It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, June 7, 2020

More Pandemic Diving (and Pandemic Kitties)

During our couple of months of shore diving (sans Lobos), we did manage to dive a few places other than the Breakwater -- MacAbee, the Wharf, and Coral Street.  My one regret is that I didn't make it to Monastery.  Early on, there were a few weekends with 2 to 3 foot swell, and Rob did a couple of deep dives at North Monastery with Bobby.  But I'm not interested in diving Monastery in doubles or a rebreather these days, so I sat those out.  We looked at Monastery on at least three other dive days after that, and it was never diveable.  Sigh.

Nice viz at MacAbee
Okenia rosacea
Anyhoo, MacAbee was pretty good and we dived there at least three times.  There was pretty good viz on all dives.  But there were lots of cool nudibranchs on all of the dives.  I mentioned in my last post that Okenia rosacea and Limacia cockerelli were abundant in April/May, and this is where we first noticed it.  In the kelp forest, there were Okenias everywhere, and on the rocky areas outside of the kelp, there were Limacias everywhere.  The Limacias were weird (and I wonder if they are a different variety than what we usually see) in that they were quite large, and they had lots of orange blotches on the dorsum.  Aside from those guys, we saw a bunch of Phidiana hiltoni, (small) Triopha maculata, Acanthadoris hudsoni, and Acanthadoris lutea.  We saw all of these slugs on both of the first two dives... which makes for a pretty awesome slug dive when I list them all out.

Limacia cockerelli with splotchy dorsum
On one other dive there, we had heard there was SUPER clear viz in the bay, so Rob brought wide angle.  The viz was actually quite murky in most of the kelp forest -- so murky, in fact, that we got separated at one point and had to meet back up on the surface.  Okay it wasn't *that* murky, Rob just isn't a very good buddy and has a tendency to swim off after a long period stopped taking pictures, without any regard for whether his buddy is looking in his general direction and knows that he is swimming off.  Anyway, we eventually got to a very distinct change in the water, where the viz got SUPER clear and SUPER cold.  It was very weird, and it was quite unfortunate because all of the nice kelp was in the murky area.
Nothing to see here :(

I hadn't been to Coral Street in probably 10 years.  I always thought of it as the best kelp shore dive in Monterey (definitely the best in the bay).  Oh how things have changed.  The urchins have totally destroyed the kelp!  When you first swim out, it's like an urchin barren.  We eventually found some spindly pieces of kelp, but it's nothing like it used to be.  In fact, I would say it is not worth diving anymore.  MacAbee, Hidden Beach, and even the Breakwater have much nicer kelp these days.  Now that we are a bit further into the summer, there is reasonably thick kelp visible further off from the beach, but it is much further out than it used to be.

Janolus fuscus
Cuthona albocrusta
Last but not least, we dived the Wharf a couple of times.  There are some pretty cool slugs in residence these days.  We saw lots of Dirona pictas -- so many of them, we stopped pointing them out to each other, Janolus fuscus, an Ancula gibbosa (haven't seen one of those in ages!), and a teeny tiny white guy that I wasn't even sure was a slug until Rob got the shot, and it was a Cuthona albocrusta.  I also found a super cool tiny slug, which to my eye (which is not very good for something that size) looked like a teeny tiny sea hare; but Rob let it get away before he got the shot :(  I was starting to feel like I'd lost my slug-finding skills on that dive and then I found the Ancula, Cuthona, and mystery slug in rapid succession.  And of course there were tons and tons of the usual critters, like fringeheads and tiny octopus.

Dirona picta

All in all, some fun dives and some very good slug hunting.  It was actually pretty fun to do some single tank shore diving at sites I hadn't been to for a while.  Though after 10 weeks, it was definitely getting old :)

Felis catus, in a kitty pile
Speaking of getting old, in my last post, I promised some pics of the kitties having some fun in the sun in Monterey.  Or fun in the gloom might be more accurate ;)  Since our patio in Pacific Grove is completely fenced in, the kitties are allowed to go out there (as long as they are semi-supervised).  They've become totally spoiled and pretty much just expect outdoor time on a regular basis.  I don't know how that's going to work when/if we ever go home.
Oh, is this your chair?
Working on my tan