It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Two Good Shale Dives

Photo by Clinton Bauder
On Saturday there was a BAUE tech boat. Rob was busy with a Fundies class, so I planned to dive with Jim and Joakim. Joakim was sick, so in the end it was just me and Jim. The plan was to do a dive in the 150 to 200 foot range. However, as has been typical this winter, Neptune was not on our side. So we didn't end up making it out of the bay :( We discussed our options and settled on Kawika's Garden. This was fine by me -- it meant we could get a bit more bottom time. We hopped into the water and I was happy to find calm water with no current. The viz was good, and it wasn't terribly dark on the bottom. It wasn't the best viz I have ever had at the site, but was probably better than average. As we dropped in on the site, I could see the site dotted with fish on top of it... this is always a fishy dive.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
We dropped sort of on the outskirts of the site and swam in a somewhat random direction. The first thing we noticed was the insane number of Tritonias. They are really in bloom. We have seen a lot of them at Lobos recently too, but at this particular site it was crazy -- I guess they like to snack on those gorgonians. We got to see a bunch of them sniffing around the gorgonians about to go in for the kill. I would describe the site as having a pretty good number of nudibranchs in general, but nothing particularly interesting -- the usual dorids, some trilineatas, etc. I was on the prowl for Tochuinas, since this is one of those sites where you see them, but I didn't see any (Clinton did, and I was sooo jealous). I saw a few splotchy Geitodoris, which I've been seeing a lot of recently even though I used to never see them. We saw the usual assortment of rockfish and a couple of lingcod. I found a lingcod guarding its nest, which was cool. I don't think he was doing a very good job guarding it though, since I found the nest and then had to search around a bit to find the fish :) There were also some juvenile rockfish -- Clinton got some nice pics of the ones with the diamonds on their sides (halfbandeds, I am told). I also saw a juvenile that I need to figure out an ID for -- it was like a peach or flesh color with some olive mottling. I've seen this fish before, I think on a relatively shallow dive at Lobos.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
Pretty late into the dive we ended up at what I would say is the nicest part of the site, where there are really lush gorgonians and a little bit more relief covered in strawberry anemones. Oh well, it happens. The ascent was pretty uneventful. The nettles were not thoughtful enough to entertain us, with just a couple present. As we got shallower, we did see a variety of little jellies (de ja vu from the last deco with Jim). Since the viz was quite good, I kept expecting to see another team drift by, but we didn't see anyone until about halfway into our six minute ascent, I saw the glow of some tanks nearby, a little below us. I guess they were hanging just beyond the limit of visibility the whole time, because apparently our bags all went up about 40 feet from each other. It was really calm when we got to the surface, which was nice for a change. I told the crew that it was so unusual to come up from a dive and not get my ass kicked while I reboarded the boat :)

