Life and Death on Golf Ball Reef

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Posted by Max Bottomtime on October 11, 2017 at 13:16:52:

I like to believe that I know when not to dive. Every now and then that belief comes back to bite me. Today was one of those days. Conditions have kept me out of the water for two weeks. The swell models predicted calm seas for today, so I headed out for a pre-dawn trip to get gas and make a couple of dives. The ocean had other plans.

As I exited King Harbor in Redondo Beach I considered turning around. It was windy and swells were only a couple of seconds apart. I changed plans and decided to rough it and make a single dive close by.

As I descended next to the barrel at Golf Ball Reef I knew I wouldn't be covering much ground today. Surge and less than ten feet of visibility were my reward for going out today. Fortunately there were things to see within thirty feet.

Three Peltodoris mullineri were tailing as I began to explore the reef. There was also a lot of mating and egg laying going on. Aplysia californica, California sea hares were piling up and depositing sperm and eggs on the rocks, while small nudibranchs were pairing up nearby.

A bright object caught my eye about twenty feet west of the barrel. The skull and vertebrae of a toothless animal was being cleaned by snails and calico bass. The skull is about eighteen inches long. It seemed to be too small for a whale and the wrong shape for a dolphin or seal/sea lion. In spite of the poor conditions, I wish I hadn't taken my 105mm lens.

 photo Golf Ball Reef_ART0687_zpsji38wpco.jpg

 photo Golf Ball Reef_ART0686_zpsbupgeqsu.jpg

 photo Golf Ball Reef_ART0685_zpsmjfxuc32.jpg

 photo Golf Ball Reef_ART0684_zpsjit5fdq4.jpg

 photo Golf Ball Reef_ART0693_zpsoyfgtqld.jpg
Sea hare egg mass

 photo Golf Ball Reef_ART0692_zps3iwffafb.jpg
Rathbunella hypoplecta, Bluebanded Ronquil, female

 photo Golf Ball Reef_ART0703_zpsodkppib3.jpg
Tailing Peltodoris mullineri

 photo Golf Ball Reef_ART0696_zpspxwrdxmn.jpg
Doriopsilla albopunctata

 photo Golf Ball Reef_ART0673_zpsyf8yzq8u.jpg
Diaulula sandiegensis

 photo Golf Ball Reef_ART0701_zpshsdupfp7.jpg
Triopha catalinae

 photo Golf Ball Reef_ART0718_zpspczyz3gv.jpg
Thordisa rubescens

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