It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thumbs Up Project, Day 1

Saturday was the actual project day for the BAUE Thumbs Up project. I was diving with Matt, counting slugs along the pinnacle. Clinton was sick, which meant we were photographer-less :( We wanted to survey two different depths on our two dives. The original plan was to do a survey around the base of the pinnacle (about 100') on the first dive, and then to do a survey in the 60-70' range on dive 2. However, the lack of photographer caused us to change our plans at the last minute. Mark was shooting macro on the photography team, but he would be in the water with us on the first dive and not the second. So we decided to switch the plan around, since Mark and Rob (Mark's buddy) were planning a dive in the shallower range. So we figured if we were in the same vicinity as Mark, if we found something super cool, at least he could get a shot of it. Since I wasn't really diving with a photography team, this post is pretty devoid of pictures. But I liked this picture that Rob took of Matt and me counting slugs. All of the pictures from the project days are here. The page for the whole project (including our nudibranch data), is here.

With that in mind, we headed into the water, and agreed to head along the same path and eventually we'd just bump into each other (we were getting in the water first, but expected to move pretty slowly since we were counting slugs). On this dive, I was recording the count. We dropped on the bag that was tied off on the southwest side of the pinnacle, and basically followed the shallower of the two lines that had been laid the day before. We were actually a little deeper than the line, since we didn't want to get in the way of any teams surveying the line. It was super surgy, especially in the areas where we were near the top. But the visibility was probably the best on this dive of the 4 dives over two days that we had done. When we were near the north tip, Mark and Rob appeared and let us know they'd be around for any photo needs. As it turns out, we didn't really see anything super cool. Mostly the usual suspects -- no Dotos, as I had been hoping based on the previous day's siting (although it turns out that Rob and Mark found one). I guess the most interesting finds were a trilineata, Aegires, and an Adalaria jannae. They were all on the south east side, pretty close to where we finished up. We had planned to swim out for 30 minutes, and then decide whether to turn (and stop counting) or to finish the circuit, depending on the progress we had made. Our goal was a 40 minute bottom time. When we got to the 30 minute point, we were pretty close to the end of the circuit, plus we had just passed the anchor line. So we finished the circuit and then headed back to the anchor line (which was just north of the eastern tip of the horseshoe). Then we headed up for an uneventful ascent. 80 feet, 58 minutes, 52 degrees

Matt and I weren't diving again until the third dive, so we got dumped at the Lobos ramp and swam to shore to hang out during the long surface interval. We and the other teams who weren't diving on dive 2 hung out there and ate some lunch and snacks we had deposited beforehand. When the second dive was completed, the Escapade came back into the cove to offload some of those divers and pick us up. Everything was running way ahead of schedule by this point. We headed back out to the site and headed down for our second dive. This dive, we were surveying near the base of the pinnacle. Matt was recording the count. We descended along the bag on the south east side of the pinnacle (the eastern tip of the horseshoe), and decided to head south a bit from there, to the actual southern tip of the pinnacle. Once we got there, we turned around and headed back towards the north, staying on the east side of the pinnacle for the entire survey.

We surveyed along the bottom of the pinnacle and also in the rubbly area at the base. This dive was not nearly as sluggy as the first one, but we did see a couple of slugs that we hadn't seen on the first dive (Tritona and Limacia). When we were finished with the survey, I took over the lead, as we had agreed to beforehand, since I knew the location of all of the bags, etc. We ascended along the pinnacle and continued around it, counterclockwise. I headed back to where the bag had been on the west side, and found it had already been cleaned up. So then I headed back around to the east side bag, which had also been cleaned up. The anchor line (which had been close to the east side bag) was no longer anywhere to be found either. So finally I decided we were ascending a kelp stalk :) During our deco, we noticed the other teams all seemed to be following suit. It turns out the anchor had slipped, and we weren't clueless and lost, as I was worried :) 101 feet, 55 minutes, 51 degrees

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