Sláinte! It’s the Fish Friday Gaelic Edition – How about a “Gliomach” with butter?

With Fish Friday falling on St. Patricks Day, I thought I’d take a little creative license and go with the Gaelic name of an invert we’re all familiar with. Say hello to the spiny lobster, a familiar and popular resident of the California Kelp forests. Unlike his Atlantic and Irish counterpart, he is clawless, but the fact remains he is everybody’s favorite dinner guest.

Have a great St. Patricks Day and an even better weekend. See you out there.

 

 

So that’s what the claws are for? Makes sense.

***************Quick reminder, the season ended so take a few minutes to send in your report card results to the CADFW. The information is invaluable and  better data means better management.*********

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Fish Friday – Giant Sea Bass

Stereolepis gigas is truly the King of the Reef. Anyone that’s ever encountered one under the kelp canopy knows. Ranging up to 8 feet from tip to tail and over 5oo lbs, these gentle giants have become more commonly encountered by divers since the the end of gill netting in 1994.  That is a great thing to say the least. So hail to the King. Thank you very much.

Photo by P. Colla

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TBT – The Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Los Angeles County Underwater Unit 1966

A lot of people don’t know this but formal dive training as we know it today was born out of a relationship between the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the County of Los Angeles in the early 1950’s. As a matter of public safety in response to a rash of scuba-related deaths, officials in Los Angeles decided to develop formalized standards and procedures to create a system by which divers could be safely certified. The newly formed County Underwater Unit, looking to pursue a point of authority in the field, reached out to SIO and their Dive Safety Specialist Conrad Limbaugh for help developing standardized training for recreational divers. This resulted in the first formal instructor training program for scuba certification. The rest is history. All, and I mean all,  of the current training agencies and their procedures can be traced directly back to the Los Angeles County program and this pioneering partnership.

The partnership continues as every year the Los Angeles County Underwater Instructor Certification Course returns to SIO for a weekend of hard ocean training and expert lectures. The photo below is from 1966 and it marked the first year the county handed out the Conrad Limbaugh Award, accepted posthumously by Connie’s widow Nancy. This award remains one of the most prestigious honors in diving.

When people ask you where diving started, you can now tell them. See you out there.

In the foreground, the large man walking away is Dr. Glenn Egstrom, Dive Officer Emeritus for the University of California system and a dive master for the 1966 UICC.

2017 UICC Candidates being briefed at Scripps Pier by SIO Diving Safety Officer and 2016 Conrad Limbaugh Award winner Christian McDonald.

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Diver Day at the Aquarium of the Pacific – March 11th

aquarium-of-the-pacificIt’s been such a wet winter in California that we haven’t had much time to get in the water  with our finned friends. The Aquarium of the Pacific wants to help you with your marine withdrawals and is offering free admission to certified divers showing their c-cards and accompanying I.D. There will also be exhibitions by a lot of great local marine scientists and NGO’s talking about the state of California’s ocean and how you can help. It’s a great time to get out with  the ocean community and enjoy a dry day with the fishes.

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For more information, head over to the Diver Day page.

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Ocean Science and Abalone and why trying to bring them back isn’t shellfish

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Red abalone by Peter Haaker, fisheries biologist California Department of Fish and Game

It’s hard to imagine that at one time abalone were as thick as 70’s shag carpet on the rocky reefs of California. Native American coastal tribes, not having actual 70’s shag carpet, gathered them as a staple of their diet and culture. Excavated shell mounds marked the sites of tribal villages along the coastline. Later, Asian immigrants established major fish camps as they started to dive the local shallows in pursuit of this shelled delicacy which later developed into a major commercial fishery after World War 2. In fact, at the peak of the commercial fishery in the 1960’s, California commercial fishermen were landing 4.6 million pounds annually. This was a true ocean love story. Boy meets ab. Boy harvests and sells ab. People saute and then eat ab. It was an ocean fishery success that no one thought could ever end until it did. Serial depletion and natural phenomenon made an unholy alliance that combined to crash the fishery starting in the 1980’s , shutting it down commercially statewide and recreationally south of Pt. Yankee by the mid 90’s.As an end result, over 25 years worth of divers were certified in Southern California not knowing what an abalone was because they’ve never seen one.

As far as biological extinctions go, this one produced mixed results. Die hards could still take them recreationally along the isolated and intimidating north coast. Southern and Central California kind of moved on with both commercial and recreational endeavors becoming more focused on the spiny lobster and red urchin. It was almost as if everyone just kind of threw up their hands and said “okay, what’s next?”

Almost everyone.

It started as kind of a hail Mary. What if we could restore the fishery? What do we need to know to make this happen? How do we then physically do it?  Reseeding hundreds of miles of nearshore habitat with a enough abalone to produce a viable broadcast spawning population seemed, on the surface, pretty far fetched (***Broadcast spawning means all the abs throw their stuff in the air(or water) like they just don’t care and hope there is opposite sex genetic material getting expelled close enough to connect.)

This is when necessity called in those that can try to make it happen. This is when necessity called in the scientists.

