Diving in a Fish Bowl

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ California Scuba Diving BBS ] [ FAQ ]

Posted by Merry on September 10, 2015 at 13:40:56:

Occasionally, a dive will provide a rare and memorable encounter with marine life, but we hit the mother lode at the Hermosa Artificial Reef. We'd been hearing reports of a resident pair of giant sea bass at HAR since last January, but seriously doubted that it would pan out if we jumped that spot. Reluctantly, we gave it a shot last week, and the endeavor turned into 5 awesome dives over 3 days.

Our goal was to take ID shots for Dr. Milton Love's study of the giant sea bass population. Although GSBs can change color and pattern to some extent, each fish has a unique pattern of spots and/or silvery, brown, gray, or black coloration. I noticed that even their head shape can be different, along with body shape and girth. We're beginning to recognize individual fish, and I can't resist the urge to name them.

It's important to note that we did NOT chase the fish to get a shot, rather we waited for them to check us out. Spooking them isn't worth capturing an image. By the second day of diving, they had became somewhat accustomed to us, and allowed a careful, slow, unobtrusive approach. On the third day, I settled near a bowl of concrete pilings that had become one of their resting spots. Unexpectedly, 3 GSBs slowly surrounded me. They were truly within touching distance. Disbelievingly, I could only freeze and mutter OMG into my 2nd stage.

From Milton Love's book: GSBs are known to live 72-75 years, possibly longer. They mature at perhaps 13-15 yrs old (50 - 60 lbs) and we saw fish larger than that.

Vis was clear down to 30 feet, then variable shades of poor, temp. 64 degrees.
 photo Phil swimming DSC_2920_zpsaixq9dzh.jpg

Hoards of jack mackerel formed never-ending vortices around us.
 photo jack mackerel DSC_2948_zpswo30azv1.jpg

 photo blacksmiths DSC_2953_zpsgie8jh9t.jpg

Black perch and rainbow sea perch.
 photo black perch rainbow seaperch DSC_3041_zps7cyr69j1.jpg

This surprisingly large broomtail grouper appears frequently throughout our dives, but only close enough and long enough to tease us.
 photo broomtail grouper 800 DSC_2938_zpsn3q3fzgp.jpg

Phil photographs an obliging giant sea bass that appeared many times during our dives.
 photo MP GSB 4a DSC_2927_zps9m1iyphg.jpg

Resting in a "fish bowl" formed by criss-crossed pilings and a few strands of giant kelp.
 photo MP GSBs 27 amp 28 DSC_3078_zpsrmwddtsq.jpg

 photo MP GSB 29 DSC_3079_zpsrgx1dpdm.jpg

In one of the fish bowls, I counted 5 adults and 1 juvenile.
 photo MP GSB 25 DSC_3075_zpsilgpbmys.jpg

Juvenile GSB, approx. 14 - 16 inches. One wild thing I saw was a large GSB scootch sideways under the gap between this very piling and the seafloor! Parasite removal? That might explain the scratches we see on some of them.

 photo MP GSB 22 DSC_3071_zpskfjrnzzs.jpg

Here's an additional sampling of how each fish looks a little different.
One of my favorites, which I dubbed "Underbite".
 photo MP GSB 18c DSC_3055_zpsy7tke4ge.jpg

 photo MP GSB 4b DSC_2930_zpsjiewyj6o.jpg

 photo MP GSB 23b DSC_3074_zps7jkz6gmw.jpg

This one is HUGE, note the girth.
 photo MP GSB 6 DSC_2959_zpsifbafxs0.jpg

Follow Ups:

Optional Link URL:
Optional Link Title:
Optional Image URL:
Post Background Color: White     Black
Post Area Page Width: Normal   Full
You must type in the
scrambled text key to
the right.
This is required to
help prevent spam bots
from flooding this BBS.
Text Key: