Dives at Breakwater (San Carlos Beach, Monterey CA)

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Our first dive was at 12:30 pm. Topside it was sunny and cool with a light breeze. There was a little surf but otherwise conditions were calm. My buddy for this dive was Marty C.

Underwater the temperature was 52ºF (11ºC). There was a modest surge and visibility was excellent at 15-25 feet (5 to 8 meters). The best visibilty was at the shallower depths allowing for several photos to be taken without the need of a flash.

The duration of the dive was 68 minutes with a maximum depth of 43 feet (13 meters). Average depth was around 25 feet (8 meters).

The camera used was a Canon A20 with just the standard flash. This was the first time I've used a camera underwater. I hope this is not too obvious! Click on the thumbnails for larger versions of the photos.

As we swam out to the end of the breakwater there was an egret standing in the kelp fishing. I approached very slowly taking photos and the bird did not appear to be alarmed. In the far left of the photo There is a collection of sea lions. Some of them would join us on the dive although none of the photos I took of them came out on the first dive.

I finally got within about three feet of the egret to take the next photo. Either I was not seen as a threat with just my head bobbing out of the water or the egret was intent on catching a fish for its lunch. When I backed away it was in the same position standing on the kelp.

A common star along the rocks near the Breakwater wall. If you are patient you can easily see the stars move about and even eat other creatures.

This is a lemon nudibranch. There were more than a few of these on this particular dive. Their bright yellow color makes them easy to spot. You can also see them inching along if you watch long enough.

A decorator crab. These crabs decorate themselves with pieces of the surrounding environment to camouflage themselves. For human eyes, they are fairly easy to spot and some are quite large. If you watch the younger ones you can sometimes see them adding to their camouflage. I'm guessing that they would not be a very good tasting crab.

One of the things I like the most about diving are views like this. Looking up and seeing dozens of fish swimming through the kelp. With better visibility and more kelp the view is even more impressive.

The photo is a bit murky but if you look closely you can get an idea of underwater topography. At times it seems as if you are moving around an underwater forest with hundreds of different animals going about their business and paying little attention to your activities.

Diving in Monterey can often be strenuous and cold but views like this make it more than worth it. Again there is only so much detail a photo can give but it is an amazing sight to be underwater and looking up at the sun shining down through the kelp.

Another thing that is fun with diving is how easy it is to explore in three dimensions. You could swim above or around this large rock and find numerous creatures living on or below it. There are usually surprises.

There was a bit of surge as you might be able to tell from this photo. This made taking photos more challenging. Although a may not be apparent with this photo, the sun was reflecting off of the bottom.

I believe this is a perch. Most fish pretty much ignore you which makes it fun to observe them swimming around.

This is a closeup of a large lemon nudibranch. The lighting was good so I didn't use my flash. Colors fade the deeper you are underwater so this approximates what it looks like during a dive. Below 100 feet things appear to be grayish which is why it is a good idea to keep a flashlight with you. More experienced underwater photographers use strobe lights which allow them to pick up natural colors.

This is my dive buddy Marty.  He also takes underwater photos but this might be the first time someone has taken his photo underwater!

This is a view from the Breakwater wall between dives. Some of the best conditions for Monterey can be found in the winter (between storms of course). There is not as much fog as in the summer and the air temperature can actually be higher than it is in many Bay Area cities. Best of all there are no crowds and it is easy to find a parking space near the water.

Our second dive was at 2:30 pm. Conditions were about the same...perhaps a bit cooler

Underwater the temperature was once again 52ºF (11ºC). There was a modest surge and visibility was not so good at just 5 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters). At times the visibility went below 5 feet and it was only up to 10 feet in pockets. Quite a switch from the first dive.

The duration of the dive was 44 minutes with a maximum depth of 60 feet (18 meters). Average depth was around 45 feet (14 meters).

The visibility was less than 10 feet so only close up shots came out decently on this dive. This is a picture from the Metridium Fields. The Metridium Fields consist largely of Giant White Plumed Anemones. There are dozens scattered about among the rocks and it is an impressive site. It is a bit of a swim out to the anemones and on
a somewhat murky day they can be hard to spot until you come right up on them. Thanks to Marty's navigation we found them without a hitch.

Two more photos of the anemones.

Towards the end of our dive a playful California Sea Lion joined us. It repeatedly came back (sea lions don't tend to hold their breath for long) and performed underwater ballet for us. Although they are awkward on land they are very graceful in the water. At times it seemed to mimick the bubble blowing of Marty. A couple of times I was sure the critter was going to bump me but it darts off in another direction at the last moment.