Conditions looked great and with a bit of waiting (and luck) I was able to park right near the stairs. The water was flat and a clear aquamarine color over the sand in La Jolla Cove. It looked like a great winter day to dive. It was not supposed to stay that way. Actually, for various reasons, I almost went to the La Jolla Shores, 2 miles north, for the dive, but I was sure glad I made it to the cove.
I suited up and took the rest of my gear down the stairs. A group of hearty swimmers, with no wetsuits, were just getting out of the water. That's just not my style. My plan was to swim straight out (205 degrees) towards the yellow buoy about 180 yards out and look for the rock piles on each side of it. Then I would head back, but just go a bit north so that I would swim around the big rocks at the side of the cove. The shoreline there is some of the nicest in California and it is very pretty diving in the marine reserve.
I went down and headed out fairly fast. It is shallow and drops off slowly. I was going over white sand and algae covered rocks. Garibaldi and middlin sized Calicos were fairly common above the eel grass and reefs in the cove.
A lot of the rocks in shallow were covered by a very healthy growth of a beautiful, delicate lacy red algae. There were also alot of coraline red algaes, but they were not near as pretty as the lacy red ones. There was also a pretty beaded brown kelp that grew up about 6 feet off the bottom. In the shallow sunlit water, it had a golden color.
As I got out, there were more brown kelp and lobsters. I started seeing lots of small to near legal sized bugs in most holes and some a bit out in the open. They were not very spooky. More than anything else on this dive, I was trying to see what all the different kinds of critters I could find. I was especially looking to see if I could find any abalone.
As I swam, I passed through bands of geology. There would be sand with small kelps and eel grass. Here I would see the perch and sand bass that didn't spend time in the rocky areas. Then I would cover various areas of smaller rocks and then every so often a ledge and then another sand channel. Under the big ledges were an amazing number of lobster. I started to see numerous big Red Urchins starting at about 15 feet deep. There were also occasional sea cucumbers too. There were lots of fish including Garibaldis, Calicos, File Fish and even Sheepheads.
The visibility was good enough that I had absolutely no problem following my compass. I knew right away when I got to the rock pile. This one seemed to be the south pile and is probably at least 20 yards by 60 yards of microwave to washing machine sized boulders strewn in a field at 30 feet. It is so complicated, with so many holes and cracks, that you could spend many tanks just examining it in detail. It was full of algaes, lobsters, urchins, fish, stars, cukes, etc. I occasionally tickled an antenna tip, but took no practice grabs. A lot of the bugs here were legals. Besides all that, there was a lot of other odd stuff to see here. I was a bit low on air to want to try to find the rock pile a bit to the north and there seemed no point. This is a beautiful, lush dive area.
Fairly soon I decided that air was such that it was time to head back. I didn't feel like a surface swim. It was great going in. There is so much life there. Every time I came to ledges and went up them it got a bit brighter. I got in a very shallow area and surfaced to see where my exit was. As planned it turned out that I was a bit north of the cove. This is a great dive area that warrents as many tanks as you want to do there. In the shallow water, the eel grass was a brilliant emerald green. Some of the rocks near shore stick straight up 10 or 12 feet to the surface there. Some shallowly slope way out from the shore. I actually had to move out a bit to get around shallow rocks. A single sea lion was cruising next to the shore. Then what do you know. There in the open on the side of some rocks were two, near legal sized, green abalone. I got a good look around them for more and clicked my last pics.
Well, air was gone and that was a great end to a dive. In no hurry, I swam in through the shallow gardens of eel grass and delicate brown algaes. The exit was a matter of swimming onto the sand and crawl a few feet out of the water. What a great dive!!!
Enjoy the diving, seahunt
...About 2 miles north of La Jolla Cove is La Jolla Shores. It is a large sandy beach with a fair amount of parking. The diving there is about as mild as can be found in San Diego and so is popular with classes. There is a large grassy area where divers tend to congregate and prepare. In summer, there can be an awful lot of divers. While it is an easy sand dive, there is some interesting things to see and occasionally numerous sharks can be seen. A midlin swim straight out from the beach in 90 feet of water is the edge of the La Jolla Canyon. That is a more advanced dive and fairly interesting.