A Shore Dive At Shaw's Cove
October 2, 2009
With Edward Tu and Jeff Bozanic
and Photos © Elaine Jobin,
may not be reproduced in part or whole without advanced written permission.
Shore diving isn't usually my "thing". I like boat diving. However, I'm getting older and, I'm realizing that I'll probably always be able to roll off a boat. I'm not so sure that climbing stairs and traversing surf with a tank on my back will be something I'll be able to do when I get even older......so, I'd better do some of it now or I may miss out on it forever.
I like shore diving with Jeff because he is big, and sturdy, and strong, If a wave knocks me over, Jeff is great at getting me upright again. I jumped at the chance to do a Shaw's Cove dive with Jeff and his friend Edward. On top of it all it was a beautiful Southern California October morning. Warm air, sunny sky, relatively warm water, and flat water in the cove. Perfect conditions for me, a shore diving sissy.
We put on our wetsuits and gear and made the trip down the stairs to the beach.
After an easy entry, we donned our fins and traversed the shallow sandy cove to the rocky reef.
Our first stop was at my favourite Shaw's Cove landmark - the underwater arch.
We swam through the arch a couple of times. Jeff posed for a few pictures.
Next we followed the edge of the reef around, checking out the nooks and crannies. We saw several octopi and lobsters - none of them were poked out of the rocks far enough to get any decent pictures. .
Then we went over the "ridge" and through a small pass to the shore side of the reef.
While Jeff and Edward continued to inspect the cracks and the crevices, I found a small "arch" to view.
So far, nothing had seemed unusual at all about our dive. Then, all of a sudden, surge and the current picked up and the reef started "smoking". After a few quizzical looks, we figured it out. Something was spawning. Due to the increased surge, It was much harder to stay still for pictures. (Some pictures from the spawn were forwarded to Leslie Harris at the LA Museum of Naturnal History. Leslie confirmed that it was the worms that were spawning. She wrote back that there are two common ones of that size and shape, Phragmatopoma californica and Neosabellaria cementarium. She suspected they are the Phragmatopoma californica - the Colonial Sand Tube Worm.
We watched the spawning for a while. The whole landscape changed with this event and it was pretty impressive. Totally cool would probably describe it best. It was the luck of being in the right place, at the right time.
I asked Leslie Harris for more information about Colonial Sand Tube Worm Spawning.My motivation was that I I wanted to know when I could see it again.... if ever. Leslie gave this article her seal of approval. She said that the statement on page 105 pretty much sums up what is known about when the spawning of the tube worm occurs - "First, it has 3 temporal scales
of reproductive effort: (1) low level continuous spawning, (2) seasonal spawning peaks (probable), and (3) a
facultative response to disastrous events." Leslie went on to say "You probably observed a small-scale seasonal event or perhaps it was the lead-in (or tail-end) of a big mass spawning. Often spawners in different genera synchronize their spawning. For example, on a reef certain species of corals, sponges, worms, whatever all let go at the same time. Not only are the conditions optimal for survival but spawning en masse like that is thought to provide a better chance of surviving the on-slaught of predators looking for a tasty bite." Thanks Leslie for your terrific consultation!!!
When our thoughts turned to heading back to shore I ducked into a swim through for some pictures. It turned into a one way trip due to the current.
Spit out somewhere on the other side.....I headed back to shore...alone. My dive buddies had managed to avoid the tunnel and the one way vortex. They did have a longer swim back around the reef however.......
I met back up with Jeff and Edward on the beach. I was so happy that they had included me in this shore dive! A mass spawning was something I have never seen in Southern California before. Awesome!!!!!