Dive Report - Santa Monica Rockpiles - 09/24/05

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Posted by Patrick on September 26, 2005 at 23:20:03:

Dive Report - Santa Monica Rockpiles - 09/24/05

Saturday at 06:30 we met up, loaded gear aboard the 25-foot Farallon and made the short drive to Marina del Rey. Though there were a moderate number of vehicles in the launch ramp lot, there was hardly any activity on the ramps, and we were launched and gone within 10 minutes.

The trip to the harbor entrance was made more interesting due to the Loyola girl's crew doing an early morning workout. At the marina entrance we were greeted by water the color of muddy tomato soup - no big deal. With Ballona Creek just to the south, there are often plankton blooms close in, but they are seldom large enough to encroach out to the diving sites. This time it was large enough. On the run to our first rock pile, the color lightened and darkened, but still kept the dirty red cast that has plagued divers all this year. Once on site, a bright yellow down-line was visible for only about two feet before it was obscured by the muck.

Optimists that we are, it was decided to make a jump and check it out. Somehow I got to be the go-fer. "It can't be that dirty all the way to the bottom," was the belief that got me over the side. Unfortunately, the bright sunshiny mornings we've had so often recently was not the case on Saturday. Along with the goopy water, it seemed that the overcast would keep the UW ambient light to a minimum as well; a flashlight seemed like a good idea.

Doing a backward roll that impressed a female sea lion enough to hang around for the whole dive, I descended the down-line. Miracle of miracles, at about 15-feet the temp dropped from the balmy 56 degrees on the surface to a chilly 54 degrees, and the visibility opened to a very generous 40+ feet. Despite the overcast there was plenty of ambient light at depth, so much so that a flashlight wasn't needed. On descent, I was greeted by huge clouds of some kind of juvenile rockfish, and the ever-present herds of chromis. On the bottom the fish life was even more interesting. Literally carpeting the bottom were thousands of sculpin. There was not a square foot that wasn't loaded with these spiny dudes. I don't know if they were in some sort of mating thing, or just huddling together to stay warm (bottom temp was a definitely chilly 52 degrees), but they were there in mass. In fact, all three sites we dived were loaded with these colorful rockfish. Also present but in lesser numbers, were cabezon, some very large ling cod, impressive sized sheepshead and a plethora of sandies. All three sites, being fairly close to one another were similar in makeup and resident species. The one unusual thing was during soak-out on the last dive, a substantial ball of squid came by and kept me company for a while. When I mentioned this to my partner for his last dive, he said he'd keep an eye peeled for the school of squirts. When he completed the dive, he didn't see any squid, but did report seeing several clusters of squid eggs on the sand-rock interface.

Anybody seen any at Veteran's?

A quick rinse off in the soalr shower, and we headed in.

A stop on the way home for carne asada tacos and fried zucchini topped off the trip nicely.

All in all, a very nice dive day in Santa Monica Bay.

Stay wet.

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