Experienced California divers know that our diving changes with the seasons. In the winter we can experience squid “runs” and visits from California gray whales. In the spring numerous species including our iconic garibaldi strut their stuff in captivating courtship displays in an effort to win hearts and procreate. In summer the days grow longer and nutrient-rich waters fuel explosions of fish populations.
And then there is fall‚ a magical time of year in California. Weather and water conditions are often at their very best for extended periods of time. And that, in turn, means the perfect time of year to explore our kelp forests and reef communities.
Few sights in the natural world are as spectacular as that of a healthy forest of giant kelp witnessed on a classic fall day. Slip below the surface and you enter a magical world where shimmering rays of sunlight dance through golden kelp fronds outlined in varying hues of aqua, green and blue for as far as the eye can see. Stop and look at the scene around you, and you are certain to feel a sense joy and awe as you watch the entire forest move back and forth in perfect harmony, rhythmically keeping time with the ebb and flow of passing waves. Schools of jack mackerel, salema, and barracudas appear and disappear as they make their way through the forest maze, sometimes followed by sea lions and harbor seals.
Fall is also a wonderful time of year to hit the reefs in search of California spiny lobster, which tastes best when you and your dive buddies capture and cook. The hunt and camaraderie have a way of enhancing the flavor.
I strongly encourage you to join the gang at your local dive center for a trip to any of our eight Channel Islands where you are likely to enjoy 60 to 100 feet of visibility and experiences that will remain with you for a lifetime. And don’t overlook the opportunity to dive from our beaches. In the fall when the water conditions are at their best and the surf lays down, making the swims to and from the kelp forests and reefs loaded with lobsters seem shorter and easier to make.
Whatever you do, whether by boat or from the beach, take advantage of our fall weather and water conditions, and do some local diving. I’ll guarantee you, you’ll be glad you did!