The Start of Sevengill Season

It is officially sevengill shark season! We’ve spotted them consistently on previous dives at the cove, and our very own Nick LeBeouf has even been interviewed by CBS 8 and FOX 5 about the recent sightings. Almost all of the sharks we have spotted have been males, so we believe the males are waiting for the females to start mating. We have also noticed that when we spot one, we usually see more nearby.

Some video clips of our sightings so these past two weeks:

A compilation video of an epic dive on April 10th. We felt like every way we turned there was a sevengill around. We also saw a couple tope sharks and even a giant black seabass!

A nice pass by a male sevengill on April 8th:

An interested sevengill during a night dive on March 25th. He seemed genuinely interested in us and was doing tight circles, but didn’t stick around for long and it was difficult to spot other sevengills in the dark.

A sevengill that let me follow it for a couple minutes before it flees quickly and darts away between divers:

A sevengill that passed by with a fishing lure hooked in his mouth :( If only he would let me get close enough to take it out.

I was watching a sevengill cruising leisurely along mid column when all of a sudden I see one quickly heading straight at me. I got out of the way in time, but I wonder if he would have bumped into me if I had not moved.

Hopefully they stick around for a while, the water has been very cold (54 degrees) this week and we’ve still spotted several of them. Get out there and dive!

Weekend Catalina Exploratory Trip

Looking to do something different, we decided to take the Mola up to Catalina for a fun overnight trip this past weekend. Pulling her behind us on the trailer up to San Pedro (it was difficult finding a gas station that could fit her in!), we launched her out of the Port of Los Angeles Saturday morning.

Catalina trailer
We were in a great mood as we set off for Catalina – beautiful weather and an incredibly flat ocean during the crossing. About halfway there, we had a brief encounter with two fin whales which came within 50 feet of the boat! And then 20 minutes later, we passed by a pod of Rizzo’s dolphins, a real treat. One of the larger members of the dolphin family, Rizzo’s average about 10 feet in length and are a grey color with distinct white scratches. They were very shy, perhaps because they were feeling protective of the younger dolphins we spotted within the pod.
Rizzo's dolphins
As we headed for Catalina, it was easy to head straight for Ship Rock, located in front of the isthmus of the island. We had a great view for lunch over a calm ocean as we neared the island.
Catalina crossing

Once we reached Ship Rock, we anchored and suited up for our first dive of the weekend. The currents were a little strong here, but the visibility was still a solid 60′, a refreshing change from diving in La Jolla!
Ship rock 1
The bright orange Garibaldis really popped against the lush kelp forest scenery, and they were great, cooperative models today.
Catalina Ship Rock 2
Catalina Ship Rock Garibaldi

 The sun and the kelp at this shallow spot formed a very picturesque amphitheater that perfectly framed Alice.
Catalina Ship Rock 3

After our dive, we headed over to Little Geiger cove to do some spearfishing and freediving till sunset, and Kyle speared a nice calico for dinner. As darkness set in and the bright stars came out, we headed over to the and picked a spot near shore at 4th of July Cove. We then cleaned, seasoned, and cooked our fresh fish with a side of mashed potatoes and hearty soup. Not a bad way to end a Catalina day! For mid February, the temperatures were surprisingly comfortable, and we were treated to a swollen yellow moon rising over the island. We decided to pitch a tent right on the deck, and it was actually a really comfortable night.
Catalina Night Tent

The next morning we woke early to catch the sunrise and cooked up some eggs and bacon on our new marine BBQ.
Catalina Sunrise
After packing up, we headed back out of the coves to do one more dive at Ship Rock. It was a little windier and colder today, but Kyle still managed to get this amazing shot of Nick hidden in the kelp.

Catalina Ship Rock Nick

We decided to dive Eagle Reef next, which was further off shore than some of the other sites, but easy to find since it was marked by a large red buoy. The strong currents here provide much of the nutrients to support the abundance of marine life. We saw numerous bright blue-banded gobies, tons of blacksmith, lobsters, a wall of red gorgonians and some large lingcod.

Eagle reef buoy

Eagle reef gorgonian

Following the dive, we headed back to shore to enjoy the shallows at Big Geiger Cove one last time before leaving. Nick donned his freediving fins, and even though the swell was picking up, the shallows were still beautiful to photograph.

