March 12th is Diver Day at the Aquarium of the Pacific

You like looking at fish and don’t really feel like getting wet and then having to clean your gear? If so, then today is the day for you. Bring your c-card and your singular sense of looking at fish and you’re in for a great day. Click on the link below to get directions to a ridiculously large and obvious property in Long Beach that even my four year old can find. GO Go go. It’ll be fun.

Swim like the wind to Diver Day at the Aquarium of the Pacific

Scuba Divers are saving Palos Verdes and they need your help

Gorg_kelpbass_Garibaldi_P. Colla
The kelp forest we all deserve

As divers, we take for granted sometimes that there are people out there trying to protect the ocean for us. We assume that when there is a major issue or event like the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that every acronym in the government and science community is going to leap up and solve it, and for the most part they try to do just that. But what about the gradual declines of ecosystems that take years to happen and often longer to make right?  Who deal with those problems. It might surprise you to know that in Los Angeles, divers like you are the ones making a difference.

Located on eastern most tip of Los Angeles County, the  Palos Verdes Peninsula is a special place to divers. It’s where scuba first took off in America over 70 years ago and why not? It was beautiful with lush kelp forest teeming with life,  providing both a physical and spiritual bounty to the adventurous new underwater water explorers diving it. It was almost too good to last so naturally it didn’t. Between it’s proximity to the largest commercial port on the West Coast, a local population with millions of people and growing,  and it’s role as super convenient chemical dump site for Monsanto, we pretty much managed to turn this underwater paradise into a visual study of what the moon might look like under 80 feet of water. Now fixing a problem like a burnt out light bulb is easy. When the old bulb is gone, replace it with a new one. Replacing, repairing, and protecting hundreds of hectares of burned out kelp forest isn’t quite that easy.

There have been lots of work done over the past 45 years by a lot of different groups and organizations to repair and restore this once pristine ocean habitat. Success has been limited despite the effort but right now there is group of recreational divers and a concerned and dedicated conservation group working to change all that.

Working hard to protect the kelp

Ian Jacobson is the Kelp Project Coordinator for Los Angeles Waterkeeper, an organization dedicated to insuring the quality of water in and around the county of Los Angeles. He’s more than a scientist however. More accurately, he’s a leader,  working with a well-trained team of volunteer divers to restore the denuded kelp forests along the Palos Verdes Peninsula. If he hasn’t got his team controlling an out-of-control purple urchin population, then he’s got them planting giant kelp stipes or vacuuming invasive sargassum(an evil invasive weed). There is always plenty to do and making headway towards recovery is a constant struggle. And it never stops. When work needs to be done, it needs to be done. And it’s paid off handsomely. Over 15 acres of kelp forest have been repaired to become the amazing habitat it once was. For more information about this successful program you can look here.

So what’s the problem and how can all divers help? Simple.  Working with volunteers isn’t as cheap as it sounds and the overhead can really add up. Funding is always an issue. Right now the Los Angeles Waterkeeper  Kelp Project is in a financial crisis. They need $20,000 to sustain the project until Spring when new funding to continue their work off Palos Verdes will become available. Good ideas and volunteers are always welcome as well. The team is always looking for helping hands.

I’ve always been a big believer that divers are the best stewards of the ocean that any community has. We get so much pleasure from our escapes beneath the waves that it’s only natural that we would want to protect our marine paradise. Supporting the Kelp Restoration Project and Ian’s team is a great way to do it. And some day, when the waters off the peninsula are once again home to magnificent kelp forests supporting the marine life it’s supposed to, you’ll know, when it mattered, you made a difference.

See you all out there.

Los Angeles Waterkeeper has set up a funding page at to make donating easy. Give early and give often.


Learn more about how Los Angeles is protecting its water.



A New Year’s Dive Report —- The Ocean is Closed!

Rocky EntryDespite how happy these throwback Los Angeles County Instructors look, most divers are bummed to be on the beach for at least the first few weeks of the New Year. When it does open up, remember to be safe and pick your entries.Until then, those of us at CFD remind you to stay cozy and we look forward to seeing you out there.

It’s Lobster Season ….again. Some simple rules to followish.

Nothing to see here. Move along.
The guests of honor

Hi Kids. It’s lobster time again here in the southern California bight and with divers massing to make their first jump at midnight(and last at God knows when), let’s take a minute to think before we stride. I’ve put together a list of gentle diving suggestions that might help make this a memorable and/or enjoyable experience.

