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7/14/2007 Shale Beds aboard Escapade by Susan Bird -- [View this report only]
Bottom Team: Kevin Dow, Susan Bird
Visibility:   Time:12:00 AM
Temp: 53F Surge:  
Max Depth: 62FSW Avg Depth: 48FSW
Bottom Time:   Total Time:  
Bottom Gases: EAN32Deco Gases:
Backgas Config: Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
 
Kevin & I joined the Escapade for Sat pm trip over the weekend.

Twilight dive at Eric's was fun, however the night dive on Shale Island was by far the more spectacular of the two adventures.

Kevin & I descended the downline to Jim's anchorage, which was placed just to the west of the gigantic Navy anchor which resides on the island:

http://www.baue.org/projects/shale/#Project_Data

We headed west, towards the mushroom rock, slowly inspecting the area under the ledge of the island, while occasionally shining our lights over the plateau, in search of octopi. The most abundant nocturnal creatures were the clams who were extending their tubular bodies as far out as possible to filter the water. They retracted back into the relief of the ledge under the glare of our lights.

We soon found a six spotted gunnel, and a shy octopus tucked into a hole. The shrimps were having a party, doing summersaults in the 'spotlights'.

Kevin found a lovely octopus, hunting out away from the ledge. This creature gave us quite a show, moving over the rocky substrate, extending its arms into nooks and crannies for snacks. It changed it's shape & texture to try to outsmart us, a very impressive performance.

We checked out the shale ledges extening west from the mushroom rock, which are a usual hangout for vermilions and other large rockfish... we only saw one vermilion, a cream colored rockfish, and a lovely treefish. I suppose the vermilions were out hunting at night.

As we continued around the island, we came across a sturdy looking rock crab, and a lithoid crab neighbor. Earlier, we spotted a lithoid heart crab-- with it's distinctive hairy legs.

We found another octopus on the plateau, but this one didn't budge... it was intent on camoflaging itself by keeping completely still.

As we rounded the east end, we saw a large shape moving fast-- kind of an adrenaline rush for a moment... until we recognized it as a harbor seal out hunting for fish. We were buzzed a few times, as the seal used our light to help with the hunt.

A few moments later we were buzzed by another large hunter, this time a sea lion looking for dinner.

We had enjoyed ourselves so much that we lost track of our time & distance around the island... so the last 10 minutes of the dive moved us a bit faster-- swimming to find the Navy anchor, then the upline shortly thereafter.

We played with luminescence on the ascent, and thoroughly enjoyed the dive.

I highly recommend that we charter the Escapade for a BAUE night dive on Shale Island soon!!!