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Posted by jlyle on April 09, 2006 at 13:51:30:

In Reply to: Weekend trip opeing reminder posted by Elaine on December 06, 2005 at 17:13:11:

We had been dry for five weeks! We had been having freaky weather in So Cal all during March - rain; especially rain on the weekends. The few times we talked about getting out and doing some diving, one or more of us was suffering from a cold.

We were all going through withdrawal, getting crabby and depressed. This was to be the weekend, come hell or high water. Despite the National Weather Service's prediction for winds, high surf and a chance of rain, we were going.

On Saturday morning, we met at the boat early to get a jump start on the crossing to Catalina Island. There were just the three of us, me, Scott, and Margaret, armed with our cameras. It was just beautiful, no wind, flat sea, and a quick crossing to the west end of the island.

We dropped the anchor near Johnson's Rock, named after a Mr. Johnson who discovered it early one morning when his ship hit the rock. Visibility wasn't a wonderful as we had hoped for, but you could look down and see the kelp stalks disappear into the murk about twenty-feet down, not bad for this time of year.

Donning our drysuits and grabbing the cameras, we dropped down the anchor line to check the anchor before creeping along the rock wall, looking for small stuff. The diving was so nice, that we opted to do our second dives in the same location. We dined on tunafish sandwiches for lunch on the flat crossing back to the mainland.

It was a great day to get wet again. Unfortunately, we decided not to dive on Sunday because of a very large westerly swell. Breakfast was the better option. Hopefully, we can go back to our regular pattern of diving every weekend.

Below are some images that I captured with my trusty Olympus c5050 to share.

Lobster season ended March 15, so of course the buggers are out and thumbing their noses at divers. "Nanny, nanny, nanny...you can catch me!" Wait until next October, you little...

Nudibranchs were everywhere. Our Spanish Shawl nudis are common and very, very colorful. I couldn't resist taking a few shots to add to my files. All of the colors in the Spanish Shawl come from the food that it eats and are derivatives of vitamin A.
Flabellina iodinea

Another common nudibranch in So Cal is Hermissenda crassicornis. There were lots of them out crawling on the rocks, but at shallower depths than the majority of the Spanish Shawls. I love the "racing stripe."

A tiny H. crassicornis on a kelp holdfast

A HUGE H. crassicornis - about an inch-and-a-half long, biggest one I've ever seen.

Here and there, we found the egg masses of various nudibranchs. Look closely and you will see the individual eggs in the ribbon.

As I made my way up the rock face, I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. Hello, what's this? I was only able to take one image before the octopus pulled himself down into the rocks where I couldn't light him with my strobes. Come back! Come back, little buddy!

Some opisthobranchs are carnivorous; Navanax inermis hunts nudibranchs down by following their slime trails across the sand and then eats them! They are far too pretty and colorful to be such nightmares for our friends the nudis.

Chromodoris macfarlandi is a very colorful nudibranch that is often confused with the similarly colored Mexichromis porterae. The C. macfarlandi has three racing stripes, while M. porterae has only two.

In addition to the nudibranchs, there were lots of fish, Calico bass, sheepheads, blacksmiths, senoritas, blue perch, buzzing around through the kelp forest but visibility wasn't good enough to go wide angle, so I had to settle for some of the smaller, non moving fish. Here's a round stingrray, Urolophus halleri, the most common stingray in So Cal.

Kelp rockfish (Sebastes atrovirens) is commonly called "Dumb Bass" because they let you get right in their face without moving.

"You can't see me!" A tiny sculpin (probably Artedius corallinus) blends into the background.

I love warm water diving, but always miss the kelp. Macrocystis pyrifera

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