ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Diving in Monterey Bay, California

Updated on April 28, 2010

The most provident spot for divers in the Golden State is in the kelp forests of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Like the fabled sequoias of the High Sierra, kelp is the most prominent member of a complex ecosystem that sustains hundreds of interrelated species. Wildly prolific, a single strand of kelp can measure more than 100 feet long and grow at a rate of five to eight inches a day. Anchored to the seafloor and buoyed by air bladders at the base of each blade, the plants sway in the current, forming a leafy green carpet on the surface and filtering the sun into shifting columns of light.
 
It's a magical place for diving but not necessarily an easy one. Currents are strong, visibility low, and water temperatures usually in the 50s, making a dry suit or quarter-inch wet suit absolutely essential. The kelp itself can be a problem, too, looping around limbs and entangling gear.

Divers find the Monterey Bay kelp forest at its most luxuriant in early autumn. Upwelling also declines then, making for consistently clear and slightly warmer water and visibility that can reach 60 or 70 feet — nothing to compare with the clarity of the Caribbean, but rare conditions for central California.

Beyond the Bay

Some of the region's best diving can be found to the south of Monterey Bay itself. At the southern tip of Carmel Bay, Point Lobos State Reserve encompasses more than 700 underwater acres that became the nation's first marine preserve in 1960. Nothing can be disturbed here, so the fish are big and tame, and sea otters are commonly encountered (and well fed, judging by the number of empty abalone shells and crab carapaces on the bottom). Only 15 teams of two or three divers can enter the water on a given day, and weekends book up well in advance. Once you enter Whalers Cove at the boat ramp, kick out into the kelp and descend.

Dense stands of giant and bull kelp rise from rocky reefs encrusted with pale pink, scarlet, and cobalt-blue sponges, orange puffball sponges, and waving ribbons of red algae. Swimming or lurking under ledges are an array of rockfish: copper, gopher, blue, and China, to name a few. On the rock faces, carefully camouflaged masking crabs scurry away on spidery legs. You will likely see sea lemon nudibranchs or perhaps their delicate, rosette egg cases. Adjacent to Whalers Cove but accessible only by boat, the smaller Bluefish Cove to the south lays claim to clearer water and up to four times more marine life than its neighbor. Because of the cove's proximity to deeper water and its exposure to waves from many directions, it has a wider variety of open-ocean visitors — jellies, ocean sunfish, and blue sharks.

Sunflower Stars and Hydrocoral

Just north of Point Lobos, divers gather at Monastery Beach, a name uttered in reverent tones not so much for the Franciscan monastery across the highway but for the often rough surf and steep shoreline, which make for a treacherous ocean entry and exit. Many a novice diver winds up foundering in the waves trying to reclaim loose or lost gear, while the successful emerge from their dives plodding on hands and knees — the Monastery crawl — like some early experiment in amphibious evolution. Even divers who emerge unscathed find plenty of pebbly sand grains coating their gear.

Continued In: Diving in Monterey Bay, California - Part 2

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)