Catalina Freediving
Catalina Big Geiger Cove
It was finally time to head back home. As the island got smaller and smaller on our way out, we couldn’t help but look forward to our next Catalina trip already. We rode some large swells all the way back, but the highlight was the megapod of common dolphins that passed us. You could see dolphins leaping out of the water for as far as you could see, and some even came over to playfully bow ride the boat. It was a pleasant way to end an amazing weekend at Catalina. You can be sure we will be back soon!

First Sevengill Sighting at La Jolla Cove

Oh boy oh boy!! Look who we found on our dive at La Jolla Cove today… is this the beginning of something beautiful?

Let’s hope he was an early arrival and we continue to see sevengill sharks in La Jolla. He made one pass and I got so excited I think I scared him off, but he returned later to check us out one more time and allowed me to snap this photo – we love sevengills!

Keep your eyes peeled!

Sevengill 2_15

February Newsletter

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Upcoming Boat Trips

Mola is finally ready for some action!

She’s looking beautiful, and we can’t wait for you to see her. Our schedule is filling up with lots of different trips including blue & mako shark trips, whale watching, Pt. Loma kelp dives, private charters, and more.

Upcoming trips:
2/15 - Pt. Loma Kelp Scuba Dive
2/22 - Blue & Mako Shark Diving
3/2 - Gray Whale Watching Excursion
3/15 - Pt. Loma Kelp Scuba Dive
3/29 - Blue & Mako Shark Diving
4/19 - Sevengill Shark Dive
4/25 - 4/27 - 3 Day Shark Extravaganza

For more details on any of these trips, click here.

If you are interested in other boat charters, please click here.

Filming with 60 Minutes & Stig Severinsen

Earlier this month, we had the honor of taking out 60 Minutes Australia to film a segment on Stig Severinsen, world champion freediver. We took out the Mola for two days of filming, and our own Kyle McBurnie filmed the underwater segments.

We spent one day filming blue sharks off the coast and one in the beautiful kelp forests of San Diego where Kyle captured some beautiful sequences of Stig diving below the golden kelp in his signature blue freediving suit.

For more pictures and our blog post, click here.

New SD Expeditions T-shirts

Our new SD Expedition active shirts are made with a special fabric that is designed to keep you cool and dry all day.

  • Tagless for comfort
  • Specific fits for men and women
  • Rapid dry interlocking fabric
  • Wicks moisture away from the body
  • 100% polyester
  • Available in women’s and men’s fits

We just can’t stop wearing them.


Discount – $100 Off a Scuba Class

Ever wanted to scuba dive, or thinking about continuing your dive education? Now’s your chance!

Mention coupon code ‘MOLAMOOLAH’ when booking an Open Water Scuba Class or an Advanced Scuba Class over the phone, and receive $100 off the full price. Coupon code valid until 3/15/2014.

For more information on our classes, please click here.

Filming with Stig Severinsen and 60 Minutes Australia

We had the honor of taking out 60 Minutes Australia and Stig Severinsen this week to film some blue shark diving and some beautiful kelp shots. Stig is a four-time world champion freediver and holder of multiple world records. He’s held his breath for 22 minutes and freedives under ice in speedos for fun. So you can imagine why 60 Minutes Australia would want to film a segment on him!

On our first day of filming, we took Mola out on one of her first trips ever to do some blue shark diving. Even though we only got one blue shark, it was a fun day out on the water with beautiful weather and good company.

Stig split shot
On our second day of filming, we decided to take it to the kelp forests to film some sequences of Stig diving below the golden kelp.

Stig filming
Steve, the presenter, had taken Stig’s class and also dove in several sequences with Stig… he did very well and kept up with the world champion freediver.


Kyle was lucky enough to be contracted as 60 Minutes’ primary underwater cameraman! He also did his share of freediving to while filming Stig and Steve.

Some silhouetted swim throughs…

The elkhorn kelp, or Pelagophycus is a very unique and eerie looking algae, and Kyle and Stig got some nice segments freediving through them.

Stig getting some sunburst action above the camera.

All in all it was a wonderful time having 60 Minutes Australia out with us, and we hope to see them again in the future for some more adventures!

We’ll be sure to keep our audience posted when we hear of an airing date.

December 2013 Newsletter

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Introducing our new baby… Mola

SD Expeditions is upping their game. With your amazing support in 2013, we’re introducing a new member to our team – Mola.

The ocean sunfish, or mola-mola, is an interesting, open ocean traveler. With its unique shape and lifestyle, the mola-mola is truly something different, and we’re proud to have our boat bear the name.

