Dive Trip Report 3/10/19 - by Andy Rios
We made it! It has been some time since I have been to the beautiful Santa Barbara Island, and it did not disappoint. The sea lions were in abundance and as playful as they could be.
We departed from Ventura Harbor aboard the famous Peace Dive Boat. The conditions were in our favor as we headed towards the small island. As we arrived at Santa Barbara Island, a beautiful clear sunny sky greeted us.
We set anchor at our first dive site, Arch Point, and right away we could see some sea lions swimming gracefully towards our boat waiting for our divers to get in the water. As I descended deeper into the blue water, I came across a beautiful shelf formation where I could find eels, red rock shrimp, scallops, urchins, and more residing along. Further along, I found a shallow ravine where we played in the surge with sheephead and calico bass dancing along.
Our second dive was set at Sutil Island, an impressive rock towards the southwest part of the island. The cobble stone bottom was full of life with kelp reaching towards the surface. Along the kelp was blacksmith, halfmoon perch, and opal eyes schooling in a dense aggregation. Toward the end of the dive I spotted a harbor seal darting along. It was a treat to see the elusive creature.
The third dive was on the southern end of the island, at a spot called Cat Canyon. Once the boat had slowed down to set the anchor, a group of curious sea lions came to greet us and waited anxiously as we prepared to get in the water. As I descended, I noticed that same group was following along, swimming gracefully around the divers and mimicking our bubbles. The sea lions were doing somersaults, back flips, twirls, and a couple of them nibbled on my camera strobe. A few were playing with a loose kelp frond, passing it along to each other. Once in a while, one would slowly cruise down and rest on the bottom to observe us, as if wondering what kind of strange creature we were, giving a perfect photo opportunity. Further through the site, we found a beautiful wall formation with ledges and shelves along the way where we found giant male sheepheads patrolling their territory.
The Peace crew did an awesome job making sure that all the divers were safe, having fun, and most importantly, keeping our bellies full. It was great to catch up with the crew and joke around with them throughout the day.
Overall, I couldn't ask for a more perfect day at Santa Barbara Island aboard the Peace.