All times are for mandatory check-in – divers must be geared up for the briefing 30 minutes later. Please RSVP for dives to dive coordinator or on the MBSO Facebook page!!
Dive Spot At A Glance:
Location: In Pacific Grove, at the intersection of Ocean View Boulevard and Coral Street
Access and Entry: Park along Ocean View Boulevard. There are stone steps to the beach, but no facilities. Kayaks may be launched here, but not larger boats.
Skill level: Intermediate or better
Depth: 10-50 feet
Visibility: Generally good, 15-30 feet
Photography: Good wide-angle in rocky canyons and good fish photography.
Hunting: Coral Street is located within the limits of the Pacific Grove Marine Gardens Fish Refuge. No invertebrate may be taken in waters to a depth of 60 feet. There are no special restrictions on fin fish. There are few fish worth spearing in Monterey Bay these days.
Hazards: Watch for strong currents, surge and surf. Conditions can change rapidly. This site is best dived at high tide to minimize crawling over slippery rocks. Very thick kelp in summer and fall.
(Ed. Maybe not so much kelp these days…)
Coral Street is a tiny little nook in the coastline that borders a rock and gravel beach. When the south or west wind is up, the beach is free of surf, and entrees and exits are fairly easy due to a small point to the north that provides moderate protection from a westerly swell. However, the small cove is vulnerable to a northwesterly wind and swell of spring and summer.
The inshore bottom is comprised of boulders covered with palm kelp and, in a little deeper water, coralline algae. The bottom is shallow for some distance, so divers normally follow the channel running down the center of the cove to get to deeper water and to avoid crawling over the rocks at
A bit farther out the bottom consists of a saw tooth pattern of ridges and channels that run parallel to shore. Initially, the tops of the ridges are in about 10 feet of water and the bottoms in 15. As the depth increases the ridge tops come up to about 20 feet and the bottoms to 30 feet. After one swims somewhat over 200 yards the ridges fall away to a sand-and-rocky-pinnacle bottom with a maximum depth of 60 feet. There are numerous abalone and rock scallops way back in crevices. These are protected by law, so look but don’t touch.
Inshore rocks are covered with numerous species of algae. Several species of brown algae and thick carpets of red, coralline algae cover all of the rocks. Juvenile gamefish and other tiny fish are abundant among the near shore rocks and algae. This is a great area for fish watching.
Abundant invertebrate life is found in deeper water: colorful nudibranchs, sea cucumbers, and sponges. The water is clearer here than most Monterey sites and underwater photographers will enjoy capturing color on the rocky walls and canyons. This is a good spot to find monkey-faced eels
back in holes, and game fish is in plain view, as well as hiding back in holes.
Hunters are better off avoiding Monterey Bay these days. There is simply too much fishing pressure from commercial and sport fishers for any fishery to last very long. Bring your camera and enjoy photographing juvenile lingcod, cabezon, and an assortment of bottom-dwelling fish, such as sculpins and greenlings. Winter is also a good time to photograph juvenile rockfish, which school among the kelp or a passing gray whale.
Strong, advanced divers sometimes swim all the way out to Chase Reef. However, it’s a long swim and there is a lot of boat traffic these days. A better way to get to both Inner or Outer Chase Reef is by kayak. A kayak is an ideal way to explore sites remote to the main entry and get good views of
both otters and passing whales.
Many thanks to Bruce Watkins and the California Diving News for the dive write up. Bruce Watkins’ A Diver’s Guide to Monterey County, California is available for purchase here:
-Corey Penrose, coreypenrose at gmail dot com.