Trip Report and Photos
Palos Verdes on the Sundiver
and Photos ©
Elaine Jobin, may not be reproduced in part or whole without advanced
October 2, 2004 was the
first day of "Lobster Season". Everything about diving in Southern
California changes on "Opening Day". It marks the date when dive boats
become populated with divers toting game bags and lobster gauges.
Lobster season redefines the criteria
of a good dive site from "scenic" to "productive". Particulate matter in the
water column rises dramatically as at least 20 of your boat mates head straight
for the sandy bottom.
This time of year can be both challenging
and frustrating for underwater photographers. The good side is that there are
more night dives available and more trips to dive sites that are "off the beaten
I spent the first day of "Lobster
Season" diving offshore Palos Verdes with SeadSea
dive shop on the Sundiver. Captain Ray and
the crew pushed off the dock somewhere near 8:30 am.
The late departure meant extra sleep
for me. The start of lobster season meant less sleep for others. Some divers
on this trip had already been out shore diving since midnight.
The first stop was near the lighthouse
at Point Vincente. This area is bordered by a submarine canyon and has many
rocky reefs in the shallows.
Visibility was 30 - 40 feet, excellent
by Palos Verdes standards. I stayed in areas about 40 feet deep. Small purple
urchins dominated the landscape, and invertebrate growth was everywhere. There
wasnít a lot of kelp, but the reef structures seemed to provide good protection
for many schools of juvenile fish.
Divers who headed toward shore brought
in the most lobsters.
For the second dive, the Sundiver
moved towards Redondo, past the wreck of the Dominator. The landscape in this
area was different from the Point Vincente area; there was a kelp bed and many
sandy channels. I found several bat rays in the sand and many schools of juvenile
On the third dive, we moved closer
to the wreck of the Dominator, a Liberty Ship that met its demise on the rocks
in 1961. Captain Ray pointed me in the direction of the stern section of the
Dominator. It was about 250 yards away, in about 20 feet of water, near a high
rock that was just barely breaking the surface.
I decided that my best bet for making
it there was with a surface swim. It took about 15 minutes of swimming and dodging
kelp to make it to the rock. Once there, I got lucky and dropped down directly
on a fairly large intact section of the ship. It had an interesting shape, but
it didnít look like much from above. A large school of Sargo congregated near
When viewed from the sides, this
structure takes on a whole new character. It is really quite a scenic spot.
Not every dive day is uneventful,
and this one was no exception. A diver experienced a cramp in his leg and was
busy retrieving a wayward game bag. In the distractions, he put his hand down
in exactly the wrong spot on the swim step. A passing swell produced a crunched
and cut finger. Within 15 minutes bay watch arrived and got him on his way to
professional treatment. Everyone sent prayers for a quick and easy repair job,
and, for a speedy recovery. Even for the very experienced, diving is a hazardous
sport and sometimes we are reminded just how lucky we are that most of the time
nothing goes wrong. When something does go wrong, it touches all of us deeply.
Our dive day ended with a gentle
ride back to Long Beach.
The final lobster count for the day
was 16. Our DM remembered the photos that I had posted of him counting heads
at Farnsworth a few months back.:
He decided that it was time for "pay
back". He posed me for a photo and made me promise to post it. So....here it
is.....my best imitation of a lobster.
Until next time.