Operation: Black Sea Nettle is a success!

Black Sea Nettle in Point Loma kelp beds, San Diego, California

One of my (many) favorite things about scuba diving in San Diego is the constant turnover of animal populations. I've lived and dove here for less than a year, and already I've been witness to the market squid run and the bat ray invasion. I was there when the juvenile rockfish moved in at La Jolla Shores, and I've seen many of the various local nudibranch species come and go. Just yesterday, I caught myself missing the baby horn sharks that were out and about all winter (though it was cool when they grew up, and I finally understood why they are called horn sharks!). It's still unclear to me which of these population shifts are predictable and seasonal, and which are truly rare and special--they're still all special to me.

With this in mind, I have to admit that I approached the recent Black Sea Nettle bloom with no small degree of trepidation. Giant stinging jellyfish arriving in droves in our local waters? No thanks. I sat back and dove vicariously from the safety of my living room, surfing others' photos with ever-increasing envy. It wasn't until I realized a. how rare these blooms are (only a handful of sea nettle blooms have been documented in Southern California) and b. that the bloom was nearly over, that I realized I didn't want to miss it. I got on one of Marissa Charters' kelp diving trips just this past Sunday for Operation: Black Sea Nettle.

The Black Sea Nettle bloom is old news by now, and boat crew and passengers alike humored my ambition to get a BSN photo of my very own and chuckled at my enthusiasm. Fortunately, I hadn't waited too long, and the operation was a success. I went down the anchor chain into some gross, mucky visibility, and resisted the urge to switch to my macro lens. That's when I saw it--a BSN drifting right at me! (I might have squealed. Fortunately, there were no witnesses.)

Yeah, he looked like someone had been snacking on his head (there were a few notable holes), and yeah, his tentacles weren't in such great shape, but he was right by the anchor, and he was all mine! I spent a good half-hour slapping away salps and chasing this little guy (who was alive, but definitely on his last... legs) around. Feeling pretty victorious, I let him go about his business and started to ascend near the anchor chain.

Black Sea Nettle in Point Loma kelp beds, San Diego, California

Black Sea Nettle in Point Loma kelp beds, San Diego, California

I was up in the kelp canopy when I saw another, much healthier one! This jellyfish was bigger and had all its parts intact. Awesome! After firing off about a trillion frames, I just hovered there and watched it for a while. Really neat, really beautiful. I'm so happy I got to see them.

Black Sea Nettle in Point Loma kelp beds, San Diego, California

Black Sea Nettle in Point Loma kelp beds, San Diego, California

Black Sea Nettle in Point Loma kelp beds, San Diego, California

Black Sea Nettle in Point Loma kelp beds, San Diego, California

Black Sea Nettle in Point Loma kelp beds, San Diego, California

You can bet I'll be first in the water the next time these crazy animals come back to town!

 

 


5 Responses to “Operation: Black Sea Nettle is a success!”

  1. jami says:

    Awesome! Side note, I would never judge you for squealing, I would have probably been squealing too right next to you….add in my underwater happy dance and you see why I embarrass a few of my buddies sometimes. haha

    · July 31, 2012 @ 9:11 am

    Reply

    • Ashley says:

      ha! I know you wouldn’t judge!

      I was just imagining how ridiculous the underwater squeal would become if I ever end up in a rebreather! You can TALK through those things!

      · July 31, 2012 @ 10:26 am

      Reply

  2. alissa apel says:

    So pretty!!!

    · July 31, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

    Reply

  3. It always amazes me that something so beautiful can be so deadly.

    · July 31, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

    Reply

  4. Emily says:

    These are stunning! I love the colors and the mood. Thank you for sharing!

    · August 1, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

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