Mention California diving and the first thoughts of divers around the world are likely to be about our kelp forests. Their reaction is proof that just seeing a photograph of shimmering rays of sunlight dance through a golden undersea forest can get you hooked on California diving. And as so many California divers know, exploring a kelp forest in real life is a magical experience.
More than 800 species have been documented to inhabit a healthy forest of giant kelp. Those creatures include the ever present garibaldi, rainbow colored nudibranchs, rockfishes galore, lobsters, moray eels, octopuses, bat rays, California sea lions, harbor seals, and even the occasional soupfin shark and California gray whale. Want variety? That’s a heck of a start. But in California, it is only a start.
There are hundreds of fantastic reef dives in California where kelp and the aforementioned creatures are nowhere to be seen. Yet these reefs are anything but barren as the rocky substrate looks like carpets of Mother Nature’s abstract paintings. The cornucopia of colorful reef residents includes corynactis anemones (actually corallimorphs), aggregating and Metredium anemones, sea stars, and, of course, more nudibranchs. Some of these reefs are located in the proverbial middle of nowhere. Others are only a few kicks off the beach, and still others are near land, but only accessible by boat.
Swim out of the kelp forests and off the reefs, and explore the adjacent sand biome, a habitat that offers observant divers yet another set of uncountable opportunities to make personal discoveries and gain insight into the inner workings of Mother Ocean. After all, the sand is the home of angelsharks, flatfishes, sea pens, crabs and a host of other creatures that can bury themselves in the blink of an eye. It is in a number of sandy canyons that common squid gather in uncountable numbers in the late fall and winter to mate and lay their eggs. Their presence attracts a gathering of scavengers and predators that looks like ” who’s who” list of California’s marine creatures.
Searching for shipwrecks? California has a rich history with many wrecks being easily accessible to divers. Want game? You have plenty of options ranging from lobsters and red abalone to halibut, yellowtail and white seabass. Have some time to make a local beach dive, or are you looking for a day-trip, or perhaps a multi-day trip to the stunning underwater world of the California Channel Islands? California diving offers all of these options.
I certainly don’t want to overlook the thrill of exploring the open sea, the habitat where nomadic blue sharks, mako sharks, dolphins, ocean sunfish and jellyfishes thrive. The opportunity to dive rebreathers and become involved in the technical diving community are also part of the California diving scene.
I could go on and on with more and more types of diving, things to do, and places to explore. In fact, we will. Month after month. That is exactly what we do every month in California Diving News as we do our best to try to help you get the most out of your California diving experience. Whether it is information about a specific dive site, underwater photography, or upcoming events like the SCUBA Show that is being held in Long Beach on May 5th and 6th, we want to earn the right to be your source of information for the variety of dives, techniques and events that you can enjoy in California.