Santa Barbara on a Great Escape. (sealion frenzy)

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Posted by Maciek on September 09, 2001 at 23:01:56:

Due to pleasant coincidence I was framed into my first trip to Santa Barbara island. We left San Pedro at 1 am on Saturday. After long and bumpy drive, Captn Tim anchored us at Websters Point, we woke up, indulged caffeine and toasts and hit the water. My buddy (another Mike BTW) was from Texas and one of his main tasks for this trip was to see sealion under water. Disapointingly first dive wasn't really teaming with sealions. We could hear them on the shore, but none showed in water. We scuttled around a rocky bottom a little, looking for life, There was a couple of garibaldis, strange looking salp - all transparent with small dark beans inside. We cruised around through nice canyons and scared the hell of a school of small yellow fishies. We went no deeper than 45-50, temp was pleasant 57F at the bottom. We surfaced and devoured the rest of our breakfast.

Next dive was at Ken's Cave. Shallow again. 40. Bottom half rocky, half sandy, huuuuge surge and weird current. On a surface it was blowing from the shore, at the bottom I could swear that it was moving towards the shore. Not a huge one, but current. We hit the bottom and before we had a chance to look around there came a sealion. Curious beast started to circle around us, looking at us, turning as we turn, checking our fins out, spinning and bending. I could see Mike's face smiling widely behind his reg. We swimmed a little towards the shore and our new friend happily spend couple of his breaths with us. The further we went, the shallower and surgier it was becomming. That's actually quite effortless way to go forth if one can grab something when water goes back and let it go when it goes forward. We continued in that manner till to our surprise we got sucked into the dark wall ahead of us. It turned out that wall wasn't exactly solid. It had a big hole inside and we had a pleasure to swim through it. hole was about 6 yards long and about three cars wide an quite high. We went on the other side, turned around and took heading to the boat. It turned out later, that heading wasn't exactly right. Before we came to that sad conclusion Mike had an emotional encounter with empty lobster skin , which "seemed so much as a living one" as he later told me. And we had a short look and decent size sheeps crap. We finned and finned towards the boat, until we decided that boat is definitely the other way. Mike grinned happily and deployed his safety sausage. It floated neatly, we surfaced and boy we were off the mark big time. I hate currents.

Last dive of the day was a Rookery. Shallow and absolutely nothing is there. Sandy bottom. 30 feet.. and nothing.. except sealions.....

We barely made it to the anchor when they literaly swarmed around us. There was about 8 divers and at least same number of sealions in absolute frenzy. They were charging us, nibbling on our fins, looking into our masks, rolling on the bottom, barking under water, showing us a teeth, spinning, eeeeeverything. One cute fellow descended over me and started to look curiously at my mask. After I blew some bubbles it spinned in them with obvious delight and looked at me more. more bubbles -> more spinning.... I finally had to turn around :).

One sealion was blind on one eye. That didn't seem to handicap him in any way. He was spiraling around us just like others did. Flashes (8 divers, 6 cams), sand, fins, big eyes, sharp teeth, barking.. all that for whole 40 minutes...

That pretty much concluded our voyage.. We headed home ad at around 5:30PM we arrived at the dock.

Food was good.

And Mike was delighted. He got more sealions than he expected.

Trip was chartered by Reefseekers.

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