It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, October 27, 2012

While the Kitties are Away...

Rob, Kevin, and lot of my other usual dive buddies were out of town this weekend.  I thought I didn't have dive plans, so at some point during the week, I started asking around to see if I could find myself some plans.  Then I got email from John, reminding us of the tech boat on Saturday, that I was signed up for (to dive with John), and completely forgot about.  So suddenly I didn't have to worry about finding something to do.  Leading up to the weekend, the wind forecast looked pretty marginal (I think there was small craft advisory), but we decided to ignore that and see what we got on Sunday.  John and I carpooled down together, and when we passed the flag in Seaside, it was hanging like a limp noodle.  That's what I liked to see.  It got a little sporty once we turned the point, but we made it to Lunaticos, and that was okay.  But since it was expected to deteriorate throughout the day, we decided not to push our luck with going further.

Once we got into the water, we found quite a lot of sea nettles in the top 30 or 40 feet.  It was pretty crowded getting down the line.  The viz in this upper layer was good but green.  But once we passed about 50 feet, it opened up to stellar viz, with pretty bright blue water -- yay!  We headed down the pinnacle and into the sand channel along the south side, which has another little pinnacle across it, and some scattered smaller reefs beyond that..  It was a great day to scooter through the channels between these little reefs.  You could see everything!  At some point, we stopped to look around a bit, and I found a young starry that looked like it was transitioning from its juvenile colors (yellow) to its adult form.  Pretty neat.  We also saw a bunch of little schools of small rockfish, and then we came upon a pretty big school of small bait fish, not exactly sure what.  But they were silvery in color.  I decided to take a little video of it, and then we started to work our way up the pinnacle.  We ran into Doug and Erik, who had apparently just seen three molas, which we didn't see :(

After watching the blue rockfish on the top of the pinnacle for a bit, we decided to check out the next pinnacle to the north of us.  We could just make it out in the distance, and I was wondering if it would come up a bit shallower than the one we were on.  We scootered over to it, and found that actually it didn't come up quite as shallow, so after a minute or two back there, we headed back to where we started, to finish up the dive.  John found a cool little red shrimp on a piece of kelp fluttering around on the top of the pinnacle.  It was shaped like a stiletto shrimp, but it was a solid bright red.  Attempts to capture it with the hero cam were futile.  A few minutes after that, we started our ascent.

The water was significantly warmer on deco.  From 70', my gauge was reading 57 degrees!  At 60 or 70 feet, I looked up to see lots of sea nettles waiting to torment us when we got shallower.  While looking up at them, I also saw what I thought looked like a bunch of small squid.  But I couldn't really tell, so I figured I would have to wait to find out.  Right near the end of our 50 foot stop, I saw a purple striped jelly maybe 20 feet away and just a bit shallower than us.  I was super excited.  This was without a doubt, the biggest and nicest looking purple-striped that I've ever seen (though it was not that big, by their standards).  So on the way to our 40 foot stop, I swam over to it, and took a bit of footage of it.  Of course once I got to it, it started to swim a bit deeper, so I was hanging out with it for a couple minutes at 45 or 48 feet when I was supposed to be at 40.  When I finally finished with it, I looked all around, and couldn't find John, when he signaled me.  He was right above me, at 40 feet, where he was supposed to be :)  I joined him there and continued to watch the purple jelly for a while.  As we got shallower, the nettles got thicker, though never as thick as they were on the way down.  Even though there weren't that many of them, the ones that were there were super long, many of their tentacles reaching at least 10 feet.  So their tentacles were everywhere, and I had to blow some out of the mouthpiece of my O2 reg when I got to 20'.  I never did see the squid, or anything else to explain what I thought I saw.  But after the dive, I heard from a few people at Lobos that there were schools of squid at Lobos.  So I think they must have been out there as well.

Once we finished up our dive, we headed back to the bay.  No one other than John and I wanted to do a second dive, so we picked Shale Island.  When we got to Shale Island, there was another boat on it, so we went to the annex, which has a fairly tall shale ledge that I have been to once or twice before.  As we were gearing up, the crew told us that there was a purple-striped jelly on the surface right by the boat.  So once I got into the water, I swam over to check it out.  The water was very green on top, so it was not worth trying to video.  It also wasn't as pretty as the one that I had seen on the first dive.  We headed down the anchor line, and when I got to 15 feet, I realized that my left ear (the one that usually clears with no problem) was totally locked up and unwilling to clear.  I inched up shallower and shallower and just couldn't clear it, so we came back to the surface, I cleared it a few times, and then we headed back down the line very slowly.  It took 6 minutes to get to the bottom (50-some feet), though that included the first attempt.  Once at the bottom, we found that the anchor was not on a ledge, but just sitting on top of flat shale.  I guess it had slipped.  Unfortunately I was leading, so I picked a pseudo-random direction to go, and went looking for a ledge.  We found a variety of small ledges and eventually, 15 or 20 minutes into the dive, I found the tall ledge we were looking for.  We saw the usual sort of shale critters.  I found a very small Limacia that was so small, it seemed like it was all tubercles.  At first I couldn't figure out what it was, because there was so much orange and so little white.  The viz was pretty good for the shale, probably about 30 to 40 feet at the bottom (but pretty murky on top).  After swimming around for a bit and then heading back into the general direction of where we started, we decided to just shoot a bag, since there was no reason to believe the anchor hadn't slipped further.  We surfaced pretty close to the boat, but they came to get us anyway.  Sweet!

After a very short ride back to the dock, we headed to La Tortuga, Anywater Sports, and finally home.

I put together a very short video, since I love the purple-striped jellyfish, and I finally got a little footage of it!

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