July 20, 2017
SCUBA diving in Monterey Bay
Hello readers! This is Rachel, a software engineering intern here at MBARI. You might recognize me from some previous blog posts (a perk of being the primary author’s ride everywhere). I am so excited to contribute as a guest blogger and tell you about one of the many awesome adventures I’ve had this summer.
Getting every other Friday off of work (because we work longer hours on the other weekdays) provides some opportunities to take advantage of the many activities available to us here in Monterey Bay, but without the weekend crowds. Last week, our program coordinator George proposed a Friday morning SCUBA dive at the Monterey breakwater with another intern, Diego, and me. While I was bummed that a Friday off meant no drone flying practice with the MBARI Micro Drone Racing League (a usual highlight of my week), I can never turn down an opportunity to dive!
Having been spoiled for the past few years diving primarily in warm water, I held my head high as I struggled into the thickest wetsuit I’ve ever worn. Warnings of a blooming sea nettle population did not deter us, nor did the news of 10° C water and one to three meters (five to 10 feet) visibility at the breakwater. Weighed down by our gear, Diego and I hobbled to the beach where George was waiting, and the three of us set off to explore the Monterey kelp forest.
A video from the murky Monterey Bay. Video courtesy Rachel Kahn.
Because I had a compass, I was tasked with the responsibility of leading the dive. This turned out to be a challenge when I could barely see two meters in front of me. I would swim a few kicks forward along my compass heading, then turn around to check on the two dark shapes (my buddies) emerging from the murk next to me.
Even while drowned in what looked like pea soup, the kelp forest was beautiful (whenever I wasn’t tangled in it, of course). We saw fish, sea stars, sand dollars, and more! I’ll let my pictures and video tell the story. I’m rarely found underwater without my GoPro clipped to my gear.
A leaky backup regulator forced us to turn around and head back to shore. Extremities numb from the cold water, Diego and I parted ways with George to head back to our apartments. With the pleasant drowsy feeling that comes only after breathing compressed air, we speculated on when our next dive will be.