Friday, October 12, 2012

For the Love of the Ocean!

Well, this week I turned 37! It seems like there is so much I haven't done in my life! Yes, I know that 37 isn't overly old but I like to live life to the fullest!

This week I took advantage of several birthday deals that go on around our birthdays. The first was at one of my favorite restaurants, Benihana's! During the month of your birthday, you get to use a $30 gift card to use at any of their locations, Monday thru Thursday. Yummy!

The second of my birthday treats was a free trip to Catalina on the fast Catalina Express on my birthday! That save me $70!  Since I spent much of my childhood on the Island, it was like going home. There are so many things to do on the Island with or without children. Since my husband and I made a date of it, we did our favorite thing, SCUBA diving.

The Channel Islands have some of the best SCUBA diving in the world! We have kelp forests that are abundant in colors and sea life.  While you won't find coral reefs here, you do find the cooler water equivalent in sea fans, tube worms, kelp beds, and much more! As we approached Casino Point in Avalon, we enjoyed the beauty of the historical town.


We rented our tanks at the dive truck at the point and suited up. Conditions could not have been much better! The water temp was 76 at the surface and about 71 at the thermocline. We could see past 50 feet clearly and we saw a lot! As we entered, we saw a sting ray swimming away and we persued it to no avail to take pictures of it. It was too fast to get a good picture but we found ourselves in areas that we didn't usually go so we explored.

We saw so many different species of fish! First of all, abalone, which is a protected species because of overfishing and disease, we're all over the park! I had never seen so many! In many of the holes with the abalones, we're the Pacific Spiny Lobster! Yummy! :-) While it is lobster season, we were in a preserve and most of them were too short to be legal. Looking in more holes, we found Moray Eels. While they have sharp teeth, they just wanted to be left alone. One even smiled at us!


Towards the end of our first dive, I looked into another crevice and discovered a Horn Shark sleeping side by side with a sculpin! It was a sight to see as it looked like they were snuggling.

While we surfaced, got more air and returned to the water, we dove out to a sunken ship. Not as glorious as it sounds but fun never the less. There was no sunken treasure but we did see a lot of species of fish.

Garibaldi's were plentiful as our state fish. They are hard to miss since they are bright orange! Calico Bass were in abundance as well.  A few rarer fish we located were the Dragon Wrasse'  and Swell Shark egg case with baby inside. Sheepshead fish are interesting, all of them are born female but when they reach maturity, they hange according to the need of the population. The males grow a larger head and turn red and black where the females stay a neutral color.



It is not unusual to find sea lions or harbor seals frolicking in the kelp but none were seen that day.

While diving is an adult activity, children 10 to 14 may get junior certifications and are allowed to dive with experienced adults and stay above 40 ft in depth. If you want to bring your younger children with you to Catalina, there are plenty of things for them to do. Snorkeling is almost as good as diving! Casino Point and Lovers Cove both have lots to see.

I hope that by sharing my love of the ocean, maybe it might help someone take that step into learning to dive or snorkel. It is a world that cannot be experienced, even in an aquarium!

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