Dive Report: San Clemente Island and Catalina

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Posted by Chris on May 31, 2003 at 00:41:37:

Last Memorial Day weekend, May 24-26, 2003, my girlfriend Kathryn and I went on Esther's three day trip in the Great Escape

      Esther (a.k.a. "pinky")

The trip out to San Clemente was very smooth.   Captain Tim wanted to make the first dive at 9 Fathoms Reef, but there were several fishing boats sitting on the spot, so he elected to make the first dive near a drop off just outside of Castle Rock.   Unfortunately with the dense cloud cover the sun was nowhere to be seen, it seemed that Terry May forgot to remind the Captain to buy his solar permit.
Upon entering the water we found it somewhat green, with only 15-20 foot visibility, and a very cool 54 °F water temperature.   No Sun, dense kelp, and low vis made this was a very dark dive.


I took a picture of this purple plant, which is very common at San Clemente Island. I have not been able to identify this species, but its presence is one of the reasons SCI is so beautiful when the visibility is good.

Our next dive was at the end of the runway, a.k.a. Booster Rocket Reef.
Here it was green as well, and my housing began to leak.   I did manage to take a few pictures before the moisture caused the housing to fog.   These two of my girlfriend Kathryn and some Gorgonians show just how green the water was.


I also managed to get a couple of pictures with purple hydrocoral.


These two pictures show some of the beginning of the fogging on the housing port and lens, however they are still ok.


Because of the moisture problems, I did not take the pictures on the next two dives. Our last dive of the day was in the Pyramid cove anchorage.   I went down with my close up lens and swam toward shore.   Then I came across this abandon lobster trap with a bug in it. So I took of the close up lens and got a few pictures.   Then I released the lobster, broke the door off, and took a picture of the broken off door laying on the sand next to the trap.


I got this nice anemone picture with the close up lens before I again had fogging problems. I also got some Gorgonian close ups, which show some evidence of the fogging. The fogging then became too severe and none of the pictures after that turned out.


That night we did a night dive in the same location. I managed to get a few pictures of bugs out walking, and some pictures of the many scorpion fish (sculpin) that were out that night. However I still had a bit of a fogging problem.



Saturday morning I slept through the first dive at the Pyramid Cove Arch, but I was told it was very dark, and very low visibility.   Kathryn and I made the second dive at a reef just inside the eastern edge of Pyramid cove.   Here the vis was again low, so I decided I would shoot more macro subjects.

I got several nice pictures of anemones, a sea star, and two nice pictures of a green abalone.


Our next dive was at East End reef. Here the visibility opened up to more than 60 feet, the water was that nice "San Clemente Blue," and temperature had increased from a chilly 54 °F to a comfy 61 ⪚F.

In the wall there was a few bugs.


We stayed at the same spot for the next dive, but the current had shifted. Again it was cold and green, but in shallow (<25 ft.) the vis was still good. I did not take the camera on this dive, so Kathryn and I explored a lot of the reef. On this dive I counted four pink abalone and nine greens.

For the last dive of the day, Captain Tim headed to Northwest Harbor next to seal rock.   I got several nice pictures on this dive including another of my favorite purple plant, some more bugs, kelp, and a pink abalone.


The Encore was also there, and I got several pictures of the sunset through the clouds with the Encore in the foreground.

That night Captain Tim headed for Catalina, and we awoke to find ourselves at Little Farnsworth.

Here again the water was a comfy 61 °F with visibility about 45 feet.   There were many Gorgonians and large yellow Zoanthids.

I also sighted this lone ugly sea creature emerging from the dark.

Our next dive was at Church Rock.   Although the water was rather turbid, I still managed to get several interesting pictures, especially of pants.


Our next dive was at Tarqua Springs.   At the beginning of the dive I found a weight belt. Since I don't use a BC I removed the weights from the pockets and took the belt. Bob Davis and another diver came and took the weights.   I got several nice pictures at this site including a tree fish, sheep crab, and a kelp fish.


Our last dive was at the Old Rock Quarry.   Here I got several nice pictures of bubble kelp, limpets, and two Apolemia uvaria.


I had a great time on this trip, and as always multiple day trips are far better tan one day trips.

Besides me, Elaine Jobin, Robert Hudson, and Terry May took pictures of the trip. Here are the links:

All of my (Chris Grossman's) pictures

Elaine Jobin's Picures

Robert Hudson's pictures both UNDERWATER and on the SURFACE.

Terry May's Pictures

. . . . Chris

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