Upcoming Dives

All times are for mandatory check-in – divers must be geared up for the briefing 30 minutes later.

 

Divers must RSVP with Dive Coordinator and sign COVID waiver to confirm a space for a club dive!!

The club is resuming in-person activities at the end of February, with some safety modifications.  All divers will have to RSVP in advance with the Dive Coordinator.  All divers will also need to read and sign a supplemental waiver.

 

Club Dive, Saturday, February 27th, 8:00 a.m. Metridium Fields, Monterey

While the Metridium Fields are located at the same beach as the often crowded breakwater, the diving experience is a world away.  Here you’ll find large rocky reefs covered with 2-foot tall giant metridium anemones. While these are reason enough to visit the area, you’ll also see a host of nudibranchs including very large sea lemons, clown dorids, and of course hermissendas.

Keep your eyes open for juvenile wolf eels, and even the occasional swell shark hiding inside the rocks.

Swim out on the same side of the beach. Swim out until you line up the backs of the bathroom and the deli with the great sandwiches. For the other direction, line yourself up with the left side of backscatter (the building with the big whale on the side). Drop down there and go due north. This should bring you to the big pipe pretty quickly, and you can either follow it out and go north on the end, or you can keep going N and you should find some.

Thanks to the following public websites for sharing their information on a classic Monterey dive site – come and join us!

https://www.scubaboard.com/community/threads/metridium-fields.94734/
http://www.scubamonterey.com/infometridiumfield.html
http://www.montereyscubaboard.com/metridiumfields.php

After-Work Dive, Friday, March 12th, 5:00 p.m. McAbee Beach, Monterey

McAbee Beach is located at Cannery Row in Monterey.  The entry and exit for the dive is partially protected by the surrounding points and is mostly sand which makes entry and exit easier.  The biggest problem is to find a parking spot nearby at Cannery Row.  Don’t forget to bring quarters to feed the parking meters at the street ($1.50/hr?).  It is a shallow dive site, but you only need to do a short surface swim and you are in 20 feet of water and can safely descend for your dive.  The recommended dive is to head in a northeastern direction until you are into the kelp at about 35 feet of water, then turn to the left, almost heading in a northwestern direction staying at about 30-35 feet of water.  Take your time diving here.  Look between and around the rocks.  Look into the cracks in the rocks.  The rocks are covered with colored invertebrates, nudibranchs, sponges, anemones, and tunicates.  You will also find pipes from the old canneries.  Don’t forget to look inside, because a lot of times it is somebody’s home nowadays.  We will meet at 6:00pm at the dive site, which is where Hoffman Ave. hits Cannery Row. 

 

General Guidelines for After Work & Night Dives: To participate in after work dives or night dives, divers must carry a minimum of two lights, one main light and one marker light (usually
attached to the tank valve). The dive must be terminated if a person experiences a malfunction of his/her light(s). That is why carrying three lights is strongly recommended so that dive team can continue the dive if one diver’s light ceases to function. For everyone’s diving pleasure, the club would like to thank all participants for adhering to these recommendations for club dives.

These dives are a lot of fun, come out and join us!

RSVP if you are coming on the MBSO Facebook page or by email to info@montereybayseaotters.org, and meet on the sidewalk above the beach, adjacent to El Torito restaurant.

Club Dive, Saturday, March 27th, 8:00 a.m. Coral Street, Pacific Grove

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 low tide.

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.

RSVP if you are coming on the MBSO Facebook page or by email to info@montereybayseaotters.org, and meet at the stairs at the right side of the beach.

California Diving News – Bruce Watkins

Bruce Watkins’ A Diver’s Guide to Monterey County, California is available for purchase here:

https://www.amazon.com/Divers-Guide-Monterey-County/dp/0986257206

 

After-Work Dive, Wednesday, April 14th, 6:00 p.m. San Carlos Beach (Breakwater), Monterey

I’ll wager most Central California divers did at least two of their certification dives at the Breakwater. This dive site is the most protected in the Monterey Bay Area and is an ideal spot for open-water certification dives. As diver’s skills improve, most divers migrate away from the Breakwater to find more challenging sites and to avoid the crowds. However, as more and more divers take up underwater photography, the Breakwater is now known for its incredible collection of photogenic marine life. Even within an area that is well known for its excellent macro photography, the Breakwater stands out as one of the best. I recently dived the site after a long hiatus and was happy to find that all of my favorite critters were there in abundance.

Divers enter the water from San Carlos Beach on the north (ocean side) of the breakwater. Extending from the beach is a sand bottom that gradually slopes down to a maximum depth of 60 feet along the breakwater. To the left of the Breakwater stretches a rocky patch reef that extends all the way to McAbee Beach. Scuba classes are normally conducted here. Divers will find kelp-covered rocks with an interesting assortment of hermit crabs, small fish, and nudibranchs. 

