THIS IS THE LAST OF A SERIES OF 3 POSTS. TO READ THEM IN ORDER START WITH HORIZON TRIP - THURSDAY, THEN READ FRIDAY THEN THIS ONE
Saturday-Nov. 15-8:50am-Pyramid Palisades-San Clemente Island
Last night was a good night for bugs. I think all told we bagged about 8 more.
The pups hung around the whole time we were there. We got the okay for San Clemente and anchored there in the middle of the night. The Captain gave us the option for a reverse night dive. If you wanted to dive to make a dive at dawn, the crew would wake you up at 5am. Naturally I passed. After getting up at a decent hour and having breakfast, we made our next dive. I dropped down with Doyle and Kent. There was a sandy bottom about 60’ deep with the kelp rising off a rock ledge that sloped upwards. The ledge was littered with small openings, overhangs and swim throughs. As we approached the kelp, there were a few thousand small fish swimming at the edge of the kelp. We dropped down to the sand and checked out a small opening that lead up to a small swim through. When I saw that I couldn’t fit through, I turned around and there was Doyle ready to take my picture framed by the rocks. As he was taking it, I noticed a lanyard hanging from the camera. Thinking it was his main one I swam up to tell him to put it on. Once I was close enough, I saw that it was attached to the red filter on the lens. Now here is where it gets fun. He thought I was taking the camera to take his picture. Once I saw that the lanyard was an extra, I turned and starting swimming up into the kelp. Doyle, thinking I wanted his camera, had taken it off and thought that I had it. Imagine his surprise when he gets into position turns around and doesn’t see me! He was thinking, that little turd just swam off with my camera! (That is an exact quote.)
So off I go into the kelp having a good old dive. It was very thick in places and with the surge moving the kelp back and forth in the sun light, it was quite a sight. I wondered down a crevice that turned into swim through. It was a bit murky, maybe someone had already been there. At the end I meet a few divers looking for lobsters. I had seen a few but they were all shorts. Once I got to the end and turned to come back up a bit, I got a little reverse block. I think it was nature’s way to tell me to stop. So I stopped, held on to some kelp and let it pass. While hanging there I found two tiny Spanish Shawls. They are nudibranchs, kind of like a slug, maybe 1 inch long and bright blue with orange mantle (hair-like growths along the length of the body). To top it off there is a scallop right between them. Really cool!!
The rest of the dive is spent wandering the kelp and I head back out the way I came in stopping to watch the school of blacksmiths and senoritas I saw on the way in. About 15 minutes after I got back, Doyle pops his head in and says, “Where’s my camera?” I’m like, what are you talking about? He says-I gave it to you, I say-No you didn’t! Turns out he thought when I swam up to him to look at the lanyard I was going to take his camera and take his picture. He handed it off without me seeing it, goes into the kelp to pose, turns around and says, where’d Dave go with my camera? As it was floating to the surface, Jeff saw it but it was going up too fast. He swims up to Doyle and give him the sign for “You camera is floating up there.” Doyle thinks yea, I don’t know where Dave is going with it. Fast forward back to the boat. We tell the captain and he send the chase boat out to look. Doyle says we have two chases on finding it, slim and none. Naturally the boat returns with no luck. I’m thinking great, I’m out for 2 cameras on 1 trip. Imagine everyone’s surprise as the Horizon ups anchor and moves and what do we drifting in the big, blue ocean but Doyle’s camera!!
Best dive of the trip! I was a little leery with my ears but I wanted to make one more dive. I jump in with Doyle and Kent and they promptly scatter. We have a sloping bottom, with a mini wall and a kelp forest on top of it. I approach the kelp and just sit still for awhile and watch the fish. There are always tons around the outside. I see a calico bass swim down and brush his side against the bottom, swim up and do it again and again about 5 times. I guess he has a little itch. After a minute of that I swim into the kelp just a few feet and hunker down to watch whatever might happen. Here is what I saw
- About 100 little blue banded gobies. They are about 1 inch long and are bright blue and orange and sit on rocks.
- 4 lobsters sitting in a hole. The biggest is in the back. As I sit there, they venture out a bit but then head back it.
- 2 juvenile garibaldi, the young ones have bright blue spots on them. One of them has just about lost its spots and just a tinge of blue remains on the tips of the fins.
- A female sheephead keeps swimming up and checking me out.
- About 20 smaller blacksmiths
It is amazing what happens when you just stay put. All the fish get a little closer and you really feel part of what’s going on. After 10 minutes I am starting to get chilly so I pick up and head out a little further in the kelp to the edge of the wall. It drops off to about 70 feet. Divemasters always tell you if you hang out and wait you never know what will come swimming by. Sure enough they are right. I’m not there 2 minutes when out of the blue comes Butch. He proceeds to tell me in sign language how there was a huge fish back there with really big teeth, that it attacked him, that he had to take his knife out and defend himself and that while it was a very close thing, he prevailed and now the seas are safe for the rest of us. Thanks Butch, appreciate that. Once he passed by I saw a school of halfmoon in the top of the kelp. I slowly swam up into them and hung around them for a bit. My dive was about 30 minutes long and I think I saw more on that dive then any other on this trip.
Bugs were plentiful
1:45pm-Headed back to San Diego
We had lunch and the pool was open one last time at the same site. This time I headed closer in shore to poke around there. I did the same thing as last dive-just site there and observe. I saw 2 female sheephead that would stare at each other with their mouths wide open not more then an inch apart. I took a poll and here are some of the answers that were suggested
- “It’s a contest to see which female has the biggest mouth.”
- “It’s just women talking, what do you expect.”
Sheephead can change sex from male to female or vice versa-“One is saying I’m about to change sex and I want to know if you’ll date me afterwards.” Most likely it is a dominance thing. I got up close to a rock to check it out and saw toNs of small anemones. In a crack I saw a tiny little cleaner shrimp and a small starfish. It is funny, once you stop moving and look intently at something, other fish come up like m kids and say I want to see. The watcher becomes the watched and they want to know just what is so interesting. On the way back to the boat I saw a good size leopard shark just cruising along the kelp.
9:14pm-Vagabond Hotel-San Diego
What a great trip. Looking back and rereading this, one thing I should have mentioned more was how great the weather was. People think November is getting cold but this was great. We couldn’t have asked for better. During the 6 hour ride back to port, we had flat seas the whole way. Some dolphins came over and played in our bow wake at one point. They were so close, I keep hear them clicking and talking to each other. Once it got dark and we were closer to the harbor I could hear sea lions barking from the darkness. They must have been sitting on a buoy.
We had great diving conditions and saw some incredible things. The highlight was definitely the sea lions. I hadn’t been on the Horizon in over 2 years, I had forgotten how much of a fun trip this was. I talked to Ken from the Ogden shop and we are not sure if we want to do a July and a Lobster trip next year. Have a preference? Let me know and we’ll see you down here next year!