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Thanksgiving in Southern California: 80 degrees and AWESOME conditions!

Published on 2014-11-30 14:53:39

While the rest of the country is battling arctic freeze, lake effect snow falls, torrential rains, flash flood warnings and other nature's own seasons greetings, here in Southern California, we are enjoying quite the opposite. It's been in the mid 80's (25-30C) with sunshine and no marine layer to spoil it!

The months from October to February is usually the best time of the year for diving our waters. Visibility in the 80-100ft in Catalina and 20ft on the coast are not unheard of. The water temperature however is supposed to be quite chilly, mostly in the low 50's.

This year, however, we've been enjoying pretty high water temperature, in the high 60's which is great for diving in a 7mm instead of a drysuit but not that good for our kelp forests that prefer colder water.

So with reports of coastal visibility in the 40ft range and still a balmy 65F (18C) at depth, the SOCDC peeps decided to go diving for Thanksgiving before stuffing our face with turkey, ham and pumpkin pie.

No regrets.

The conditions were AWESOME. We dove Shaw's Cove on Thanksgiving day and the visibility was in the 40ft range with amazingly calm waters. Divers reported giant eels, a multitude of baby lobsters and a school of 200 yellowtail barracudas. I did not see any of that. I did see one lonely barracuda and a busload of kelp bass as well as giant sheepheads. I spent most of my 72 minutes dive on my back shooting the kelp sunbursts. It seems our kelp is handling both warmer temperature and the nasty Sargassum invasion way better than Catalina's Dive Park's.

On Thanksgiving weekend, we decided to dive Heisler Park as our club was having a picnic in the park afterwards. After a long surface swim, we went down and start heading towards the reef in murky water, probably 10ft visibility. I thought to myself, oh well, at least it was awesome two days ago... You can't always win...

I was wrong.

As soon as we hit the reef, the visibility opens to 40ft again. And what a show! We ended up in a very dense kelp forest that was home for a colony of leopard sharks ranging from baby one footer, all the way to gran'ma 5ft. AWESOME. Towards the end of the reef, I even found a eel and a big Shovelnose guitarfish, with thousands of blacksmiths and kelp bass swimming around in the kelp!

Photo wise, it was more challenging than expected. With 40ft of viz, but the dense canopy, shooting under the kelp at 1/125s no flash lead to poor results with lack of details in the shadows. For sunbursts, even at 1/1000s, I got a lot of burnouts. Small stuffs were easy at 1/125s, Macro + Flash.

All in all, a very good day to be in the water, and the long swims in and out are a good exercise to eliminate all the stuff we all ingested during the holidays!


And a video! 



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