Friday night I ventured out with two friends to explore a favorite site of mine after dark. I was slightly worried because the weather forecast had shown larger waves than the earlier prediction and this site mucks up quickly because its fairly shallow. I had also been dry for about two weeks, after the delay of my instructor exam date I decided to take it easy and have been picky about choosing my dives. However, after a stressful week at work (read: probably going on “hiatus” in a few weeks due to how crappy things are going in the industry), I just needed to be underwater.
We met up in the parking lot, and the ocean was calm and quiet. So far, so good. Daryl, Richard and I gabbed as we donned our gear, I made the last minute decision to bring the camera since the calm seas meant I wouldn’t have to stress over it getting battered on the rocks during the entry and exit, and I am SO glad that I did. As we kicked out along the surface I could tell that the visibility was going to be good and my spirits rose.
We dropped down in about 15 feet of water and began kicking over the sand towards the dive site. Our max on this dive was 24 feet, so you can imagine how quickly it would go from good to bad with a larger surf, but that night we lucked out. On top of the great conditions, it seemed that everything was also out enjoying the night. We ran across a small thornback ray immediately after dropping down, then crossed paths with a large horn shark as we swam into the kelp and rock ledges. There were large Sheep Crabs wandering across the sandy patches in numbers I had never seen before. We must have passed at least 10 throughout the dive!
Richard pointed out an octopus all stuffed into a tiny hole in a rocky outcropping as we swam over and through the ledge-like outcroppings that mark Malaga Cove dive site. The most entertaining for me (aggravating for Richard) were the lobster. They were everywhere and they were docile and unafraid. Usually lobster hide in holes in the rocks, or in crevasses just out of reach, but tonight they were out swimming around, lounging on top of the rocks in plain sight and easy grabbing proximity. To top it off, they didn’t swim away when you got near. I was even able to pick one up, though was so startled by the fact that I could that I dropped it immediately as soon as it squirmed. Richard, who is a hunter, could not believe they were just out like this and was extremely bummed that it was not lobster season. Soon, Rich, soon... season opens midnight on October 1st.
As we continued the dive it just got better. I found a nicely sized octopus out and about and was able to follow him as he swam along the rocks, molding and melting to whatever shape he passed over. Towards the end I ran across a tiny little baby Horn Shark just curled up against a little rock cluster. As we returned to the sand at the end of the dive we ran across another Thornback Ray, larger this time, and in no hurry to swim away as I snapped picture after picture. Then just before we surfaced we stumbled onto a large Pacific Angel Shark nestled in the sand. Really, what more could we have asked for?