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Possibly one of the most amazing things we’ve seen all summer… I NEVER thought I’d see a smooth hammerhead and a mako shark swimming together especially midway through October!
The shark diving has been a little slow last month, with the very warm temperatures keeping the blue sharks at bay, it has been mainly makos and hammerheads (not that anyone’s complaining!). We had fun enjoying the blue whale blows off in the distance, with pods of dolphins coming by to check out the boat as well.
At around 3pm we had a large 7 foot mako with fishing hooks in both sides of her mouth show up. She was very calm, and after observing her behavior for a while we got everyone in the water with her.
There was a moment where she took off, and Nick yelled out “It’s hammertime!” Lo and behold, a slightly smaller smooth hammerhead showed up, and would stick around for the better part of an hour.
The true astonishment came when after an hour of enjoying the hammerhead – the female mako with hooks in her mouth decided to come back. For about 5 minutes, the two sharks swam together and allowed us to record a short video before we got out of the water.
Here’s the video we managed to grab before the mako decided to try and fit my strobe in her mouth..
Overall it was an amazing shark trip, and we had a great time with our guests out on the water. Thanks guys!
We were very lucky to take out Shawn Styles with CBS 8 news on the Mola for some hammerhead diving! We got in the water with 2 playful sharks and we are very excited to have this segment feature on the news. If you missed it, check it out here:
On August 18th we welcomed two amazing underwater photographers, Andrew Sallmon & Allison Sallmon with the hopes of sharking out very very far into the Pacific. When the ocean threw some solid swell at us, we decided it was best to re-think our plan and stay a more standard distance offshore – and what an amazing decision that was.
Between two sets of Mola-molas under patties, chumming up and swimming with a Smooth Hammerhead shark for HOURS (perhaps a San Diego first in recent years?), witnessing a juvenile white shark from the surface (Nick and I got in to no avail), and enjoying over a handful of blue whales on the ride back including a mother and calf, it doesn’t really get more amazing.
The 7-8 foot female hung around for 3 hours alternating between making passes and circling the boat. Everyone in the water was very comfortable with her, and she had such a calm disposition. Their heads are so much larger than I expected!
Three days later, we spotted another hammerhead only 2 miles off shore, and yet another one while chumming for blue and mako sharks later that day.
Ranging from 3-20 feet long, hammerheads are normally seen in warm waters and are one of the few sharks that school during the daytime and become solitary hunters at night. This one that we had the pleasure of getting in the water with was also alone, and several studies have suggested that sightings in Southern California are associated with warm-water events. I guess one of the upsides of this warm water driving away blue and mako sharks is that we get hammerheads!
While we were out on the open ocean, we spotted a nice and large kelp paddy. When we motored by it, we spotted a couple mola molas beneath it. Then we realized it was an entire school of mola molas! It was such an incredible sight to see these large bony fish congregating in blue water.
The kelp paddy also served as a great background for some of the footage. Here’s a montage from the encounter.
It’s not often SD Expeditions gets to dive outside of San Diego, so this past weekend was a refreshing change of scenery. Kyle McBurnie and Alice loaded the car full of dive gear and strapped the kayak onto the car to head up to Monterey Bay for the 2014 Monterey Underwater Shootout hosted by Backscatter and NCUPS.
After checking in at 11AM at the Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo Store on Cannery Row, we headed south to Point Lobos State Marine Reserve. This is a very unique park since they limit divers to only 30 a day, and you must dive with a buddy and bring your certification card. We geared up and loaded the kayaks at Whalers Cove and paddled out and around to Bluefish Cove. We battled some decent swell and saw tons of fried egg jellies.
We did a 50 minute dive and decided to cut it short because of how cold we were. We didn’t realize how warm San Diego waters have been lately: La Jolla has been seeing 64-70 degree water, and Monterey was a solid 54-62 degrees. The local divers were saying we they had beautiful dive conditions and warm water all week, until the swell came in the night before the competition. At every dive site we were treated with overcast skies and dark, green water characteristic of Northern California diving.
We certainly felt some very strong surge on our first dive. The particles in the dark water also presented a challenge to underwater photography. Kyle was still able to capture this image, which received an honorable mention in the wide angle traditional category.
On our paddle out for the second dive, we decided to stop and shoot with some of the jellies. Some of them had quite long and transparent tentacles that extended about 10 feet behind them! A lot of them also looked dead and battered, but Kyle’s photo won 3rd place in the wide angle, unrestricted category.
The next day we dove the metridium fields for our first time. Many of the metridiums were puckered up and feeding, but when they were fanned open they were absolutely beautiful. It was quite eerie coming up on this rock outcropping in the middle of the sand. This photo received an honorable mention in the wide angle traditional category.
This photo took first place in the wide angle unrestricted category! Beautiful work, Kyle. We were able to capture this shot before it closed up.
Our last dive was at the breakwater. We kicked all the way around it to the otters, sea lions, and cormorants. This was our first time seeing lots cormorants feeding in between the rocks 30 feet down and swimming around like fish. This one surprised us and made a great silhouette in the photo.
Have you ever dove in Monterey? Conditions can be quite challenging, so props to the local divers there! We love how the dive community is so passionate and tightly knit, and the diving is just so impressive, even though the water can be cold.
Of course the day after the competition ended, divers were reporting 50 feet of visibility at the metridium fields! Would have been amazing to see the fields in great dive conditions, but guess we will have to wait until next year.
We have quite a treat today! This Friday we want to share a short video Kyle captured while wakeboarding with a pod of dolphins in San Diego.
Shot from a head-mounted GoPro, Kyle is seen skurfing on the ocean with dolphins playing in the wake of the boat.
It would mean a lot of you could show your support and vote for us!
We haven’t seen the sevengills at the La Jolla Cove in 5 weeks and assumed they had continued on their normal routine and left as the water warmed. So you can imagine our surprise when we spotted this male sevengill with a damaged dorsal fin! We are left wondering what caused the severe fin damage and why we are seeing them so late into the season?
A unique open ocean traveler, Mola molas really are Something Different.
We are proud to have our boat share the name and are excited to announce it is officially Mola season. As the amount of jellies and sea nettles have increased, we have been seeing these cow-faced fish regularly out on the open ocean.
Swimming with these shy ocean sunfish is always an experience – their unique swimming behavior, goofy demeanor, and large weight of up to 5,000 lbs make molas a very special animal to share the water with.