Friday night at Vets . . . WOW!!!!

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Posted by Ken Kurtis on July 29, 2006 at 00:25:08:

WHAT A GREAT DIVE!!!!!! (But I'm getting ahead of myself . . .)

Just got back from a night dive at Veteran's Park in Redondo. Just me and a buddy. No classes or escorts or anything like that. That in and of itself is a nice change of pace but even nicer was that when we pulled into the parking lot at 8:30PM, although there were only a few empty spots, there was only one other dive team around, and they were just finishing up their dive.

Surf was non-existent (maybe 1-foot with an occasional 2) and the other divers gave a glowing report of the conditions so we suited up and off we went.

On entry, it was simply lovely to find ourselves surrounded by 76 water. That's not an exaggeration. That's what my Proplus read, and I've calibrated it against the computerized readings (to a 1/10 of a degree) at the Aquarium in Long Beach so I think it's pretty accurate. That temp held until 23' when it dropped to maybe 70 and that held until the shoulder of the canyon when it dropped a little more. The coldest I saw was 65 at 65' so it's signifcantly warmer (about 10) than it was just a week ago. Vis ran anywhere from 10-20' and the surge was negligible.

Now if having the Pacific Ocean all to yourselves along with relatively warm water isn't enough to fire up your juices, the fact that this was simply a wonderfully amazing critter-filled dive should be is the icing on the cake. (Have you started packing your gear yet???)

I had debated whether or not to bring my camera but decided against it in case there was any surf and becuase my dive buddy was only making her second night dive, and - in case of a problem - I didn't want to have to choose between my camera and her.


And, true to Murphy, lack-of-camera insures that amazing things will be seen so that you will have missed the opportunity to document them.

The most azmaing thing we saw (after passing over pregnant crabs, Horn sharks, Lavender Sculpins, countless Whelks and other creatures on our way to the canyon) was righrt as we reached the canyon floor. Our lights immediately picked up two small Halibut, side-by-side, shimmering and quivering, and rising up in tandem off the sandy bottom.

Two thoughts immediately went through my mind: (1) I know what they're doing because I've seen Cortez Wrasses in Baja and Mandarinfish in Micronesia go through the same motions, and (2) I'm really glad I didn't bother to bring my camera because this was only a COVER SHOT playing out before my eyes.

What the Halibut were doing (if you haven't guessed already) was mating. It's amazing when you think about it. Two animals that lay camoflagued in the sand literally risk their lives by rising three or four feet off the bottom at night, extremely exposed to predators, just so they can mate and allow the sperm and eggs to drift off in the current. And that's exactly what they did.

At their peak, they both gave a shudder, there was a small poof of white stuff which quickly drifted and dissapated, and then the Halibut pair made a beeline for the bottom and went their seperate ways. It all only took 15-20 seconds (no idea how long it went on before we got there) but was fascinating to watch.

And the rest of the dive was pretty good too. We saw Fringeheads, Octopus, plenty more pregnant crabs, Bay Pipefish, a big Thornback (and lots of little ones), am amazingly long and skinny Brittle Star, Spiny Sand Stars, Short-Armed Stars, a lobster walking on the sand (in 20' feet of water), a Target Shrimp, a tiny Brown Shrimp, and even a small Bat Ray.

Great dive, great conditions, and a great idea if you want to skeedaddle down there while the diving's good. Don't know how long this will all last, but you might want to take advantage of it while you can (day or night). Bring quarters (if you don't have a Redondo Parking Permit).

Ken Kurtis
NAUI Instr. #5936
Co-owner, Reef Seekers Dive Co.
Beverly Hills, CA

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