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Orange Beach Reefs: Alabama’s “Vitamin Sea”

Orange Beach Reefs: Alabama’s “Vitamin Sea”

Resting on the edge of Alabama’s southeast shores,...

The Natural Wonders of Howe Sound

The Natural Wonders of Howe Sound

Northwest of Vancouver, British Columbia, and rest...

Diving in Missouri: Exploring the Ozarks

Diving in Missouri: Exploring the Ozarks

Somewhat removed from the main arteries of vacatio...

LIDA Sponsors Harbor School Students on a Special Long Island Scuba Dive

LIDA Sponsors Harbor School Students on a Special Long Island Scuba Dive

What a difference a year makes!

With Sunday, Septem...

All Aboard the Truth!

All Aboard the Truth!

The Truth is the original Truth Aquatics boat, and...

A Curious Story about Shipwrecks, Secrets, and Alluring Scent

A Curious Story about Shipwrecks, Secrets, and Alluring Scent

The sunset bright and red in the horizon; crisp au...

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Citrus County: A Story of Manatees and S…

01-09-2015

Imagine, for a moment, the ultimate state of zen: a place and a time where the motley of everyday life dissipates. At this point, you are enjoying a unique, almost...

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Bonne Terre Mine: The Billion Gallon Lak…

01-02-2015

You are on an open water dive, but this is not the ocean. You gaze about, marveling at the sheer rock walls and shadowy crevices that surround you on all...

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The Dive History Experience

01-01-2015

The Northeast Diving Equipment Group (NEDEG) is an organization that allows the average sport diver to try hardhat diving. They have been around since 1993, but really started in 1987...

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Washington’s Hood Canal: A Bastion for O…

01-01-2015

As the plane descends and softly lands on the water - life slows down. Seattle to the Northeast and the snowcapped Olympic Mountains majestically rising to the West. Traffic is...

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Orange Beach Reefs: Alabama’s “Vitamin S…

12-09-2014

Resting on the edge of Alabama’s southeast shores, and west of Pensacola, Florida, Orange Beach, Alabama is a city strongly driven by two key focal points: a strong, bonded community...

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The Natural Wonders of Howe Sound

12-09-2014

Northwest of Vancouver, British Columbia, and resting at the Strait of Georgia, Howe Sound is a diving paradise offering relaxing opportunities for divers interested in scanning the surface and delving...

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Diving in Missouri: Exploring the Ozarks

12-09-2014

Somewhat removed from the main arteries of vacation travel, the varying lakes and waters of the Midwest beckon the observant explorer. Locals understand that these lakes offer the perfect opportunity...

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LIDA Sponsors Harbor School Students on …

12-08-2014

What a difference a year makes!With Sunday, September 28 boasting a bright, sunny sky, warm summer-like weather and perfect diving conditions at Shinnecock Inlet’s Ponquogue Bridge on Long Island, 25...

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All Aboard the Truth!

12-08-2014

The Truth is the original Truth Aquatics boat, and thanks to regular updates and maintenance it remains a world-class liveaboard diving and excursion vessel. It is an ideal entry level...

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The Outer Bay: Lovers Point to Point Pinos

The kelp beds of Chase Reef are thick, healthy and fun to explore.  Photo by Sammy Cimeno
A diver explores the pinnacles of Otter Cove. Photo by Sammy Cimeno

By Sammy Cimeno

The most northern dive sites along the eastern side of the Monterey Peninsula are among Central California’s best. These sites are moderately protected by the massive Monterey Peninsula, yet have clearer water, healthy kelp beds and more abundant and diverse marine life than the more protected sites of the Inner Bay. This is a great place to dive with seals, sea lions and otters, along with game fish and colorful invertebrates.

It is, however, not the best place to hunt since the entire area is contained within two of California’s State Marine Conservation Areas. To the south of Lover’s Point lies the Lover’s Point State Marine Reserve, where nothing may be taken; and the sites from the north side of Lovers Point to beyond Point Pinos are within the Pacific Grove Gardens State Marine Conservation Area where only finfish may be taken. This means that there is more life for divers to see and photograph. And, yes there is a lot to see:

Lover's Point
This is an easy site to love. Lover's Point has easy entries that give way to an interesting assortment of both vertebrate and invertebrate marine life, only a short swim from shore. The offshore patch reef is very colorful with various anemones, sponges, tubeworms and bryozoans. Among the invertebrates divers will find an abundance of small gobies, sculpins and juvenile rockfish. However, this is also a great place to dive with larger animals. Bat rays are often found digging for invertebrates in the sand off the south side of the point, and harbor seals and otters frequently accompany divers here.

Otter Cove
Divers seek out Otter Cove to get away from the crowds and find an incredible variety of marine life. The rocky bottom is scared with nooks and crannies, and many critters may be found within. Look for small octopus, shrimp, crabs and the occasional monkeyface eel. Small lingcod and cabezon are often found in plane view waiting patiently for a crab, octopus, or juvenile rockfish to wander too close.  Numerous species of rockfish are found here: gophers, blues, and browns. Of course, a lot of otters hang out here, mainly at the far edge of the kelp bed.

