For nearly a month Kent and I had been planning to meet at Shaw’s Cove in Laguna Beach to snorkel. I took the plunge and bought a snorkel set just for this. By the time rolled around we’d convinced four other friends to join us. However, only the men braved the cooler water. We thought that the first weekend of August would be one of the hottest. Instead we got an overcast sky and rain, something unheard of in a region of the country in the midst of a horrible drought.
As a result, the poor lighting made most my underwater video and photos were unusable, though everything was still perfectly visible to the naked eye. I went out to the nearby reef three separate times, each time finding something new to get excited about. The most exciting moment was probably when I found a few foot long camera shy leopard shark hiding in the kelp beds at the reef. On my way back to report that discovery I found another laying low in the sands closer to the beach.
We saw a few sculpins down below the cliffs (where the water was maybe twenty or thirty feet deep), but I didn’t get any photos or videos. On a warm sunny day this must have been a snorkeler’s paradise. There were actually many more varieties of underwater life to see than there were by the caves in La Jolla. The interesting thing at these SoCal reefs is the the actual reef is still alive with brightly colored vegetation, unlike the yellow lifeless coral of well-traveled places in Hawaii. The most striking new things were the purple sea urchins scattered all over the place and the smaller more tropical looking Garabaldis which had electric blue spots.
After about three and a half hours we left, it would only get colder and darker as the day grew longer. The water was tolerable, with even some welcome warm spots, but I was told my hands and lips were quite purple when I got back to the beach. My next purchase will be a wetsuit, then when we come back on a sunny day the water temperature will be perfect and hardly different than an overcast day in Hawaii.
Click through below to see the photos.
Swimming near the kelp forest.
I believe these are topsmelt and the hypsypops rubicundus version of Garibaldi
I believe these are california corbina
Juvenile leopard shark didn’t want to be photographed
The shallow garden, all blurry because the waves were crashing on multiple close rocks and putting too many bubbles in the water. I think you can see a bass in there, a lot of those swimming about.
Lots of smelt swimming around the cliffs
More of the garden and its inhabitants
Random moments of clarity showing lots of the fish and vegetation (and purple sea urchins) in between lots more bubbles. And some humans.
To the cliff’s edge