Worlds Collide.

Worlds Collide.

The squid have come back to Los Angeles, with a huge squid run happening up and down the coast. Down at Veteran’s Park in Redondo Beach, thousands upon thousands of squid have been gathering to mate, lay eggs and die. Last night we ventured out to see them and I was amazed at how many squid were just swimming around down there. They couple up for the males to fertilze the females then eggs are laid in groups called baskets before the squid, life’s goal of procreating complete, simple die and become tasty food for all the other critters down there.

The Eyes Have it.

A couple weekends ago I went out to Casino Point on Catalina with two friends for the sole purpose of just doing several relaxing dives and practicing some macro photography. I was using two strobes again, something I’m still getting used to, and had two different cameras to try out, my olympus and the new Panasonic GX1. I really enjoyed using the Panasonic, trying these new cameras really reminds me how much has advanced since I bought my Oly two and half years ago. The focus speed on the GX1 was amazing, and the LCD is really bright, crisp and detailed. The only drawback I found with the camera and kit lens is that the lens does not focus very close so it was difficult for getting good close macro shots.

The point was busy as usual with lots of people diving and students learning to dive. That meant that many areas of the dive park dropped to cloudy 5′ visibility due to the number of inexperienced fins causing the sand to billow up and into the water. This is to be expected here, which is why I wanted to focus on macro. I was hoping to hit some of the deeper sections and hunt for nudibranchs, but it seemed there were none to be found. I saw only two nudi’s on all three dives, only one of which I could actually photograph.

One of two nudis that I saw all day, the Catalina Triopha

I focused instead on trying to sneak up on the tiny gobies, and got a good shot of a black eyed goby, and an okay shot of a blue banded, which are even harder to sneak up on. I saw two bat rays, that swam off before we could get close, and lots of large sheep head and bass.

Black Eyed Goby perching on rocks

The highlight of the day for me was a very patient young halibut (i think) who allowed me to swim up in front of him and take picture after picture. He even stayed chill when I put on my macro lens and moved in closer and closer. I think at one point I even bumped into him and all he did was flutter up a bit then settle back down. I left with a nice shot of his eyes up close that I was really happy with.

Over all it was a pleasant day of diving, especially now that the water is warming up into the 60’s and the air temps are moving into the high 70’s. Summer is here and its looking to be beautiful.

Close up of a Giant Spined Sea Star (Cropped from original)

Little Hermit crab out for an afternoon stroll.

Hermit Hiding.

Throughout the fourth dive, Fish Bowl Point, there were a variety of Hermit Crabs out enjoying the warm water. I say warm, as it was nearly 60 degrees up at Anacapa which out here is rather warm! I was able to sneak up on this guy and snap a couple photos before he shrank into his shell, and for once, the shallow focus plane hit right where I wanted it to! His eye and little arms are nicely in focus and it almost seems like he’s watching me come close. Well, he probably was!

I’m headed up to Guerneville, CA this weekend (think Napa area) for some swimming, biking, running and wine tasting! I hope everyone in LA has a nice weekend and gets a chance to escape the “carmageddon” freeway closure. Hey…go diving!

The Itty Bitty Octopus Convention

I’ll admit, we were uninvited guests. The people who sneak into the ballroom as the doors close and take a seat in the back. You know they didn’t pay for the convention, and the probably don’t care about the speaker, they’re just there for the free buffet and drinks. That was us, only we were intruding, bubbles and all, on what seemed like a tiny octopus convention. Monday night we dove Vet’s Park at twilight. It was my first time entering the water here while the sun was still up and it was amazing. There were small (about the size of a lime) Red Octopus EVERYWHERE! I easily shone my light over 15 or more. Like I said a moment ago… amazing.

Diving here at twilight was definitely weird. For the first time in my short Scuba life I really felt the weight of the water. We maxed out around 80ft and I flipped onto my back and looked up towards the sky. At most dive sites when you do this you see the water and a small round orb that’s the fuzzy sun reflecting down… or you get a fuzzy blue mass when the viz is not great. Here however it was a deep green blur that looked a bit menacing, and overall, heavy. Honestly I didn’t like it. Most of the dive really seemed like a typical night dive, the site was dark at 30ft and we needed our lights, so flipping back over I just pretended that green mass wasn’t there. When I wasn’t using my light to see, it sort of felt like I was looking through night-vision googles; everything was cast in a green hue and contrast was high.

We swam south as usual, passing octopus after octopus, and tons of little Sand Dabs, most of which were so well camouflaged that I could barely make them out. I saw a really cool snail, thanks to Tim who pointed it out. Its called a Lewis’ Moon Snail, and has a small smooth shell that at first I thought I was seeing a snail in search of a new home! There was also a great (again TINY…thats they key word from this dive) Scorpionfish, that was not camera shy and let me get right up near it. To top off the dive there were several large Rock Crap who didn’t feel like exerting the effort to move and allowed me to get some lovely photographs. I especially liked the pair that looked like they were cuddling! I was a little annoyed at my camera which was having trouble focusing in the nearly non-existent light, but in the long run it did alright. I’ve dove this site now more than any other site and I can easily say that I am always impressed by how it changes each time. The life is extremely interesting right now and I can not wait to go back down!

Crystal Clear, mostly.

Christmas Tree Cove (#54)

Sunday morning started completely opposite of Saturday. I had been out Saturday night with good friends, a few drinks and fun movie along with a good nights sleep really turned my mood around. The weather was perfect and I had organized two dives off of Palos Verdes to take advantage of the small swell and good visibility. Chris, Daryl and I met at 7:45 at Christmas Tree Cove. My friend Carissa joined us to snorkel since the weather promised good clear water even close to shore.

The plan was to dive Christmas Tree and use it for the mapping project due in the Divemaster class. With the conditions as they were it was going to be cake. We could almost create our maps just by looking down into the water from atop the cliff it was that clear out. So we hiked down with our tanks, back up, then back down with the rest of the gear. Got everything ready and were in the water right at high tide. Just before starting our descent we spotted a Bat Ray chilling on the bottom. The dive went smoothly and I plotted depths and features (like kelp, boulder patches and the large rock wall) while Daryl took note of compass headings and distances. The visibility was fantastic, though there was alot of little things floating around in the water.

Malaga Cove (#55)

After hiking back out of the cove we opted to try a different site for dive #2, purely because the hike in was EXHAUSTING. Driving north around Palos Verdes we headed to Malaga Cove. Again, the low swell made this another fantastic dive. The overall profile here is shallower, and we barely got deeper than 30ft.

Malaga was Horn Shark City. We easily saw more than 15 sharks just relaxing along the bottom. To top that off there were lobsters out enjoying the bright, clear viz, several Sheep Crab walking around, Spanish Shawl nudibranchs all over, a large Shovel-Nose Guitarfish that was pretending to just be sand and at then end (just before I reached the dreaded “memory card full” warning) we saw a huge Bat Ray resting in the shallows.