Announcing Mola Expeditions for 2015

Ocean sunfish mola mola school under kelp paddy
Ready to do Something Different?

With the extremely warm water this summer, it was only a matter of time before our personal favorite showed up… molas! This year we had a particularly amazing summer swimming with these charismatic and harmless animals, with schools of molas under kelp paddies and even coming out of the depths of blue water to surprise us while on our shark trips. We’ve seen sea lions eating mola carcasses and some of the largest molas to date.

We received a lot of interest in mola-molas from our guests, so in the summer of 2015, SD Expeditions will be the first to start offering mola-mola encounters – from July to September.

For more information on our Mola Expeditons for 2015, click here.

In the Water with Smooth Hammerheads

We experienced unusually warm water temperatures this year, and for the first time in many years – hammerhead sharks appeared in San Diego. By altering our chumming techniques and locations, we were able to offer Smooth Hammerhead diving – something no one else has done.

Although they have been spotted here in the past, very few divers have ever encountered a Smooth Hammerhead underwater. These sharks are large, shy, and very cautious. But once they got comfortable they provided a completely unique experience.

Watch our encounters with these amazing animals below:

We are now officially on TripAdvisor!

SD Expeditions on TripAdvisor

SD Expeditions on TripAdvisor

Woohoo! We are so excited to finally be listed on TripAdvisor! We’d love to hear what you have to say about our services and how we can improve, so head on over and check out our page :)

Smooth Hammerhead Swimming with a Mako

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.

She must be a fighter with fresh hooks in both sides of her mouth!

She must be a fighter with fresh hooks in both sides of her mouth!

Jess with the 7 foot mako shark

Jess with the 7 foot mako shark

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 beautiful smooth hammerhead, check out that rippling muscle in her back!

The beautiful smooth hammerhead, check out that rippling muscle in her back!

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.

Ryan, Jess and Matt watching the hammerhead

Ryan, Jess and Matt watching the hammerhead

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!

Happy shark divers!

Happy shark divers!

Taking out CBS 8 for the Hammerheads

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:

CBS 8 Hammerheads in San Diego

Image courtesy of CBS 8

Hammerhead Shark Sightings in San Diego

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!

Hammerhead shark spotted san diego

Hammerhead shark diving san diego

Nick diving down on the beautiful hammerhead shark

Swimming with hammerhead sharks

School of Mola Molas.. Oh My!

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.

Mola mola school

A school of mola molas, such an incredible sight to see

The kelp paddy also served as a great background for some of the footage. Here’s a montage from the encounter.

2014 Monterey Underwater Shootout

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.

Diving bluefish cove

A beautiful anemone on our first dive

Point Lobos scuba diving

Kyle warming up between dives at Point Lobos

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.

Fried egg jelly at Point Lobos SMR

Alice looking up at a fried egg jelly

Lingcod at bluefish cove

A beautiful blue lingcod on our second dive in Bluefish cove

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.

Metridium fields in Monterey, CA

Looking up from the metridium fields

Metridium fields in Monterey, CA

These large white metridiums contrasted nicely with the dark and green water

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.

Metridium photo for the Monterey shootout

Kyle’s 1st place photo with a beautifully lit metridium

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.

Underwater cormorant at the breakwater in Monterey

Our dive at the breakwater was full of life, including this surprise cormorant!

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.

Kyle Wakeboarding with Dolphins

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.

Vote for us!

We are nominated for BEST Water Activities for the 2014 San Diego A-List. Hooray!

It would mean a lot of you could show your support and vote for us!

Click here to cast your vote.