Diving Santa Cruz and Anacapa Island

I cannot remember the last time i dove Santa Cruz so i was really looking forward to some dives on the island and it didn’t disappoint at all.

We had been told the previous night that the first dive would be at 7.30 am so we had to be ready by then to get in the water. Didn’t exactly sleep soundly but it was decent enough that i didn’t feel lack of it.

Dive 5: Flame Reef, Santa Cruz Island

We had talked last night about this site since it is a really good macro site and the conditions at this site were pretty decent so we were going to dive it. There was little bit current but we were used to it by now.

The plan was descend down the stern anchor which was right next to the reef and then swim around to look for nudis. There was some current but as soon as we got to the reef, it was protecting us from it.

As expected the reef was full of nudibranchs and most of them were dorids and cadalinas. I have little difficulty taking pics of small ones since i can’t really fill the entire frame with them., i feel it really limits my creativity 😉

I was initially staying pretty close to the anchor but after a while i wanted to explore the reef more and so i swam off in other direction and thought i would just circle around the big rock and get back to original spot. I didn’t want to venture too far from the anchor because of the current.

As i tried to get around i lost my way and was little lost at this point so instead of trying to find a way around the reef i re-traced my steps and soon enough saw other divers. I have to say that it was indeed a relief, i wasn’t sure which direction the anchor was in.

I asked todd about the direction of the anchor, initially he was confused about what i was signaling but then he eventually understood me and i headed towards the anchor. It wasn’t that far, maybe like 15 ft away but luckily for me as i got close to it there was a bat ray right by it.

I was beyond excited and this is the case where i love shooting with 18-55 mm lens so that if i find a big subject i can zoom out. As i was getting in position, adjusting my camera and strobes to take picture of the ray, the ray was also getting cautious and was looking at me. Sure enough as i fired one shot it didn’t really hang around and took off.

Now that i had found the anchor, i didn’t really wanted to venture too far off from it and spent time taking pics around it. I must have taken atleast 10 pics of a star fish wondering why the lighting wasn’t right only to find later that the dial on one of my strobe had turned and it wasn’t firing. lesson learn’t.

I found couple of dorids and one of them was chasing other, i didn’t really have the patience to hang around to see how the entire thing would unfold and started my ascent.

If after reading this and are wondering where was my dive buddy was, well i started the dive with ron but we lost each other pretty soon. We both are experienced divers so didn’t exactly follow the protocol of looking for buddy and then ascending. The current didn’t exactly allow for such diving where you look for your buddy for a minute and then surface.

Dive 6: Drop off Reef

Our next dive site , drop off reef, wasn’t too far away and the conditions at this site were same as the previous one. This reef is pretty easy to navigate since it runs perpendicular to the island and the current was going parallel to it.

This time me and ron decided to do a better job of sticking with each other, we descended down the anchor line and it wasn’t hard to find the reef.

This reef wasn’t as lively as the previous but we did find few nudis and the structure was more rocky. I swam along the length of the entire reef trying to find something but there wasn’t anything exciting as such.

I decided to move higher since the sand didn’t really seem exciting to explore and i didn’t want to go deep. I found a sun star so i spent good 5 mins trying to take its picture and i thought it made for a decent WA shot with the star fish along side it.

Scott found me and showed me pic of wavy turban snail and i have always wanted to take nice colorful pic of the same. As he was trying to lead me to its location someone else came along and pointed us to a Simnia snail. even better.

I let the pros take its picture first and then waited for my turn. Times like this is when i get really frustrated with my 55mm lens, i am not able to fit the whole subject in the frame, its annoying.

I tried my best to take its picture and then showed the location of the snail to Ron, earlier we had asked each other about air left and he had around 1200 psi, he spent almost 5 mins trying to take pictures of simnia so i figured he must be around 500-600 psi left and the anchor was right above us.

I waited for ron and guided him to anchor line like a good buddy :-), i had more air left so i hung around more and then as i was making my way to anchor line scott came down again and took me to the location where the snail was there.

Again it was the same problem i couldn’t really fit it completely into frame and i tried my best to take its pic but wasn’t totally satisfied. It was now time for me to do my safety stops and head back to the boat.

Dive 7: Underwater Island

We now moved to anacapa island and since it would be over an hour before we got to our next dive site so i decided to take nap on the top deck. Since some of the folks wanted to dive with harbor seals we anchored at the site where we could find one.

On the bow side the dive site was called underwater island where as on the stern side there was a harbor seal playing, me and ron decided to dive the underwater island since both of us were setup for macro and the idea of just one seal in water didn’t appeal to us.

We descended down the bow anchor and as the name suggests this dive site is an island like reef in about 60 ft of water. This was quite similar to brittle star reef where there were brittle stars covering the floor but there were no nudis to be found.

I found quite a few christmas tree worms, tried to take their pictures and they came out to be ok. I looked in the sand to see if i could find something but it didn’t look like there was anything there so i turned back.

We went over to the other side and the reef was totally different compared to the previous side, there were no brittle stars but the usual reef structure you would find in cali.

There were few sea hares and even though they are not really colorful critters i still like taking their pictures. A sea lion buzzed us which was cool but didn’t really stay around for long. It was a good dive but nothing really exceptional.

Dive 8: Landing Cove Arch

We moved around for a while to find a good dive site where the conditions would be ideal and we settled for landing cove arch. I love this dive spot and last time inside the arch we had found so many nudis.

Me and Ron descended via the stern anchor and i signaled to him to go right towards the arch but he was pointing in other direction. I was like what is going on and there i see, a giant sea bass which was like 5-6 ft. Too bad it didn’t linger around at all.

We then headed into the arch and instead of the oasis of nudis i was expecting it was a barren sahara desert. On the last dive about few weeks ago there were quite a few nudis but on this dive i was having hard time finding any.

I was little disappointed at the lack of nudi action but i was trying to make best of the dive and explore the different areas of the arch and exploring the ceiling of the arch.

Scott pointed out a really small porters chromodorid but i ran into the same problem as earlier, couldn’t just fit it into the frame. I tried to explore outside of the arch but i went back in and explored the ceilings again.

Didn’t find anything too exciting for the rest of the dive but the sighting of GSB was a great way to end this dive trip.

Back on board it was time for dessert and a nap as we made back to the dock.

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