Photo by Clinton Bauder
After we collected all of the divers, we pondered where to do our next dive while enjoying croissanwiches. (By the way, I heard a rumor that some other dive boats were maligning the croissanwiches as not being "real sandwiches"... all I can say is don't buy the hype.) We went looking at a few different sites, but conditions had deteriorated and we didn't have a lot of options. I believe our choices where Shale Island or Hopkins. I always love the shale, so you know what I voted for. It turned out to be a great choice. The viz was quite good there, which isn't exactly always the case. When I got to the anchor line at the start of the dive, I felt water entering through one of my wrist seals. I looked down and saw what I thought was a nick in the seal, so I figured there wasn't much that could be done. So we headed down the line, and I filled my arm with argon and swam around with my arm over my head :) We headed out along the shale in a random (as far as I was concerned) direction. Before the dive I was thinking about what kind of cool slugs we might see on the dive. I often see Acanthodoris lutea at Shale Island, and I had just recently seen a bunch of Acanthodoris hudsoni, so I definitely had Acanthodoris's on my mind. On the swim out, we saw only one really exciting critter -- a juvenile China rockfish (or some yellow and black one, but China is the going theory). It was really neat -- it reminded me of a tropical fish! I was quite excited by that find, even though I wasn't sure exactly what it was. Eventually, I decided that the water had spread far enough (down to about my belly button) and I should call the dive. So I called turn, and tried to explain to Jim that my suit was leaking (which he didn't get at all, because he does not yet have the Kitty Telepathy required to divine the meaning of my hand signals). Right as we turned, literally as I was helicoptering around, I saw an Acanthodoris rhodoceras. No way! I was very excited, and showed it to Jim. Jim is not often that excited about my slug finds, but even he thought this one was cool :) I couldn't believe it... once again, I find the slug with neither Rob nor Clinton around to see it! I took a look around to get my bearings, in case we ran into Clinton on the way back.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
We headed back, stopping briefly to look at an octopus out in the open. It was a nice sized octopus who seemed totally disinterested in our presence and was slithering around changing colors. Shortly after that, we ran into Clinton's team. I whipped out my wetnotes and wrote "Acanth... rhodocer.." or something like that. His eyes lit up and I said I'd show him where it was. And with that, I took off back in the direction we came from. Clinton noted that despite all of my whining about how fast he always swims, this time I was quite the speed demon (hey, I had a flooded suit, gotta keep warm). We swam back to the area where I thought it was, and couldn't find it. I was sure we were in the right place, but just in case, I swam back and forth along the area several times, but never could find the slug :( What a bummer. Jim was sure we were in the right spot too, sigh. While we were searching around for the slug, we did find two other cool things... John found an octopus in a crack, and I found a pair of Acanthodoris lutea lined up as if to mate. I showed it to Clinton, as a consolation for not finding the other slug and he looked at me like I was an idiot. No, no, I know that's not an A. rhodoceras, but it's still cool! Apparently not cool enough for Clinton. After giving up the search, we headed back to the anchor and headed up. By the time I got back on the boat, I was completely wet (it's annoying how you can go a whole dive with water only down to your waist and then at the end when you climb the ladder it all drains down to your feet). Upon inspection this "nick" in the seal was actually a bit of my undergarment hanging out under the seal. Doh! I deserved to get cold and wet for that one :) While we were in the water, the police had come out and cleared Del Monte beach because of the tsunami advisory (or whatever). It was pretty surreal seeing the beach so empty on a nice sunny day.

I definitely felt like this was one of those days where I wasn't sure it was going to be worth going out to dive, but it definitely turned out to be well worth it! After the short ride back to K-dock, some of us headed to Plumes for coffee, since we'd already have lunch. I've never been there before, but I wholeheartedly recommend their brownies.

Since there have been way too many posts without pictures lately, I'm including some of Clinton's pictures. I wasn't technically on the dive with him, but I'm only including pictures of things I actually saw, so I think that's fair. You can see all of the pictures here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Back to the Breakwater, Finally

Photo by Leah Wadler
I had plans to dive at the Breakwater with John for a while, and Kevin asked if he could tag along. In the end, John did not join us, so it was just me and Kevin. On the day before the dive, some Lobos reservations materialized, but I told Kevin that it was time to dive at the Breakwater... every time we plan to, something more interesting materializes, so we never actually dive there! We met up a bit after 8:30, and there were still tons of parking spots along the wall and the fence -- sweet! We found some nice spots right near the parking ticket machine thingy, which was good, since Kevin forgot his table, so we were going to be schlepping all the way down to the water in one trip. While we were setting up, we ran into Matt and Leah, who were diving with Leah's future fundies buddy, Greg. Kevin and I were planning to head out to the Metridium Field and then loop back around over to the wall. They were planning on heading to the Metridium Field too, so we decided to caravan out there, and then they could just turn the dive when they wanted to and Kevin and I would then head over to the wall.

Once we were ready, we told the other team we were going to head into the water and would bob on the surface until they got in. The schlep down to the water from the cars was not bad at all. I haven't done a proper beach schlep in doubles in a while... we always weenie it and put our tables on the beach. So I was pleasantly surprised that no AED had to be produced (I owe it all to trainer Ted, he's really been whipping me into shape). Before we headed down to the water, Kevin asked me if he had to enter the water with his reg in his mouth, since I recently sent a post to ba_diving to that effect. I told him that since he has a necklace regulator, I would leave that up to him, but he had to put his mask on before we walked into the water. He grumbled, but complied (I never knew I had such power over Kevin!). On the way into the water, he made some reference to falling on the beach in doubles at the breakwater and said that everyone does it once. I told him I hadn't yet, and then felt condemned to falling on my ass sometime that day. The other team arrived shortly after we did and we headed out on the surface. The viz looked really good the whole way out. It was super clear right in the surf zone and we could see the bottom a long way out. We eventually dropped into nice, bright viz, and headed toward the pipe. Not long into the dive, Kevin stopped us to show us a mating pair of Dendronotus iris on an anemone tube. While Leah was getting some pictures, Kevin then pointed out a D. iris on the hunt and we both sort of froze and watched it as it tipped toed up to a tube anemone and.... pow! The tube anemone was surprisingly slow to react to it, but in the end it managed to escape being eaten anyway. That was really cool to watch; I think I've only seen it once before.