So from the top;

  1. Diving at midnight is just a horrible idea. You’ve worked all week and hustled home to get your ship together to make an island-bound boat or meet up with your buddies to ply the local waters. Then you end up waiting around to take life sustaining equipment into the dark recesses of the Pacific at a point where you would normally be in bed. Why? Tomorrow you can dive at 7:30 pm and be home by 11. Camaraderie and seafood is overrated.
  2. Anyone who tells you that the big bugs are hiding beneath the bull kelp is lying. They are not there. They were never there. They will never be there. They are also not really deep. Don’t be a diving shmuck. They are by the same spots you saw them hiding back when you dove the same area during the daytime.
  3. It’s not a race. Bug fever is anti-social behavior. Shoving people by the gate doesn’t help get you any more lobsters. It only makes you a douche. Relax. It’s a big ocean.
  4. If you’re standing at the gate wondering why you are getting ready to take a giant stride for your 3rd dive of the night at 3:54 am, turn around and take a forward roll into your bunk. Sleep to dive another day.

I know this may take some of the romance out of opening night but it’s a long season. Pace yourself and enjoy it. I think it was Lloyd Bridges who famously said “He who sleeps and snuggles away can always dive on Saturday.” Or maybe it was my 3 year old daughter. Either way, if you head out, be safe and follow the rules. No bug is worth getting a ticket or said ticket punched for.

Monday mornings come way to early after a fun weekend
This is what Saturday looks like after an all night hunt. You resort to drinking bud light. Yuckitty.

About a Boy and his Goby

It’s kind of hard these days to not to notice that California is in year 4 of severe drought. Lawns are getting browner, reservoirs are getting shallower, and my wife still isn’t buying my failure to wash her car as “conscientious water conservation.” Everything and everybody is struggling in one way or another as we march on through the dog days of Summer, praying for the El Nino to come and flood the living crap out of us.

Tidewater Goby by Brenton Spies

As divers, we can feel safe knowing that our watery ocean playground is safe but what about the estuaries and wetlands bordering our coastline?  With over 90% of Southern California’s coastal wetlands already lost to development and other man-made concerns, we can’t afford to lose more. Last night at the G2 Gallery in Venice, concerned citizens checked in with local scientists for the latest word on how these unique and critical ecosystems are faring.  The highlight of the evening was provided by Brenton Spies, a scientist working out of the Jacobs’ Lab at UCLA. Working on the impact physical processes can have on water quality, community structure, and the presence/absence of endangered fauna, Brenton’s studies have taken him to all of the approximately 375 various wetlands in California. In particular, Spies uses the tidewater goby, a particularly tough and adaptive species, as the vehicle by which he helps explain his journey up and down the state studying this unique ecosytem. While stopping short of calling them proverbial canaries, Spies indicated that healthy populations of goby’s were consistent with and indicative of healthy wetlands. The takeaway wasn’t very heartening in some respects. 4 years of drought have really been hard on local wetlands but they are resilient systems and can bounce back as long as water conditions improve.

One of the real treats at the event was a chance to see first hand the photographic documentation of California’s coastal wetlands by Brenton. A talented photographer, Spies work will be on display at the G2 Gallery through September 27th. I highly recommend you check it out.

Lagoon Sunrise by Brenton Spies now on display at the G2 Gallery in Venice. Click here for more information

Thanks to Heal the Bay, their Chief Aquarist Jose Baccallo,  and Watershed Scientist Katherine Pease for helping make this both a fun and informative night

Find out how you can help by heading over to Heal the Bay

It’s World Oceans Day. Hug a Garibaldi.

It’s World Ocean Day and time to think about something that gives us all so much pleasure. It’s also time to think of what you can do to help protect our oceans. Below are groups working in the state of California doing just that. Think about donating a little time or money. The lobster you save might be your own. #worldoceansday.

Save our Shores – caring for the marine environment through ocean awareness, advocacy, and citizen action

Los Angeles Waterkeeper – Our mission is to protect and restore Santa Monica Bay, San Pedro Bay, and adjacent waters through enforcement, fieldwork, and community action

Heal the Bay – When we protect the watersheds in which we all live, from the most inland neighborhood streets to the furthest edge of the sea, we protect our own well being.

Gorg_kelpbass_Garibaldi_P. Colla

All Drains Lead to the Sea….or in this instance King Harbor

That’s not right

I couldn’t help but think of the film “Finding Nemo” as I walked into Naja’s on Kings Harbor yesterday. For one thing, I’m always thinking of “Finding Nemo.” To explain, I have a 2 year-old daughter who loves the movie and lately it feels like we are always either watching it or talking about it. Always. Yesterday was different however. It wasn’t about Nemo, or Marlin, or Bruce, Or Dory, or Crush et al(shoot me please).  It was all about the white milky liquid that was diffusing out into the harbor , transforming my picturesque ocean view into the environmental equivalent of spilt milk, and by spilt milk I meant a chemical dump.


Nothing says romance like a beautiful ride in a gondola on a milky white waterway.
The crew that got it done.