She is a beautiful vessel, and the next time you’re in San Diego we’d love for you to meet her. She is opening the door to boat diving, whale watching, and a whole array of unique adventures all across San Diego (and into Baja).
2013 Photobook

Premiering our 2013 Photobook

Just in time for the holidays, we’re proud to announce our 2013 Photobook.  Here at SD Expeditions, we know you cannot join us for every adventure we have, so we’ve put together our favorite memories that you’ve helped us create this year.  Displayed as a beautiful hard-cover, the photobook features Kyle’s award-winning underwater photography so you can still be a part of the magic.  We plan to make this a yearly production, so we can look back in a few years and see how far we’ve come as a community.

For more information on our 2013 Photobook, click here and enjoy free shipping just in time for the holidays until December 12th.
A Great White Shark

A Great White Shark Encounter

On September 26, 2013 we had the great honor of witnessing a female great white shark in the wild during one of our blue shark trips.  It was a very moving experience for everyone on board, and if you haven’t seen the video yet, it is a must-see.

Watch the video on YouTube here.

Kelp Foreset

2013: The Beginning

We greatly value our community and wanted to take the time to show you the amazing things that happen with your support and our dedication.  Here is our year in review:

  • In March of this year, Nick and Kyle launched SD Expeditions.
  • In March, our first blue shark expedition was a complete success, and we went on to run 16 more this year.  Cross your fingers – there have been sharks on each and every trip.
  • In May, Kyle received national acclaim for his photo of a habor seal.  Kyle went on to place 1st in both the Monterey Shooutout and the Socal Shootout.
  • In June, SD Expeditions was contracted by the BBC: Natural History Unit to help them film and produce the show Deadly Pole to Pole.
  • SD Expeditions on Shark Week - Nick and Kyle were contracted by The Discovery Channel to shoot a segment for Shark after Dark.
  • In November, SD Expeditions acquired a beautiful new vessel for diving and expeditions alike.

We look forward to carrying our momentum into 2014 for another year of transformational encounters and experiences, and we hope you’ll join us.

Scuba Diving San Diego in the Summer

Scuba Diving in San Diego has been wonderful this summer, with lots of animals to see (many interesting migrations going on), we have been very lucky! From scuba diving throughout La Jolla, to the wrecks of Mission Beach and beyond, the water has been gorgeous. We absolutely love scuba diving our San Diego kelp forests, as you really never know what you’re going to find, and when the visibility is nice it’s a dive unlike any other.

When the sunlight shines through the kelp and the fish are out and about, the kelp forests of San Diego are an amazing place to get underwater and scuba. It can be a little more advanced then the sand flats of La Jolla Shores, but is well worth the attempt.

Regardless of whether or not the kelp forests are nice, the sand flats are home to an amazing diversity of marine life, and a very unique ecosystem. When diving in San Diego and La Jolla, we often pass over the sand flats on our way to the submarine canyon. We often find horn sharks, octopus, bat rays and leopard sharks abound during our scuba dives!

Being beneath the waves is amazing, and even the animals that some people find annoying are beautiful! Sting rays are a common animal to encounter during the summertime in San Diego – but instead of stepping on them we find snorkeling with them can be an eye-opening experience to just how many rays there are in our waters, and how best to avoid them (sting ray shuffle!).

Beautiful Day for a La Jolla Scuba Dive!

The sun has been peeking out earlier and earlier, and is making for some beautiful scuba diving in La Jolla. So, to celebrate, we took our newest certified diver Justin out to enjoy the kelp forests of La Jolla Cove.

Justin scuba diving la jolla

We hopped in the water to find beautiful blue water, and about 25 feet of visibility!

We began by taking our time, and getting used to diving the kelp forests as opposed to the sand flats of La Jolla Shores. On the way out, we spotted Garibaldi, plenty of topsmelt and opaleye, and descened on a group of sea lions that decided to stick around and play with us for about ten minutes. As we left the sea lions, we continued into the heart of the kelp forest…

It wasn’t long before we looked down, and spotted a sheep crab walking around the rocky bottom. Justin stopped to pose for a picture, and then gently returned the sheep crab to the ground and we went on our way.

The kelp stalks are doing healthy out at the cove, the cold water seems to have stemmed much of the degradation we were seeing earlier in the unnaturally warm months of March and April, to the great enjoyment of our divers.

Justin being silly on our dive.

