Assorted Rocks - Part 3

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Posted by seahunt on November 20, 2001 at 11:31:03:

This is not about a great dive perhaps, but it was interesting and a
bit different. It was also a challenge. I hope you find it interesting.
While you were all looking for squid weekend before last, this is
where I was.
Enjoy the diving, seahunt
I was a bit cold and a bit sore by the time we got to the Playa Del
Rey Breakwall for the last dive of the night. I was tired too, but it was
2:30 AM by now. At least it was surprisingly warm. This was very different
from the last dive at Santa Monica. It was much darker with no festive
flashing lights, just small navigation lights and some far off
street lights. The wall was different too. Sticking up 15 or 20 feet
above the water, it was much taller and newer than the abandoned Santa
Monica wall and the rocks were much newer and sharper edged. At best,
diving walls like this is is difficult. At worse, it's a dive you should
have skipped.
We anchored a bit off the wall very near the north end. It
extended south for hundreds of yards, far beyond where I wanted to swim.
Lem was going to use his special long hosed rig to get into the
Again, I went to the bottom at about 25 feet and again, there was some
murk right at the bottom. I started moving south. I was quite willing to
grab any bugs I might see, but I wanted to get a look at the shape of the
breakwall and what life there was. There were some sea fans, but these
were mostly no bigger than my hand. Amazingly, there were fewer sculpin
and they tended to try to stay where they were not to exposed. That was
understandable, because this wall seemed to be made up of large vertically
placed rocks, each one about 4 feet wide and at least 6 feet high. There
was not near as much habitat as on the more worn wall at Santa Monica.
Still, there was a fair amount of fish and invertebrate life in between
the rocks including mussels and anemones..
Occasionally, there would be a bathtub sized hole between the rocks
that might go in as much as 20 feet or so. Sometimes, at the bottom of
those, some antennaes might be seen. Those were the holes that Lem wanted
to go into with his long hose, but it was not a particularly good place
for me to go.
Vis was not near as good as on the earlier dives. There was a lot of
large particules in the water. Vis could be 20 feet on spot and down to 3
feet just a bit further on. It was not particularly hard diving and there
was a fair amount of stuff to see, but as before, I suspected that if the
bugs were out at all, they were near the surface and that would be a tough
dive. At a point, it became time to turn around and follow the upper part
of the wall back.
Figure that when diving along the top of a wall like this that you
are going to be in an area 2 to 6 feet deep and from 2 to 4 feet wide
from the breakwall. Surge is very strong and not only can it lift you
up the wall (which is sorta OK until you come back down) or it can just
suck you against the wall as the swell goes through the rocks. To make
things more fun, there is a fair amount of mid sized brown kelps
here. Your light is often covered.
Well, it's not so bad swimming just off the rocks, waving
your light to see what might be out. It can be a bit hard to see
through the kelp, but it's no real problem. That is it's no real
problem while the swell is completely calm. When an even moderate sized
swell comes in you have no warning before being suddenly tossed at
the rocks. At that point, you want to get away quick. What you really
have to look out for though is where the rocks are positioned such that
a wave is amplified a bit and can really move up the rocks some. You
have to flip around quick and grab kelp or rocks to stop yourself from
getting sucked up and against the wall. Try not to grab a sculpin
It was just rough tough diving and there were very few lobsters of
any size to see in what little cover there was. At one point, as I came
around a rock that jutted out a bit, there was a nice legal in the open,
but I think he was lost. It didn't stop me from nailing him though.
As I got near the boat again, it had obviously not been a very
productive dive, but it was a different one. I decided to go down
and look more at the structure of the wall. It's hard to believe how
steeply the rocks are stacked. While most of the rocks are tight together,
the holes that do go in to the breakwall are very big and very deep.
I won't say it was the greatest dive, but it was interesting,
challenging and unique. It was time to call it a night, but as is my
habit, I found a rock to sit on and look at the night for a bit. I was
again lucky to be out here on a beautiful night in a spot few people
ever get to visit and that I had never been to before. There is no more
peaceful, yet enervating, a place than sitting on your own rock out in
the ocean.
Lem got back with a nice bag of bugs including 3 and 4 pounders. He
had gone way under the breakwall with his long hose to where the bugs
couldn't go any further. He also had one bigger bug that he estimated
as at least 6 pounds. I said it was at least 7 pounds. He had beat it up
a bit getting it, but it was still feisty and trying to get away. Lem
mentioned that in the same hole had been a bigger one that he had almost
gotten, that might have well been 10 pounds. Well, we weighed the one he
did get and it was 9.3 pounds... So how big was the one that got away? We
took a couple of pics of it and then he smiled and threw it back.

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