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!!

Club Dive, Saturday, May 22nd, 8:00 a.m. Monastery North, Carmel

North Monastery is one of those rare places where you can do a short kick from shore and go as deep as you would like to possibly dive. The huge granite boulders drop off at 60 degrees into the black abyss of the deep-water trench that comes very near the shore. It is possible to see the usual rockfish and perch and an abundance of lingcod that seem to thrive and grow large in this marine protected area.

This is an ADVANCED dive and divers that come here should be prepared for a more challenging entry and exit in course gravel. We will talk about some strategies for safely diving here on the steep beach that has humbled even the most experienced divers at times. Because this can also be a deep dive, we recommend that only experienced divers attend this club dive.

If conditions are not agreeable we will retreat to our sure-thing dive location, San Carlos Beach.

RSVP if you are coming by email to info@montereybayseaotters.org, and meet at the dirt parking strip along HWY 1,  at the North end of the beach.

After-Work Dive, Wednesday, June 9th, 6:30 a.m. San Carlos Beach, Monterey (Breakwater)

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 similar to the 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.

RSVP if you are coming by email to info@montereybayseaotters.org, and meet at the stairs at the top of the beach.

 

Club Dive, Saturday, June 26th, 8:00 a.m.   Stillwater Cove, Pebble Beach

AT-A-GLANCE

Skill level: Beginner or better.

Location: Along the 17-mile drive in Pebble Beach.

Access: By boat from Monterey or via the beach near the Pebble Beach Clubhouse.

Facilities: Public parking toilets, boat and kayak launching at the clubhouse.

Entry and Exit: Best to dive from a boat or kayak.

Depth range: 10 to 50 feet

Conditions: Predictably very calm

Visibility: 10 to 30 feet

Photography: Good macro photography for nudibranchs and other small invertebrates. Also good for fish portraits.

Cautions: Watch for thick kelp and boat traffic.

One of Monterey’s charter boat captains kept a record of his customers’ favorite dive sites. Each year the site that received the greatest number of votes was, not surprisingly, Stillwater Cove. This is one of the most protected sites in the Monterey/Carmel area and has a lot of marine life to please the most discriminating diver.

Stillwater Cove lies on the north side of Carmel Bay, and the cove is in the lee of Pescadero Point. When the prevailing northwesterly winds blow this is one of the calmest spots around, and the predictably placid waters rightfully give this site its name. Much of the cove bottom is sand, sprinkled with a rocky patch reef. In the center of the cove are the massive Pescadero Rocks. The best diving is on the south side of the rocks and on the massive wall just south of the rocks.

About 100 feet from Pescadero rocks the bottom drops from 30 to 50 feet in a massive wall that runs nearly 100 yards; many call this Dali’s Wall. Much of the wall looks like it was once vertical and flat, and then someone with a massive ice cream scoop carved out short caves, undercuts, and shallow depressions. It’s more like diving underneath a wall than alongside one. The rock surfaces are adorned with encrusting sponges in hues of cobalt red and yellow. On the west side of the wall is a float that marks the location of an underwater statue.

The nooks and crannies of the wall harbor an assortment of photogenic invertebrates and fishes. It is a good idea to carry a flashlight so you can see what is hiding deep in the cracks. Look for small sculpins, gobies and rockfish underneath the ledges. This cove is heavily fished, so you won’t see many large game fish; but it is a great place to find and photograph juvenile rockfish, cabezon and lingcod. A large wolf eel is often found in one of the larger cracks. Just look for a pile of empty shells, and follow the trail up to find the wolf eel’s den.

Blue-ring top snails and orange cup corals are easy to find due to their bright colors. However, you should take your time swimming along the wall as some of the more beautiful critters are well camouflaged and would prefer not to be seen. Look for decorator crabs, as well as mollusks whose shells are covered with bryozoans or anemones. Chestnut cowries are commonly found here, and have beautiful mantles.

The shallow area around Pescadero Rocks is covered with intensely colorful marine life – carpets of red, strawberry anemones, giant green and blood red fish-eating anemones, as well as yellow and cobalt sponges. Here live an abundance of hermit and decorator crabs and shrimp.

This area is also a great place to observe and photograph nudibranchs. The simple dorids such as the lemon and Monterey nudibranch are here in abundance. Photos of orange and white clown nudibranchs, gaudy red and white Hilton’s and ostentatious Dendronotids will wow your friends. These creatures are intrinsically photogenic, but it is a real treat to find them in colorful backgrounds, or doing nudibranch things — like feeding or mating. There are also “near nudibranchs,” like the berthella. These do not have exposed gills and are therefore not nudibranchs.

Many dive Stillwater Cove from one of Monterey’s charter boats, and small inflatable boats and dive kayaks may be launched from the pier or beach. Diving from the beach is limited to 10 divers per day, and there is public parking along the hedges by 17th fairway. There are six parking spots for beach access that may be reserved up to 14 days in advance. There is a loading/unloading area, but incoming traffic may be limited 11 a.m. and 2 a.m. at the discretion of the harbormaster. A pier and boat hoist is available for recreational craft, from May 1 through September 30, with a limit of 10 boats per day. Diving, sunbathing, and picnicking are permitted during daylight hours only, and only on the beach east of the pier. Call (831) 625-8507 and ask for the Harbor Master for reservations and additional information. You will need to pay for access to the 17-Mile Drive.

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

There is a $10 gate fee to gain access into Pebble Beach, but you can often get this waived by telling them you are heading for the coastal access.  At any rate, the free hot showers that we can use post-dive are worth the cost of admission!  Once you are done diving, you should plan to drive the entire world-famous 17 Mile Drive loop!

Directions:  Located in the heart of Pebble Beach, the drive here is worth the effort, even if you are not going to dive!  Drive South of Carmel on Highway 1 to Ocean Ave. Take Ocean Ave West and turn right on San Antonio Ave.  Wind your way North until you find yourself on Carmel Way.  You will soon intersect with the famous 17 Mile Drive.  A gate guard will welcome you and may relieve you of some money for the privilege of hobnobbing with the Rich and Famous.  Travel North West for about 1 mile, and turn left on Palmero Way.  Travel approximately 1/2 mile and then make a left on to Cypress Drive for about 1/8 of a mile which ends at Stillwater Cove.

RSVP if you are coming by email to info@montereybayseaotters.org, and meet at the stairs at the top of the beach.