It was ugly in the harbor. The noontime crowd of yachties and tourists, rousted out of their midday malaise,  were visibly upset to see what was happening to the normally picturesque waterway.  The fear of unabated dispersal of whatever this chemical was palpable. Okay maybe not palpable but it was still concerning. Then, when things seemed darkest and hope was almost lost(roughly half an hour later give or take), help finally arrived. It was the city of Redondo Beach public works. And then the RB Fire department.And then the RBFD Harbor Patrol. And then department of Fish and Wildlife. And then the Coast Guard.  Everybody got on site and did there jobs. Booms were dropped and pipes were cleaned. They all seemed to be working smoothly together. It was very confusing. Within, 2 hours, the crisis was averted and the problem dealt with. It great to watch . I later found out from an official on the scene that the cause of the spill was some moron decided to get rid of a couple gallons of paint by dumping it in the storm drain. They didn’t catch the person of course but luckily the paint was water soluble. Thanks to quick action by the appropriate agencies yesterday, a crisis of then unknown magnitude was averted. It could have been a lot worse.

Works crews tearing it up to get to the problem







All drains lead to the sea but you might want to think twice about King Harbor today

I guess to bring it all back around it really does come down to Nemo and my 2 year-old daughter. The next time you see someone dumping something into the gutter or fertilizing a lawn and them over-watering it, remind yourself what Gill the Moorish Idol knew all too well.

To report illegal dumping/discharges, anywhere in Los Angeles County, into the storm drain system, call 1(888)CLEAN LA, 24 hours per day. For more information, visit the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Website, see the “Don’t Trash California” campaign, and get more information on keeping our neighborhoods, oceans, and local waterways clean.


Hog Island Oysters with Chipotle Horseradish Barbecue Sauce

A plate full of shell-packed goodness.
A plate full of shell-packed goodness.

I’ve spent a lot of time head down along the north coast searching for the ever delicious red abalone. Whether or not I pried one off the bottom, I still had to eat dinner. Lucky for all of us is that Nor Coast is also home to some of the the finest aquaculture products you’ll ever enjoy. So if you don’t score a few big red’s you can always enjoy some locally  raised oysters to fill the gap. Hog Island is the central place for aquaculture up north and they’ve provided us with a great way to enjoy their product.  This recipe is a perfect for an afternoon get together or even a formal fiesta. So get a grill, pop a beer, and enjoy a north coast treat.

So here is how you do it…

What you need for about 24 oysters:

  • 1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce
  • 5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup clover honey
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground horseradish
  •  Sea salt  and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 24 large oysters
  • A nice loaf of bread for dipping


1. Place the first 7 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Let the sauce cool and add in the horseradish. Salt and pepper to taste and set aside to let the flavors really meld.

3. Shuck your oysters and flip them in the bottom shell being careful not to lose the brine. it helps to put them on a flat try when your done for transport to the grill.

4. Fire up your grill to high and get ready to lay your shucked oysters.

5. Lay out your oysters with 1 tbsp of the sauce on top and cook for about 5 minutes with the lid down.

Some would say it’s a a little spicy, just like the author. I however would say I’m tall and really tasty, just like this recipe. So get to it. You can get great farmed oysters everywhere so make a batch for Memorial Day. You’ll be glad you did. Serve hot with bread and a nice white wine or IPA and make any day a special one.


Deco Stop – The Marlin Club in Avalon

Looking for a beer after a long day of diving and trying to find the kind of place where you can stand around in your boxers, enjoying one in a non-judgmental temple of apathy? Or are you looking for the type of place where you can randomly ask Mary Stuart-Masterson about that movie she did back in the 80’s with Eric Stoltz and Lea Thompson? (the delightful “Some Kind of Wonderful” FYI).  If you can answer yes to both those questions, then you might be ready for the adventure that is The Marlin Club.

image001Located just off the main drag on Catalina Ave in Avalon, TMC is the oldest bar on the island and is what we here at CFD refer to as a character bar. Not that it has character but rather that it is filled with characters. You never know who is going to be in there. Yachties, divers, rugby players and Hollywood-types are just a few of the diverse clientele you’re likely to run into on a given Saturday night. Heck, the bartenders even live upstairs. That being said,  it’s really a very non-intimidating place the lacks the feeling of desperation you’re likely to find in some of the other night spots on the island.

As for decor, it’s a non-descript theme that revolves around the boat-shaped bar with stools that always seem to be filled,  no matter the time of day. Standard selection of beer, wine and spirits will keep you going including one of the few beer taps on the island. (It’s Michelob for some inexplicable reason.) There are your standard pool, darts and pinball to entertain as well as a couple of tv’s but the main attraction is the crowd. Usually loud but almost always friendly, it’s the type of place you’ll end up talking to the most random people but it will be entertaining I promise.

Anyone for fancy mer-people restrooms?

The sheriffs usually make last call around 1:30. At least it seems that way. That being said, once you experience The Marlin Club, it’ll leave a mark. That mark will sometimes be spiritual while other times being an actual mark.  It’s the spiritual one however,  that I’m sure will have you  following the interesting looking crowd back, time and time again, to The Marlin Club.






A link to one of the most impressive websites I’ve seen in 1997.