It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Slug Hunting on the Road

On Saturday, Rob, John, and I went out to the Road for a little slug hunting. Getting up and schlepping down to Lobos was particularly brutal, because the night before, at a friend's house, I had been introduced to the most addictive substance on earth -- Rock Band. I always knew I was meant to be a rocker chick. Anyhoo, after a particularly groggy cranky trip down, we got to Lobos and met up with John. Kevy Poo was there too, diving with Delia. Apparently "just going to the Road" is below him now. Once we got there, we setup our tables and put together our gear. We usually do this the night before, but we had not due to our late night of rocking.

By the time we were all ready to go, the water level had risen a bit on the ramp. That was a relief, since it was really fuzzy with green when we got there. Rob swam stuff out to our float (with Kevin and Delia's assistance), and then we moseyed into the water. I was leading, followed by John and then Rob. I just realized that it seems like John is always #2 when we dive with him. I think it is because we do not understand and thus fear the beast, so it's best to keep two sets of eyes on it at all times. When we dropped (just a touch south of the worm patch), it was pretty cloudy and dark. As soon as we hit the worm patch, it became brighter and blue instantly, but there was a bit of particulate in the water. It was like it was flying at me as I scootered through it. Around the Hole in the Wall/Lone Metridium area, the viz improved even more. It was spectacular by the time we got out to the Sisters (easily 60 feet and BLUE). We headed out along the Road. Not too far along it as we were scooting in about 130 feet, I noticed an egg yolk jelly ahead and about 20 feet above us. I pointed it out to the boys, and did a little loop around to come up to it to take a look. On the way up, I noticed another one about 30 feet and then another about 30 feet to the left. I headed over to the next one, and from there I could see yet another one about 30 feet from that. They were all lined up, perpendicular to the road. Some of them were very sprawled out, and some not so much. After we poked around at the jellies for a minute or so, we continued out. When we got to a nice looking spot, sort of a medium sized pinnaclet (just a little further than where we often stop), I suggested we stop and clip off. As I was still clipping off, I spied a Doriopsilla spaldingi, and pointed it out to Rob and John. Rob got to work taking some pics, so I found another spot to peruse.

I found a nice looking trilineata, and then I signaled to John to point it out to him. I couldn't find it for a moment when I looked back, but then I found it and another one a few inches from it. We also noticed some Spanish shawls. Pretty soon I decided to start looking for super tiny stuff, since I figured the mystery Okenia isn't going to find itself. Of course I didn't find it (I suspect I could spend every Saturday for the rest of my life looking for it and still never see it again), but I did find some other interesting critters. First, I could a tiny white Dorid which I was pretty sure was a Diaphorodoris lirulatocauda. I was quite excited, because I had only seen it once before, on a dive without Rob (Kevin found it on one of the project transects). So I was fairly certain Rob hadn't seen one before. I called him over and showed it to him, and then left him to traumatize the slug with his strobes. I also found a mysterious (to me) slug kind of wrapped around the edge of a piece of kelp, which if I had to guess, I'd guess it was some kind of Corambe. As I signaled John to show him, he signaled me and we were caught in a standoff. I gave in and swam over to look at what he had found. It was a slug which he thought might have been the jaguar slug (which was, in all fairness, one of the main goals of the dive), but after some inspection, I decided was a Berthella who just didn't want to show us his rhinophores.

After that, I found a couple of mysteries organisms on kelp and asked Rob to get some shots for ID purposes. Then I found what seemed to be the cutest fish on earth, a juvenile painted greenling, who I swear had baby face. I stealthily signaled John and Rob so as not to scare him away, and then pointed him out. As Rob was setting up to take the shot, he kept skittering along the wall, and I was following him so we wouldn't lose him. Once Rob started taking pics I continued along. Next I happened upon a pair of Diaphorodoris lirulatocauda, and these I was really sure of the ID. Just a few minutes before it was time to head in, John signaled me to show me a nice fluffy Dirona. Just a few inches away from it, I saw a new cutest little fish on earth (which unseated the recently crowned juvenile painted greenling) -- I think a juvey sculpin of some sort (it had a sort of turquoisish color as part of its pattern; I am pretty sure we saw a similar fish at the Mating Amtracks). I brought Rob over to show him, and he was instantly attracted to the Dirona. Despite all of my attempts to show him the fish, he just kept pointing at the Dirona and saying "yea, I see it". Then he scared the fish away with his antics while shooting the Dirona :( Oh well. After that, it was time to head in.

The trip in was fairly uneventful. After switching to our deco bottles (right around Lone Metridium), we did our 70 foot stop in an area where we could actually swim along a little and look at structures. I have a feeling we saw something noteworthy at the 70 foot stop, but now I can't remember :) After that stop, we mostly did deco on the trigger, with the occasional pause in the sand channel. At our 40' pause, I noticed two Doris montereyensis on the sand in the sand channel (seemed like an odd place for them). The viz in the sand channel seemed even crappier than I remembered it on the way out, and it deteriorated from there. I had originally been thinking we could finish up counting the transects on the second dive, but with those conditions at Middle Reef, I decided that wouldn't be very fun. 139 feet, 85 minutes, 48 degrees

On the surface before getting out we had a brief exchange about whether we'd do a second dive, and we decided we would, but that it would not be counting on Middle Reef. We figured we had enough burn time left on the scoots to do a short scooter dive, so we settled on Beto's Reef. After a surface interval (with the obligatory orange salty snacks), we headed back into the water. It was a nice high tide by that point. Bob led the dive, John was second, and I was third. We headed out to Beto's passing Sea Mount on the west side. It seemed surprisingly kelpy out there. When we got to Beto's, we scootered until about the second little drop off and then clipped off. The viz was amazing out there. Rob noticed that the wolf eel was back in his usual spot (he had been missing for at least three dives in a row, so I had sort of given up) -- what a cutie pie. Not too far from there, I found a warbonnet poking out of his den. By the time I brought everyone over to see, he had retracted a bit, so just his head was peeking out. Just next to that, I found one of the yellow-ish dorids that I keep seeing, and cannot identify. So I pointed it out to Rob and suggested he get a shot. The current theory is that it is an Aldisa sanguinea.

Rob suggested we go for a spin to the end of Beto's before heading in, just to enjoy the good viz. Oh man was it good viz. When we got to the end, I couldn't believe how far out over the sand I could see! After a brief zoom down to the bottom, we scooted back along the side. Right around Sea Mount, Rob's scooter died, so John towed him. I offered to take his scooter, since last time this happened, I noticed that with so much crap clipped to him, there was a substantial slowdown when towing. Then we continued in. We paused at about 50' and for some reason, I asked Rob if he wanted to scooter and I could be towed. I thought he agreed, and so I handed his scooter back to him. He clips it to my butt and the next thing I know, he and John take off. Hmmm, I'm not sure what he thought I was trying to tell him :) I followed and we continued in until about 30 feet. From there, we ascended in the sand channel. Rob and John did a few drills at our 20 foot stop, while I tried to avoid corking feet first (having a scooter clipped to my butt made me feel really unstable when my tanks and stage bottle were so close to empty). When we got to the surface, John towed Rob. My scooter started putt-putting and died, so we did a 3 way tow from the edge of the cove. Very amusing :) 118 feet, 66 minutes, 48 degrees

After packing up our gear, John rejected our lunch overtures, so we went to the Sea Harvest in Carmel by ourselves. We had only been to the Monterey one before. I thought the food was actually slightly better at the Carmel one.

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