We got to the pipe and headed out along it. When we got to the little section where the pipe comes up off of the sand over some rocks, I swam behind it to look underneath for Hopkins roses (I've found them there a couple times, so I just can't help but look). I didn't find any, but my peaking under there was rewarded... I found two Hilton's nudibranchs. Leah took some pics and then we continued out along the pipe. We saw various little critters along the way, including several juvenile rockfish, lots of black-eyed hermit crabs and some cute kelp crabs. When we finally got to the Metridium field, we poked around at the first big metridium rocks for a while. I found two octopuses there. One was slithering along a tiny "canyon" (really more like two medium-sized rocks intersecting in a v-shape) when I found it. It sensed my interest and froze. I showed it to Kevin (though it took a while for him to get it) and then went to find Leah. When I brought her back it had totally gone all "no octopus here" on me... it blended in SO well. Even though I knew where it was, I had to search and search before I could find it... he blended in so well, all I could see were his eyes. The second octopus was just sort of hanging half out of a crack, and then retreated once we started looking at him. Both were pretty big for Breakwater octopus.

Shortly after the other team turned, we decided to head over to the wall. Man, it took us forever to get there. I was sure we had overshot and ended up running parallel for a while so eventually we turned so we would be running perpendicular to it; when we finally ran into it, we really weren't very far out along it, so my running parallel theory didn't really make sense. I think there must have been some sort of shifting of the earth's magnetic field during the dive. It's the only explanation of how Kevin and I could get lost at the breakwater :) While we crossed the sand (there was certainly a lot of it), we saw all sorts of entertaining crabs for Kevin to poke at. He just can't leave those guys along. We also found a pile of mola bones (I think) under a pile of bat stars. When we finally got to the wall, there were not very many interesting slugs :( There was, however, a lot more siltiness than there had been at the Metridium Field. We eventually surfaced from like 12 feet, into somewhat sporty conditions. We had a longer swim back in than I meant for, and it was not very pleasant. We saw the big anchor along the wall on the swim in -- neat! As we walked out of the water, I was sure I was going to fall, but fate was on my side for one more dive at the Breakwater.

The other team decided to thumb a second dive, so we headed to the chowder house for some lunch. But not before chit-chatting with a bunch of people we ran into -- one of the nice things about diving at the Breakwater.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lunaticos Annex

Jim sent email out on Wednesday morning in search of a dive buddy for Thursday, and with the forecast looking sort of reasonable, how could we pass that up? So after a bit of schedule juggling, it was on. Conditions were looking good, so we headed south. We headed down to Dos Gatos, which I guess Jim had never dived (though he had dived some of the other bumps nearby several times). He lamented the fact that on most of his dives on the pinnacles in that area, there was a lot of current, but the time of day (with respect to the tides) that we were diving should be favorable in this respect. Bullet was along for the ride again, and we actually remembered to get a picture of the cutie-pie. We made it down to Yankee Point -- the conditions were as nice as the forecast claimed. The crew dropped the downline and noted the presence of some current. We motored up-current a bit and splashed.

