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Photo Dive Report: Diving Dry without Doctor Bill at the Casino Point Dive Park

Published on 2010-06-28 21:56:22

On the first dive I did not take my camera. Of course we saw two Giant Black Sea Bass. Of course.

As the red tide keeps on messing the conditions on the main land, we decided to spend the weekend on Catalina Island and judging by the few dive reports for the coast posted today on that was a wise decision.

Conditions on the island were far from optimal. We had two dives at the Avalon Dive Park (Casino Point) on Saturday and three on Sunday. These were my first dry suit dives and I did not take the camera on the first one thinking that I would be too busy figuring out how to manage my buyoancy with that new piece of equipment to have time to take any picture. I was half right. True, the art of dry suit diving is not that easy but still, Giant Black Sea Bass!!! Two of them, probably 500lbs a piece. If you think that's a lot of sushi, think again as these are highly protected species that would send you up to two year in a state penitenciary with a hefty fine of $10,000 if you spear one of these...

So sorry, I don't have a picture of the two monsters. I took the camera on the other dives but they did not show up again... Murphy's law at its best!

The visibility was poor for Catalina. We had 60+ ft last year in November but since then the conditions have been quite terrible. This time we had only 10 to 15ft, sometimes less, rarely more. Water was cold. I say that for my two dive buddies who dove wet as I don't really care anymore...

It was once again one of these dives where your focus is on small stuff. My deteriorating eyesight coupled with an attention disorder caused by 3/4 of my brain strugling with my dry suit control did not help me with this and when I usually would have shot a hundred pictures per dive, I ended up with a mere 100 over five dives...

I tried a couple of kelp sunburst from 30ft. It did not quite make it. Maybe because there was no sun? Yeah, that must be it. Or maybe when there was sun, there was a thick layer of pea soup to go through... That's it too.

But there was one thing that was not missing in the water: California Scorpionfish (aka Sculpin). July is supposed to be their spawning season, but this year it seems they were early as the bottom was covered with these in various sizes. I can even swear I saw a female sheephead spit out a tiny baby sculpin on the sand. And yes, that was before we had wine and Champagne with Doctor Bill.

I shot a couple of close up in automatic macro mode. Most came out pretty nice. The main issue with sculpin is that they blend so well into their surrondings that it is difficult to make a nice and contrasted picture. There is a way however to correct that in the digital darkroom with a combination of selective color control and advanced filtering. I promise I'll post a tutorial about that.

We dove the Sujack on our first dive on Sunday morning. We found a colony of half a dozen small spanish sawls gathering at about 70ft on one of the remaining wreck piece. They seem to be local residents as my buddies knew exactly where to find them. A few close-ups in automatic macro (came out pretty nice) and manual focus (not that good).

On the last dive of the week end, we ended up surfacing almost outside the Dive Park, at the end of the jetty where the flag is! I guess I found someone who is as bad at navigation as I am! But that was a cool dive full of critters: more sculpins and a nice looking eel at the end!

After the dive and after all wetsuit divers warmed up in the sun (I did not have such problem... Was it cold? 55? I did not notice that. I got squeezed though and I have a mark around my neck now, but cold? No), we gathered at the Mexican joint next to the Casino for a Buffalo Milk, the local specialty drink!

Time to head back to the mainland, the line for the 6pm boat to Long Beach Catalina Landing is already forming... We'll be back next week for a special 4th of July celebration!                                                         




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