Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Harbor lights at night

This post is just to get in a few of the shots I took as the dive boat came back into Long Beach on Saturday evening.

I liked the way the sea wall made a dividing line between the water and the sky.

Looking back toward the mouth of the harbor.

The sunset was amazing that day and the whole port just glowed.

This is the Gerald Desmond Bridge. Poor thing. It is not as famous as its neighbor, the Vincent Thomas, which is one of my favorite bridges.

Normally this bridge doesn't do much for me visually. But seeing it from this angle for the first time, I had a new appreciation for it.

Cranes and cargo ships operate around the clock at the Port of Long Beach, the second-busiest port in the country.

Someone once told me that George Lucas modeled the walker things in Star Wars on cranes like these. I am not sure that is true, but I can see why it might be.

One of the old port buildings very close to Queen's Wharf, where we docked. Some of the buildings of downtown Long Beach are in the background.

Monday, November 3, 2008

11/01/08 - Dive boat to Santa Barbara Island - third dive

Arch Point off of Santa Barbara Island, Calif. (Channel Islands)
Nov. 1, 2008
Logged dive: No. 20
Max depth: 60 feet
Bottomtime: 35 minutes

This was the last dive of the trip.
No sea lion rookery.

Conditions were not good apparently. So it was better to be safe.
Still, I really wanted to play with those sea puppies.

But all was not lost, we saw a frisky little sea lion at the end of the dive.

Read on to find out more about him.

Me, heading down the anchor line.

Me again, clearing the pressure in my ears.
Once we got to the bottom, there were large sandy areas dotted here and there with rocks that were home to coral, stars, brittle stars, sea urchins and anemones - all in multiple sizes and colors.
A shot of some coral with a plant growing in the middle of it.

Star surrounded by brittle stars.

More stars, more colors.

There was an angel shark just hanging out in the sand not too far from the end of the anchor line.

Same angel shark from a different angle. When we swam back by this way about 10 minutes later, it was gone.

My gauge. Here we are at just above 60 feet. The red hand shows the max depth of the dive at that point, just over 60 feet.

Visibility here was not as good as the first dive, but it was still really good. Far better than the second dive.

Another star. I love the texture on this one.

I am not sure what this is. MF said maybe a welk of some kind. I liked the shape of it, so I took a picture.

Here is just a pile of the brittle stars. They were everywhere here, all over the rocks and all over everything else. MF said he got a little creeped out thinking about them just covering everything.

Another creepy crawler.

There was what looked to be an old lobster trap. It had become home to a few urchins inside and some more brittle stars hanging around outside. I really like this shot.
At this point, MF took the camera and got some really nice shots of some anemones. The series is below.

Finally, it was time to head back to the boat. The water was colder here and we were getting low on air, so I was about ready.

Another diver, heading up the anchor line after doing a safety stop. That dark blob above him is the boat.

We came up the anchor line after a safety stop of our own then headed toward the back of the boat. As we got almost to the swim step to get out of the water... SEA LION!!
One fun little guy wanting to play.
I was so happy, I forgot to take pictures at first. But he kept coming back around to play, swimming and spinning.

They are soooooo fast! It was hard to get any photos of him up close.
At this point, we hung out at the surface, just using our masks and snorkels to keep our faces in the water and watch him.

I was trying to get the camera to work, but the reaction time was too slow for the speedy sea puppy.

Just when I thought I had a good shot, the little fellow darted up and away!

This one is my favorite. Just the tail and bubbles. That was pretty much what I kept seeing of this guy. He was so cute.

Finally, he took off. We waited a few more minutes to see if he would come back, but he did not.

So we got back on the boat.

It was good to finally get out of all the wet gear that we leave on between dives while the boat moves from site to site. It was good to get into dry clothes and have some lunch.

Now, just a 6-hour boat ride back to Long Beach. Perfect time for a nap.

11/01/08 - Dive boat to Santa Barbara Island - second dive

North of Three Sisters off of Santa Barbara Island, Calif. (Channel Islands)
Nov. 1, 2008
Logged dive: No. 19
Max depth: 42 feet
Bottomtime: 35 minutes

Between Santa Barbara and Sutil islands are three rock formations, the Three Sisters.

This was the second dive spot for the day.
The divemaster pointed out some kelp beds off to the side toward Santa Barbara Island.
Since kelp usually provides good cover for lots of fish, we headed that way.

Visibility on this dive was no where near as good as the first.

We saw a lot of kelp. There were some fish there. But really, it was just a lot of kelp.
And the visibility was not at all good. At one point I stopped to take a picture and when I looked up, MF was gone. I could see only about 10 feet in any direction, and it was all kelp.

After a split second of WTF??? panic, I settled down and swam a short distance in the direction he had been heading. I remembered the dive training that said to look for a minute then surface if you don't find your buddy.
Luckily, I didn't have to search long. In the moment it felt like a long time, but really, it probably was only about 20 seconds before MF came swimming back my way.
He had a worried look on his face, but it probably nothing like the look I am sure was on my face.

I definitely do not like that feeling. We stuck much closer after that as we turned back to head to the boat.

MF took a picture of me in the kelp.

This is a shot of what is basically like the root ball of some kelp.

On the way back to the boat we saw a jellyfish. There was another one farther away at the surface. MF said they looked dead since they were not really pushing through the water the way jellies move. Mostly they were just floating along with whatever current there was.

A shot of the boat as we swam back to get onboard and head to the next site.

Really, the name of the boat sums up the trip.

11/01/08 - Dive boat to Santa Barbara Island - first dive

South of Sutil Island off of Santa Barbara Island, Calif. (Channel Islands)
Nov. 1, 2008
Logged dive: No. 18
Max depth: 80 feet
Bottomtime: 40 minutes

We had stopped at another site, but it was decided that the current was too strong there, so the boat moved to this site.

The divemaster gave some information on the site and then people were off.
MF and I got geared up and headed down the anchor line.
We went the way the divemaster suggested and found our way to the edge of a sea wall that dropped down to a little more than 100 feet. We did not dive quite that deep.
We got down to about 80 feet then headed up and did most of the dive between 50 and 60 feet.

The water was such a beautiful dark blue and visibility was amazing. From up around 60 feet I could see other divers at the bottom and the outline of a large ray. As tempting as it was to head down to see it, I stayed where I was.

There were some fish, but the real attraction was the sea wall. It was covered in all sorts of life, most of it small. The starfish below had legs thinner than my fingers. The other long, worm-like things in that picture are actually the legs of brittle stars. They are cool and creepy and just attach themselves to everything.

Here is the leg of a brittle star poking out from a hiding place. Creepy, but cool!

There were some giant stars clinging to things, then this tiny little guy. I am not sure what that is he is holding onto, but it was about the size of a grapefruit.
In addition to the stars, there was an abundance of sea urchins. Big, small, black, purple and red.

Here is another one of those brittle stars. They are just fascinating.

I took so many more pictures here, but not too many came out.
Since the underwater housing for my new camera is a leaker, I was using MF's camera, which does a pretty good job.
OK. One dive down, two to go!