Beautiful Dive On The NOS Tower In San Diego

We had a choice for our next dive of the Yukon again, the Ruby E, the NOS Tower, or for that matter anywhere else we wanted to go in the area. I had never been to the tower and suggested diving that. It was supposed to be a better dive when there is some decent visibility. Dale agreed that the NOS tower sounded good and it was only about a mile away. On the way there, we got to see a flight of pelicans about 15 strong, gracefully gliding in formation less than 2 feet over the calm water. We anchored, but still had to wait a while to enter. Finally we geared up and the skipper said that the tower was just behind the boat in about 65 feet of water, but that the top was only about 35 feet down. This was a research tower that got knocked over in a storm in 1984. I asked Jim if there were any lobster. He said that there might be some in the rubble at the bottom, but not many. I was more here for pictures, but it was lobster season...

This is what I came for.

Almost as soon as we started down we saw the top layer of beams. They were covered with life and I could already see lots of fish. I continued over the side to look at the bottom and see if there were actually any bugs. There were many heavily encrusted beams and pipes and sure enough there were lobsters, lots of lobsters all over the place under the beams. They had almost no place to go and I quickly swatted one.. It was a bit short, so I aimed it at Dale and let it go. I started looking for any that might be legal sized and spooked one out that went snapping away. I figured that they all looked short and then I thought about it and figured that since Dale almost never dives where there are lobster, I should try to get him to grab some. He had already figured that out and was working under some beams from both sides.

Tower Beams

I'm not a very good watcher so as Dale continued looking for a lobster that he could grab and was big enough to keep, I grabbed another lobster and tried to get it to hang on to Dale's tank manifold. I've seen lobster hold onto tanks until after the diver was on the boat. I just couldn't get it to stay.

After that we worked around the debris field looking at the fish and looking for any lobster that might be legal sized. I grabbed a few, but as soon as they were in hand I could tell that they were not legal sized. It sure was fun though. There were all kinds of fish everywhere including senioritis, kelp bass, sand bass, fair sized sheepheads, a couple of cabazon and others.

About this time I saw that Dale had stopped by some beams sticking up and was trying to seduce a nice sized cabazon. This I had to see. It looked like he had done this before and it looked like it was working. He seemed to be rubbing his fingers together to attract them and when the fish came in close, he would rub under its mouth. I figured I had to get a picture of it, but wanted to stay back some so as not to spook it or all the other fish that were hanging around him.

Dale and his pet Cabezon

After a bit of this we started working up and around the structure. It was covered in every color of Cotynactus anemone. There were vivid reds, pinks, oranges, purples and even a mainly white patch. This is what I had come to photograph. There were also a fair number of scallops up to about 4 inches across. On the bottom were a many healthy gorgonian sea fans. There were huge Pisaster starfish, mostly on the bottom, but some were on the structure as well. Higher on the structure were numerous huge mussels up to about a foot long.

About this time, I noticed that on the bottom about 18 feet below me was what looked like a speargun shaft. I went down and there was a spear shaft from a Riffe gun with no line and no tip. I picked it up and figured I would give it to a friend who had a Riffe gun. I went up again some and joined Dale. He was playing with the fish again so I floated motionless to watch him from behind a beam. Just for the fun of it I put the end of the spear shaft into the shell of about a 4 inch scallop. I had no designs on it and when it closed up, I was going to take back the spear, but it turned out the scallop was not attached and stayed on the spear shaft. I thought it was funny and was going to show it to Dale but he was still busy with his pet. As I held it there, numerous fish started to nibble on the shell growth looking for anything to eat. I figured what the heck and while I won't ordinarily break even red urchins, I tore open the scallop and there was an immediate feeding frenzy. Dale's cabazon came over and I tried to give him some big pieces, but there were about 30 fish fighting for any scraps. They quickly finished that off and I figured if a little bit is good, more would be more better, so I used the spear shaft to break up one of the huge mussels. Well that made for a happy crowd. If a fish got a big piece, a bunch of other fish would go after it trying to steal some. That was really fun.

The anemone displays were just gorgeous and I figured on casually spending the rest of the dive looking close at them. I still didn't see any nudibranchs. There can be exotic ones on offshore structures. Part of the structure made a sort of boxed in area of corynactis covered beams and pipes. I went into there just drifting a bit with so much to look at. In the nook made by a joint of beams was a small lobster tucked into the anemones... Of course I had used up my film a while back, but almost everything I saw was worthy of a photo.

A colorful, vital place.

All good things come to an end. I could have stayed there a long time just taking in all the beauty, but we surfaced behind the boat and went back to the real world.

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