Eric’s Pinnacle
Eric’s is a very comfortable pinnacle dive offshore of the Otter Cove Entry. The pinnacle is covered with strawberry anemones in the shallows and dotted with huge fish-eating anemones near the bottom. This rock is split in several places and the giant fissure runs all the way through the pinnacle; look for small fish and invertebrates hiding in the cracks. A resident wolf eel can often be found just above the pile of broken shells on the east side of the pinnacle. Larger-than average lingcod are frequently found on the deeper rocks surrounding the pinnacle.

Coral Street
If you really want to get away from other divers, check out the Coral Street entry. The deeper reef consists of a saw tooth pattern of ridges and channels that run parallel to shore. The scale of the ridges increased steadily as you head offshore. After one swims somewhat over 200 yards the ridges fall away to a sand-and-rocky-pinnacle bottom. Abundant invertebrate life is found in deeper water: colorful nudibranchs, sea cucumbers, and sponges. The water is clearer here than most Monterey sites and underwater photographers will enjoy capturing color on the rocky walls and canyons.

Chase Reef
Chase Reef is composed of two extensive, rocky reefs that stretch from near Point Pinos to near Otter Cove. This is a great spot to dive with harbor seals, otters, and schools of rockfish; and photograph tiny reef fish, nudibranchs, and colorful, encrusting invertebrates. Near Point Pinos is the wreckage of a fiberglass-hulled fishing boat. The hull has been battered to pieces, but the area has plenty of artifacts. This area is a great place to find and photograph marine mammals. Look for sea lions on the Point Pinos buoy, and you don’t have to look for harbor seals here, they will find you.

Aumentos Reef
Aumentos is a massive ridge, offshore of Chase Reef, that is a joy to dive on calm days. The top of the reef is covered with a thick carpet of Corynactis anemones. As the reef drops a bit deeper the rock walls are covered with fluffy, white Metridium anemones. Go deeper and the rocks are spotted with bright red fish-eating anemones and encrusting sponges; lingcod and cabezon are normally found on the bottom or back in cracks. Because of this site’s proximity to offshore waters, there is a good chance of seeing pelagic fish, and migrating grey whales in winter and spring.

White Wall
This is a site where you do not have to be a cryptologist to understand how this site got its name. While there are many interesting critters to look at and photograph, this site is all about the anemones. Those found at the White Wall are Metridium giganteum, the white-plumed anemone, or the giant anemone. This is the West Coast’s largest anemone and can grow to around 3 feet tall and whose stalk can be as large as 4 to 5 inches thick. In addition to the Metridiums there are also plenty of large and small fish, nudibranchs, and schooling rockfish to make the most jaded diver very happy.

Ball Buster
In my opinion this massive pinnacle is simply the best dive in the Monterey Bay. This spot has everything—clear water, colorful invertebrate life, unusual bottom fish, schooling reef fish, and giant pacific octopuses. The shallow area is covered in red strawberry anemones; among the anemones are an assortment of barnacles, nudibranchs and stony corals. At the bottom, a bit away from the rock, on the southeast side is a nice patch of red gorgonians. Gorgonians are not that common in Monterey at recreational diving depths, so these are a real treat. Look for simnia shells, festive tritons, and slender shrimp on the gorgonians.

Point Pinos
This is my favorite beach dive in Monterey Bay, and has exceptionally dramatic underwater topography. Huge boulders and short rocky pinnacles give way to elongated ridges with sheer faces and, in deeper water, massive pinnacles. The area has an unusual assortment of algae that are more similar to those found at Southeast Farallon Island or offshore rocks of Mendocino than the Central Coast. This site is noteworthy for its large population of lingcod, cabezon and assorted species of rockfish. In over 100 feet of water lies the biggest bed of rock scallops in the bay. Look, but don’t touch they are in a reserve.

Strawberry Fields
Strawberry Fields stands out as one of the more unique and interesting dive sites In Monterey, and you definitely do not have to be a Beatles fan to understand what makes this site special. The rocky ridges are covered with fields of strawberry anemones. Colors here vary from strawberry red to cherry red, to lavender, orange, and pink. The expanse of this field and depth of its color is breathtaking; no other site in the area has such an impressive carpet of intense color. In between the anemones you will find numerous crabs, shrimp, tiny fish, and some nudibranchs.

When the seas are calm to moderate the dive sites of the Outer Bay are simply fantastic. Either by shore or boat or kayak, these sites are home to an incredible variety of fascinating marine life.

Special thanks to the following for their contributions:

Bamboo Reef/a>
Glenn's Aquarius II/a>
Seven Seas Scuba/a>
made with love from Fuerteventura

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