Do it in the darkness - 1

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Posted by seahunt on October 18, 2001 at 15:51:43:

It isn't the fabled Elephant Burial Ground, but it's not everyday I get
to visit one of my buddies secret spots. I knew of the place and might be
able to find it, but it's deep and mostly I don't get out anywhere near it.
He on the other hand, goes there regularly, because at the beginning of
the season, it is a great lobster spot. This is the kind of place where
you grab the big bug from the group. It's also worth visiting occasionally
later during the season.
So he told me he'd bring me there. Even without that, it was likely to
be a special night. It was a while since I had gotten to join Lem for a
good night dive for bugs. He knows the spots and dives hard. Some
nights, the diving has ended after 4 AM.
We left the breakwater after dark and it was about an hour to Catalina.
Luckily it was a calm night and this early in the season, it's still warm.
Naoki was along tonight as well. That guy is a great spearfisher with the
WSB record. He seemed a real nice guy. He never even got bothered by
my crummy hearing.
We anchored near a well known spot with good diving, but we were a bit
away from it. I knew that there is also a bit of a swim over sand to get
where we were heading. Then there is an isolated pinnacle the size
of a small building and it is all deep. I also knew that Lem often went
into deco on it.
There were no boats anywhere nearby and we geared up under the red light.
When we went in, it was far easier said than done to follow Lem. I was
following the anchor line to meet him on the bottom before crossing the
sand, but the anchor line just vanished in the thick kelp. When I saw a
flash from his light below and ahead, I hurried to catch up. Sure he
offered to take me there, which was an amazing concession, but if I got
lost, that was my own fault. Over sand at 107 feet, past the big rock,
over more sand and there it was. Lem went left and I went right.
Vis here was great. There were different laminarias and some middlin
sized Elephant Ear kelp on a boulder field around the main pinnacle. I
looked through it as I headed across and saw one obvious short. I went
around the pinnacle just a bit and there was about a 2 pounder, in some
kelp at the back of a crack, that looked to be just in reach. I swatted
it, but it twisted, got loose and came banging into my chest. I played
hot potato with it but couldn't get a grip in the kelp. I got my light
on it once just before it vanished the other way. Wow! Nice bug.
I continued on looking. Obviously this pinnacle is lightly visited.
There were lots of fish holed up for the night in the cracks. There
were lots of big healthy Gorgonian sea fans. Urchins were everywhere
also. There was a lot of kelp in places. I moved up the pinnacle
just a bit and on a rock outcropping was a large sea fan growing
with a brilliant yellow zoanthid. This is great. Those are very uncommon
and quite beautiful. It too showed that few divers come here, because
they are quite delicate. That was worth taking some time to get a good
look at.
I continued around the pinnacle just a bit above the base. There were
more fish and urchins in the cracks, but only a couple of short lobsters
were visible in the kelp. The next thing I know, I'm back at the
zoanthid. This pinnacle is not much bigber than a house, which is still
a bit bigger than some of the rocks that Lem has brought me to.
I moved up and kept going around. As I said, it is a beautiful dive
site so I didn't mind that I wasn't seeing much in the way of bugs.
I decided to make the entire dive here instead of trying to find my
way back to ascend on the anchor. I ended up going around the pinnacle
a few times, but never got well oriented on it. Moving around it
seemed like going along a flat wall, not rotating around a very big
rock spire.
Air went fast at that depth and so does bottom time, so I continued
up to the top of the pinnacle to see if there was any kelp to follow to
the surface. At the very top of the pinnacle was a large macrocystis
kelp. There was really thick growth at its bottom and I could see just
the tips of two antennaes sticking out a couple of inches from under
the leaves. The spread suggested it could be a legal. Getting it was
going to be a trick, but I pulled back 2 layers of the kelp above it
and had one to go. Amazingly the bug stayed put, so I drifted down to
where I could see him standing on the very top of the pinnacle, under
the last layer of kelp. I grabbed well enough, but once in hand it was
obviously a bit short.
It was only a 20 minute dive, but it was a lot of work with little
in the way of crustacean results. Still the night was young and that
was easily one of the most interesting dives I had made in a while.

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