Posted by Jim on June 24, 2002 at 11:38:00:
We got to the Old Marineland parking lot around 9:00 a.m. and noticed an unusual number of cars that didn't look like they belonged to divers. We parked and walked down to check out the conditions. The surf was about 1-2 foot and very regular. My dive buddy and I had talked of doing the rocky point entry, but between the high tide expected to peak at 10:00 am and the surf, we chose the beach entry.
While we were walking along the lower bluff, a boat pulled in and dropped anchor. It looked a little odd because it could have been a sport fishing boat except there were only a couple of deck hands on board - no fishermen. Walking back up we crossed paths with a number of groups coming down with lawn chairs and ice chests. So, we finally asked a photographer what was going on. He told us that a paddle board race from Catalina was underway and would be ending here. Cool!
We trekked back up the hill, suited up and slogged back down. By the time we hit the beach, just before 10:00, there were half a dozen boats anchored in the little harbor and the winner of the race had come ashore with an announced time somewhere around 4:00 hours. (I can't imagine paddling across the open channel for four hours!)
We slid in through the waves and were immediately amazed at the viz close to shore. I've never been able to see the bottom right there, but this time we could. It was great watching a school of small fish play in the kelp. We swam on the surface past the point, rested a moment, took a heading for the next cove over (sort of south east) then dropped down in about 20ft. Visibility was about 10-15 ft and my computer said it was about 59 Degrees. We crossed the sandy bottom and as we came upon the reef we saw and waved to a couple of divers heading the opposite direction. Looking up from that encounter, we came face to face with a bat-ray swimming through the kelp. He made a couple of passes and wasn't seen again. Moving along, we saw some sort of jelly floating by. It was completely clear except for a couple of organs. The best was to describe it was that it was the shape of a porcupine fish, even appeared to have a mouth. It was about the size of my fist and was floating tail down. It didn't have any long tentacles or anything else noticeable, nor did it appear to move of its own will. (Anyone know what kind that was?)
We continued on, and ran across a couple of sea hares, some very large white sea stars, a brittle star and a couple of nudibrachs we've never seen anywhere else. (This is the second time we've seen them here though.) They are a couple of inches long and about an inch wide. Kind of like very fat sausages. They appear to have a dark purple base color but are nearly entirely covered with very bright yellow spots. They also appear to have two eyes protruding on short stalks on one end and have a sort of bushy tail at the other. (Anyone know what these are?) With nearly 2000 lbs of air left, we turned around at about 25 minutes. The computer now indicated that it was about 55 degrees and I know when my fingers get cold, my buddy's entire body is getting cold. Ahh - the benefits of over 100 dives with the same partner!
We swam back along another finger in the reef and saw a couple more of the jellies, including one stuck one an urchin- I think it was being eaten. Near where we had dropped, we made our ascent, including the obligatory 3 minute safety stop. Upon breaking the surface, we immediately noticed the number of boats had doubled, not including the zodiacs zipping people to and from shore. The first point of spoken conversation was that neither of wanted to do the second dive we'd planned with this many propellers moving through the water.
We made our way to the shore and had a rather easy exit. One of the now very large crowd of race fans came over and appeared ready to help if needed. "Thanks" if you ever read this. He didn't seem to really want to get wet and we made it out on our own.
We paused to look at the various paddle boards on the grass, then headed up the hill.
Another great day of diving.
In closing, I fear that the new hotel and golf course may block access to this wonderful spot, or worse, create some sort problems for the critters living there. I truly hope not.
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