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Wasted visibility in the wasteland

Published on 2018-11-19 00:53:06

The reports had been stellar for over two weeks with visibility in the 30 to 40 ft on most of our local beach dive sites so I was not going to miss another week-end, maybe the last of the year, and decided to go diving Crescent Bay this Sunday morning.

I got an early start, by my own loose standards anyway, and got to Laguna Beach at about 8:30am but it was already a zoo with divers everywhere! I still could have parked right in front of Shaw's Cove but I passed on an awesome parking spot and carried on to Crescent Bay. I ran the circle twice before deciding to park at the upper part of the area, which was going to cost me an extra flight of stairs on my way back from the dives. Oh well. Of course, I went down to check the conditions first and right at the bottom of the stairs was a nice parking spot. Really? That's what I cried out loud, startling a spearo who was gearing up nearby. Oh well. Conditions looked OK, I could see through the surf from the top of the stairs so visibility looked indeed pretty good. Surf seemed manageable with a few isolated 3-4 footers in-between the 1-2ft lull.

After almost forgetting my fins again, I was down to the beach in no time.Entry was a piece of cake, timing was good. There was quite a bit of surge in the shallows and I was short of breath by the time I reached the drop zone. I stayed there a few minute to relax and then dove down in what looked like 30 feet of vertical visibility.

I headed SW towards Seal Rock. And where a few years ago spread an urchin barren, and where after forced removal of said urchins a few years later a kelp forest had grew and was still going strong earlier this year, today there was nothing left. A wasteland of sargassum and broken shells. Here and there I found abalones, but only big ones (6-7 inches), meaning they did not make any babies. Maybe the lack of kelp has stressed them out. I wish they would grow a taste for sargassum, because that nasty weed is back in full force.

After almost an hour underwater, my critter tally amounted to two eels, a few lobsters, four or five adult abalones and a sculpin. Not many photo opportunities, but at least I got my cardio done for the rest of the week after a long swim back to shore against a strong south surge and a long climb back to my car. And that beats a northeaster anytime.      


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