Scientific divers, bug hunters, and warm-water warriors one-and-all, it’s time for Diver Day at Aquarium of the Pacific. Free admission to all certified divers with an urge to explore the underwater world without all the hassle of getting wet. Sponsored by the good people at Sherwood Scuba, this event will also showcase the great underwater work that volunteer divers are doing here in California and offer you the opportunity to get involved and help make a difference in the health of the ocean.
The title sponsor of the event Sherwood Scuba, has started a new initiative called Sherwood Scuba Marine Conservation which supports research and conservation-driven programs across the worlds oceans. Check out their Facebook page and like it to support some really terrific work and to find out how a dive manufacturer can make a difference in protecting the worlds oceans.
Mark your calendar for what will be “fin-tastic” day. See you out there.
There are few things in life that a true Waterman loves more than diving. God, country, and mother do not immediately come to mind. Neither does holding hands nor long, reflective walks on the beach. A dive bar on the other hand is a part of the genetic make-up of every great diver. There is “B-A-R” in their DNA. That’s why I feel like a little piece of me died this week when word came down that the legendary Mermaid Bar in Hermosa Beach has shuttered it’s doors after 70 years.
Smelling of beach sweat and desperation with a decor that probably could give you tetanus just by looking at it, The Mermaid was your one stop shop for ice cold beer and a place to put your feet up and your butt down after a long day on the water. It wasn’t just a smarmy and poorly lit bar either. It was also a place of innovations. There was quarter beer night, dollar pitcher night, and pretty much everyone’s favorite, Blackout night. It was magnificent.
Now I know a lot of you never went to The Mermaid and now, sadly, you never will. I guess the point of this getting all nostalgic and crap is that places like this are where you make memories. Horrible,awful memories. You also make some fun ones as well I suppose but I digress. So let’s say so long to “The Old Maid.” I never figured she’d go out of business. I always assumed she would be torched for the insurance money. Just remember to enjoy your own special dives while you can and then take one last look at The Mermaid.
A quick picture of juvenile GSB currently living the sweet life in Santa Monica at The Heal the Bay Aquarium under the pier. Stop by and check out the baby bass and all the other great exhibits in this tiny ocean educational gem.
Yes. I said it. For the first time ever, someone has described the Garibaldi as whack. Totally whack in fact. Why you ask? Because I think we’ve taken this fine inhabitant of the kelp forest for granted for far too long. First of all, it is the state marine fish of California, no small feat in state where everyone wants to be a star. Suck it Pile Perch.
Secondly, it has a merit-based hierarchy. Males commonly build nests to impress the lady fish when it comes time to reproduce. The females then take a tour of several different nests and decide which nest she likes best and lays her eggs accordingly. Bachelor fish living in their parents spare nest need not apply.
Finally, it is fierce. As the largest member of the damselfish family, it will protect its nest against anyone who gets too close. Size doesn’t matter. Like Hulk Hogan, it will fight anyone, anywhere, at any time during nesting season brother! Let’s go the video:
All in all, a pretty impressive resume for a fish that has enjoyed total protection from collection and fishing since 1995. So when you’re out there and see this orange burst of energy swimming by, enjoy and have more than a little mad respect.
In a time when the future of the worlds oceans is more unsure than at any point in history, we have this day to think about what it really means to have healthy oceans and what it takes to keep them that way. So while we raise a glass or munch some celebratory seaweed, remember that the only way to ensure healthy oceans for our future generations is to stay aware and in turn help raise awareness. The ocean you save may be your own.
I’ve been writing quite a bit lately here and on other sites about the amazing marine life supported by the rapidly aging and soon-to-be-decommissioned oil rigs operating in the waters here in the Southern California Bight. The problem facing the continued survival of these micro environments lies in the fact that there are quite a few marine conservation groups, supported by local communities, pushing for complete removal of the structures and the flourishing ecosystems they support. It’s a really odd confrontation between groups that usually find themselves on the same side of marine issues. On one side you have respected local scientists including Chris Lowe of CSULB and Dan Pondella of Occidental College conducting studies showing the productive and valuable nature of these ecosystems and presenting data that supports maintaining the rigs after their service lives have ended. Then on the other side, they are being challenged by prominent conservation groups such as the Ocean Foundation and the Sierra Club, who are pushing for a complete restoration and removal of the rigs to an original state and holding the oil companies to the agreement they made to remove them entirely. It’s a really unique situation that has supporters of converting the rigs to reefs scrambling.
They have received some recent help. California Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, is proposing a bill that would create a process by which decommissioned rigs would be turned over to the State Lands Commission, with financial support, to maintain these rigs safely as reefs in perpetuity.
On April 17th, Venoco oil announced that they would be ceasing operations on platform Holly, which lies about 2 miles offshore of UCSB in the Santa Barbara Channel. Because the rig is in California state waters, the California State Lands Commission has ordered a complete removal of the rig and capping of the well and restoration of the site to as natural a state as is possible. While this is seen as a big victory by many environmental groups, there are quite a few voices in the ocean community that see leaving some or all of the underwater structure as a way to preserve a unique and burgeoning ecosystem.
So the question is, should we accept the trade-off of keeping some structure in place to preserve these unique ecosystems? I think there is a good argument to do just that. For Throwback Thursday, I’m presenting some pictures of rig Holly from the 1970’s when the amazing animal and plant communities were first being discovered by local divers. Taken by Bob Evans, founder, creator, and the “force” behind the Force Fin, these great photos give an early glimpse into what many people now regard as one of the richest undersea communities you’ll likely encounter.
In this day and age where science is under attack and pristine wild spaces are under threat, the chance to save something so special is something we need to consider. Take a look at these amazing photos and I think you’ll agree.
Today is the first World Tuna Day, celebrating one of our most important fish. With over 80 countries worldwide having tuna fishing fleets, these “lions of the ocean” supply food security and nutrition, economic development, employment, government revenue, livelihoods, culture and recreation to millions of people across the globe.
Some groups are asking that you celebrate by not eating tuna today but I think your time could be better spent reading this letter from the Pew Foundation which gives a frank assessment of the the challenges tuna face moving forward and some successes that scientist and fishery managers are having as they look to protect them.
A lot to think about but I think Tuna are worth it. See you out there.
Okay divers, here comes Shellfish Saturday. Why Shellfish Saturday? Because I love alliteration and time marches on for the California diving lifestyle. Sheep crab is our first installment in what will prove to be a most likely irregular feature on CFD. These spider crabs range from Point Reyes in the north all the way down the Baja Sur peninsula. They are large and in charge for any of you that might have seen them on your undersea adventures with a carapace that can grow to 6 inches and a claw-to-claw span of over 2 feet.
There was once a multi-million dollar fishery for the sheep crab, specifically their claws, but it fell by the wayside in the early 90’s when gill and trammel nets were banned in California waters. Today it is considered by-catch for the most part and apparently spends a great deal of it’s time threatening divers who happen to swim up on them.
Keep your eye out for them when you’re cruising the sandy shallows around the reefs or in some of the submarine canyons that we drop down in to up and down the coast.. They are a real treat to see.
This weeks fish, if it were a boxer, would always be leading with it’s chin. Growing up to 3 feet in length, the bocaccio is instantly recognizable by it tremendously long lower jaw, extending past it’s eye socket into a distinctive bulb-shaped ending. While very popular with anglers and spearos, it’s also showing signs of being over fished, being federally listed under the Endangered Species Act as a species of concern. It’s interesting to note, that like other rockfish and unlike most bony fish, bocaccio give birth to live larval young. The more you know.