dive, and I liked the site. But I would probably do it from a boat next time. When it is calm enough to dive there, there are likely "better" diveable sites in Carmel. But since the marathon was going on, we didn't want to deal with going to Carmel and fighting with all of the other divers for the few accessible sites.

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