Dive Report -Topanga "Summer" Bug Fest

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Posted by Patrick on February 27, 2012 at 17:20:46:

After a grueling week it was decided to reward ourselves with a Sunday of diving despite the dicey weather predictions.
The crew – Captain Andy, Bill Brush (famous creator of the Chocolate Lobster Dive), Captain Cindy Shaw and moi, did a 07:30 launch of D/V Moby Kate at Marina del Rey and headed north to the fabled reefs of Topanga and Malibu. There was some overcast that looked as though it would breakup, and just a slight easterly wind. It was to be a relaxing, fun dive day with some lobster hunting on the side. Just out side the harbor entrance was the Serene, eighth largest mega yacht in the world.

Megayacht SERENE

Note helicopter on bow

She is 440 ft in length with seven decks and nearly 50,000 square feet of interior space including nearly 30,000 square feet of living space. This mega yacht features two helicopter landing platforms (one with a hangar), storage for a large submarine able to reach a depth of more than 100 meters, and a huge indoor seawater pool that can be also used for tender docking. Nice I guess, but not much of a dive boat.
As we cruised up the coast, conditions improved and by the time we were on our first dive site the wind had dropped and the sun had begun to warm the decks.

Surface conditions – First dive
Cindy and I made the first dive and despite great surface conditions, the situation on the bottom was not as good as we’d hoped. Temperature was a brisk 52° and visibility was a dark green 8-feet. Not perfect, but certainly good enough for bug hunting, and the bug hunting was good. Lots of bugs to be seen, but many shorts. Cindy grabbed several shorts before scoring some legals. I had bagged one nice bug and passed numerous marginals when I came around a corner and spotted a very nice set if antenna jutting from a under a ledge. Whoa! this was a nice bug! A several minute struggle freed him from his cave and another wrestling match ensued while getting him bagged.
I got wide eyes and a thumbs up from Cindy. Our B.T. gone, we headed up. On the boat my catch was estimated at 9-pounds and determined to be a mated female.

Nice female!

So after a couple of pictures, I returned her to her reef, if not her precise ledge to hopefully make lots of bambino bugs. We always return the bigger bugs, particularly the females and hope if she is caught by a hoop-netter she’ll be returned to the sea.

Bye bye, Baby…

Bill’s dive had also been productive and he had nearly a limit of nice sized bugs.

Chasing bugs on deck

Andy’s dive too, was very productive despite the limited visibility. It was noticed by all of us there were carcasses of old and fresh-dead Mola Mola around the reefs, all with their fins missing. We speculated on sea lion predation as the cause, but didn’t note anything specific with the sea lions around us.
Another thing noted was the huge schools of Chromis that typically from dense clouds over the reefs were all hunkered down on and in the reefs. Many of the cracks and crevices were literally packed with the little, local damselfish.
The next two dives were the same conditions on the bottom with the surface becoming summer-like with warm sun and flat, glassy conditions. Hard to believe it is February.

Mid-winter conditions off Topanga

Over the course of three dives all divers took their limits and enjoyed the day immensely.

Limits for everyone!

Grasshopper learned well – hard to believe she had never dived for lobster before last year!

On the way back in, we again marveled at the opulence of the Serene, but pretty much decided that even though it was 415-feet bigger than the stalwart Moby Kate, we were having more fun.

SERENE’s “garage”

SERENE”s “swimstep”
Stay wet

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