Thursday, February 1, 2007

Squid night dive at Redondo Beach

Its night, its winter, its cold, its raining slightly… what a perfect time to put on your wetsuit and swim into the Pacific Ocean, and then scuba dive down to 80-90 feet. Yup, this is my other passion besides doing art, scuba diving. And why dive at night in the middle of winter in Southern California? Because at night, the squids come near shore in masses to mate, lay eggs in the sand, and then die. The mating of the squids, or some call it a squid run, is one of natures wonder, and we here in Southern California have the privilege to witness this event at our local beaches. The best place locally in the L.A. area is at Redondo Beach, right near the pier on the East side. Here exists what is called a submarine canyon. It’s basically a deep canyon that cuts close to our shoreline. Your typical beaches will seldom get to a depth of 50 feet, unless you swim out 100-200 yards out, but at Redondo Canyon, you can easily reach 130 feet plus. And due to the depth, and other reasons which I have no clue to, the squids come in close to shore, and mate in a flurry of orgy. I have witnessed literally thousands of squid swimming in front of my mask at 70 feet. After they mate, they turn the sea floor into a shag carpeting of white tubes of egg casings. The egg casings are around 3-4 inches and contain hundreds of individual eggs. After all is done, and spent all their energy procreating, they die. Next every animal around comes out to feast on the dead squid, which is an event in itself. So every year, eager groups of divers will gear up with dive lights in hand, and enter the dark cold surf.

On Saturday January 27, we swam out about 50-75 yards, and then drop down 25-40 feet to a sandy bottom. From here we headed South/slightly South West, and then dropped down the sandy wall of the canyon. Quickly we reached 80-90 feet where we witnessed squids mating, and saw egg casings in the sand everywhere. A good number of bat rays were also present, obviously taking advantage of the dying squids. The visibility was about 15 feet or perhaps better in some spots. A couple of times a large figure would dart by quickly, and just out of the spot light of my dive light. From my experiences in night diving, I knew right away it was the ever-playful sea lions. They love to play with divers even in the dark. We noticed many sand crabs, bat rays, red rock crabs, kellets whelk, sand dabs, sand dollars, sea stars, and on and on. One thing I did see which was unusual, was a sweet potato flat worm about 15 inches long. At least that's what my dive buddy and I think it was. It’s amazing what we run into in the canyon since the deep water brings some unusual animals here. Can’t wait till my next dive.

There is a cool video clip taken by one of our dive club member Anastasia on the same night. Go here.