Monterey this past weekend: Dolphins!!!

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Posted by JRM on November 13, 2000 at 10:34:34:

Here's a trip report from the most amazing trip.

I did my first dive at Monastery, and spent the rest of the weekend cursing that stinking sand/gravel. Did my AOW deep dive, and got a touch of euphoria at 100'. I was still able to do some complex math problems without much impairment, though. Waves were about 2-3' going out, no problem. I now have had the experience of having my mask removed unexpectedly by an instructor, I was looking at the bottom, and turned right into his fins. The surge really picked up, and it was a wild safety stop in the kelp. I figure that the average depth was 15', but who could tell we were going up and down so much :-) The waves picked up quite a bit, and I was sitting behind the surf zone waiting for a lull that really didn't come. The sets were big, and then bigger. So we waited for the less big, and then did the crawl. As we exited, another instructor was there with his class. He complimented us on our exit, especially the fact that we sat out and watched and waited. He figured it was too big for his class, so they were about to go elsewhere, but he wanted them to see what it looked like. I didn't tell him it was my first time there :-)

Then we went over to San Carlos and met another buddy who brought his boat. My power inflator was jammed by that stinking Monastery gravel, and it took me a half an hour with my knife and other tools to pick it all out. The guy in the next car thought I was nuts for dissambling it in the parking lot, and came over to tell me so. But in the end, I finally fixed it. So the three of us piled in a twelve foot zodiac and went and dove the Metridium field. That was an "underwater naturalist" dive to polish off my AOW. Saw a *huge* halibut, but the guns were in the truck (besides, I think it a bit odd to kill something on a "naturalist" dive :-). Vis was OK, not quite as good as my last couple of trips out there, but as usual the Metridiums are amazing. Saw a ball of anchovies, and had a sea lion get a bit frisky with the instructor.

Dive three was a hunting dive a ways off Lover's Point. My instructor had to go, but he loaned me his gun. Having never used one (only a pole spear), it was a new experience. There really wasn't all that much game, but I did get a few fish. It was great. My buddy was a great teacher, and took the time to make sure I had the safety rules of gun hunting down. We took turns as "lead". It made it a good way to hunt in pairs. I think the trade off of safety vs. shot numbers is more than acceptable.

Dive four has a try for halibut in the sand flats. Didn't see anything but a bunch of trash, which I pocketed for disposal. I didn't know divers ate so many candybars underwater.

We launched the boat out of San Carlos again, and headed out towards the Aquarium. We stopped between the breakwater and the aquarium, and we were considering trying the rocks there for rockfish. I was looking back toward the breakwater when a whale breached a ways behind us. And then again less than twenty feet from the boat. It was amazing. Another friend showed up in his whaler, and we decided to head over to Lover's Point again. He and some buddys were going to line fish. So we parted ways, and dove in. The hunting was pretty good. In addition, we saw several leapard sharks, one near 4'. But it was the trip back that was really memorable. We were headed in, and suddenly we were surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of dolphins. There was zodiac of divers, one with a video camera, and we spent the next hour or so racing along with them, and then diving in and snorkeling with them. It was amazing. I could have reached out and touched them. And when we were motoring along, they'd race the boat, and then breach in front of it. It was amazing. They were everywhere. We headed back to the dock, and then sat around and relived the entire experience over lunch. Hopefully they'll have gotten some good video. They're going to be sending us a copy, so if I can get some stills out of it I'll post them.

As luck would have it that would be our only dive of the day, as the motor decided not to cooperate on our next attempt. We figured we'd pretty much a great day, so we packed it up and came home. I dropped off my gear and headed over to meet my wife and some friends, and we cooked up the fish and had a great time watching X-files.

I figure the dolphin swim like that was a "once-in-a-lifetime" thing. I'm still amazed that it happened at all. I wish you all could have been there.


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