Super Grouper

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Posted by Merry on September 29, 2015 at 11:01:36:

The broomtail grouper is a protected species. Article at link below.

After half-a-dozen dives on Hermosa Artificial Reef, I'd just about given up hope of having a close encounter with the huge broomtail groupers that have delighted Margaret, Todd, and Jim. In past dives, the vis was so poor that I'd only catch a glimpse of them. But on Saturday, I got LUCKY!

On descent, I could clearly see shells on the bottom from ~15 feet. Horizontal vis was easily 30 - 35 feet. A sharp pang of guilt swept over me, thinking of Phil stuck on the boat while I enjoyed clear, 66 degree water...but guilt dissipated quickly.

The fish bowl was inundated with hundreds of jack mackerel. Four giant sea bass occupied the same spot near the corynactis-covered rebar. Three were engaged in circling behavior, so I left them alone and hovered patiently above the bowl.

Five minutes later (seriously), a large grouper appeared. It's barely visible behind a screen of mackerel.
 photo broomtail amp mackerel DSC_3303_zps18hn5xyz.jpg

 photo Broomtail end 2 DSC_3328_zpszp1axhnp.jpg

 photo Broomtail in bowl 1 DSC_3286_zpshvzgopfk.jpg

By the distinctive pattern of spots, we can tell that this fish is the same spotted broomtail that Margaret Webb and Todd Winner have been shooting. My strategy was to wait for it to come to me. At one point, I caught it peeking over a piling to check me out. Although it dropped out of sight when our eyes met, within a minute it came around the piling to get a better look.
 photo Broomtail portrait DSC_3314_zpsswia4ezq.jpg

 photo Broomtail right side DSC_3315_zpspnlrsanv.jpg

 photo GSB 9-26-15 DSC_3283_zps39ewdsa8.jpg

 photo GSB 36 DSC_3305_zpsah67ojfa.jpg

Vis was so good that I explored more of the reef. A second fish bowl lies to the east, and to the north there's a large deposit of concrete debris. A silvery broomtail grouper passed over me, but didn't settle for a photo.

GSB resting by a lone chunk of concrete.
 photo GSB single concrete b DSC_3291_zpswwhy2pcy.jpg

On Sun., Kevin and I dove White Point Rock and Garden Spot, 68 degrees at depth. We can't find nudis anywhere.
 photo Half-moon DSC_3396_zpsarfwiapa.jpg

Juvenile sheephead
 photo Juvenile sheephead DSC_3343_zpslcqhm6mk.jpg

 photo Sargo DSC_3399_zpsmqgsepas.jpg

 photo Octopus cr DSC_3419_zpsxshadkvu.jpg

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