It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Adventure No. 12: The Jaguar Shark

Saturday was David's last day in town before being shipped off to the great white north, so we gathered at Lobos for a last day of diving. Rob and I decided to do a nice easy dive with Cynthia. I've been hearing the first reports of this season's leopard sharks, so I kind of wanted to hang out somewhere where we might see one. So we decided to do a little scootering over the sand, in search of leopard sharks (which we knew was a long shot). Rob suggested we head over to the caverns in Coal Chute Cove, which I have never been to before. So we decided to head over there, and then meander around the sand for a little while on the way in.

As soon as we got into the water (with the help of a very high tide), we were greeted with stellar viz. It was definitely the day to snorkel in the cove. We surface scooted most of the way out to Coal Chute, took a heading, and dropped in about 40'. We could see the bottom the whole way out. We headed to the east and stopped to poke around on some structures. Before you know it, we hit the first cavern. I posed for some glamour shots at the entrance, with Rob shooting out at me. I noticed a rock right at the entrance that was crawling with Cadlinas. After I finished posing, I headed in and looked around. There is a small entrance on the other side, which light was streaming through. The inside was crawling with various yellow and white dorids. The water was completely still -- this was definitely the perfect day to check out the caverns (which I have been told are only really doable when it is really calm). After hanging out and posing for a few pictures inside, I headed out and poked around the rocks outside. Then we continued on, and came upon the second cavern. I thought this one wasn't nearly as pretty -- I guess there wasn't as much light coming in from the other side and it seemed siltier. There was another entrance in this cavern too, but it was much smaller. I found a big trilineata on the first big rock inside the cavern, and then another small one on a smaller rock right at the entrance. We continued east from there, just slowly moving along. I saw a couple of Limacias, and perhaps the biggest giant green anemone I have ever seen. Must be a lot of bird poop, errr, nutrients, flowing into the water there.

When Cynthia reached her turn pressure, we headed back into Whaler's and scooted along in the sand. I was in third position, and at some point as I was about to scooter across a little rock trench, I noticed a leopard shark swimming along the trench! I was stunned for a moment (I couldn't believe I actually found one, after claiming that was the plan for the dive), and then excitedly signaled the others. I began to swim alongside it before collecting all of my dive buddies (that's a bad kitty, a very bad kitty), and I was amazed by how tolerant he was... I thought they would be skittish, especially with the scooter. But he didn't mind even when I scootered along. After a nice little swim with the shark, I figured I should find Rob (Cynthia was following me at that point), and let the shark go on without me. I returned to where I first lost Rob and found him signaling not too far ahead. I went to him and told him about the shark, and asked if he wanted to go look for it again. He agreed, and we all headed back to where I last saw him swimming off. We did a little searching around, and Rob found him pretty quickly. Then we hung out for a while, Rob taking pictures until the shark got restless, and then we'd all follow him to his next resting spot. Eventually I swam up right behind him and posed for some pics with him... as I watched his gills opening and closing, I realized the benefit of being a fish is that you don't have to time your exhalations for the camera. Eventually we let him scurry off, and we headed in. Just after he left, we ran into Matt, John, Kevin, and Delia heading in. We told them about the shark and Rob showed them a pic so they would know it was the good kind of shark ;) Shortly after that, we ascended in the sand channel and surface scooted in. 40-ish feet, 60-ish minutes

On the surface interval, we regaled everyone with tales of the caverns and the leopard shark. Most of the people agreed that it was way too nice not to do a second dive, so after a little tank swapping and trans filling so that everyone had enough gas, we decided to go on a second expedition to the caverns. After debating the merits of diving as one team of eight, we decided to split into primary teams (Rob, Cynthia, and I stuck together), but to all head out there together, since none of the other teams knew how to get there. We surface scooted even further out this time, so we dropped really close by. Before you know it, we were at the first cavern entrance. The surge had picked up a bit, and the viz had deteriorated inside. It was also much less peaceful with a bunch of people scootering in and out :) After a few minutes at the first one, we headed onto the second one. We poked our heads in there, and then just poked around outside for a while. When we headed in, Rob took us west and maybe even a little north, so we ended up hopping across middle reef and heading down the sand channel (despite our plans to do a straight out and back, based on burn time constraints on some people's scooters). As it turns out, Kevin and Don's scooters died in the sand channel, but at that point we had already split from them. Whoops. We scootered all the way back in to the float line. I was trying out a new set of tanks (borrowed from Ben), so I drained them the rest of the way for a weight check. I was definitely a bit heavy, but too lazy to take my 2 pound bullet weight off my waist belt. Instead I inflated my wing just enough to get neutral, and Rob inspected it. When we got to the surface, Rob was telling me he thought I was 3 or 4 pounds overweighted. John told him he should never say that to his wife :) 40-ish feet, 60-ish minutes

As an aside, I really love the tanks that I was using -- they are the old (2250 service pressure) LP72s. They are so tiny and light, I just feel so unencumbered in them both in and out of the water. I even demonstrated to Nils that I could do (very very small) jumping jacks in them, tee hee. The only problem is that my 2/3 v-weight that I custom cut for my 85s hangs out of the bottom, so I couldn't set them up on my table easily. I guess they will need a custom v-weight of their own. I put a 3 pound piece of surplus v weight on the top bolt, and even with that, they trimmed out well (and I will probably ditch that, given the weight check).

After the diving operations were complete, we headed to the Mucky Duck for some beer and pre-dinner munchies. They we hit Peppers (shhh... don't tell Oreo) in Pacific Grove for dinner. They we headed to Cynthia's for a little dessert wine and cat harassment. David even forced Troxy to briefly be a sweetheart and sit on my chest while I pet her. She is sooo soft! We'll miss you, Troxy and David :(

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