Fabulous Mola-mola encounter yesterday (8/19)


Outer Bamnks diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by Ken Kurtis on August 20, 2001 at 12:20:35:

Thought the board might be interested in hearing about a FABULOUS encounter we had with multiple molas yesterday on the Reef Seekers trip to the HB oil rigs aboard the Mr. C.

Special thanks and kudos to Capt. Ray and deckhand Frank for helping to make it just an absolutely delightful day. Aside from maneuvering the boat in close for the jumps (and the pick-ups), they were helpful with divers getting on and off, fed us quite well (the BBQ shrimp was a nice touch), and couldn't have been nicer. Much as I like Ray's "Capt. Strange & Grumpy" moniker, it's not really accurate. (Well, maybe the "strange" part, but then who am I to talk???)

The conditions were wonderful. Sunny (after the morning haze burned off) and warm on the surface, about 63-65 water temp and probably 60-80' vis, with negligible current.

On our second jump at Eureka (the most distant of the four rigs), I was cruising with my two buddies and as we rounded the SW corner at about 60', I glanced out into the blue and was delighted to see a very large (I'd estimate 5-6' nose-to-tail and 7-8' fin-to-fin) mola. Then, much to our delight, we saw that he had two other companions of similar size.

I parked my buddies and zipped back into the rig to collect some of the other divers so all could enjoy the show. Pat Chock got some video, but the molas didn't approach her too closely. However, they did hang around (and the divers were very good about not chasing them, which certainly helped) and 20 minutes later, after we'd circumnavigated the rig, the mola gang was still out there. In fact, Scott & Cindy Stolnitz said they counted 7 molas all together.

Pretty impressive. Add on to that sea lions buzzing all around, every inch of the rig covered with life, painted greenlings going through courtship and mating displays, stawberry-tipped anemones of every imgineable hue and color, huge schools of blacksmith and anchovies, lots of opaleye and halfmoons, some decent-sized sheephead, a few garibaldi (including some juvies), scallops for the game-takers . . . it all added up to a perfect day.

If you haven't dived the rigs before, you should put them on your "must-dive" list. Given the depth of the bottom (300-700' - on our trips we suggest depth limits of 100/80/60 for the three dives), the potential for current, and the fact that this is done as a live-boat situation, it's not the dive to make right out of your cert class.

But it's definitely a very special experience and one that all divers can appreciate and when you hit it on the right day, it's simply an underwater experience that will have you talking for days and leave an indelible impression in your mind.

Ken Kurtis
NAUI Instr. #5936
Co-owner, Reef Seekers Dive Co.
Beverly Hills, Ca.


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