Dive Report - GWS Star of Scotland

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Posted by Patrick on August 15, 2009 at 23:07:38:

The Landlord’s back and it’s gonna be excitin’
Hey la, Hey La, the Landlord’s back!
When you see him comin, you know there’ll be some bitin’
Hey la, Hey La, the Landlord’s back
We’ve been divin’ in his place, thinkin it was really cool
Hey la, Hey La, the Landlord’s back
But he’s back on the scene and he’s laying down some rules.
Hey la, Hey La, the Landlord’s back…
(Sung to the tune of My Boyfriend’s Back, the Angels, 1963)

Saturday morning the good dive vessel Moby Kate headed out for a day of fun on the briny. Crew of four consisted of two doctors, two captains, and an 11-year old that was probably smarter than all the rest of us. Yes, there was only four people on board – you figure it out.
The launch out of Marina del Rey was easy and un-crowded, and after clearing the harbor we turned up coast with plans to visit the Star of Scotland. Only Andy and I would be diving, while the other two members of the crew (Chris & Chris) would pursue the ancient art of angling.

Arriving at the Star we anchored up and while Andy and I began gearing up for the dive, Chris & Chris (the rest of the crew) began fishing. Little Chris immediately caught a very nice and legal calico bass that was earmarked for the evening’s dinner. Then, the mackerel moved in. These were little, voracious, dudes that would grab their cut squid bait before it could get ten-feet deep.

Just about the time I had dumped my glasses and was pulling on my wetsuit top, Andy says, “Is that a shark over there?” and points up off the bow. I put my glasses back on and look, and sure enough, a dorsal, and the occasional splash of a caudal fin about 50 yards off the bow. Andy says, “It’s good to see blue sharks again, its been a while.”
I’m watching the dorsal, and am thinking it really doesn’t look like a blue shark.

The shark is obviously working a ball of bait as we can see splashes as they break the water at the shark’s approach. This is all kinda neat, and everybody is sort of keeping an eye on the dorsal fin that is slowly moving closer. Chris & Chris are still catching mackerel.

Bloody fish, mackerel.

At this point I’m ready to dive, still watching the shark dorsal (and still thinking it didn’t look like a blue shark) and Andy says, “Lets buoy the anchor and run over and look at that shark.”

Cool with me. I run up to the bow, buoy our anchor line and kick it over the side. Andy runs the boat and I’m still standing on the bow. The shark submerges as we approach and I lose track of him. Andy takes the Kate out of gear and turns to starboard, I look to port, and there is the shark. I was close enough to see the size and count the gill slits (5) - this was not a blue, but the Landlord’s son – about a 6-foot great white shark.

In my calm, cool and collected manner, I said, “Holy Sh*t, That’s a eff-ing white shark!”

Andy responded with deliberation, “Bullsh*t!”

And then Landlord Jr. came by the boat and ate one of the mackerel off Chris’ line.

Then there was a concurrence, “IT IS an Effing white shark!”

We both blew the chance to restate the classic line from Jaws, “We won’t need a bigger boat…”

The shark was about 6-feet long, a bluish slate color on the back with a very distinct color demarcation to a very white belly. To say things were a bit hectic right then would be a bit of an understatement. I was grabbing for my camera, trying to get a picture, but of the three I managed to shoot before the battery died, were all shot right into the glassy reflection. (sigh!) You do what you can.

Several of the previously caught mackerel were flung over as offerings as Landlord Jr. came by, and with hardly a pause in is graceful, languorous cruise, he inhaled them as though they were his due.

At that moment yet another mackerel hit Chris’ line and as Chris reeled frantically, the white gave it a “taste” then submerged and disappeared.

During his absence, we scurried around trying to get better organized when (if) he reappeared. He did, once more about 60 yards off. That dorsal and caudal fin broke the surface for about ten seconds, then disappeared for good. We went back to the Star and prepared for our dive.

I let Andy go in first.

Vis on the bottom was unexpectedly good, a rather dark, chunky 25-30 feet and cool at 53–55 degrees. I have to admit I spent more than a few moments scanning 360’s on the dive.

Though conditions for the dives during the rest of the day (the artificial rock piles at Santa Monica & Venice) were just fine – at least 20-foot visibility and lots of interesting critters, it was all sort of anticlimactic.


300 some odd dives on the Star over several decades and this was my most unusual occurrence on the wreck. It was an awesome day. Truly another step toward total enlightenment…

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