Posted by mike on February 26, 2001 at 22:38:28:
Now, to touch on a more pleasant subject, the Peace did a nice little 4 tank excursion to Sta Cruz (couldn't make it to San Mig...weather was bad) Sunday and while the bug hunting was sorrowful, the sea lions were still at the frontiside harrassing us poor chilled, shivering scallop pillagers!
It was the 3rd dive of the day and the intestinal flu and the 47 deg water was taking its toll (i was the skinny guy diving in an old farmer john) so i had planned to make the third dive a 20 minute sprint after bugs and then surface. Well, i didn't see so much as an undersize antennae stick out from under a rock, so i half-heartedly switched to scallops here and there. I heard constant barking throughout the entire dive and everytime i looked behind me, there were in excess of a dozen sea lions cavorting all over the place. I don't know if they were investigating the fish attracted to the scallop parts or if they were irritated because i was totally ignoring them being bug obsessed as i was (i was cleaning the scallops in place, thanks for the paint-stirrer tip, Old Man Nelson!). A couple of spearos were following me as well, because of the fish activiity i was stirring up...good thing ling & rockfish season was still closed, there was a BIG rockfish (perhaps 28 inches...just a guesstimate) right below a scallop i was cleaning and i could hear those poor spearos eating their hearts out. I get to the point where i figure that it's time to turn around and the sea lions are still clustering around me. I am having so much fun with them that i completely forget about the 47 degree water and my 20 min limit and 35 minutes later, i surface for the swim back to the boat. The sea lions are everywhere and now there must be well over a dozen...i'm thinking perhaps there are 20, wheeling around, blowing bubbles, barking, charging and veering off at the last minute. I stop my surface swim and just hang in the water watching them. They bark and i bark back through my reg and they answer again! The fun ends when i start shivering uncontrollably so i high tail it back to the boat and the furry devils darn near follow me up to the swim step. There was a smaller group at the 4th site but i went out and deep and never saw any of them during the 4th dive. Oh the fun missed out by those warm water divers, truly, we are lucky-lucky-lucky here in So Cal!
Other highlights of the trip were some neat caverns, a big halibut (which no one got), a lonely harbor seal lounging in one of the caves and waterfalls everywhere cascading off the rain-soaked cliffs of the Painted Caves area. Oddly enough, there was hardly any giant kelp in the area..lots of urchins though.
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