Dive Report - SM Bay 02/23/08

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Posted by Patrick on February 24, 2008 at 17:58:15:

All the weather boffins were promising big rain and wind Saturday night and advised all listeners to bring in their pets (or at least put them in lifejackets). But for Saturday day, the reports were less emphatic – the possibility of high winds and scattered sunshine. So, as Max Bottomtime says, “if you don’t go, you don’t know,” we went to look.

Captain Andy and I met at a bit past 06:00 to load tanks and prepare Moby Kate for a day of diving. Though the morning was beautiful with just light winds from the east, there was one disturbing finding as we loaded gear – the deck was coated with ice! At the del Rey launch ramp, we made other interesting discoveries; the small craft warning pennant was hoisted, but drooping on the pole, and we were the only boat at the launch ramp! The parking lot was totally empty! This allowed us a quick and easy launch, and in short order we negotiated the harbor and main channel and were headed out to see what was happening on the artificial reefs of Santa Monica Bay.

The first dive was on one of the deeper reefs, about 80-feet. Vis on the surface didn’t look all that great, kind of a milky green with a fair amount of particulate material, but no brownish stain from the previous day’s runoff. Conditions on the bottom were dark, 52-53 degrees with a very acceptable 10+ foot visibility. Most of the local critters (sheephead, calico & sand bass, sargo, ling cod, sculpin, etc., were hunkered down on and in the rocks and crevices apparently literally chill’n in the cool temps. The cool water temp seemed to have the same effect on the resident bugs keeping them in their dens as opposed to the “walk-about” behavior we’d seen several weeks ago. Despite the stay at home attitude of the bugs, we managed to find enough to limit out.

For the second dive, we moved further north looking for clearer water. On a shallower, natural reef we found 4-5 foot visibility directly on the bottom, but on the top of the structure (about 10 feet above the bottom) the visibility was about 15 feet and still 53 degrees. We found several snarled hoop-nets which we removed from the reef structure, bundled up and buried in the sand where they could rust away harmlessly.

For the last dive, we tried the artificials just out side the marina. Conditions were about the same with regard to the visibility, temperature and most of the local critters, except for one thing. These rock piles were loaded with Opaleye Perch. Great schools of them were gathered for some reason, and it made interesting watching during the dive.

On surfacing, we found the weather was changing. The wind, which had been an offshore easterly all morning, had increased, swung SE and was carrying some pretty ominous-looking dark clouds our way. We called it a day and headed back. At the ramp, we were met by the F&G census taker, and we provided our bugs for measurement and documentation. The Fish & Game guy said that since he arrived at 10:00 only one boat had gone out, and he hadn’t had anybody to check before us. With our bugs documented and the Kate secured, we headed home – just as raindrops began to mark the windshield. Our timing was perfect. Despite “STORM TRACK. 2008!” we managed to slip through a weather window and experience yet another interesting, productive day of Southern California diving.

Stay wet

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