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A sea lion in La Jolla Cove gets curious about his reflection in my housing dome.

A sea lion in La Jolla Cove gets curious about his reflection in my housing dome.

After a week of diving in San Diego and absolutely no break from the 5-10 feet of visibility, I had to take a different approach to my underwater subjects. Instead of hunting for the "larger animals" and unique animal behaviors, I searched for subjects that posed beautifully in high-surge, low-vis environments. Seagrass, kelp, red algae, floating particles, sand grains, light rays, and small schools of fish seemed to dance well in the surge. They also looked particularly appealing in shallow water near sunset. The photo above was taken on one of those shallow shoots in La Jolla Cove, one of the two dive locations where my first dive certifications took place in 2013.

Though I did manage to find some kelp while in San Diego, it wasn't easy. My shooting period was between the 11th and 16th of August, historically one of the warmest weeks of the year for coastal San Diego. Kelp is a cold-water organism that grows very quickly but is also susceptible to disease and damage when water temperatures increase beyond a certain threshold. In recent years, the water has gotten so warm that entire kelp forests vanish. The forests I dove through a few years ago are no longer there; there were no forests in La Jolla, none near the Marine Room, and only a few lingering, lonely stalks in north-county coastal areas. If we don't make an effort to reduce our impact on sea temperature and help balance the coastal aquatic ecosystems, we may lose entire populations of organisms that rely on kelp forests throughout the southern California coastline. For some species, it is already too late. Keep this idea in mind as you watch the first video listed above.

On a more positive note, we had some wonderful dives through Marissa Dive Charters on the Ruby E and Yukon wrecks. Visibility on these wrecks was much better (about 30 feet). A video showing some highlights of the Yukon dive can be seen here.

Looking down the barrels of the front guns on the Yukon wreck.

Looking down the barrels of the front guns on the Yukon wreck.

I hope to return to San Diego for some better visibility in the near future. In the spring, there is a chance we will see kelp forests for a period of time. Let's hope this is true!