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Dive at Monastery

Since Abel didn't get to dive Monastery last time (8/5/2007), I thought we should try again. Julie, Abel and I arrived at 9:00am on a beautiful partly cloudy day. The weather was perfect for diving since in or out of the wetsuit the temperature was fine. We were shooting for slack high tide (11:50am) so that the waves and surge should have been minimal. We stepped up onto the dune to set up our equipment and watch the waves. The waves were bigger than expected but still not so big that we would not be able to pass them safely.

On the first dive, Julie lead the group on a long surface swim along the kelp bed for about 200 yards (310°). The entry was not that easy considering the size of the waves. The group descended down to about 70 feet to start the dive. The kelp was still too dense to penetrate safely. We swam around the kelp forest staying at the edge of it until we had 1700 psi in our air tanks. We started coming back through a slow ascent until we reached the surroundings of the kelp forest and the sand bed. During this dive, we found some reasonably big rock formations with some small animals hiding within, including at least one sea cucumber and what seemed to be a 3 inch Bay pipefish (Syngnathus leptorhynchus). For the exit, we swam along the surface to the beach to crawl out. The size of the waves at that the moment were medium-sized and tossed us during the last portion of the surface swim before crawling out. [Start time: 10:52 Max Depth: 70 feet Temp. at bottom: 57°F Total Time: 18 minutes Surface Interval: 1 hour 36 minutes]

The second dive started with a fairly easy entry—walking in backwards with fins, mask and regulator. We made a very long surface swim out along the kelp bed toward the underwater canyon. We descended down past another dive group and right into the canyon. The rock wall kept slipping by and the depth ticked up to 105 feet. On our way down, we passed through a thermocline into colder water which felt much colder due to the compression of our wetsuits. We spent only a minute at just over 100 feet and saw nothing of interest beside detritus. We headed back up to the sandy bottom (about 86 feet) and turned toward shore (heading 150°) and progressed to shallower water. We penetrated the kelp bed edge to look into crevasses and under rocks. We saw some marine snails and hermit crabs at the deeper depths. For the first time, we saw a small sea urchin. The urchin had its feeding feet out and was slowly devouring a loose blade of kelp. There were a lot of kelp fish, surf perch and sea bass throughout the dive. There were also many decorator crabs (Loxorhynchus crispatus) and sheep crabs (Loxorhynchus grandis). One sheep crab was enormous. It had a body span of 14cm and an estimated leg span of 80cm. Our dive finished with a shorter surface swim back to the surf line. We dropped back to the bottom and swam along the bottom until finishing by crawling out from the surf. [Start time: 12:44 Max Depth: 105 feet Temp at bottom: 49°F Total Time: 26 minutes]

We are still cleaning the sand out of our gear thanks to Monastery.

Posted at 10/13/07 on 2007/10/13 by Stephen - Category: Northern California Diving -
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