As soon as I popped to the surface, I saw the ball coming right at me, at an alarming speed. I managed to grab it and then quickly decided this was a meet on the line underwater kind of day. I started pulling myself hand over hand in what is probably the second worst current I have ever experienced without a scooter (the first being Big Sur Banks, of course). I was on a mission to the bottom when Jim started tugging on the line and I looked back and saw an absence of Bob. We gave him a minute to reappear and then thumbed it. The viz looked really good for the brief time we were in the water. Also during that brief time, I managed to get a small sea nettle sting, pffft. Between hitting the surface and getting picked up by the boat, we drifted an impressive distance from the float. The boat picked up Rob first, who apparently never made it to the line since he was last in and had to reach back for his camera. When we got back on the boat, Rob was sitting there all geared up waiting for another drop. We broke the news to him that that wasn't going to happen. So we decided to head north to the Outer Outer Pinnacles area. We ended up on a pinnacle that is like two bumps over from Lunaticos. I have never dived Lunaticos proper (that I know of) but have done several dives in the vicinity. I thought this might be my opportunity. We dropped down into good (but not quite great) viz. It was still a lot better than it has been lately -- the water was more blue than green, and it was not too dark at the bottom.

We started on the south side, swung around the west side, which was relatively barren, so we headed back. Even though there were fairly nice, scenic conditions, I spent most of my time looking for small critters. I was on a mission to find Dotos, which I never did see (even though I saw tons of hydroids that looked like they would be totally tasty to a Doto). In my fruitless search, I found several small Dironas, and two teeny tiny Hermissendas, like as small as a tiny Trilineata. I couldn't believe it when I found them, so I felt I had to share the intrigue with someone. So I made Jim come and look at them. I think he was unimpressed :) We didn't see any vase sponges, which I found pretty surprising. We multi-leveled the dive, and the second segment was actually quite a bit shallower than expected -- there's some nice stuff to see there in the 110' to 120' range. It would make a good Rec 3 dive (my attempts to plug this GUE class were thwarted since GUE *still* doesn't have a page about the class on the interweb -- weak).

At the appointed time, I put up a bag and we started our ascent. Rob has given me a serious bag-complex. He has a very (very very) annoying habit of timing me when I am shooting a bag, or even if he doesn't actually report a time, he looks at his gauge before I start, and I know what he's doing! But I did quite a wonderful job of putting up the bag, which was a good thing... I have dive plans with Jim for next weekend, and I wouldn't want him to Rule 1 me. The ascent was not all that interesting in the beginning... Rob and I were very chatty when we got to 70 feet, and Jim seemed to think we were crazy with all of our hand signals :) We saw a few sea nettles, and as we got shallower, we also saw some little teeny jelly animals. Around 20 feet, some sea lions appeared in front of me. They were in a position where neither Jim nor Rob saw them. However, Jim had told me earlier in the dive (on the bottom) that some sea lions were around. I pointed them out to Rob who immediately flipped over on back and spent the duration of our 6 minute ascent in that position. Looking up, I saw 4 relatively young-looking sea lions hanging out on the surface, taking turns dive bombing us. They were so adorable, and it was an awesome view looking up through the clear bright blue water at the 4 scheming sea kitties.

For some reason, no one thought to suggest that Rob get his camera out and get some shots. Doh! When we got to the surface, Ed told us that the sea lions had been playing in our bubbles and drifting along with us the entire dive and deco. Luckily they didn't get any ideas about chewing on my bag :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Outer (Outer)+ Pinnacles

That's a regular expression for those of you who didn't get it. Not exactly sure what to call the site that we dove, since it was deeper than the usual "Outer Outer Pinnacles". It was the (mid-)February installment of the BAUE tech boat. The boat originally attracted two teams of 3 divers each for a deeper T2 dive, but by the time the date rolled around, it was just Team Kitty and Karl. The rest of the divers had succumbed to the winter sniffles, I guess. We discussed diving as a team of four or not, and in the end decided to split into two teams. I was stuck with Rob (okay, it was our Valentine's day dive, I guess I shouldn't sound too disappointed). The conditions were big -- keep in mind that this was the weekend of Maverick's :) Our backup plan if we could not make it to Carmel was to go to Lingcod Nursery. We were pleasantly surprised when we made it to Carmel, but making it down to Yankee Point (where we really wanted to go) was not in the cards. Instead we decided on a spot that Jim had numbers for, which he hadn't been to in a long time. It was off of Outer Outer Pinnacles, and was a pinnacle with the top around 170' and the bottom around 230'. As we approached the site, we got geared up and got our bottles on. The crew put down a down line, and I guess it slipped so we had to go back around and do it again. I was feeling pretty barfy waiting for the down line to be installed, and thinking that if it slipped again, I might not be able to stand sitting in my gear for another pass.

