|Dive Report - Santa Cruz & Anacapa Is. Or “Is that ANOTHER fin?|
Posted by Patrick on September 06, 2010 at 18:49:57:|
The drive up PCH to Channel Islands Harbor was damp, dark and foggy. Visibility on launch was probably 50 yards or less – Thank God for radar! On clearing the breakwater, and for the first several miles we pounded into very steep, short duration swells that the Moby Kate took a lot better than the crew did. Once we were mid-channel, the swells began to space out, and by the time we were moving on to Yellow Banks at the southeast end of Santa Cruz, we had flatter seas and slightly better visibility – perhaps 300 yards. As we approached the island we were flagged down by a couple of fishermen in a 17-foot Boston Whaler Montauk (sp). Their basic issue was “where the f@#*k are we? It turns out they were looking for Anacapa (still hiding in the fog) so they could run to the coast from there.
It seems that using the GPS function on your cell phone to cruise the Channel Island is really not a good idea. We gave them the course back to Channel Islands Harbor and we all went our own ways.
First dive of the day was on the deep over-hang ledge at Yellow Banks. Current was light but noticeable, but only required a couple of hundred feet up-current drop to make the ledge on the bottom. While visibility in the top 40-feet was probably 20+ feet, on the bottom we found the conditions perfect for macrophotography – perhaps 10 to 15 foot vis with the current holding the kelp parallel across the bottom. Temp was 55-degrees. Despite the less than pristine conditions Cindy was in an invertebrate heaven and was killing pixels at a prodigious rate. As she would shoot the current topic of interest, I would scout around for the next invert who was ready for their close-up. Best of the dive was a healthy, chubby Red ab – Man is it good to see these again.
Since I spend a fair amount of time underwater on work projects around the Channel Islands, I have been seeing Red abs, but primarily at San Miguel and Santa Rosa. This was the furthest east I’ve seen a Red – so far.
Since conditions were a bit disappointing at Santa Cruz we made the quick crossing to the West End of Anacapa. Dives on both the north and south sides of the west end spine found better conditions and temperature at depth was better 56-degrees instead of a bone-chilling 55-degrees and the vis was still lumpy with all manner of sea-snot but a good solid 15-feet or better. Again millions of pixels died as Cindy blazed away capturing both invertebrates and vertebrates alike as we moved through the lush kelp and spectacular ravines that mark these areas.
Sea hare in the kelp
On the way back across the channel, I was keeping an eye open when I spotted a dorsal and caudal fin break the surface close aboard as we raced by at 20 knots. I had a brief glimpse – it was a shark perhaps half again as big as the White was saw last week - maybe 10-12 feet – with a very blue colored back. The wake of the boat spooked the fish, and by the time I had slowed and run back no dorsal or anything else was to be seen. Andy was scanning the area with binoculars and spotted something quite a distance off.
Despite we were mid-channel where the water usually has tremendous clarity and that wonderful deep-blue color, we found it green and soupy (the better for filter feeders and jelly eaters) with an estimated 10-foot of visibility. Given the poor vis, it was hard to determine just how huge these creatures actually were. Best estimates were the Molas were 10-foot, fin tip to fin tip with each fin approximately 3-feet and the body about 4-foot across. When one swam beneath the bow of the Kate it appeared to be about 20-24 inches thick!
After granting us audience for about 15 minutes, the giant Molas submerged into the green soup of mid-channel and we continued home.
Another awesome day of diving in So. Cal.
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