It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Little Different at Lobos

Matt made reservations for Lobos on Saturday, originally trying to get Phil to take us out. That didn't work out, so then we were just left with two reservations and no real plans. I originally thought we were diving with Matt and Leah, and didn't give much thought to gas plans or logistics, until late in the week, it turned out they didn't think we were diving together. So the world was our oyster, or something. My scooter was recently repaired, but had only been garage-tested, with a new set of electronics (that's the magical little box in the back of an X-Scooter that can just decide to die one day, leaving your scooter utterly useless). I didn't want a repeat of our last somewhat failed dive at Lobos if my scooter crapped out, so I was leaning toward a 32% dive. That way if my scooter died, we could just go for a dive without a big change of plans. I suggested we do a long dive in the 80' to 90' range out at Three Sisters, Beto's Reef, etc. So we decided to bring some O2 and just head out there and go wherever we felt like going for however long. Plus I'd get to test out my new 32% + O2 deco heuristics locally :)

Rob let me sleep in, and we got to Lobos at just about 9. It was very calm, and the tide was pretty civilized. We got geared up pretty quickly, put our scooters and bottles into the water, and headed in. Rob was shooting macro, I think because that's what his rig was setup for, and he was too lazy to change it :) We scootered out on the surface and dropped in the sand channel in just over 30 feet. Since the dive plan was my idea, I was stuck leading the dive :P We headed out along the sand channel, where the viz was good but not great. It was kind of dark. As we came around Hole in the Wall, I could see that the water was clear and bluer/brighter to the north. We followed the ridges until we got to Lone Metridium and then headed out toward the sisters. I paused briefly along the way when we came to a kelp stalk with a bunch of kelp rockfish, and a few olives stacked up along the kelp stalk, pretending to be leaves. Later on we paused when a huge school of blue rockfish appeared above us, probably at around 60 feet. Then we continued on and hit the first sister in no time. We stopped when we got there and sort of meandered along there, but weren't there even long enough for Rob to get his camera out. Then we headed to the second sister.

Once there, I started to look around for some nudibranchs for Rob to shoot. I very quickly found an exciting one, which I wasn't immediately sure what it was... it had a familiar look though. It had orange rhinophores, and the cerata were translucent greyish-white with what I'd call white "piping" along the side. The rhinophores also seemed slightly bulbous to me. I showed the slug to Rob and he started to unfold his camera; it was on a little piece of red salad kelp that kept fluttering in the breeze. After Rob got his camera ready, he was staring blankly at the spot I had pointed out, and I realized he'd "lost" the slug. So I looked for a moment and found it for him again, and then I moved along. While waiting for him to finish with that, I found several Hilton's nudibranchs, which were the first of many many of those that I found on the dive. I was also stewing on what that slug was called, feeling like it was on the tip of my brain, and then finally I remembered -- Catriona columbiana. I was fairly sure that that's what it was, and after a bit of research (well, mostly accosting Clinton over IM), I am sticking with that story -- the only thing that doesn't quite fit is the lack of orange in the cerata. Sadly, Rob lost the slug again and never managed to get pictures (and I guess he wasn't that interested in getting pics of it, since he didn't ask me to find it again!). We wandered around the second sister for a while, seeing more Hilton's, several trilineatas and some Diaphorodoris lirulatocauda, and I marveled at a nice big egg yolk jelly hanging just off of the pinnacle. We had seen several on the scoot out, but this was a particularly nice, big specimen.

Next we headed to the third sister, and the rocks in between the two. On those rocks, I found zillion more Hilton's nudibranchs, plus a solitary Dendronotus iris. I also noticed zillions of skeleton shrimp, some quite big, all over a bunch of hydroids on the rocks. I think Rob briefly tried to get some pictures and quickly gave up -- the little bit of surge made that pretty impossible. Eventually I suggested heading to Beto's Reef, so we did. On the crossing over the sand, we saw some more of the egg yolk jellies. We finally hit Beto's and I thought we were right at the spot where the wolf eel lives, but we were actually a bit south of there. We swam around a bit and then eventually scootered out a bit further north before heading back. The two good finds there were quite a few Dironas, and a juvenile yelloweye, who was willing to sit for a picture or three. Oh, and the biggest lingcod I've ever seen was swimming around Beto's. That thing was a monster! We stopped to look for the wolf eel on the way home, but he was not in.

We stopped briefly at Seamount on the way in, and other than a particularly friendly lingcod, and more the the same slugs, didn't see too much. We likewise stopped at the rock north of HitW for a few minutes, but I was getting chilly so I called it. Then on the way in on the sand channel, I realized that what looked like a little bit of kelp trash in the water was swimming. I pointed at it to Rob and then without any warning, did a 180 on my scooter and scooted back to the little thing. Then as I was approaching it, I started to thing it was just a bit of kelp trash and I was about to look really foolish. No, it was a cute tiny fish. I pointed it out to Rob and he was like "why are you pointing at a piece of kelp trash". I pointed at it more forcefully and made him look and his eyes got a bit big and he pulled out his camera. Then he shot pic of the adorable little fish for 5 or 10 minutes. I wasn't sure what the fish was, but I knew I had seen a picture of it on the BAUE field guide -- it is allegedly a juvenile kelp poacher. Eventually Rob was finished and we headed in. At the worm patch, we went onto our deco bottles, and then we agreed to scooter in a bit further. The viz was not too good, so we basically just went until we were right in 20 feet, and hunkered down on the bottom for our 20 minutes of deco (brrrr, a bit longer than I meant to incur). While we were there, some juvenile rockfish were around us, and I saw one interesting looking one that had a dark patch across one side of its face, around its eye. I showed it to Rob, but he was not impressed. With a couple more minutes left, I suggested we continue in a bit, so we did, but then I suggested just surfacing, since the viz was quite bad and I had no confidence in finding our way back to the float. Rob said he would lead instead and then he scooted us around, over pristine sand with somewhat better viz, and this just didn't seem right. Eventually we surfaced (at my insistence, I think) to find that we were just in line with the ramp, but in the east half of the cove. Doh! We took a heading and headed back down and toward the ramp. Rob soon left me in his dust, and since we were in 8 feet of water, I decided meeting at the surface would be easiest. Then I got to see his bubble trail going back and forth, back and forth, obvious searching for me. Um, it's 8 feet deep, why wouldn't you just surface? He finally did, to a big eye roll from me, and we headed in.

Lunch at RG, with Matt, Leah, Kevin and Don.

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