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Me diving

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.

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