As we rounded out the end of our 45 minute scuba dive, (a new personal record for Justin) we turned a corner during our safety stop only to find a giant black sea bass resting peacefully in the water column, unnerved by our presence! The bass came right up to Justin and myself, and swam with us for a minute or so before going on its way and allowing us to end our dive.

It was a wonderful way to end our beautiful scuba dive at La Jolla Cove, and we hope to see you again soon Justin – have fun in Indonesia!

Amazing Scuba Dive in La Jolla Today!

We’ve had beautiful conditions for scuba diving the past couple days here in La Jolla, and a very special guest arrived last night and will hopefully be sticking around until tomorrow – a very lage, Pacific angel shark!

angel shark during a la jolla scuba dive

A beautiful, girthy 5 foot angel shark has been occupying the southern beginning of Vallecitos point, occasionally hanging out with the local halibut. La Jolla Cove has been beautiful as well, but La Jolla Shores has had great scuba diving as of recently. It’s nudibranch madness, and there are nudibranchs all over – dorids, hermissenda’s, and even Polyclad flatworms!

Polyclad flatworms are not a very common site around here, but perhaps they follow the same cues as the multiple species of nudibranchs that are currently mating as well.

Apart from that, the usual critters are still here – sting rays in the shallows, sarcastic fringeheads, lots of Octopus – and the juvenile horn sharks are still around, a definite favorite of the canyon.

If you haven’t gotten your gills wet recently, now would be a great time to do it.

SD Expeditions filming ‘Deadly’ with Steve Backshall and the BBC

Photos and words by Kyle McBurnie

The SD Expeditions blog has been on a bit of hiatus for a little while – we’ve had a very strong summer and have been busy through and through, but it’s begun to slow down now so we’re back!
We’ll be updating the blog with our adventures and expeditions that occured throughout late June and July – and it was all really kicked off with the BBC.

The crew gets ready for our epic San Diego ocean sequences!

We began by diving in our beautiful California kelp forests off La Jolla Cove, but were greeted by less than stellar conditions, and after a couple checkout dives decided to move to the outer kelp for some cleaner water. During the BBC’s sejour in California, we endured some interesting currents and prevailing winds that resulted in a whole number of black sea nettles being blown inshore, a possibly reason for the huge numbers of Mola-Molas we also saw.

Luke, the cameraman, scuba diving to film a gorgeous sequence of a black sea nettle just off La Jolla Cove.

After a day of decent visibility, we regrouped to discuss the following days’ plan. SD Expeditions was to be teaming up with our good friend Danny at Yellow Charter Boat Inc., to take the BBC and Steve out for a day with the blue and mako sharks!

After loading up all the camera gear onto Danny’s boat, we headed out towards the 9-mile bank

We didn’t make it far before an interested pod of bottlenose dolphin decided to stick around just long enough for the crew to get into the water. Between hustling to get suited up and find everyone’s masks and fins, we managed to get the cameraman and Steve in the water. To our excitement, the dolphin stuck around for about 20 minutes, frolicking and breaching all around us!

It wasn’t long before the sharks began to show up…

Our first shark was a mako, but didn’t stick around for very long – this was our first blue shark.

If ever there was a day to have epic encounters, it was that day. We began with a 5′ mako shark, who besides our best efforts never got comfortable enough with the situation and didn’t stick around when we got in the water with him. We hopped back out, and before Danny could even finish heating up his delicious tomato soup, we were greeted by two amazing 5′ blue sharks who had no intention of ever leaving the boat.

Luke dove down to get some unique angles and perspectives, and the two amazingly curious blue sharks were never far behind.

After enjoying our two blue sharks for an hour and a half, we decided to take a break for lunch, after which two more 5′ makos decided to show up – and stick around to provide the film crew with the footage they needed. Right about 5:00pm, the most largest and most beautiful shark we’ve ever had on one of our shark trips showed up – a BEAUTIFUL 9′ female.

She stuck around for ages, and was not at all perturbed by divers in the water.

She was gorgeous. With little imperfections, scars, and discoloration along her body, you could tell she had been around for a little while. Even with Nick, myself, Luke and Steve in the water she was not at all bothered by our interactions, and was happy to swim from diver to diver, to the boat and then the chum buckets. As the sun descended, we decided to bid farewell to our beautiful shark and head on home.


After another day of shooting out in the kelp forest, we finished up on Danny’s boat having had a great day of shooting and a very successful trip overall.