Dive Report - Bugs, Wrecks & Rigs

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Posted by Patrick on October 22, 2013 at 20:48:13:

Saturday I had the opportunity to actually finally do a lobster dive and joined Bill and Andy to explore the Panulirus interruptus population of northern Santa Monica Bay.

The conditions were spectacular: flat calm and glassy seas with sunshine above. Visibility on the surface looked amazing but as we have so often learned it does not always represent what you’ll find on the bottom. Today the surface promise was kept. Our first dive was on structure near the Malibu and vis on the bottom was 25-30 feet with temperature 59-60-degrees. The bugs were out and about and it only required two dives for us to limit out. I actually spent most of my second dive cruising the perimeter of the reef where I discovered numerous nervous Mantis Shrimp as well as a vast area of sea pens. It was pretty cool since I’ve usually only seen sea pens as singles or maybe just a few together.
For the last dive we decided to look at a small wreck that is usually hidden in horrible visibility. On our past dives we had to look at the wreck in 2 to 3-foot sections, since the poor visibility made it difficult to see what and who was there. Typically you would be moving cautiously across the site, then, suddenly a fish would explode off the bottom in front of you causing contraction of certain body parts and an adrenalin spike that on occasion induced regulator swallowing. It wasn’t like that on Saturday – it was clear, 20-foot clear. The awesomeness of the site was able to be seen and appreciated. Sand Bass, Sculpin, huge schools of blacksmith and perch along with phalanxes of sheephead made the site seem like an underwater carnival. The icing on the cake was a high-speed fly-by of a medium sized Black Sea Bass just as I was ascending. I managed to get a tail shot of him on the go-away.

Back at the launch ramp, Fish & Game was waiting at the dock to measure our catch and make sure all rules had been obeyed and all paperwork was correct. It was.

Sunday Cindy and I signed aboard the Pacific Star for a “wreck & rigs” trip. At loading time a heavy fog limited visibility to just a few hundred feet - not the conditions to dive either the Olympic or any of the off-shore oil rigs. Captain Dave decided to run out and see what conditions on the Olympic were like. By the time we were on site the fog had started to lift and conditions had improved to where we could safely dive.
The water on the site was amazing. Even with overcast and fog damping the ambient light, the clarity of the water allowed us to see the wreck spread below us at just 45 feet into our descent. Dense clouds of Rubberlip and Chromis hovered over and around the wreck with lingcod, Cabazon and myriad rockfish on the wreck.

The dive on the Olympic was great, but the dive at the Eureka platform was magnificent. Dropping into the azure water we found visibility ranging to 100-feet with clouds of mini-mackerel sweeping back and forth through the giant structure while clusters of garibaldi decorated the verticals. Of course the invert life on the rig structure is amazing.

All in all, an awesome weekend with beautiful conditions and good friends – there is nothing better in my book.

Stay wet.

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