Failing the Main Wall

— on August 29, 2018 by in La Jolla | Underwater

New house, new city, new dive sites. I’ve started to look for actual dive sites here in the San Diego area instead of just falling off the beach (not that it’s bad). The first site (the one that seemed the best/easiest to dive anyway) is Vallecitos Point aka the Main Wall. You reach it from La Jolla Beach so parking is straight forward (if really annoying) at the beach parking lot.

Swimming to the Main Wall from La Jolla Beach

I may not be any good and remember to take cell phone photos, but I can take a photo from the water on the LONG swim out to the descent location. It’s maybe a quarter mile or a little farther which isn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things. The swim leaves lots of time to think about the fact that great whites come into the area and take seal/sea lions occasionally… and how much a diver on the surface looks like a tasty meal from that point of view.

The First Aborted Dive

The first dive I had to “nope” on it. I was diving in just a swimsuit and the water temps drop from the mid 70s to the mid 50s at 45 feet. 55F is just to cold for bare skin, even for me… I spent most of my time on the sand flat at 35 feet or less. I did drop down to 55 or 60 feet for a minute or two and I saw something cool and sad there. That is a baby horned shark in the first picture.

A (probably dead) baby Horn Shark

I’m pretty sure this baby horn shark was dead. He wasn’t moving or swimming… He didn’t respond at all as I approached with the camera (it’s big so that isn’t normal).

Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure he was dead. 🙁

Correction: He was probably alive. I’ve since learned more about horned sharks and seen a bunch more. They sit still and don’t respond a lot of the time. They hide themselves in the beds of loose grass and kelp like this.

Above the Cold

Above the thermocline I found a lot of interesting stuff including this huge moon snail. Its foot was about a foot across and the body (mantle around the shell) was bigger than my fist. I need to start carrying a ruler to add for sale. Moon snails wrap their mantle back around their shells so they appear to be soft. There is still a snail shell inside.

A moon snail that was about a foot across.

There are a ton of tiny flounder around on the sand if you look. Most are around 1 inch long like this one. They are pretty skittish, probably because a 1 inch long flounder is a tasty snack for just about anything else in the water.

A tiny flouder hiding in the sand.

White sea pens (?) are pretty common on the sand. I need to acquire some macro gear and go photograph them up close. I bet they are fascinating.

A White Sea Pen

The Weird Egg Sack

This egg sack (?) wins the award for the strangest thing I ran into on that first dive. It was waving in the surge at 30 feet tethered to the sea floor. I have no idea what was inside.

Some sort of egg sack tethered to the sand.

Sand Dollars for Days

Another feature of the La Jolla beach area that I’ve learned to expect after a few more dives (blog posts coming soon) is huge fields of sand dollars around 25 or 30 feet of depth. Lots of stuff lives around them and on future dives I learned to spend time looking around in them. This first dive I was just a little bit in awe of the size of the fields as I swam over them.

A huge field of sand dollars.

I could seriously put them all in a vault and go for a Scrooge McDuck style swim there are so many.