If you haven't heard of Catalina's Blue Caverns, it's because it ain't an easy place to get to. The site is one of California's most strictly protected reserves, where nothing can be taken (including rocks and shells) and even anchoring is prohibited. The current is always going, so divers either need to get their Michael Phelps on or do a drift dive.
Divers willing to make the effort to visit Blue Cavern Point enjoy a pristine dive environment, home to bold sheephead and calico bass. Down near the bottom are the titular caverns that are a rush to explore. Make sure that your lamp is charged up and ready to go! The Blue Cavern dive is certainly a rare one and will certainly make your dive buddies jealous, and for bragging rights you can tell them that you swim like a champ too.
The other dive sight is Eagle Reef, where divers have recently spotted Giant Sea Bass and Eagle rays.The last time I was there, I found myself underneath a massive braid of kelp, where I found hundreds of tiny fish hiding beside me. I was mesmerized by the sight, and my dive buddy had to come and snap me out of it. A wonderful dive.
This past weekend I got to witness rebreather divers in action, so I thought I’d do some research on rebreather technology. Rebreather diving actually predates SCUBA diving by several decades, the first being the Fleuss Rebreather. Invented by Henry Fleuss in 1878, it composed of a breathing bag, a copper tank of oxygen, and a rope soaked in caustic potash that served as a crude carbon dioxide scrubber. This device became an important part of WWII naval operations, and is a milestone in underwater exploration.
Modern rebreathers operate on the same basic principle, though they now are controlled by computer and many divers use some variation of trimix to reach extreme depths. Rebreather diving has always been used by military and commercial divers, mainly because it does not release bubbles. Navy divers needed to be difficult to detect by enemy ships, and commercial divers needed approach fish without spooking them. Most of all, rebreathers can reach immense depths without running out of air.
It wasn’t until the 90’s when rebreathers became available for recreational divers, and even then the costs can be prohibitive. The unit alone costs around 10,000 dollars, and the peripheral equipment can run tens of thousands more. That said, the rebreather can get you places that open circuit diving cannot. One rebreather diver I spoke to this weekend explained to me that California has tons of exciting dive sites that all lie well below recreational dive limits. Sunken battleships, plane wrecks, hidden caves, and other adventures lie in wait of those divers with the commitment and the funds to become rebreather experts.
Here in Los Angeles, and even further away, we’ve had sharks on the brain recently. From the July 5 Manhattan Beach pier shark bite incident, to numerous August juvenile shark sightings—the most dramatic of which prompted temporary San Clemente beach closures—we can’t seem to get these apex predators off our minds. Add to that Discovery Channel’s recent airing of its 27th annual Shark Week, and the impending 40th anniversary of the movie Jaws, and you have a recipe for shark obsession.
Unfortunately, the overall-arching theme of this recent shark fixation is fear. Sharks are often depicted as gigantic, mindless eating machines lurking beneath the waters waiting for their next unsuspecting swimmer snack. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. According to Oceana: “Over the past five years (2006-2010), an average of 4.2 fatal shark attacks have taken place each year world-wide.”
Compare that to the number of sharks killed by humans. New statistics from the most comprehensive study on illegal shark killing ever completed estimate that 100 million sharks are killed every year around the world. This number far exceeds what many shark populations need to recover. Ironically, the sharks should be afraid of us, not the other way around.
With 350 known species that range in size and shape from the great whale shark (40 feet long) to the dwarf shark (6 inches long), sharks are ancient creatures, and have been around longer than any other animal, probably as many as 400 million years. Sharks are beautiful, fascinating creatures for scuba divers to observe underwater. So to quote Bruce-the-shark from the movie Finding Nemo: “I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine.” Sharks are friends. Let’s protect them, not fear them. by Tim Yeo
Join us aboard the Explorer Dive boat for a truly unique diving adventure. . Located on Santa Cruz Island, it is 1227 feet long (nearly a quarter mile!) and 100 feet wide and the entrance ceiling sits at a staggering 160 feet and is easily large enough to take a 40-foot boat inside. It got its name from the colorful rock types, lichens, and algae that cover the interior walls. The cave is home to a ton of different marine species. Since the majority of the cave is protected from the sun, you will get to see marine life species that are generally only viewed during night dives. The surface is accessible for the majority of the cave although it does get quite narrow and closes off in the back. With that said, this is an advanced trip. Advanced certification and a healthy logbook are a must. If you plan on venturing deep into the cave make sure you have the appropriate lights – primary, backup and tank – as it does get quite dark. This is a “weather permitting” trip. 90% of the time the water is crystal clear and still, but as you all know bad weather and conditions are always a possibility with California diving and there are tons of great dive spots on Santa Cruz. We will be doing 2 dives at the painted cave and 1 dive in a “secret spot” specifically chosen by Captain Tony for this trip.
An epic day of diving at Catalina on Sunday, August 10th. The conditions continue to be outstanding with 70 degree water and clear visibility to at least 40 feet; it's almost tropical! The leopard sharks, horn sharks, bat rays, rockfish, and many other species were gracing us with their presence at Emerald Bay and Isthmus Reef. The Garibaldi were especially feisty when we happened to get too close to a nest. A little current kicked up when we dropped down on Isthmus, but it created a fun and easy drift dive condition.