Dive Report: January 2020

By: Alan Throop

On Saturday, January 18, Five Tooters joined the Monterey Sea Otters dive club on one of their quarterly clean-up dives at San Carlos Beach.

Bill Chinnook was POC for the dive and he was joined by Bo P., Clair R., Alan S., and Alan T.

We were invited to join them by Melanie Moreno, who will be our speaker in February about REEF and came to our January 9th meeting to hear Tyler Phelps speak.  The Sea Otters has adopted San Carlos Beach to cleanup both topside and underwater on about a quarterly basis. Melanine and others in the club dive (who live in the Monterey area) also dive there frequently and cleanup on each dive.

They have the process very well organized. They met about 8:00 at the tables above the beach, with coffee and donuts for all (that’s a great introduction!).  We signed in and joined about a dozen or so Sea Otters for the pre-dive briefing at 8:30 by the dive coordinator.  Buddy teams were selected and logged.  They handed out corks and bags to hold fishhooks, line and other gear that was collected.

The dive coordinator logged out each buddy team as they left the table area for the dive.  The focus of this cleanup was the Breakwater wall but some scoured the Center Reef. The non-divers were given gloves, a pickup stick, and a bag, and went out in pairs to pickup trash on the fishing wall and the beaches in the area. The day was overcast and cool for Monterey, but the seas were flat and divers reported 30’ viz at the wall. The tide was out and this is king-tide season, so the water level was pretty low.

Most divers and top-side cleaners returned by about 10:30-11:00 to centralize trash, have a snack, more donuts & coffee, and talk about the dive. Buddy teams were logged back in. Even with the frequent cleanup dives, there was a lot of gear pulled from the water and the beaches.  I joined a Sea Otter member to clean up topside and we met a lady who picks up around the beach area who has pulled up almost 200 pounds of lead over the years, which a couple of the Sea Otters then melt down and mold into dive weights.  Due to the continued active fishing from the sidewalk area of the breakwater, fishing line, weights, hooks, and other debris continue to be lost  … and needs to be picked up.

Many divers stayed on for a second dive, and Mike Barret arrived to join the other Tooters for a second dive.  On that dive, Bill, Mike, and Bo hauled out a 6’-long PVC pipe, so there’s always more to clean!

Since I couldn’t dive, I walked down to the Aquarium to spend a couple of enjoyable hours there and then over to the Pacific House museum at the Plaza near the commercial wharf. It had been a couple of years since I had been able to take a good look at the exhibits there that offer a very-well-done history of Spanish & Mexican California. Take the time to visit it sometime; it’s very worthwhile!

It was very nice of the Sea Otters to invite us on this and their future dives. They are a great bunch of divers and enjoyable to get to know. They have a nice website at http://montereybayseaotters.org/. They have a dive calendar for 2020 at http://montereybayseaotters.org/2019-dive-calendar/. Their cleanup dives are scheduled for Saturdays April 18, July 18, and September 19 – but subject to change due to dive conditions, of course.  We’re invited to join them for those dives and I’ll try to put them on our own schedule to keep us up to date.

The cleanup only takes the morning, so you have the rest of the day to dive at San Carlos or elsewhere or visit some of the other great things that Monterey has to offer. You can include family and non-divers who want to help clean up topside, meet some great people, contribute to the quality of the environment, and have a great day in Monterey!

Thanks to Melanie and the Monterey Sea Otters for inviting us to join them and to Bill Chinook for acting as our POC.