Labor Day on the Sea Bass - Cabezon in love!

Great Dive Trips at Bargain Prices with the Sea Divers

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Posted by Anastasia L on September 06, 2007 at 11:44:31:

On Labor Day, Scott chartered the Sea Bass for a bunch of his photographer buddies. This is the second time we’ve joined one of these trips, and it’s a lot of fun - despite the slightly crowded conditions that result from sharing the boat with nearly as many enormous camera rigs as divers!

We did a repeat of our July trip: one dive on the wreck of the Olympic, followed by two dives at the oil rigs. Captain Richard dropped the anchor in the sand about 30 feet off the wreck. Jeff, Carol and I were the last group down, so we missed the initial search for the wreck - we reached the bottom just as a group of divers was headed back the other direction from a fruitless hunt in the dark. And it was DARK. There was a thick layer of gunk at the surface blocking out all the sunlight; the water cleared up quite a bit near the bottom, but it was basically a night dive.

We followed the dive lights and flashing strobes to our destination: the bow section of the Olympic. On our last dive here, we were over the stern area, and I didn’t realize just how much of the boat we missed. The bow area rose about 30 feet off the bottom, totally encrusted with anemones and other growth. The starboard side is largely open, so divers can cruise around the interior easily.

I’d love to see this wreck on a clear day. My video lights barely made a dent in the darkness and the super-green water: I can only imagine how gorgeous it would be with a little sunlight!

Not wanting to descend all the way back to the bottom in search of the anchor, we headed off in its general direction at about 70′ - but shortly realized we’d never find it in the dark, and did a slow free ascent. There had been a slight current running on the surface when we jumped in, so we fully expected a surface swim back to the boat. Imagine our surprise when we broke the surface about 10 feet away from the dive ladder!

Our second dive was at the joined oil rigs Ellen and Ellie - I never remember which one we actually dive on. The green layer at the surface was gone, and the visibility was a respectable 50′ or so, so we had a good view of the schools of baitfish swirling around the rigs - and the sea lions chasing them. Jeff and Carol were shooting macro, and I quickly got tired of trying to get decent wide angle footage in the dark shade, so I spent most of my time looking up and hoping a sea lion would come bother me.

We picked up and moved over to Eureka for our last dive. Visibility was a little bit better here - not the 100′ plus that I always hope for on the rigs (and have encountered more than once), but a damn sight better than the 5′ vis we’ve also seen here before! I jumped in the water and promptly lost a fin. (New jet fin, and new dive booties that weren’t quite a perfect fit, as it turned out.) Doh. One of the crew stepped up with a loaner so I wouldn’t have to miss the dive. And it was a good thing he did, because this was definitely the highlight of the day!

Sea Lion scaring baitballs:

Puttering around in 60′ of water, enjoying the sea lion and baitball show, I accidentally scared up a cabezon hiding in the rig structure. But instead of swimming away to hide, he turned around and headed right for Jeff - and settled comfortably onto his camera! Carol and I came close to get shots of the little guy, while Jeff hovered with a slightly confused expression on his face.

Eventually he started gently trying to shake the fish off his camera - but the cabezon wasn’t interested in leaving. He was finally dislodged - and immediately turned around to nip at the strobe, swim at Jeff’s face…. and then settled back on the camera again! Every now and then he’d move off long enough for Jeff to take his photo, but he kept coming back to his new home.

When Jeff finally thought he’d gotten rid of him for good, he moved on to other photo subjects while I kept an eye on the lonely fish. He didn’t disappoint: as soon as Carol got into range with HER camera, he tried to settle onto her rig! She fended him off with the lens, spinning around in circles while I completely cracked up.

We didn’t completely shake off the cabezon until we started our ascent: he constantly swum around us looking for a chance to sit on someone. Except me - for some reason, he had zero interest in my video rig. Which means I got lots of video!

I’ve edited together the highlights of our friendly cabezon encounter: enjoy!

“Why Can’t We Be Friends” - 1:43 Quicktime movie
Medium Quality - 14.7 MB
Low Quality - 4.7 MB

And some photos from Jeff:
9/3/2007 Sea Bass Trip

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