Diving For The Spiny Lobster

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.