Coastal Cleanup Day with the Monterey Bay Sea Otters Dive Club
By Gayle Hudson
We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day to team with the Monterey Bay Sea Otters Dive Club (MBSO) to collect underwater debris at the Breakwater. The weather was clear and sunny and the sea offered only gentle waves of a few inches high. I counted 12 Tooters at the cleanup and there were more participating in Dennis’ Advanced EAN class at San Carlos Beach. MBSO warmly welcomed our club with coffee and food and, after signing both a Save Our Shores and a MBDO club waiver, we listened to the briefing and headed out to hunt for debris.
I dove with Baerbel Sterling at Breakwater and it was a very pretty dive. We had 25’ of visibility in places, interspersed with plankton. The temperature was 54 degrees and the sun filtered down through the kelp. We didn’t find too much at 40 feet but had no trouble finding fishing line, lures, and weights at 20 ft. deep. Baerbel had a talent for finding colorful lures and a large hook, along with fishing line, while I found fishing line and weights. With the sun streaming down in the shallow depths, the colors of Breakwater were on display and Corynactus californica, orange scallop mantles, and anemones sparkled. On the swim back at a depth of 10’ a cormorant dove down right in front of us, hunting for food.
Back on shore, MBSO examined the debris for marine life, which was returned to the sea, and everything collected was documented for reporting to Save Our Shores. In addition, an integrated weight pocket and a dive knife were also recovered. We can thank MBSO for keeping one of our favorite dive locations clean, as they have adopted San Carlos Beach as a site they regularly clean with quarterly dives.
For the second dive, I headed out with Baerbel, Bo Peng, and Mike Barrett for a dive to the Metridium field. To get to some depth, we did some kelp crawling and I found myself feeling grateful for the abundance of beautiful kelp at this location. We got a little sidetracked on this dive so decided to surface and get our bearings. I was delighted to surface within a short distance from a raft of sea otters – I counted ten adults. They were entertaining, keeping a watch on us while grooming and resting. One was well wrapped in kelp, with his back legs sticking straight up into the air, no doubt enjoying the sunny day as much as we were. We decided to surface swim for a bit to save on air and next encountered a flock of seagulls excitedly flying above the surface where a large sea lion was feeding on fish. The sea lion tossed his head back and forth, splashing and ripping the fish, while the seagulls dove for any bits they could grab. We noticed the sea lion drifting closer to us and, when he surfaced with another fish, we deciding it wasn’t a wise idea to remain that close to a feeding sea lion and descended to make our way to the large pipe. We explored the length and visibility here was less, around 15’. At 1,500psi we turned around, and swam in to shore until we could stand up in the shallow depths, arriving adjacent to the bottom of the stairs. Two beautiful dives on a beautiful day.
While we were enjoying these two dives, Dennis’ Advanced EAN class was also in the water, with a 60-minute dive to the Metridium field peppered with skills throughout the dive.
Following our dives, Alan Throop led a memorial at the south end of San Carlos Beach, for Joe Timmons, where his friends and ATDC members talked about a life full of adventure and a great friend to those who had the privilege to know him. We finished the memorial by tossing red and yellow flowers into the sea to say “Aloha” to Joe.
A large group of Tooters and friends then met at Gianni’s, where Alan had reserved a long table in the banquet room. It was a relaxing way to end a special day with Aqua Tutus and friends.