It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

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.

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