Old Marineland

Last Tuesday myself and a couple friends woke at the crack of dawn and ventured down to PV to take advantage of the calm waters before the windy storm blew in. This time we were getting wet at Old Marineland, a site on the south side of the peninsula, where the new Terranea resort was recently built. This site got its name because it used to be home to Marineland of the Pacific, one of the first and largest Oceanariums that operated from 1954 to 1987 (http://www.marinelandofthepacific.org/). After years of nothing a new resort has recently been built, but the beach and diving remains open to the public. Whats great about this site now, especially compared to other shore sites around PV, is that the path to get down to the diving is paved and packed dirt. No crazy hike, just a long walk. The entry itself isn’t bad, so long as you go when the water is calm. Any actual swell at this site and you’d be getting crushed into the rocks. Its a rocky beach entry which drops off really quickly so a wave would literally pound you down. Luckily our water was nice and calm!

We had a nice smooth entry then kicked out towards a large kelp and reef to the east of the entry. I’ve been told that this is the “boring” side of the Marineland dive site, but the cool stuff is a good 20-30 minute surface swim west and we just didn’t have that kind of time!

Down we went into what looked to be pretty crappy visibility. Luckily though, as we descended deeper the water cleared some. I wouldn’t call it good, but it was fair enough and not bad for shore diving. We came up to the kelp… one of the things I always love about approaching kelp, especially in not so good viz is that it starts as just a black mass growing in the distance and doesn’t really take shape until just before reaching it. Its a bit spooky, but adds to the mystery of the temperate dives.

Our route had us cruising along the edge of the kelp until we reached our “halfway” of air consumption then turning around and heading back to the beach. We flitted in and out of the kelp and saw lots a great things. I saw a new (and my second) type of Nudibranch, finally something other than Spanish Shawl (but they were there too!) This guy was a Sea Lemon (Pelotodoris nobilis) and was quite big! I really want to get to the “cool” side of Marineland because I’ve been told that its Nudibranch City…soon my friends, soon.

This reef was great, which really makes me curious about the “cool” side of the site. We explored varied rock formations along the reef, the kelp was thick and healthy and it was littered with sea stars and fairly free of urchins. There were lots of fish, mostly the usual that you run into around So Cal… Garibaldi, Kelp Bass, Sheephead.. but they’re always fun to watch. I think the biggest drawback to the day was that it was overcast. If it had been a bright sunny morning the reef would have well lit and beautiful… that morning it was a bit dark and beautiful.

Unfortunately for me, the batteries in my strobe were dead (guess that’s what happens after about 4 months…oops!) Regardless, I spent the morning taking video. Enjoy!

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