Few places on earth are as inviting as a California kelp forest in autumn. When diving conditions are favorable, as they so often are in the fall, we enjoy a wonderful opportunity to observe a diverse mix of as many as 800 species of marine creatures in an absolutely stunning setting. We have it all from playful herds of California sea lions to schools of silvery jackmackerel making their way through the forest maze to a dazzlingly colorful exhibition of rainbow colored nudibranchs on the rocky reefs below. These are common sights in so many kelp forests, and you just never know who else will show up. You might get lucky and swim with a curious harbor seal pup, a California purple striped jellyfish, an ocean sunfish, or a pilot whale. Who knows?
One of the wonderful aspects of diving in California is that we enjoy so many different natural phenomena at various times of the year. Winter brings squid runs and California gray whales. With spring comes nesting garibaldi and massive schools of baitfish. The summer brings warming water, improved visibility, and the kelp forests and reefs explode with new life.
It’s all good. But as we head into the fall months things get better, and then best time of year when we often enjoy the best combination of weather and water conditions. Healthy kelp forests teem with life. The density of the forest and the thick surface canopy create a cathedral-like ambiance.
Need another reason to get excited about diving right now? Here it is. It’s called lobster season, which starts at the end of September.
No doubt about it, fall is a wonderful time to explore California’s underwater world. If you are a new diver, I strongly encourage you to join the gang at your local dive center for a trip to any of our eight Channel Islands where we often experience 60 to 100 feet of visibility and flat calm seas. Make one trip to the Channel Islands and you’ll be hooked for life. And don’t overlook the opportunity to dive from our beaches. In the fall when the water conditions are favorable you often have a chance to explore dive sites that you can’t get to off the beach when the surf and swell are up. It’s time to take a look.
But whatever you do, whether by boat or from the beach, take advantage of this season’s weather and water conditions. I’ll guarantee you, you’ll be glad you did.