Location: Oil Rigs – Eureka and Twin Rig Ellen & Elly
Charter Master: Thomas Templar, staff: Megumi Itoh, Haruka Ito, and Taylor Davis
Boat: Asante, San Pedro Harbor
We gathered at San Pedro Harbor bright and early on a nice, clear April morning. This was our first dive trip to the oil rigs this year.
After a short boat ride we arrived at the first oil rig, Eureka. The captain moved the boat close to the structure and we jumped into the water one after the other. What you can see of the oil rig above water is not exactly welcoming. It’s a cold, metallic structure. Under the water, however, it’s a completely different scene. Once you descend below 10-15 feet, practically every inch of the structure is covered by invertebrate marine life. You would think the structure is made of sea anemones, mussels, scallops, brittle stars, etc. The rig is also home to a variety of fish. On this dive we saw several garibaldis, calico bass, sheepheads, and surfperch. When you approach the depth of 90 to 100 feet, you will usually start to notice the white giant-plumos anemones (Metridium giganteum). Aside from being beautiful, they provide a good depth indicator.
For the second dive, we moved to the twin rig Ellen & Elly. On this dive, one of the sea lions decided to join us underwater. The playful sea lion swam through the pillars and showed off his agility. I always wonder if they look at us underwater and think how awkward and slow we are. As we descend down we saw more garibaldis and sheepheads around the pillars, and an aggregate of surfperch slowly swam through the center of the structure. When we ascended to shallower depth for our safety stop, we were visited once again by the sea lion. Back on the boat, we compared notes on what we saw on the dives as the boat sped back to the harbor.
When we dove the Roca Partida (the tiny rock in the middle of the ocean off the coast of Mexico) last year, we saw a group of whitetip sharks huddling together next to spiny lobsters on a ledge on the wall of the rock. I heard it was a common sight here, but the reason why they do this is not known.