When the visibility gets tough, the tough find nudibranchs
San Diego Nudibranchs
A swell that has been plaguing the San Diego coastline with rough surf (seemingly forever...) finally subsided late last week, just in time for our scheduled Easter Sunday boat dive. Visibility was severely compromised, though, as a result of the extended period of rough ocean conditions. The water was green and murky... and notably quite cold as well (51F). Pretty much the only thing you can do in low-vis conditions like these is look for the little stuff (nudibranchs!) on the rocks, so that's what we did!
We began the morning at Dino Head, a dive site on the edge of the Point Loma kelp beds. The site is so named for a rock formation that is thought to look like the head of a Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur. I can't speak to the resemblance, however, because in the ~6 feet of visibility we had, we never found it! Instead, we spent the dive circling around a rock pinnacle and spotting common San Diego nudibranchs such as the Spanish Shawl, the yellow-edged Cadlina, the Sea Lemon, and Hermissenda crassicornis.
Our second dive was on The Acropolis dive site, also in the Point Loma kelp beds. The reef structure here is said to resemble the seats in a Greek amphitheater. I clearly lack sufficient imagination to see the resemblance, but it was a really nice site nonetheless! It had a depth of about 60 feet, with light kelp and a rocky floor. The visibility also opened up to 10+ feet, which was a pleasant surprise, though I still stuck mostly to my macro lens. We were able to see some slightly bigger animals on this dive, such as spiny lobster, sheephead, and painted greenling. We also found plenty more nudibranchs.
Sometimes it takes a little bit of extra composure to descend into murky water with few or no visual references until you're within feet of the bottom. It can be disconcerting, to say the least... but you can still see lots of cool macro life with just a few feet of visibility. I'm learning not to discount these types of conditions, since low visibility doesn't mean the dive can't still be great. Hopefully, the swell model will continue to be favorable, and the water will keep clearing up!