Posted by Chris on January 24, 2002 at 00:15:52:
Last weekend, January 19-20, 2002, I went with the Sea Sons (SeaSonsDive.com) on the Peace (PeaceBoat.com) to Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands.
On the drive to Ventura, the sea was as calm as I had seen in months, almost no waves, and glass as far as the eye could see.
That evening the wind started to come up a bit and I became concerned, however it was again dead calm at the 2 AM departure time.
Laying in my bunk I felt a couple of swells just as we left the harbor …. but hen dead calm.
When I awoke in the morning we were at Rosa heading for Talcott Shoals.
The sea was so calm it looked like a lake.
Talcott was covered with more lobster traps than I had ever seen there before.
We did our first dive in the 100 foot range.
I saw scattered shorts but nothing legal.
Other divers brought back one or two.
The water temperature was 50 °F and the visibility was in the 60 ft. range, very nice!.
The next spot, 80-90 ft., I found the same scattered shorts, and managed to grab one just legal bug.
One diver brought back a limit of very nice bugs, others nothing or one.
We then moved down the island to Brockway and another 70 to 90 ft. dive.
I got one, and same for a few other divers.
We then moved to a bit shallower area 50 to 75 ft. range.
On this dive John Delany (pictured) came back with seven nice bugs.
In his many years of diving, this was his first time to limit on a single dive.
All of these nice bugs were bunched together on one reef.
I came back with one barley legal bug, but no one but John scored big on this dive.
The wind was picking up quite a bit at this point, so Fidel moved the boat to the West end of Santa Cruz, in a spot that was somewhat protected by Rosa.
Here I saw only shorts, but two divers hit hot spots and limited.
What was cool on this dive was the many nuibranchs, a few of which were varieties I had only seen in pictures.
The next day began diving just south of Gull Island.
I was one of the first off the boat, but right below me as we swam out on the reef was LB.
I thing we both saw the one legal bug simultaneously, but LB was closer and swooped and got it.
The water here was warmer than the day before, perhaps 53 °F, but it seemed a bit murky with visibility in the 20 to 30 ft. range.
I decided to head out to deep water and see if I could find any deep rock piles.
I found some, but only very short bugs in them.
Off in the distance in deeper water I saw through the murk what seems to be a whole series of rock piles.
As I swam closer what appeared to be rock piles in the distance turned out to be perhaps more than one hundred large bat rays sitting together in the sand at about 140'.
As I approached a few began to swim off slowly, but most just sat in place.
Their exact depth is a guess since I was swimming at 120' and estimating the depth below me in less than ideal visibility.
Still this was a very cool site, and more than completely made up for my lack of bugs on this dive.
Our next dive just Northwest of Gull Island.
On this dive I found a group of three bugs at 70 feet, and grabbed the largest.
It turned out to be just legal.
I explored shallower depths up to 40 feet, but saw nothing, and elected to head out deep again.
Swimming at 80' I saw some shorts in the rocks below me at about 100', but nothing even close to looking legal.
Captain Fidel next elected to head for Yellow Banks, and took a nice slow two hour trip there to give everyone on board a nice long surface interval.
Our first spot was an area of 60 ft. to 90 ft.
Soon after entering the water I noticed, swimming seemed to get easier, the visibility increased to over 100 ft.
Then it hit me …. A current!
I immediately turned around and started pulling myself along the bottom into the current, on the way found one barley legal bug, and saw many scattered shorts.
I when swimming back managed to grab the current line about 15 yards behind the boat.
For the last dive Captain Kevin selected a shallower spot a bit Northwest of the previous dive.
By this time the current was ripping, so when I jumped in I bonsai'd for the bottom and started pulling myself into the current.
There was many rock piles and small shelves but only occasionally occupied by shorts.
Then there was a big area of almost completely flat rock with small shelves no more than an inch or so high.
I crawled through this area for what must have been at least 15 minutes.
Then I came upon an oasis reef in the middle of the desert.
When I reached it was packed with more nice bugs than I had seen all weekend. However my pressure gauge now said 500 psi, so a grabbed the biggest bug I could see and headed for the surface.
My first good spot all weekend, and out of air. L
Talking with others on the boat the there was a constant theme for the bug diving at both Rosa and Cruz.
Scattered shorts, with a few areas packed with bugs.
Most of the females that were caught already had sperm packets attached to their underside, thus perhaps the congregating behavior is part of breeding.
It was groups seemed much more concentrated than the bugs normal gregarious behavior.
Overall it was a fun trip, even though I only ended up with 5 bugs for two days of diving.
However my friends Curt and Bob both ended up with a two day limit, and John Delaney ended up with nine plus a two day limit of scallops.
I have included a link to the pictures from this trip below. Unlike most trips, few of the pictures were actually taken by me. On Saturday Carol Beck took most of the pictures, and on Sunday Doris Billings took most. That is why unlike most of my picture galleries there are pictures of me this time!
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