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Me diving

Sunday, February 8, 2009

BAUE Lobos Day

Sunday we had a BAUE Lobos day. Unfortunately the conditions turned out to be non-ideal. I think there were a little over 20 people slated to attend, but between the ubiquitous cold and the crappy conditions, a few people didn't make it. However, the showing was surprisingly good, considering the dire forecasts that had been making the rounds on the internet the previous week. The park aid working the gate also strongly encouraged us to not dive. But we had to at least take a look. The tide was super high so the water was sloshing out of the ramp into the parking lot. The water in the cove looked like pea soup, with some chop. The waves breaking on the non-existent beaches (high tide) at the south end of the cove were pretty big. There was a lot of negativity in the group of people who had already arrived. We headed up to the bluff to take a look. The waves crashing against the cannery point rocks were pretty big, and there was white water in the channels between them. However, the granite point side was surprising calm -- the waves breaking over there weren't unusually big. And the water over the middle reef area looked reasonably calm. There was also a distinct change of color not far outside of the cove, from pea soup to blue.

Karl left the decision up to me, and after a bit of waffling, I decided to give it a try. As we got back down to the parking lot, a team of divers who had gone in like 10 minutes before came out. I don't think they swam out far enough to get to the clearer water. So we were not deterred. A lot of the people who had showed up opted not to dive. I assured them that no matter what the conditions were, I would report 80 foot viz in my dive report (the good thing about blogging is that you don't have to be bothered with that pesky "journalistic integrity" thing). Somehow we managed to be the first team in the water. Getting in was not at all a problem, because of the extremely high tide. Since we were more than halfway up the ramp when we stopped to put our fins on, we had some shelter. After that, we swam out to what I figured we about 30 feet, and dropped. The plan was basically to play it by ear and see what the conditions were in the various areas, and let that guide us. On one hand, I wanted to get deeper and under the weather, but on the other hand, from the surface the middle reef area looked calmer than the more westerly deeper spots (Sisters, Beto's). Anyhoo, once we dropped, we were a bit further east than usual (the churning water to the west was discouraging), so we dropped on top of rock, about 28 feet, with crap viz (5 feet-ish). We headed northwest until we hit the sand channel, and then headed north along that. At 39 or 40 feet, the water suddenly cleared up like that (snaps fingers). It was suddenly blue and clear-ish. It was still a bit stirred up with particulate, but overall pretty clear. The viz was probably about 30 feet. Once the viz cleared up, we headed east to the reef, and swam along it. We stopped to say hi to the wolf eels. I briefly attempted to look for the warbonnet, but gave up pretty quickly. We got to the end of middle reef, and then headed across the sand channel to Hole in the Wall.

Once we hit HITW reef, we headed south, because I was wondering how conditions were on the other side of the sand channel. The viz was a little worse at the south end of that reef, so we hopped over it to the back side of HITW. It was amazingly calm and clear on the back side there. After hanging out and poking around in the cracks for a couple of minutes, we continued north to the rock north of HITW. I found a gaggle of about 8 San Diego dorids there. After lingering there briefly, I was sort of feeling like heading out to Beto's, but I wasn't feeling very commited to it, so we headed over to the Lone Metridium. By the time we got there, I was commited to heading deeper. We headed north from that, and then cut a little east when I thought we were deep enough that we would definitely hit Beto's. We hit it pretty close to the south end, and headed along on the east side. I mainly just wanted to check if the wolf eel was in, so we swam out to his den. I noticed one of the gorgonians on the side of the wall just south of the wolf eel den, and was thinking about how we used to be so excited to see the 3 or so gorgonians out there. After saying hello to the eel, we headed in. We came over the top of Beto's and headed south, skirting the east side of side of the next stairstep south of the wolf eels. I found a couple of Tritonia festiva hanging out under an overhang along there.

From the end of Beto's we continued south and pass to the left of Sea Mount, then swam through the little kelp patch off to the east of sea mount. We ran into Clinton, John, and Sami around the rock just north of HITW, and posed for a couple shots before continuing on. We got to HITW and then headed back over to middle reef. We swam in along the reef, poking around in the crevices. I noticed a bunch of China rockfish in some cracks and there were also some sheephead loitering near middle reef. They seem to have become a fixture of middle reef recently. As we approached the south end of middle reef, I figured we'd hit all the hot spots, so we might as well head in. I figured we'd keep going until the viz got terrible again, and ascend wherever that was. We hit that spot in about 25 feet, and I thumbed it. We ascended pretty darn close to where we had dropped. As soon as we hit the surface, I said to Karl "I swear I can hear Rob's voice". He and his buddy were about halfway between us and the ramp, and I guess they were chatting loudly on the way in :) It seemed like conditions had improved a bit since we started the dive. So the exit was even easier than the entrance (although I was having a little trouble getting my fin off -- I knew the ghetto spring straps would bite me one day).

We were definitely glad we got in the water, considering how ambivalent everyone was beforehand. However, we decided to pass on a second dive, so instead I headed to Turtle Bay with Rob, Clinton, and John. After that, we went to the aquarium, and all huddled around the new nudibranch tank, oohing and ahhing at the beautiful Triopha maculata that they have. I have never seen a "big" orange one -- the orange ones I find are always tiny, and the big ones are always cream-colored. Then we went to a talk by nudibranch expert Jim Murray. The talk was about Tritonia diomedea, and how they orient to flow. It was an interesting talk; I especially liked the videos he showed of the slugs, sped up a couple hundred times. It looked like they were running around on the screen :)

I borrowed the pic above (from Hole in the Wall) from Rob, just to show what the conditions were like. Here are all of Rob's and Clinton's pictures for the day.

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