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Monday, September 26, 2022

Cordell 2022 Day 3: Craine's Point

Today only Rob and I were diving, since the other divers had to work :(. We decided to go back to Craines Point, which was the first site we visited on the first trip to Cordell, and we haven’t been back since. On the first visit, it was kind of dark and green, but viz was reasonably good, and there was a big school of widows. It was completely overcast but no sign of fog. It was a cold ride out.

When we got into the water, the viz was very good. But as we headed down the line, it very quickly got murky, and then very murky and warm. As we continued down, it was getting so murky and dark that I thought we might have to thumb the dive when we got to the bottom. Then we popped out of the layer, and it was crackling clear (but dark as night) and freezing. It felt like someone threw ice water on my face. It reminded me of a cave dive because it was so dark and clear. And there was no school of fish. We initially continued down to the wall, to around 160’, but then I headed up and over the lip to look for a spot to put the boxfish. As soon as I came over the top, I saw that there was a school of widows over the peak. I signaled to Rob and suggested he move the camera over here. He seemed to be having trouble getting it to stay where he was trying to put it, so he abandoned that spot and moved to the school of fish.

One of the most notable things about this dive was the intense whale song that was going on for most of the dive. It had a sort of spooky quality to it, which went along with the dark darkness of the dive. Another notable thing — there was quite a bit of current.

The fish did not like the light. Whether it was the boxfish or my video lights, they were just very skittish. So I had no success getting video of them. I decided to focus on getting video of the encrusting life on the reef instead. The site is kind of a plateau, with little ups and downs, which are very well encrusted, but subjectively not as pretty as the other sites at Cordell. I think this is at least in part because the reef is more brown and less pink. There corynactis seems to be more orange, there’s a lot of that golden hydroid, and also some kind of red algae that is not very pretty. But it is still quite impressive how encrusted it is! In addition to the school of widows, there were a fair number of rosy rockfish skittering about.

Given the darkness and the current (and a minor camera issue — floppy strobe arm), I only video’d for like 15 minutes and then put it away and enjoyed the dive. We eventually went down the wall a bit and explored the structure a bit. It was rather convenient to have the boxfish on top of the plateau as a beacon to return to. We could see it as we scootered around the wall, which turned out to be shaped like a horseshoe. Also, we briefly visited a little side pinnacle across a sand channel. I saw a quillback rockfish and more roseys along the side of the wall. There were also some of those holes, but less distinctly holey at the bottom of the wall in one spot.

When it was time to start the ascent, I was shocked by how warm and murky the water was as soon as we got to 120’. Apparently the current also calmed down because we barely drifted on deco according to the boat crew. There weren’t any interesting sightings on deco, since the viz was terrible. A whale would have had to swim right into us for us to see it :)

Although this wasn't the prettiest dive, it was quite memorable due to the whale song.

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