But, alas, we were told we could go after the second time the line was dropped. I jumped in the water first, grabbed my scooter and by the time I got my scooter clipped on, I had drifted a bit from the boat. I took a heading to the downline and scootered down to the line and assumed Rob would find me at 20'. I met Karl and Kevin on the line and a moment later Rob appeared. We headed down the line, amid tons of sea nettles. Clinton had taken some nice pics of the sea nettles the day before, so we were expecting it to be a nettly deco. It got pretty dark on the way down once we were below about 100' and as we continued down, I started to wonder where this so-called pinnacle was. At 160', when I couldn't see any sort of pinnacle, I was very suspicious. Then at about 200', the line ended at the ball, which was adrift in the water column. Oops. We landed on a bottom at about 220-230', with a small structure that was maybe 15 feet tall. It was dark as night, and really silty. I debated calling this post "Deep, Dark, and Silty". That would pretty much sum up the scene where we dropped. We meandered around the structure briefly and then after a few minutes I signaled to Rob that this site sucked, and we decided to look for something more interesting. The original plan had been to scooter east in search of shallower structure once we were finished on the main pinnacle, so we scootered east, hoping to find some more structure. For a while we found only small, low lying structures, but we saw some neat stuff along the way. We saw several Acanthodoris hudsoni. I almost swam over them thinking they were Cadlinas, but something didn't look right. I couldn't remember what they were at the time, but I knew they were some sort of Acanthodoris. This makes me think I should look a bit more closely at those Cadlinas that I often ignore :) We also saw several vase sponges, some of which I posed behind for pictures. I thought it would be a good day for basket stars, since it was so dark. I found one, which was all curled up except for one arm that was extended. It was a funny pose. We also found... a crinoid! My favorite! I signaled Rob to show it to him and he kept brushing me off because he thought I was showing him the vase sponge next to it. When he finally saw the crinoid, his eyes lit up. Unfortunately he really didn't have the right lens for it.

We eventually ran into Kevin and Karl, and negotiated when to shoot bags (since the profile of the dive was not exactly what we had expected) and which way to head from where we were. At this point we were on a bigger structure coming up to about 160'. After a couple more minutes there, we continued on, and found a big pinnacle coming up to about 130'. It was amazing how much brighter it was at that depth than at the start of the dive. We found Kevin and Karl on that pinnacle and we all finished up our dives around there. I had been looking forward to some nice nettle time on deco. As it turned out, we saw exactly one nettle during deco. Pffft. There really wasn't much of interest at all on the way up. The water also wasn't quite as clear as it had been on the way down. We kept running into Kevin and Karl, and it really seemed like we couldn't see them until they were quite close. When we got to the surface, Jim explained that since we had drifted about a mile, it wasn't surprising that we didn't have the same conditions on the way up as on the way down :) The surface was really sporty when we came up, much windier than when we started. The boat drifted past us on the first pickup attempt and it took a couple times around and some serious current-line-antics before we all managed to get ourselves to the back of the boat. When we finally did, it seemed a bit crowded at the back of the boat, with all four of us and our gear, so I decided to take one for the team and scurry up the ladder as quickly as possible. Meanwhile the current line ended up wrapped around the props. After giving up on untangling it, the ball had to be cut off to get the line out. I ate bonbons and gave moral support to the guys while they were dealing with this issue.

All in all, it was a nice dive, considering we weren't sure if a dive was even going to happen -- and I saw most of my favorite deep critters! I'm still not quite sure where we ended up... Jim thought we may have been to the west of Lunaticos, and that's where we ended up, but the depths don't seem to line up. He gave Rob the numbers of where he thinks we dropped, but I haven't had a chance to look at them. Rob is very secretive with his numbers... he leaves them sitting around on little scraps of paper with no comprehensible description of what the numbers correspond to... I know this is all meant to confuse me and keep me from using them.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Great Sea Slug Hunt

