It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Leisurely Kick Diving at Lobos

On Saturday, we dove with Cynthia at Lobos. We decided to kick (shocking, I know) out to the Hole in the Wall area. When we first arrived, we chatted Matt and Cynthia for awhile, and eventually Jo arrived to dive with Matt. After that, we got down to business. Rob and I nominated Cynthia to lead, teehee. After briefly oohing and ahhing about Cynthia's single tank (I have single tank envy, but I am happy to say I just recently came into some single tanks of my own!), we got dressed and geared up. When we got in the water, we were pretty shocked to see the viz in the cove. It was incredibly clear. You could see forever in all directions. I would put the viz at about 40 feet in there. It was definitely the day to bring a snorkel! We kicked out on the surface, looking at the scenery below.

We eventually dropped in about 35 feet, and headed out along the sand channel. The viz wasn't quite as good on the bottom; it was a little stirred up right along the bottom. Looking up, I could see where the slightly murky layer turned to blue, clear water about 10 feet above the bottom. We eventually meandered over to the left side of the channel, and swam along at the interface between the rocks and sand. There was a lot of krill or something little in the water. There were also quite a few juvenile rockfish. I think I saw at least some blues and gophers. I saw a couple of them eating the krill, which was pretty entertaining to watch. I forced Rob to take some pics of one of the juveys, but I couldn't manage to show him that they were eating the krill. We continued on and eventually made it to the Hole in the Wall reef. Rob found a nice cabezon just a little before the hole. I was poking around, not seeing anything wildly unusual. I noticed a lot of Cadlinas, including flavomaculata, modesta, and the ubiquitous luteomarginata.

I eventually meandered up to the top of the reef to look around. I found a little snail pile, with a small snail sitting on top of a bigger snail, who was trying to squirm out from under. It was very cat-like. I also noticed a lot of orange sea cucumbers, one of them curled up with a starfish. Other than that, I just poked around, checking out the usual stuff. Eventually Cynthia called turn, and of course just after that, we started seeing some cool stuff. First I found an interesting rockfish cowering in a crack -- it was one of the yellow/gold ones, but had a really strange color and pattern. Then I found a stiletto shrimp on a kelp leaf blowing around in the surge. Woohoo. I think that's only the second time that I've seen one. We also found a giant -- disturbingly giant -- lingcod in the rocks next to the sand channel in about 40 feet. On the way in, I saw more little rockfish eating krill. Around 35 feet, Rob found a super cute little fish, but by the time he got his camera out, the fishy had skedaddled. After that, we ascended and headed back in. We ran into Steve and August (sans Kenn!) on the swim in, and chatted about the crazy viz in the cove. We broke the news to them that it wasn't quite as stellar outside.

After foraging for some surface interval snacks and otherwise passing some time, Rob and I got geared up to head back in. Cynthia decided to sit the second dive out. We decided that this was a day to drop at the ramp and kick somewhere shallow. We decided to head vaguely toward the other side of the cove, just south of the opening to Coal Chute cove. We headed into the water, and noticed that the viz wasn't quite as good as it had been earlier (silly low tide). But it was still really good. So we dropped and headed out as planned. I was hoping to see some interesting sand critters on the swim out over the sand. I saw a couple of fluorescent orange worms poking out of the sand, which were interesting. We also found lots of cute little crabbies, which we stopped several times so that Rob could take some pictures. At first we just found the occasional boulder with a little bit of stuff to look at.

Eventually we found a couple of bigger structures to look at. The first one, we stopped at briefly and after taking a few pictures, we continued on. I saw a tiny little starfish with some orange and pink specks on it -- I am wondering if it was a baby leather star. After continuing on, we found a bigger structure, that was roughly round with a crack across the center of it. I found a tiny little rose anemone hiding in the coralline algae, which Rob came over and immediately scared into closing. We waited patiently for it to open again, and then as he took some pictures, I headed over to this cool overhang to poke around in. When I was about to move along, I noticed a big beautiful Hopkins rose. I don't know how I didn't see it sooner! I showed it to Rob and moved along around the corner. On the next little vertical segment, I found another Hopkins rose. I pointed it out to Rob and moved along. I swam along until I hit the crack across the center of it, and I followed along that, across the top, looking down into the crack. I found a couple of slugs in an intimate position, which I first thought were Rostangas, but upon closer inspection were actually Aldisa sanguinea. Once I made it across, I came back around towards Rob, looking in a couple of nice cracks and overhangs. I found yet another nice big Hopkins rose under another overhang. I also noticed that one of the cracks was full of black and yellow rockfish, which I had seen a few of in some of the other cracks on this reef. Oh, and tons of urchins back in those cracks too.

When I completed the little circuit, and was almost back to Rob, I found another Aldisa and pointed it out to Rob, only to find a slightly more photogenic one a moment later. After that, I headed back up to the top and was just hanging around up swishing around in the surge, when I noticed something on one of the kelp leaves swishing with me -- it was a cute little kelp clingfish, kind of reddish in color. I quickly retrieved Rob and showed it to him, and he managed to snap some pics as I held the piece of kelp for him. The little guy kept slithering over to the back of the leaf, which I would flip over for Rob and the fish would start slithering to the edge so it could go back to the other side. All the while we were getting knocked about in quite a bit of surge. Eventually the surge knocked the fish off the leaf, and after searching around for it and turning up empty, we gave up. I asked Rob if he wanted to head in, and he wanted a couple more minutes with the Okenias. While waiting for him, I found a crevice kelpfish along the wall, curled up in a little bit of kelp. Rob tried to get some pictures of it, but I guess it was not being very cooperative. We finally decided to head back in. We were really motoring on the way in, so we made much better time on the way back. Rob's light died part way, so he took over leading. We ended up ascending right at the ramp.

It was a nice day to do a couple of shallow Lobos dives. And it was nice not to have to deal with a stage bottle, deco bottle, scooter, or some combination :) After diving we joined Matt, Jo, and Cynthia at Turtle Bay (which I hadn't been to in a couple of months!).

All of the day's pictures are here.

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