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Dive report: San Clemente Island 7/10/05


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Posted by Dick J on July 11, 2005 at 20:02:03:

I made a trip aboard the Sand Dollar to San Clemente Island this past Sunday (July 10th). The scuba shop owner who chartered the boat for this trip said "weíre on a quest for visibility", and to give credit where credit is due, they delivered. After a somewhat rough overnight crossing we were in the water by 6:30am, at a site the boatís crew called Hideaway Cove. The cove is really more of a slight indentation on the frontside of San Clemente, about 2 miles northwest of Pyramid Head. The water was remarkably warm: 66degF at most depths, though below a thermocline at about 60ft the temperature dropped quickly into the mid-50s. The first dive followed a near-vertical wall at the northwest end of the cove down to about 90ft. There wasnít much to see in the way of animal life at that depth, and it was dark enough that getting an auto-focus lens to do its thing was difficult, so the last 2/3 of the initial dive were spent in shallower reefs and kelp stands. Visibility was generally in the 30-40ft range, hopefully an indication of things to come at other Southern California dive sites. There was enough variety in the terrain at this site to keep divers of all abilities quite content. In fact, we ended up staying at the site for all three scheduled dives and I donít think anyone was disappointed. The second and third dives were 75-minute nature strolls in the near-tropical water, amongst the shallow reefs and kelp. There was not much in the way of invertebrate life, aside from lobsters and sea cucumbers, but plenty of fish. Notably there was a high concentration of giant kelpfish, and they seemed more approachable than most. Schools of mackerel passed through from time, and most if not all divers had several chances to see bat rays cruise by. Of course, all the usual southern Channel Islands reef fish were there: garibaldi, sheephead, opaleye and perch, blacksmith, and three goby species including blue banded, black eye, and zebra. I also found two deep crevices with a fish species that Iíve never seen before Ė Iíve tentatively identified them as guadalupe cardinal fish, and will include a photo in a subsequent posting to get feedback from more knowledgeable fish people.

Photos from these dives are posted at the link below. This was the first time out of the box for the wide-angle lens Ė it was used on the last dive. It was apparent from the very first shot, that there will be a steep learning curve with this puppy. Now more than ever I appreciate the magic that experienced photographers can do with a wide-angle lens underwater.



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