Local & Catalina Sunday Dives

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Posted by Patrick on July 07, 2014 at 13:16:19:

Jumped aboard the divine dive platform Encore with Elliott and Cindy Sunday hoping to dive some of the often overlooked coastal spots, but alas, it was not to be.

Our 6:50 A.M. departure placed us anchored over the wreck of the African Queen in less than 40 minutes. Surface conditions were great with sun, glassy water with moderate, long duration southerly swell and a pod of dolphins providing entertainment as we suited up. Just before we were ready to dive the D/V Asante pulled up but decided to head to Catalina rather than wait for us to complete our dive. It was a wise choice. On the descent, the top 60 feet was 69-degrees of Socorro-blue water with at least 50+ feet of visibility. I was thinking that even if we had only half this visibility on the bottom this was going to be an epic dive. NOT!

At 60 feet we hit a thermocline that dropped the temperature 12-degrees in the blink of an eye. And when you opened your eyes after that eye-blink we had ZERO visibility. Hoping for improvement we continued to the bottom, crashed into it, executed a 180 degree turn and ascended. Not a spectacular start to such a beautiful day. We raised anchor and headed for Catalina.

We split our Catalina dives between Twin Rocks and Goat Harbor where we found moderate current, hazy 40-foot visibility, 72 degree water temp., a Sheep crab out for a walk, a very lucky Blacksmith, a number of Green abs, a very large Bat ray fluffing for dinner, a couple of shy octopus and of course Black Sea Bass.

During the initial part of our first dive, while waiting for a BSB approach, I was distracted by a creature popping in and out of a sea cucumber’s anus – Well! Since there were no Sea Bass willing to pose right then, I went to macro mode and began trying to get a shot of the cuke’s anal boarder. As I was setting up on the bottom and waiting to see who was residing in the cucumber’s neither region, I received a nudge on my right shoulder, jarring my setup shot. I began thinking uncharitable thoughts about my dive buddies and turned to give a “what for” to the offender. When I turned, it wasn’t a clumsy buddy I was looking at, but a rather large gill plate on a curious and startled Black Sea Bass. By the time I realized and managed to reset my camera the BSB was gone, and it was just me and my sea cucumber who had closed up shop during the sea bass encounter. I never found out who the back-door renter was with the cuke, but the cheek-to-cheek encounter with the Giant Sea Bass made the disappointment much easier to bear.

During our safety stop we noticed the effect the warm water was having on the Macrocystis particularly high in the water column where the temperatures were highest. The kelp leaves actually look like they have been burned and when touched, slough away nearly like ash.

All in all another magnificent diving day in Southern California!
Sheep Crab out for a stroll

This Blacksmith was either very fast or very lucky – so far…

Green Ab – it is so very good to see these guys around

Bat Ray fluffing the bottom for lunch

Octopus can make any dive special

Wrasse feeding in the kelp

Sea Cuke with the back door open – just waiting for the resident to show…

No luck – back door slammed tight after the sea bass encounter

Amazing to experience these wonderful creatures

Much like our inland hills, local kelp seems to be burning up too

Stay wet!

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