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Me diving

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Whale Snot and Sea Lions

We were back on the Escapade on Saturday, and after the epic viz the previous weekend, followed by the rather bad viz on Tuesday night, we weren't really sure what we were in for.  When we got to Monterey it was really really foggy.  But it was pretty calm, so we decided to go for a drive to see what would happen.  So, apparently the salmon were in town, and every fisher person from the greater central California area were in Monterey Bay, hoping to catch some.  The bay was unbelievably crowded with boats of all sizes.  There were easily over 50 boats, all centered around Mile Buoy, it seemed.  It was actually a pretty cool sight.  We headed out of the bay, slowly, in the thick thick fog.  We drove for what seemed like forever, since it was impossible to tell where we were.  We made it all the way to Soberanes Wall, where there was a small pocket of clear sky.  More importantly, we figured we could do a shallow tech dive there, and deco up the reef and the kelp.  And then we'd be conveniently positioned for a second dive at Lobos Rocks.

We hopped in the water, and the viz was pretty reasonable on top.  But as we descended, it got pretty bad, and by the time we got to the bottom, it was really really bad.  There was just a ton of stuff suspended in the water, and by the time we got to the bottom, it was super dark.  All of the stuff in the water moving around was sort of disorienting. It was hard to tell if it was moving, or I was moving, or the reef was moving.  With the really bad viz, I felt like I had to spend most of my mental resources just keeping track of Rob and Kevin.  So it was not a terribly fun dive.  I was thinking during the dive that if we were incurring more deco, I would have just thumbed it, because it wouldn't really be worth the deco :)  The only critter that really stood out to me on the dive was that I saw a few Dironas.  Eventually we worked our way up the reef; as we got shallower, it got brighter, so it was actually quite a bit nicer once we got onto our deco bottles.  We continued up the reef, until we were on top and in the kelp forest, and up there, the viz was actually pretty good.  It was still chunky in the water, but it was so much brighter and bluer.  It was pretty fun bobbing in the kelp and blue water for our relatively short deco.  That was definitely the nicest part of the dive!

When we surfaced, the fog hadn't improved.  So we were glad we hadn't tried to wait it out.  We headed over to Lobos Rocks for our surface interval.  Shortly after we arrived, we were treated to what I thought was the coolest part of the day... a Minke whale breached several times (3, I think).  It was like it was skipping across the water in slow motion, breaching, then disappearing beneath the water, then popping back up again a moment later.  We followed it until we ended up back at Soberanes, but by that point it was done having fun, and we just got the occasional fin sighting.

We returned to the Rocks, and eventually four of us got into the water (Rob, Kevin, Beto, and me).  We were diving as a team of four, in the whitewater... what could possibly go wrong? :)   Instead of following the line down and finding our way to the rocks, we just scootered toward the rocks on the surface, and eventually dropped when it got uncomfortably sloshy.  We pretty quickly found the sea lions.  The viz was a little better over here, but it was still not too good.  It had also become a bit rougher, so begin up in the shallows with the sea lions was, well, an adventure.  We could see and hear these big waves come in and slam into the rocks.  I would go up to like 12 or 15 feet with the sea lions, and then when I saw the shadow or heard the roar of a big wave coming in, I'd point my scooter down and scooter out of it.  I was trying to get a little video, and so was Kevin.  We basically just repeated this over and over for a while.  Around 25 minutes into the dive, I scootered over to Kevin and gave him a hand signal to say "I feel like barfing".  He returned the same signal :)  So I thumbed it.  We headed back in and left Rob and Beto for some more fun.  I guess they were tiring of it too, though, because not long after we surfaced, they did too.

We headed back to K-dock, and the fog never really got much better on the way up.  Kevin posted a video from the dive, but I have no clue how to embed it here :)

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