Right now in California, there is an amazing array of scientists working on restoration of the abalone population. Work is being done by federal agencies, state institutions, and non profits to study and ultimately restore this missing part of today’s kelp forest landscape. Listed below are just a few of the projects going on that you should know about that are working to make our nearshore waters a healthier, and more importantly, and  a more balanced place. So read a paragraph, learn a little, and think a lot about the types of programs and science you should be supporting. The ocean you save could be your own. See you out there.

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With the collapse of multiple species of abs, there has been the obvious question of what’s first? In California, the white abalone is the first invertebrate to be placed on the Federal Endangered Species list. NOAA scientist are currently studying the collapse of this deeper water ab and collecting brood stock to replenish the population.

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In a joint effort between NOAA and The Santa Monica Bay Foundation, as well as support from The Nature Conservancy, scientist are working to develop methodology and facilities needed to restore abalone in the southern California bight.

 

 

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A very cool and ambitious program that not only is striving to restore native green abalone populations in southern California, but also to create the education component that will help Californians understand why they should care about abalone and why they are important to our oceans health. Here is a great read from the Orange County Register about the great work Nancy Caruso at Orange County’s Get Inspired  is doing.

 

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Yes, We’ve still got Ocean Problems in California – Throw Back Thursday

cfdaltlogoIn a world that seems to be more filled with uncertainty than ever these days, we at California Fine Diving would like to give a little perspective on where we in California are in terms of ocean health. This photo, provided by the Mendocino Historical Society, shows a couple of dapper turn-of-the-20th-century fishermen with what I think we can all agree is a pretty good days effort. From a cursory look, we can probably also agree what they lack in modern fishing technology, they more than make up for with ties and bowler hats. Looking good and fishing good.

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photo provided courtesy of the Mendocino Historical Society

Now I’m not posting this just because it’s a great shot( it is wicked cool though). I’m posting it because It gives us a sense of something we’ve lost in terms of abundance and variety that we’ll probably never get back. Look closely at the picture. There are more giant sea bass(GSB) in this picture from one day of fishing than most divers saw during the entire decade of the 90’s. I’m also not saying all is lost BTW. We are seeing a lot of species making a comeback. Divers regularly see GSB these days even if the populations are probably not back to historic levels that existed when this photo was taken. I’m pointing out by posting this picture, however, that we’ve barely started working our way back to a place where we can say our local waters are as healthy as we want them to be. We have to keep working on it. The only way to do this is to stay involved and active. We can’t count on anyone or any entity other than ourselves. We’re all in this together and the ocean you save will be your own.

Good luck and we’ll see you out there.

Posted in Community service, conservation, Fisherys, Historical Importance, sustainable, Things that have gone bye-bye, Throwback Thursday | Leave a comment

Return of the King

Stereolepis gigas doesn’t sound much like a king’s name. It sounds more like someone you’re going to buy a gyro from. Don’t be deceived however because this is is the scientific handle of one of the most magnificent creatures you’re likely to encounter diving here in California — the Giant Sea Bass(GSB).

kingAptly named because it is actually quite giant, this highly protected species seems to be making a bit of a comeback from it’s darkest day in the early 80’s when California DFG(now the DFW) officials were scrambling to protect this vulnerable and venerable giant from rod and spear. Following a ban on gill netting in nearshore waters in 1994, sightings increased and  casual observations over the past 10 to 15 years seem to indicate that this king of the kelp forest is making a comeback. To get real answers, GSB turned to real scientists and the process of collecting relevant data has been carried out in earnest. As a result, we now know a lot more about the life cycle of the GSB than we ever did before and are therefore better equipped to conserve this magnificent creature. One of the lead scientist in the study of Giant Sea bass, Dr. Larry Allen, Biology department Chair at Cal State Northridge and leading GSB expert, is giving a presentation at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium on February 3 to discuss what we now know about the GSB and  their chances for recovery. Presented by Alta Sea, this a great chance to learn more about our impact on the animals of the kelp forest and how we can make a difference through community based programs such as the Giant Sea Bass Collective organized through a joint program between CSUN and UCSB. It looks to be a great evening and best of all it’s free. So don’t be a uniformed bump on the log. Get out of the rain and down to San Pedro. We look forward to seeing you out there.

Discovery Lecture Series
presented by AltaSea and Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Friday, February 03, 2017
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

The Return of the Kelp Forest King

By Dr. Larry G. Allen, California State University, Northridge

Larry is currently Chair and Professor of Biology at California State University Northridge. He has co-authored and edited many publications on the biogeography and ecology of marine fishes of the Pacific coast of North America including the books, “The Ecology of Marine Fishes: California and Adjacent Waters” and “A Field Guide to the Coastal Fishes from Alaska to California.” Dr. Allen will discuss the information that he and his graduate students have compiled on the demise and recent return of the apex predator of California’s southern kelp forests, the Giant Sea Bass, Stereolepis gigas.

Click here for teacher resources related to this lecture.

Please RSVP to: lecture@cmaqua.org

Copyright (c) Phillip Colla, all rights reserved worldwide

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