Sunday I dove with John and Kathy. There had been long-standing plans for many of the BAUE slug hunters to get together and dive and count slugs. Since Rob, Clinton, and I had done some counting the previous weekend, there wasn't a lot left to be done... just one transect
left per team. Rob was supposed to join us but ended up going out of town at the last minute, so I got stuck with John (teehee, just kidding John). We figured we could count slugs on dive one, and then finally do that shakeout dive with his scooter that he'd been wanting to do for a few months. At the last minute, Kathy was looking for a dive buddy, so John invited her to join us. We weren't even sure if we'd be diving with her until we arrived at Lobos (John and I have been carpooling lately... it's really quite convenient that his new place is like two miles from us!) and found her there. The conditions were once again not so great, but diveable. There was a long period swell, plus it was sporty-looking on the surface from a bit of wind, I think, but the ramp was protected enough that we were willing to get in. Mike, Clinton and Melissa were also there for the slug hunt (Melissa denies any involvement with slug counting, but she sure seems to show up a lot on slug counting days :P). We decided how to divide up the transects, and we were off. Well, "we were off" conjures up images of speediness which are quite contrary to my geriatric waddle into the water, but you get the idea.

We had agreed to take transect 5, which is the shallowest. I knew that on a sporty day, that could be interesting, but I like transect 5; I always seem to see more slug variety there than on transect 4. But transect 4 is easier to count both because of its shape, and because it is slightly deeper and less surge-prone. I suspect on this day it was quite surgy too. John said that I could count, and I told Kathy she could follow along beside me if she wanted to look at slugs, or not. We swam out on the surface and dropped in the vicinity of the worm patch. It was surgy and the viz was crap when we first dropped. We actually dropped a but northeast of the patch, so we were on top of the boulders on the outskirts of middle reef. We eventually made our way over to the sand channel and then over to transect 5. It was spectacularly surgy. It was definitely an interesting day to count slugs. There would be periods of calm, and then periods where I would literally move 10 feet. I'd just watch the slugs that went by and note them when the surge calmed down. I think Kathy quickly decided that this following along next to me thing would only lead to everyone kicking each other in the face, so she just hung back off of the transect. John, on the other hand, occasionally pointed out slugs to me, and I think we kicked each other quite a bit. Despite the crazy bad surge, and pretty crappy viz, I counted quite a few slugs (not as many as the previous week, but still probably one of my top counts). Like last time, there were lots of Tritonias.

When the counting was finished, we headed out along middle reef. We stopped to visit Itchy and Scratchy, and then the transect 4 warbonnet. I found it pretty quickly, which I wasn't sure if I could do, since it had been a long time since I'd actually found it myself. I showed it to John, and then we tried to show it to Kathy. She couldn't see it, I think because she wasn't willing to get close enough to the reef to possibly get a face full of reef, should the surge pick up again :) We kept telling her to look again and eventually she looked at us as if we were playing some sort of trick on her, so we moved on :P As we swam out along the reef, I tried to point out any slugs that Kathy might find interesting, since I know she likes slugs. The problem is, I wasn't sure what she would find interesting, since I've never dived with her. The best thing I found on the swim out was a clown nudibranch. When we got to the corner of transects one and two, there was a giant pile of San Diego dorids (which had been there last week too). We turned the corner and hung out by transect 2 for a while. In that one spot, we seemed to be protected from the surge. It was actually pretty nice out there, with much cleaner water. I found a trilineata on the transect. After poking around there for a few minutes, we turned the dive. We stopped at a few spots on the way in to look at slugs, but for the most part we just headed straight back to the worm patch. We ascended there, and swam in. When we got to the ramp, the tide had gone out and it was a very sporty exit. I was very happy I chose to dive a single tank that day. I ended up at the very bottom of the ramp on my knees, and every time I tried to stand, I would slip on the algae and end up back on my knees. Melissa and Mike were on the ramp (Clinton was getting in and Mike was walking his camera in without gear). Just as I gave up and asked for help getting up, a wave came and popped me up on my feet, and I waddled out with a hand from Melissa. In hindsight, I should have just crawled up the ramp and then pulled myself up on one of the rocks on the side, a technique I saw several other people employ on that day.

