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Mola Molas on the Rigs [HD Video]


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#1 Rainer

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 08:42 AM

I had my serious doubts. The various swell models had us looking at 5-9ft seas for this past Saturday's charter. The plan had been to hit the wreck of the Olympic II and then do two dives on the oil rigs. This time of year is the iffiest for charters in SoCal. We'd already had to cancel one in January, and it was looking like this would be another dry weekend. I talked to Captain Richard on Friday morning, and while he agreed we would be looking at some big seas, he thought Catalina Island would deflect some of the west swell and the long period (14 seconds) was a good omen.

So Saturday morning 12 of us boarded the Sea Bass and headed out. Soon we were dropping anchor over the Olympic. The boat was rocking a bit, but otherwise, we seemed to be in good conditions. Marc and I dropped in first. The anchor was perfectly placed, with the chain draping back across the wreck. Visibility was probably the poorest I had seen here, but still a decent 15-20'. The Olympic II was a 258' iron sailing ship (built 1877), later converted to a fishing barge (sunk 1940), and sits in about 100'. This is a fairly intact wreck, especially given how long she's been down, and makes for a very nice leisurely dive. Large schools of rubberlip perch gather at both the bow and stern sections. The middle of the wreck is dotted with large ling cods and cabezons. We even saw two molas before we headed back to the anchor to begin our ascent. 50 minutes at 90' average entailed only a few minutes of O2 deco, and soon we were off toward the rigs.

Our second dive would be on oil rig Eureka, an operational rig sitting in about 700' of water. Marc and I teamed up again, with a plan to stay mostly at 90' if the visibility shallower was poor (it sometimes is), but to try spending some time around the first crossbeam at 55' if visibility allowed. Again we were kicking and I planned to shoot video. This was only my second time bringing the new camera off a boat. We headed down to 100' and I got the lights and controls set up, while Marc held his wetnotes so I could white balance the camera. In good order, the camera was set and we were off. Visibility was a decent 40-50' at this depth. Still plenty of ambient light on the outside of the structure. We came upon an area where some gas was being vented and played near the bubbles for a couple of minutes. We then headed into the rig structure, which is much darker, and kicked through a maze of pilings. We kept running into other teams, some kicking, some scootering, which is always a pleasure. Great to see everyone having a fun time. Conditions at the first crossbeam looked good, so we moved up there next. This is usually a hot bed area for life. We ran into a few big schools of blacksmiths and started to see pelagic tunicates, large salp chains, and gastropods float past. We made our way back to the sun lit side of the rig and immediately started to see juvenile Mola molas (ocean sunfish). Adult molas are the heaviest known bony fish in the sea. We hung out until an hour was up, then headed to 20' for a few minutes of O2 deco. Here's some video from that dive (best to choose HD [1080p] only if you have a fast internet connection):

[vimeohd]36954193[/vimeohd]

After lunch, we decided to head in a bit and do the third dive on oil rig Ellen. This rig sits is shallower water (~250') and has a different underwater structure to Eureka. I had planned to dive with Jen, but she opted to stay topside (as did a few others), so I jumped in with Nicole and Marc. We grabbed scooters and just planned to goof off. Of course, we're greeted with twice the visibility (80-100+') we had on the previous dive, and I have no camera. We spent about 15 minutes above the second crossbeam, mashing the triggers, doing loops and barrel rolls, and generally acting like kids (and finding more molas). There's really nothing quite like floating in mid-water, able to see 100' up or down, with a great big structure surrounding you. As we headed shallower, we came across more jellies and the biggest salp chain I've ever seen. Around 40', a few sea lions decided to come play with us. Again, me with no camera... Still, it was nice to be able to just relax and enjoy a simple fun dive.

Soon we were all back on board and headed toward port. The crossing back was a bit rough, but soon enough we were docking in San Pedro. After unloading the gear (it seems this becomes more labor intensive each year), several of us headed out for a group dinner. A wonderful coda to a great day of diving.

For all the misgivings over the weather forecasts, sometimes you just have to motor out and see for yourself. Those are often some of the best dive days.

#2 Elainew

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 09:36 AM

Excellent! Sounds and looks like a lot of fun. Thanks for posting.

#3 Timmoranuk

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 11:50 AM

Very nice. Wish we had some rigs here... Thanks for sharing.
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#4 Rainer

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 05:08 PM

Excellent! Sounds and looks like a lot of fun. Thanks for posting.


Thanks for watching! Really was a lot of fun.

Very nice. Wish we had some rigs here... Thanks for sharing.


Appreciate it! The rigs are a blast. They're magnets for life and a jungle gym for playing and exploring. Sounds like a trip out to SoCal is needed. :D

#5 dkrm

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 12:11 AM

Excellent video. very nice indeed. What camera and lens you used for this? Thanks
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#6 Rainer

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 06:53 AM

Really appreciate it!

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Excellent video. very nice indeed. What camera and lens you used for this? Thanks