Diving the California Oil Rigs, Part 1
(This is a continuation of my previous post on the California oil rigs.)
The platforms are formidable structures both above and below the water.
The water was green and murky at the rigs this weekend, with visibility in the 15-foot range. The vis did start to open up below about 100 feet (our maximum depths were around 110-120'), but it was pretty dark down there. Sea lions would occasionally dart around us, but never came sufficiently close for us to see more than silhouettes.
I had never dove in the California open ocean before and I was blown away with how huge the fish were. I didn't see this 15" rockfish until I was almost on top of it.
Even the Garabaldi were massive. Usually, their territoriality is kind of cute, but I would not want to be bitten by this 1' male.
The underwater structure of the rigs is completely covered with strawberry anemones and fist-sized scallops. We came armed with fishing licenses and catch bags; unfortunately, however, our boat captain informed us that fishing was not permitted that day.
White Metridium anemones also grew on the rig. I've only seen Metridium growing in two sites in Southern California: here, on the rigs, and on the HMCS Yukon in San Diego. Farther north, Monterey Bay is well-known for its field of Metridium just off the breakwater.
One of the coolest things we saw out on the rigs were salps. These cyclosalpa were about six inches across and swam around the structure in colonies of six or seven, constantly changing the formation. Sometimes they swam in a cluster, other times in a chain, and occasionally they even connected to form a ring.
See Diving the California Oil Rigs, Part 2 here.