Considering the surge and the viz, and the fact that I wasn't looking forward to another ramp experience, we decided to bag the second dive. Instead we waited for Clinton and Mike to return from their second dive and headed to Sea Harvest for lunch.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Around the middle of the week, Kevin was looking for a dive buddy for a tech dive on Friday. Apparently he was pretty desperate to get in a dive, and he had some 18/45 in a set of doubles that he really didn't want to have 18/45 in, hence the desire to do a tech dive. Rob said he could be convinced to go do a dive at Lobos, but I remained unconvinced. But I told them if they could line up a boat it would probably be worth missing work. Rob called up Jim, who was already in the process of lining up someone to drive the boat so he and Joakim could dive. Sweet. So it was on. Unfortunately the forecast was not looking too spectacular, so it was looking like it was going to be an in-the-bay dive. But you never know until you go take a look. We went to take a look and decided that Carmel was not going to happen. But the Pinos area looking promising. After a bit of driving around with Rob's GPS, we settled on a site that none of us had dived before. Jo looked nervous when it was divulged that the numbers were just from a spot Rob saw on the bathymetry, but which no one we knew had actually dived. In any case, it was somewhere not too far from Pinos Buoy Jackpot, so how bad could it be?

The site was a pinnacle from about 130 feet to about 170 feet. Actually I might describe it more as a ridge from 140 to 170, with a little bump that went up to 130 feet. The viz was pretty nice on the way down but got a bit dark at the bottom. Not like night dark, but definitely not that bright blue winter viz I'm still waiting for. We dropped down near the shallow bump and went down the side and basically ran the length of the ridge until we got to the end, and then turned around. With some stops for photos and poking around, of course. The cool critter finds included a closed up basket star (I was quite impressed that I found it... we never see them closed up but they must be around!), oodles of simnia snails, and, my favorite... a juvenile yelloweye! We finished up the dive on the shallow bump. There was a big bunch of fish eggs nestled in a piece of hydrocoral near the top, and a kelp greenling swimming around like he owned the place. So, I'm pretty sure they were kelp greenling eggs. On the same piece of hydrocoral I saw some sort of weird zoanthid thing growing on the hydrocoral... like the ones that you see on gorgonians, but on a piece of hydrocoral. I've never seen that before.

There were quite a few sea nettles on deco. I would describe it as a beautiful number of sea nettles, that were manageable but slightly annoying. Not a scary number like at Ballbuster a couple weeks before. But there was definitely some batting of sea nettles to avoid getting stung. The viz was quite nice on the way up -- it was definitely a scenic day to be sharing the midwater with the nettles.

I almost forgot to mention that the Escapade's newest crew member was along for the ride -- Bullet. He is Ed and Julia's adorable and surprisingly non-spazzy Jack Russell terrier. He's such a cutey, I wanted to try to stick him in my pocket and sneak off with him. Unfortunately despite much discussion of it, we forgot to take a picture.

Lunch at Siamese Bay. Yum yum.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Breakwater Night Dive

Rob and I were heading down to Monterey to dive on Friday, and the forecast looked good for Thursday, so we decided to go down a little early and do a night dive on Thursday. We convinced Matt and Leah to join us. We were super late, because we realized at the last minute that we had left some tanks that we needed at AWS. Oops. When we arrived, Matt and Leah were waiting in the rain for us, all dressed in their drysuits. Once we got there, we were pretty quick to get in (probably due to the rain). We did the usual breakwater night routine, starting out over the sand and then circling back over to the wall. The viz was pretty good, definitely quite a bit better than it had been on the last couple of dives I did there.

The highlight of the dive was a pair of squid who were gliding gracefully around in formation. Very cute. We happened upon them pretty early in the dive. We only saw one octopus, which was a pretty big one, who was slithering across the sand. As he slithered, he bumped right into a turbot, who was definitely not pleased. We saw quite a few turbot throughout the dive. Apparently there was a Triopha maculata that I totally missed. I am pretty sure I know when I missed it, because someone tried to show me something and I had no clue what I was supposed to be looking at :) We eventually made it back to the wall and headed in along it. There were lots of Adalaria jannae (that Rob refused to photograph) on the shallow end of the wall. There were a lot of those on the wall the last time we were there (though further out last time). Right near the end of the dive, at about 10 feet, I found a trilineata in the sand just off the wall. I thought that was a weird place for it, but then I realized that there were dozens of them all over the sand in that one spot. Weird.