It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Eubranchus, You Buy Us

On Saturday, we went out on the Escapade again. On the way in the bay, we found several humpbacks. At first we watched a couple that keep coming up together, at least one of which had unbelievably bad breath. We watched them for a while, and then noticed a few more further off in the other direction. Gary did some research about the cause of the "bad breath" and found this explanation of it -- it's caused by a form of diptheria. Worst smell ever.

We eventually continued on and ended up at Outer Pinnacles. Rob and Clinton were both shooting macro, so slug hunting was the plan. By the time we got there, it had gotten a little windy. The water was definitely not the clear blue water it had been the previous weekend, but viz was not bad -- 30 feet or so, but more green than blue. We got down to the top of the pinnacle and it was quite surgy. Rob and Clinton seemed to be looking for things to shoot, which seemed pretty futile. I noticed that there were Eubranchus rustyus all over the hydroids on the palm kelp. They were easy to find because their egg masses were everywhere, and once you found an egg mass, you could pretty easily find a slug nearby. Anyway, we made our way to the side of the pinnacle, which was much calmer. We stayed in that general area for a while. There really weren't many slugs -- some trilineatas and more Eubranchus, and other standard stuff. I also found a Pedicularia californica, which was cool -- I don't think I've ever seen one before, just pictures Rob has taken (he never shares his cool finds with me!). Plus, of course, the usual beautiful hydrocoral and blue rockfish hanging in the water. We eventually crossed over the sand to another pinnacle next door, and slowly moved along that. It was more wallish there, but I don't recall seeing anything wildly exciting. Right after we turned to head back, Rob pointed out a big treefish in a crack. We returned to the anchor line, and found some other divers there. We actually hadn't seen any of the other teams up until that point. I poked around in the kelp on the ascent, but didn't really see anything.

For the second dive, we went to Carmel City Beach Reef, at Clinton's request. He'd told us about the untold riches (errr nudibranchs) that could be found there in the past. Jim kept telling us that if we hated the site, we were to blame Clinton for choosing it. Hmmm. Anyway, we got over there pretty quickly and hung around on the surface for a bit. Actually, I jumped into the water to try to get some practice using my She-P :P (more on that in a future post). Then we eventually got back in. Rob and I borrowed Matt's big bag to practice shooting. When we got down the anchor line, it was a pretty barren site -- scattered rocks with sand between them, and a decent number of olive rockfish milling about. We were crawling along at our usual slow pace (I figured it was just a barren site), but apparently Clinton was trying to move us along because he knew we weren't quite on the site. Eventually we got to a spot with much more continuous rockiness. The site reminded me a lot of Middle Reef at Lobos. Lots of the same usual stuff that you'd see there (tons of Rostangas!). I kept thinking it was a prime spot for finding Limacias, but never managed to find one (Matt apparently did, however). I did happen upon a little yellow slug (about 1 cm in diameter) that had a familiar look -- I had to give it a little poke to convince myself it was a slug, and not some tiny patch of sponge. Then I signaled Clinton and pointed it out to him, and was relieved that he agreed with my slug assessment. Turns out it was an Adalaria jannae, which I haven't seen before (but I've looked at Clinton's picture, because I noticed it on the list of slugs we have collectively seen at Point Lobos). That was the only really exciting find on that dive, I think. Other than that, I mostly found a lot of cute sculpins.

Eventually someone thumbed the dive, which was good because I was getting cold. I guess that's what I get for splashing around in the water on the surface interval. We shot the bag from about 50 feet -- I pulled the bag out and held the spool while Rob inflated and shot the bag. It was a bit of a beast to handle. I almost lost a thumb in the process, when my thumb got stuck in the spool and I had to flick the spool off of my hand. Luckily it just hung in the water in front of me as it unspooled rather than flying to the surface, the bottom, or instantly wrapping itself around someone's neck and strangling them. Other than that, it was an uneventful ascent. We surfaced a little ways from the boat, and swam back. The boat ride back was pretty uneventful -- Rob didn't even drool very much while he slept.

All of the day's pictures are here. The title of this post was inspired by John H's lame Eubranchus joke (that we hear everytime we see a Eubranchus :P).

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