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The Unusual and Unexpected at Topaz Pilings


Scuba Diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat


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Posted by Merry on January 31, 2012 at 09:34:50:

We had so much fun at the pilings with Kevin Lee on Sunday that we enticed Margaret Webb to join us for an afternoon dive yesterday. Instead of taking his camera, Phil ran line to include the northernmost piling that Kevin found. This left Maggie D and I to our own devices.

Within minutes of descending, we encountered a school of 2 dozen juvenile market squid, measuring no more than 3 inches long. They remained in a synchronized hover, and allowed us to get close. At some angles they appeared almost transparent, so our cameras had difficulty focusing. Strobe fire gave them a slight jolt, but they stayed put, remaining near the line for at least 45 minutes. However, at the approach of a sea lion, they bolted, leaving filmy little ink clouds behind.

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Now THIS is one of the strangest sights I've ever seen underwater. The crab was very much alive, but perhaps lost one of its claws in a fishy tussle with a sea lion.

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Still clutching its prize, it managed to right itself eventually.

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Although we haven't found Craig Hoover's three (new-to-us) Topaz nudi species yet, I happened upon Catriona columbiana on Sunday.

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An old and crusty Triopha maculata. It was huge!

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An unusually robust Flabellina trilineata.

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This snail caught my eye as it whipped and spiraled itself across the sand. Kevin said this is an escape response. Note the operculum on its foot.

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We've seen several juvenile sarcastic fringeheads sheltering in grasses.

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Hemphill's kelp crab.

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The Carmen Miranda of hermit crabs.

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