Land of the Giants

Outer Bamnks diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by Max Bottomtime on August 01, 2015 at 06:22:11:

Day One of the 2015 Giant Sea Bass Count had us traveling north to the Star of Scotland. Giant Sea Bass, Stereolepis gigas have been protected in California since 1982. Before that, their numbers had dwindled due to overfishing. Their numbers may have increased, but there is no hard data to tell for sure. That is where the annual Giant Sea Bass Count comes in. Dr. Milton Love of UCSB instituted the count to determine the current status of the fish.

Giant Sea Bass, often confused with Black Sea Bass, the common name of the Atlantic species Centropristis striata are rarely observed outside of the Channel Islands and a few locations along the coast. If I told you I counted thirteen today you would think I had a great dive. It was probably the second worst dive I've had on the Star.

Visibility on the wreck was two to three feet. My wide angle lens always makes things appear better than they actually were, but I have Merry Passage and Kevin Lee to vouch for the conditions. I was about to thumb the dive after only a couple minutes when the first sea bass swam right in front of my camera. I soon saw four more ranging from three feet to close to six feet. With the horrible visibility my camera wouldn't focus and fire when I wanted it to, resulting in butt shots and missing tails. Kevin was the smarter one in the group. He stuck with his macro setup.

Visibility above the wreck was just enough to make out a group of eight GSBs. I had to Photoshop the #*!! out of them to get any images. After we all found our way back to the surface we headed south to Golfball Reef. We may wait another year or two before trying the Star of Scotland again.

Golfball Reef was a little better, but still not great. I found another flatworm that Merry discovered last month, Pseudoceros mexicanus. Although we've seen a few Giant Sea Bass at GBR we had no luck today. The official count ends on August 16 so we have a few more chances to find them.

I had water temperatures of 58 at each site with a warm thermocline at forty feet.

 photo Star of Scotland 3_zpshz8pfszu.jpg
The "Dog House" from a foot away

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Kevin working on a nudibranch. He saw six GSBs after swing around the wreck twice. He was happier that he was able to see the anchor.

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The only decent shot of a large speciman. It was two feet away and I couldn't fit him in the frame.

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Pseudoceros mexicanus

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This limpet fell down, went boom. It righted the ship without having to call Life Alert.

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If you're going to disguise yourself as another animal, using gorgonians works as well as anything.

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Berthella californica making future clones
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One of those younger clones.

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