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Mountain Road & Shaw's Cove: Sharks, Rays and Giant Black Sea Bass

Published on 2013-10-19 17:02:47

I had been monitoring the conditions for almost a week and it was going to be awesome. Not much surf, no wind, sunny and hot, and most reports posted 10 to 20ft visibility! Awesome!

So finally after an excruciating week, Saturday came and a friend, who had to drive almost 2 hours, met me at Mountain Road for a Leopard Shark hunt.

We had dove together before at that location and had terrible conditions, so I was a little worried that my favorite dive spot would soon become the worst nightmare of my dive buddies... It did not.

Visibility in the first reef was not that great and we did not see many critters, only a 4-5ft leopard shark and a small bat ray on our way back. The second reef was surgy but viz improved slightly. The kep forest was gorgeous, looking more and more like Catalina. Tv 1/250s no flash did wonders on the kelp sunbursts as usual. A little dose of Tonal Contrast in Photoshop in post prod and these are probably the best kelp shots I have now... Wow.

My dive buddy found a very nice Pacific Angel Shark and I spotted a small leopard shark which did not stay for the photo. Too bad.

When we surfaced we were surprised to find ourselves in the fog! It was sunny and hot when we got in and now it was pea soup. It took me a few seconds to find out where I was, we could barely see the shore! I spotted a group of divers who I am sure were the SOCDC gang going in, so knowing their usual insertion point, I knew where I was... Saved.

After that very nice dive, we decided that since we needed a fill, we would dive Shaw's Cove after stopping at Laguna Sea Sports.

That happened to be the best decision of the day.

For the first time in more than 100 dives in Shaw's, I was greeted by a Giant Black Sea Bass at the entrance of the crevice, probably less than 2 minutes into the dive. Wow. Never seen them here before. Sure it was not a 400 pounder but still... A Giant Black Sea Bass at Shaw's, in my own backyard! How cool. Apparently a few blasé divers had seen them here before and were like yeah, you know, not unusual. OK. Fine. It was a first for me and it was damn exciting!

Of course I did not get a picture of the sea bass. A couple of divers decided to chase it so it took off never to be seen again. Oh well.

The rest of the dive was the usual Shaw's. The visibility in the crevice was amazing, 20-30ft. It got whited out at the Crescent junction so we took Star Wars Canyons back to the main reef. Lots of octopus still, Hopkins Roses, big sheepheads, a few California Scorpionfish, a ray, two or three morays and a very cute hermit crab couple.

Tv 1/100 + Auto Macro + Forced flash always works at Shaw's. Who said underwater photography was complicated?


And the kelp, shark and ray video: 


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User comments

Posted by Thomas

On 2013-10-19 20:39:46

Wow, while I made my commute back up the treacherous 405 through the many inattentive drivers (thank God for the M/C), Jean Yves was producing a very nice narrative recapping two very nice dives. Awesome pics and video, especially the kelp sun bursts. It was a nice treat to see some many animals on both dives. Well done!
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