Diving For The Spiny
Having newly arrived in California,
I set out to see what new adventures I could encounter in the world of
scuba diving. I was told at a local dive shop that a boat trip to the Channel
Islands off the coast of Southern California was one of the best ways to
go diving. I signed up for a boat dive leaving from Oxnard, with
a local dive shop in Santa Clara. I left for the boat about 5 PM
thinking that I could arrive at Oxnard in plenty of time. Well, it
turns out that California is a bigger state than Maine! Up to that
time, I thought Maine was a pretty big place. It took 6 hours
to drive what I thought was a 3 or 4 hour drive. It would have helped
had I looked at a map.
There were about 12 people already asleep on the boat when I arrived so
I found an empty bunk and tried to sleep although I must say the drive
and the excitement of the next days dive anticipation robbed me of my ability
to just conk off. Lobster season starts on the first Wednesday of
October in California, and this was the Saturday after that so we had high
hope of achieving a catch. I was new at this but I was told that
these lobsters, unlike the New England type were quick as a cat and fast
as lightning when they were about to be cornered. They were the natural
prey of the octopus, and strangely enough, lived symbiotically with the
moray eel! But that is another story in another part of the ocean.
Our guide seemed very knowledgeable and appeared to have led many expeditions
for spiny lobster. We all went over the side and to my surprise the
guide, without so much as a backward look, disappeared into the 60 foot
depths. Well, we never saw the guide again until the end of the dive
and as you may have guessed, he had bagged his limit of lobster.
I succeeded in seeing several fish, some scallops, abalone, but never once
saw a lobster or anything that looked like one. It was an interesting
experience in California diving, and taught me to ask a lot more questions
before committing to a boat dive 300 miles away with an unknown quantity.
As long as I was in California, ( about 15 years), I never really got excited
about lobster diving on the West Coast.