 

The Breakwater itself was fabricated from large granite blocks that create a labyrinth of small crevices and passageways in which a virtual army of sea creatures can find shelter. Striped shrimp hang on the undersides of rocky ledges and monkeyface pricklebacks peer out of holes.

 

Small shrimp, juvenile abalone, flatworms, a huge variety of nudibranchs, and an assortment of small crabs will make macro photographers think that they are in heaven. Orange cup corals dot many of the rocks and make great photographic subjects. These little corals possess fluorescent pigments in their tissues and cause the rocks to glow orange.

 

Rockfish and surfperch hang out in the kelp. Living on, and feeding on the kelp itself is an assortment of photogenic subjects, including brilliantly colored blue-ring top snails and bright red kelp crabs.

 

One of the biggest attractions that the Breakwater has to offer is its large colony of California sea lions. The last half of the breakwater itself is not accessible to people from the wharf and is a favorite hauling-out location of these large and noisy mammals. Sometimes they will stay on the jetty and avoid divers, and at other times they will dive down and check us out. Diving with marine mammals is a delightful experience.

 

While most sand bottoms are generally uninteresting, this one is dotted with sand dollars, sea pens, and aggregating anemones, many of which have intricately colored radial disks. Translucent tentacles of white, orange, and purple tube-dwelling anemones wave to-and-fro in the surge. Sand-rose anemones are found in deep water near the end of the breakwater. Look for a large anchor in shallow water near the entry as you swim along the breakwater.

There are quite a few rainbow nudibranchs here and they are a real treat to discover. These deep red mollusks are the largest nudibranch found in California waters. They owe their existence to the tube anemones, on which they feed, mate, and lay their eggs. When disturbed, they fly through the water with an undulating motion California Spanish dancer.

So if you have not dived the Breakwater since you were certified, I encourage you to check it out. All of the diver support services you could ever ask for are within an easy walk, and the sea lions and little critters make for a very enjoyable dive.

 

At-A-Glance

Location: At the south end of Cannery Row in the City of Monterey.

Access and Facilities: Fee parking is available at the foot of the Coast Guard Pier and in several large parking lots up the hill from the water. The lots fill up quickly in summer and during salmon season, so plan on getting there by 8 AM on weekends. Access is via a short set of concrete stairs and a wide, calm beach. There are restrooms, fee showers, deli, and a free launch ramp. 

Depth: 10-60 feet

Visibility: 10-30 feet

Skill Level: Novice to advanced

Visibility: 15 to 30 feet

Hunting: None for divers. The Breakwater is part of the Edward F. Ricketts State Marine Conservation Area, where only recreational take of finfish by hook-and-line is permitted.

Photography: Excellent macro photography as well as good opportunities to photograph sea lions and octopuses. Only get your wide-angle lens wet on exceptionally clear days.

Hazards: Divers should watch for boat traffic. This site is the most protected entry in the Monterey Area.

Source:  Bruce Watkins, California Diving News, A Diver’s Guide to Monterey, California

General Guidelines for After Work & Night Dives: To participate in after work dives or night dives, divers must carry a minimum of two lights, one main light and one marker light (usually
attached to the tank valve).  The dive must be terminated if a person experiences a malfunction of his/her light(s).  That is why carrying three lights is strongly recommended so that dive team can continue the dive if one diver’s light ceases to function.  For everyone’s diving pleasure, the club would like to thank all participants for adhering to these recommendations for club dives.

Clean-Up Dive, Saturday, April 17th, 8:00 a.m. San Carlos Beach, Monterey

In 2009, the Monterey Bay Sea Otter’s Dive Club adopted San Carlos Beach within the California Coastal Commission’s ‘Adopt a Beach’ program.  We now organize quarterly beach clean-ups that are both fun for divers and helpful to our environment.

 

It’s that time once again Sea Otters!  We will be picking up debris on the topside of San Carlos Beach as well as underwater along the Breakwater Wall.  We want our adopted beach in tip-top shape.  We will meet at 8:00 at the picnic tables that are close to the beach.  Non-diver guests are always welcome to join us because who doesn’t love a trash-free beach!

 

Peet’s Coffee in Monterey will graciously donate their delicious coffee for this event and there will be perfectly paired doughnuts provided by the MBSO club.  All we have to do is hope for sunshine and a calm sea, which would make this a perfect dive day.

 

Please bring a knife to cut fishing line and a goodie-bag to put your trashy collections in.  If you don’t have a goodie-bag, the club has some that we will happily loan out. 

 

We hope that you will join us in cleaning our beautiful adopted beach.

 

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 MBSO Facebook page!!