Diving San Diego’s Wreck Alley and Kelp Forest

Metridium on HMCS Yukon

I spent Memorial Day diving with my friends at San Diego dive boat Marissa Charters in Wreck Alley and the Point Loma kelp beds. It's always nice to be out on the boat, but Monday was amazing! We had great weather topside and pretty good visibility out on our dives!


HMCS Yukon

HMCS Yukon is a Canadian destroyer that was sunk in 2000. She was cleaned and prepared for divers, with big holes cut for diver swim-through, and towed out into the harbor in preparation for sinking at a public ceremony. Yukon had her own plan, though, and sank on her own the night before the ceremony. Instead of landing upright, she hit the sand on her port side in about 100' of water, effectively blocking half the swim-through holes. As such, diving the wreck can be a little disorienting; walls are floors, and floors are walls. Here's Jami of Underwater Paparazzi shooting on the top deck:

Jami (Underwater Paparazzi) on the HMCS Yukon


Yukon is covered in Metridium anemones. These beautiful, fluffy white anemones are not common in Southern California at this relatively shallow depth, but rather are more often found in the colder waters of northern California and the Pacific Northwest. I've heard speculation before that the anemones could have come south with the ship!

Metridium on the HMCS Yukon

Metridium on HMCS Yukon

Sheep crab in Metridium anemones

HMCS Yukon

The Yukon is always a pleasant dive, but we were treated to a special surprise near the end. We were returning to the mooring line on the forward guns, and I saw Jami pointing and gesturing wildly. I couldn't figure out what she was so excited about, and then I saw it... a Mola Mola!

Mola Mola on the Yukon

I've only seen Molas once before, on the oil rigs off Long Beach. It was very cool to see one again!

Mola Mola on the Yukon

Ruby E

Our second dive was on the Ruby E, another frequent stop on the San Diego wreck diving circuit. She was a Coast Guard cutter intended to intercept alcohol shipments during Prohibition. However, by the time construction was completed, Prohibition had ended, and the Coast Guard sent her to Alaska. Some years later, she was decommissioned and sold, and began her new life as a fishing boat in Central and South America. Ironically, she ended up running drugs there, and was seized and sold to begin yet another new life as a salvage vessel. When the new owners couldn't pay their loans, she was repossessed and eventually donated to the artificial reef program in San Diego's Wreck Alley. After a struggle, she sank--unknown to those attempting to sink it, hidden sealed compartments from her drug smuggling days were trapping air--and now rests in about 85 feet of water. As older wreck (sank in 1989), the Ruby E is more degraded than the Yukon. I personally enjoy the Ruby because she's absolutely swarming with nudibranchs! Lots of Hermissenda crassicornis were in attendance. I especially enjoyed how they camouflaged themselves with the strawberry anemones...

Hermissenda crassicornis on the Ruby E

Hermissenda crassicornis on the Ruby E


But they were also cute when they hid in kelp...

Hermissenda crassicornis on the Ruby E


Or just hung out in plain sight.

Hermissenda crassicornis on the Ruby E


An obligatory shot of a Spanish Shawl, flapping around in the surge:

Spanish Shawl nudibranch on the Ruby E


And a Tritonia festiva.

Tritonia festiva nudibranch on the Ruby E


Finally, some Triopha catalinae:

Clown nudibranch on the Ruby E


Clown nudibranch on the Ruby E


Green Tank (Kelp)

Our third site was a kelp dive called Green Tank in Point Loma. This is a cool site because the bottom topography consists of numerous rocky ledges under which all kinds of fish and critters live.

Rocky ledges at Green Tank


I didn't take a lot of photos on this dive, but I definitely should have taken more! The water was so clear and blue! I'll wrap with a shot of my dive buddy, Phil, ascending into the kelp canopy!

San Diego Point Loma Kelp Green Tank Site

One Response to “Diving San Diego’s Wreck Alley and Kelp Forest”

  1. i really loved looking at your pictures:)

    · May 31, 2012 @ 12:57 pm


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