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Land of the Giants





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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

 photo Star of Scotland 2_zpsxlrys4es.jpg
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.

 photo Star of Scotland 1_zpsh9d5orjs.jpg
The only decent shot of a large speciman. It was two feet away and I couldn't fit him in the frame.

 photo Star of Scotland 4_zpsylzbvsyz.jpg

 photo Star of Scotland 5_zpsceeqpxho.jpg

 photo Star of Scotland 6_zpsr0i0afdp.jpg

 photo Star of Scotland 7_zpsatmilmno.jpg

 photo Star of Scotland 8_zpsrs3lr1bt.jpg

 photo Star of Scotland 9_zpsz0kd8e8p.jpg

 photo GBR 9_zpsgpdakjbi.jpg
Pseudoceros mexicanus

 photo GBR 11_zpsr5wn5rhh.jpg
This limpet fell down, went boom. It righted the ship without having to call Life Alert.

 photo GBR 1_zpsdcdomgy9.jpg
If you're going to disguise yourself as another animal, using gorgonians works as well as anything.

 photo GBR 2_zpsv0iskrv3.jpg

 photo GBR 3_zpsyz5klffg.jpg

 photo GBR 4_zpsofdpne0h.jpg

 photo GBR 5_zpseznvlsrc.jpg

 photo GBR 6_zpswm2aosx2.jpg

 photo GBR 7_zpsb3iawe5z.jpg

 photo GBR 12_zpssvsexf5d.jpg
Berthella californica making future clones
 photo GBR 13_zpsr1umaxya.jpg
One of those younger clones.



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