June 30, 2011
While the work we are involved with through this internship is terrestrial, Sabrina and I are scientific certified divers. In order to stay certified I need to perform 12 dives each year otherwise I will no longer be considered a scientific diver. Today Jim Haw, head of the ENST department, and Mariah Gill came out to Catalina to dive. Sabrina and I decided to join them on their dives for the day, one at Bird Rock and one at Isthmus Reef both locations I had not previously dived. As we were assembling our gear to get out in one of the skiffs, Gerry came up and said he needed a volunteer for a working dive. I was quite jealous when Sabrina snagged the opportunity to perform her first working dive.
I felt better once I was in the water and saw a thick cover sea grass. We descended along the anchor line to make sure we were secure and found we needed to embed the anchor further into the sea floor. Mariah set about securing the anchor and a startled sea hare inked nearby, surrounding us in a fluorescent purple haze. Once it was properly secured, Mariah took lead on the dive pointing out lobsters, a horn shark and all sorts of sea life. She has a knack for taking her time in the water and finding the most interesting things. I noticed a harbor seal that was swimming around the kelp near us, checking us out but never getting too close or staying in one place long enough for me to show Mariah and Jim. It ended up being a very enjoyable dive that got us back to Wrigley with just enough time to grab lunch at the mess hall.
Our second dive at Isthmus Reef proved to be much more challenging. Since Mariah and Jim were planning on taking the afternoon Miss Christi back to the mainland, the planned dive was expected to be much shorter. However, once Jim was in the water, he checked the anchor and found that it wasn’t secure and Mariah was going to need to stay in the boat since she was the only one who had completed her BoatUS course. We performed a 20 minute dive along the reef, weaving through kelp and we even had enough time to find a moray eel. When we returned to the boat Mariah told us that she couldn’t pull up the anchor, so we descended along the line and found a huge mess of kelp. The leaves were so thick that I could hardly see a few inches and quickly got wrapped up in kelp. After getting free I found Jim using his EMT shears to free the anchor. By the time we were back in the boat with the anchor Jim and Mariah had to scramble to get on the boat before it left at 3:30. Overall it was a fantastic day of diving with the ENST crew that had a few surprises. In my limited experience diving, most of which have been in Big Fisherman’s Cove, every dive is a new experience with something different to see or a new challenge to overcome.