Thursday, November 3, 2011

Channel Islands Part 3: Day 3 Santa Cruz Island

The third day we dove Santa Cruz Island.

Click the image to enlarge.
Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands

We started west of the Painted Cave State Marine Conservation area.
We found more of the Spanish Shawl nudibranchs (Flabellina iodinea) that are so striking. Here are two different ones that I found on the first dive.
Spanish Shawl (Flabellina iodinea) nudibranch

Spanish Shawl (Flabellina iodinea) nudibranch

I'm pretty sure at this point that this is a Hermissenda crassicornis even though it didn't really have that opalescent glowing blue hue to it's body. Maybe this is a juvenille?
Hermissenda crassicornis?

Clown nudibranch (Triopha catalinae)
Clown nudibranch (Triopha catalinae)

And here's the Sea Clown's nudibranch eggs!
Clown nudibranch (Triopha catalinae) eggs

A black feather duster worm
black feather duster worm

Blood Star (Henricia leviuscula)
Blood Star (Henricia leviuscula)

Salted Yellow Dorid (Doriopsilla albopunctata) nudibranch
Salted Yellow Dorid (Doriopsilla albopunctata) nudibranch

abalone shell
abalone shell

I can't ID this nudibranch for sure. Maybe a Cuthona concinna?
Cuthona concinna? nudibranch

These next two shots ended up being two of my favorites from the whole trip:

I call this Starfish Yoga. The starfish is feeding but it was funny to see it just hanging out appearing to hold this pose.
Starfish yoga, feeding sea star

And I call this Safety Stop. At the end of the dive when I followed the anchor chain back up to 15 feet for my safety stop, I found this starfish hanging on for a safety stop too!
safety stop starfish

I rotated the chain to see the top and get this picture and then slowly rotated the chain back. Even though I moved it slowly, once it was upside down again it fell off the chain and went gently floating back down to the bottom.

Back onboard I thought I'd get a shot of the boat from the back corner and caught Travis in a Captain America pose.
Travis Captain America

We headed a little further west for the last few dives in different areas around this rock. I'll call it Seal Rock because I think it looks like a seal's head coming out of the water to bark or eat something, like the bird in this picture.
Seal Rock

As I descended on the second dive I saw an eye looking up at me. It was this urchin shell sitting in the middle of this anemone.
urchin shell, anemone

Anemones can look so soft. Look at the cute ity bity baby seastar next to it too.
red anemone

And then Travis' console whacked the anemone and it closed right up. I took this picture and it wasn't until I saw this image on my computer that I noticed the tiny little shell attached to the anemone on the left side. It's really neat getting up close and see things you wouldn't otherwise.
closed red anemone

Speaking of up close, here's some little strawberry anemones up close.
strawberry anemones

Featherduster worm (Eudistylia polymorpha)
Featherduster worm (Eudistylia polymorpha)

A close look at a little sculpin. This guy was less than 3 inches long and the gold flecks on his fins were really pretty. I'm pretty sure its a coraline sculpin (Artedius corallinus).

Blue rockfish (Sebastes mystinus)
Blue rockfish (Sebastes mystinus)

As much as we loved the Spanish Shawl nudibranch, this little guy ended up being our favorite nudi of the trip with its brilliant blue and yellow racing stripes. It was only about one inch long. Porter's Chromodorid (Mexichromis porterae) nudibranch
Porter's Chromodorid (Mexichromis porterae) nudibranch

More nudibranch eggs, although I didn't see a nudi nearby
nudibranch eggs

A sea snail
sea snail

A Painted Greenling (Oxylebius pictus)
Painted Greenling (Oxylebius pictus)

Doriopsilla gemala. This is almost the same as the Salted Yellow Dorid (Doriopsilla albopunctata) from an earlier dive this day, but this one has gills that match its body color instead of white gills.
Doriopsilla gemala


A Sunburst anemone (Anthopleura sola)
Sunburst anemone

A large school of blacksmith fish (Chromis punctipinnis)
blacksmith fish (Chromis punctipinnis)

Travis and Justin
Travis and Justin

When getting ready for the third dive, catastrophe happened! To back up a little, my dry suit had to be adjusted because apparently I have a rather thin neck. So it had been cut and molded back together thinner. And in suiting up the seam on the neck split! Okay, so the fact that it was the third of four dives on the last day of the trip means it wasn't quite a catastrophe. If it happened earlier it would have been a lot more tragic. As it was, my suit was done and I wasn't going to get to do my last dive. Thankfully, Debbie had already decided to call it a day and she let me use her suit. Even better, her suit actually worked for me! Yea Debbie for saving the day!

Once I suited up I took off to take my last set of dive pictures and maybe see if I could find Travis and Justin who had already left when they thought I wasn't going to be able to dive. I did run into them pretty quickly.

Ever seen floating rocks? The kelp attaches itself to the bottom, but sometimes erosion leads to the attachment coming loose and you get floating rocks! We actually saw some much bigger floating rocks at Bee Rock, the place that had the big monolithic structures and crevices that I didn't have my camera on.
floating rocks

Red Sea Whip Gorgonian or a sea fan, which is a soft coaral.
Red Sea Whip Gorgonian sea fan

Here's a close up of that sea fan. Without the ability to take pictures like this, it would be really hard to see the amazing details of so many things underwater.
Red Sea Whip Gorgonian sea fan macro

Cadlina Luteomarginata nudibranch
Cadlina Luteomarginata nudibranch

San Diego dorid (Diaulula sandiegensis) nudibranch

San Diego dorid (Diaulula sandiegensis) nudibranch

Cadlina limbaughorum nudibranch
Cadlina limbaughorum nudibranch

Hermes' Nudibranch (Hermissenda crassicornis) This is such a pretty nudibranch with its glowing blueish opalescent body color but I just could not get a better angle on it.
Hermes' Nudibranch (Hermissenda crassicornis)

Another nudibranch that I cannot ID. The salt and pepper nudibranch is white with black specks, but its cerata aren't nearly as long and skinny like this one has. When I look closer it looks like it has the shorter stubby cerata just past the long ones in focus, but I couldn't get a different angle on this guy for a better look so maybe I'll never know.
white with black spots nudibranch

This is a very close shot of a sunflower sea star. Quite the surface on that starfish!
sunflower sea star macro

Another Cadlina Luteomarginata nudibranch
Cadlina Luteomarginata nudibranch

And lastly for underwater: shrimp. These are Coonstripe Shrimp (I'm seeing it's scientific name listed as bot Pandulus gurneyi and Pandalus hypsinotus.)
Coonstripe Shrimp

This shrimp looked like it was doing battle this salp that had floated down in front of its hideout. He kept batting at it but it was like a big soft bubble that wouldn't pop or go away.
Coonstripe Shrimp

There was a fourth dive of the day but only Travis and Justin out of the entire boat went for that one and they went with nothing but scallops in mind.

And that was the end of the diving for the trip! Time to head back in!

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