This May, an oil pipeline had burst just north of my hometown of Santa Barbara, releasing up to 105,000 gallons of crude oil at Refugio State Beach and spreading oil along the beaches of Santa Barbara. Refugio was closed for about 2 months, but as clean up efforts progressed, the site was reopened to beach-goers and divers. Which was lucky for me because this weekend, two of my college friends (who also happened to be the ones that I got SCUBA certified and went to Mo’orea with) came up to visit Santa Barbara and go diving in the kelp forests formerly floating in oil.
Here are some photos from the dive, which was really beautiful with great visibility for a shore dive. This was also my first California dive since coming back from the Red Sea, and while the amount of extra neoprene and weight I had to use was more than I would have liked, you can’t really complain about 72°F water in California.
My dive buddy and I from above.
Some senoritas cruising around in the kelp
My dive buddy towing some kelp along with him
The kelp forests off Refugio State Beach
I’ve come back to Santa Barbara for the summer, and I’m doing a few more dives with the lab I interned for last summer. Last week, we took two overnight trips (one 3-day and a 2-day cruise) to the Channel Islands to continue the benthic surveys that the lab has been doing for years. On this trip, we dove at Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Island trying to hit as many of our sites as we could despite less-than-ideal weather and surge.
At the end of one of our dives off of Santa Rosa Island, my dive buddy and I came across this school of fish hanging out in the kelp and patiently waiting to have their pictures taken. Check out the above video for a look at our little underwater photo shoot, starring a big group of blue rockfish with guest appearances by 2 sheepheadz.
This summer, I came back home to intern as a research diver for a marine biology lab in Santa Barbara. Aside from getting to call myself a professional SCUBA diver, I was able to dive in some of the most beautiful places that I have ever been to, above or below water. We mainly conducted benthic surveys of rocky reefs in the Santa Barbara Channel, so I got to dive in gorgeous kelp forests and rocky subtidal habitats. These are a few photos from around the Channel that give an idea of the places where I worked this summer.
Cruising around Anacapa Island
A section of the 30 meter-long tape we used to conduct our benthic surveys. This stretch included urchins, bat stars, cup coral, and a cool-looking sea slug
Wetsuits drying at sunset
Sundown at Santa Cruz Island
Since we couldn’t get enough of the ocean, some of us interns decided to go whale watching one weekend. We spotted this whale tail with SB in the background.
Two of my dive buddies training to do fish surveys.
A bat ray hiding in a seagrass bed off of Santa Cruz Island.
A cabezon hiding under a huge rock off of Santa Cruz Island
A kelp crab getting defensive after I stuck my camera in its face
Climbing around the edge of Santa Cruz Island