Today we were at Monastery (north side) for an advanced dive. The underwater topology at this site make this an advanced dive. The entry can be a truly hazardous entry. There is a steep sloped dune that leads to the water's edge. A short wave wash zone and a quick drop off from knee deep to chest deep. The underwater canyon comes very close to shore here so that there is a potential to go well below the recreational diving maximum of 130 feet. The tide, weather and waves cooperated with us on this dive day. It was foggy with a light wind coming off the ocean. The waves, surf and swells were minimal; we still walked in backwards with our fins on though.
On our first dive, we planned to swim out along the edge of the kelp (heading 330°) and drop down near the canyon and go below 100 feet followed by an ascent back to 60 feet for the rest of the dive. We put our masks and fins on at the edge of the surf and backed into the waves. While we kicked out to the edge of the kelp, two white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens) swam near us. The pair were swiming and jumping out of the water. Once we made it to the edge of the kelp, we descended. We followed a heading of 330 along the rocks. The horizontal vis was amazing, 40 feet with fog covered sky! We came across all sorts of things on our first dive. We saw Parastichapus californicus (California Sea Cucumber), Archidoris montereyensis (Lemon Dorid Nudibranch), Pycnopodia helianthoides (Sun Starfish), Julie saw another eel that Glenn and I didn't see, coryanactis anemones, burrowning anemones, strawberry anemones, Cryptochiton sp. (Gumboot Chitons), Asterina miniata (Bat Stars), Loxorhynchus grandis (Sheep Crabs), Loxorhynchus crispatus (Decorator Crabs), Ophiodon elongatus (Lingcod), other fish, and some mollusks that I can't identify yet. These unknows were white exposed shells about 3-4 inches long with three large keels. One running dorsomedially and the two others running down the sides giving the shell an overall circular profile when viewed fro the top down and a half circle when viewed from the side. Each keel was 3/4 inch in height. We kept swimming at 330° and reached the edge-of-the-world. The edge of the canyon was at 80 feet. I looked over the edge and saw a rocky plateau and decided to head down to it. I watched my depth gauge tick up toward 101 feet where I came to rest on the rock. Julie and Glenn followed me down. We spent only 1 minute at depth and headed back toward the rocks and kelp at 65 feet. We ascended and spent 5 minutes at 15 feet to off gas. The dolphins were nearby during our exit swim. Glenn walked out onto the beach while Julie and I crawled out. [Depth 101 feet, Time 31 minutes]
Our second dive was planned as another exploratory seach through the rocks. This time we put our masks on at the edge of the water again, but Gelnn and I walked in while Julie backed into the water. We swam out to the edge of the kelp and descended to 35 feet. Again we headed out at 330°. We swam along the outside of the rocks and we also penetrated into the kelp bed. We saw many of the same things except Julie did not see an eel this time. The horizontal visability had worsened a little (now only 30 feet). This was a great dive. Our surface swim back was uneventful. We sat outside of the shore break and counted the big waves. Julie started for shore first and crawled out. Glann left next and crawled out. I opted to walk out this time. [Surface Interval 1:30, Depth 69 feet, Time 33 minutes]