The wonders of Mother Nature.

I wanted to get a quick post up today to reward all those that have been checking, no doubt in search of tales from the deep black, as I ventured out into the deep ocean last night for two black water dives. Let me jut say, it was incredible. Unfortunately the photos require a little work and the video…well it needs to be edited. I don’t want to leave you hanging though, so let me tell you about this fun little dive I did a few weeks ago.

After our blue water water dive in mid September we did two reef dives. The first was at Hawthorne reef, which is a wonderful deep reef. It sits in about 70ft of water about 1/2 mile off Palos Verdes. More on that later (those photos need work too…sigh, so much to keep up with these days!). What I want to tell you about today, was an adventure I’d be okay never experiencing again…okay, thats a lie, I wouldn’t mind it, only though for a chance to try and get a better picture of the scene!

Our final dive that day was off Christmas Tree Cove, a nice shallow reef that usually has pretty calm conditions and great viz. We dropped into the water and everything seemed fine, except that bottom of the ocean looked a little blurred. As we descended on the line the visibility started dropping, and blurring out. Imagine your mask starts to fog, and how that obscures your sight, it was like that, only my mask was not fogging. (I know this because I cleared it a few times, though after realizing what was going on, I kinda wish I didn’t). As Carolyn blurred out of sight a mere two feet from me I started to worry. I did not want to venture far from the anchor chain in fear of not finding it again, but I was not going to sit around wasting the dive. I decided that I would swim for the kelp in hopes that it would clear, and clear it did. Just like exiting a fog, suddenly the world took shape and I could see the rocks and kelp ahead of me. Not wanting to leave my buddy lost in the soup, I turned around and once more ventured into the cloud. Along the way I noticed that there were an abundance of sea stars piling up on the sea floor. Several of them were arching up in a strange position for a sea star and others were just piled one on top of another. Many of the sea stars had a weird white film oozing from their skin. Innocently, my first thought was that it was some sort of strange bacteria, and snapped a quick picture.

I found Carolyn and we enjoyed the rest of our dive in decent, but not great visibility. It wasn’t until we were back on board that the mystery was solved. “Do you know what I think that was?!” exclaimed Carolyn… “A sea star orgy!” So that’s it. We swam right into a large cloud of sea star eggs, as they piled up and mated, and I watched that white film ooze out of the male sea stars (i now know…) not bacteria. That was sperm. They were doing a mating dance releasing all their goodies and making new baby sea stars and we dropped right into it. Talk about walking in at the wrong time! Well, needless to say I thoroughly rinsed all my gear that day, but all in all having seen the way they mate first hand was pretty cool. Now I just wish I had a better photo! Enjoy the sperm. I’ll get my latest adventures up here soon, I promise!

You take a rock.

The next set of pictures from my trip two weeks ago were more wide angle practice. I’d settled myself nice and low and was once again waiting, hoping for a fishy friend to swim through as they had been all around. With not much happening, Scott swam over and taught me a very useful trick. He took a rock, and banged it against another a few times and presto! Sheephead and Garibaldi started swimming towards us, zooming back and forth around and in front of me, right in the perfect position. I think if I had a slightly faster shutter speed the fish, especially on the sheephead, there’s a little bit of shadowy blurring where the strobe froze the fish, but the slightly longer exposure blurred him a bit.

The last picture I like, but once again the focus is just a bit off. This Garibaldi came zooming right for my lens, and I was able to snap a shot before he turned away. Unfortunately he swam through my area of focus before I could get the shot, but its still pretty cool looking!