Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Channel Islands Part 2: Day 2 Santa Rosa Island

On day two we dove Santa Rosa Island but unfortunately I didn't wake up in the middle of the night to take another dose of Dramamine, so in the morning I started to get seasick. Ugh. So for the first dive it was a struggle to get ready and hold myself together, but I knew I just had to get off the boat. I hoped getting off the boat for a while would reset my body and give the Dramamine a chance to kick in. So I didn't take my camera on the first dive at Talcott Shoal but even if I was feeling good, I'm glad I didn't take the camera. There was a LOT of current. It looked really cool though so maybe some video would have been fun. Travis and Justin were spearfishing Debbie and I just followed them around. Sort of. The current kind of made following them difficult so there was definitely some just holding on to the bottom and watching!

Thankfully that time in the water was exactly what I needed, I felt a lot better afterward and I made sure not to miss anymore doses of Dramamine.

Click image to enlarge
Santa Rosa Island, Channel Islands

The second dive was at Little Wilson in a kelp forest. I can't seem to find that on any maps.

This is the base of a kelp
kelp base

A red anemone
red anemone

The California sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher)
California sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher)

Rainbow surfperch (Hypsurus caryi) I had a hard time ID'ing this fish but as soon as I showed Travis (who's way more fish knowledgeable than I) he immediately knew it was a perch and that put me on the trail. Still it took me a bit of time because most of the rainbow surfperch pictures I saw were no where near as vibrant as this guy. The markings looked right though so I just kept looking until I was sure. I'm glad mine is so bright!
Rainbow surfperch (Hypsurus caryi)

See the white leg sticking out? Someone's living under there and it was in motion when I took this picture. A hermit crab of some sort perhaps?
hermit crab

Kelp Rockfish (Sebastes atrovirens)
Kelp Rockfish (Sebastes atrovirens)

A sunflower sea star and other starfish.
sea stars

This is a pelagic tunicate that I think is a salp. How cool is it!? Salps are cylinder shaped and often band together into chains or we saw a lot of circles so they looked like a chunky bracelet, but this one was really unique. Google "salp" and you'll see a array of alienesque translucent creatures but it takes a lot of searching to find examples like this guy. This one really looks like it has a precursor to a spine in it and the horns are bizarre. The translucence makes it look like it would be squishy like a jelly but it's actually completely hard. Amy found this guy and had to touch it to find out if it was squishy. When she found it wasn't, she put her thumb and forefinger around it to bring it over to us. Strangely, when she let go the spots where her fingers had been had discolored brown, so that's what that brown band around the body is. I don't know why the "horns" have dark striations.
salp (pelagic tunicate)

And then the sun came out! It was so lovely underwater and I just felt so happy knowing the sun was waiting for me at the surface. The light shines stronger through the kelp forest with the sun out.
kelp forest


The third dive was back at Talcott Shoal in a little bit of a different spot Unfortunately, one of my fin straps broke on that dive, so it was cut short.

The fourth dive was at Goldenhorn wreck. Travis and Justin were the only ones of our group to dive this one and they came back saying all they saw was a lot of dense kelp, a lot of surge and no wreck. One of the other guys on the boat made the mistake of coming up in a patch of it and got stuck. Travis and Justin came up a ways from the boat and had to do a long surface swim back.

The fifth dive of the day was the coolest seascape at Bee Rock. There were huge monolithic forms and big crevices and I am SO bummed I didn't have my camera on that dive!! I had a misperceived camera malfunction that thankfully turned out to be me just having a major brain malfunction. Oops. It was definitely my favorite dive as far as the bottom formations go.

Back on the boat we got to enjoy the soft evening sunlight and a sunset.
Santa Rosa Channel Islands

Santa Rosa Channel Islands

Santa Rosa Channel Islands

southern California sunset

To finish the night Travis and Justin went for a night dive. It's kind of entertaining watching them get ready. Especially Justin when he hangs out looking decapitated while he gets his wrist cuffs set.
Justin, Travis

In the water, ready to go down. It's cool watching their lights underwater.
night diving Channel Islands

On their night dive one of the other guys on the boat found a little octopus that fit in your hand and brought it over to Travis and Justin and showed them how trapping it with your hand like a cage with fingers spread will make the octopus grab on to their hand with its tentacles going between their fingers like holding hands. Cool!

One of the things Travis loves about diving is the hunting. He loves spearfishing and getting scallops. I love him getting scallops too! And the fried fish we have is awesome.

This is typically how you find a scallop, by the bright orange lips on the shell.
scallop underwater

Here comes Travis! You can either take the whole shell off and get the scallop out later or jam your knife in quickly before the shell can clamp down and cut the scallop out right then. Travis prefers to do it that way instead of having to pry the shell open later, but to start with he was taking the whole shell instead.
scallop knife

The shells can be so covered in camouflage!
camo scallops

Justin clears a scallop from a surprisingly clean shell.
Justin scallop


Travis works on getting the shell open.
prying a scallop

The fish Travis gets are typically rockfish and lingcod.

This is a lingcod. They've been seen as big as five feet long, but a really nice sized one is three feet. The minimum for catching is 22 inches and only two per day.

They have teeth!
lingcod head

The flesh on these blue-green (there are also brown ones) lingcod is also blue-green! It turns white when you cook it though, so it looks like a normal fish.
lingcod flesh


Lobsters were also on the hunting list, but neither Travis nor Justin managed to get one. Apparently, before they head to deeper waters, they can cover the bottom, but we missed the hordes, they'd already gone. One lucky diver on our boat did manage to get one though.
spiny lobster

These are spiny lobsters and don't have claws.
lobster head

One of the results of cleaning up their bounty from the sea, is that the birds come looking to enjoy the bits thrown back in the water.






The boys were bummed to miss the lobsters, but still very happy with their haul.
Travis, Justin

On day three we'll be on to Santa Cruz Island.

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