We had to get up early this morning. The Catalina Island ferry was leaving at 6:15 a.m. But it meant that we got to see a beautiful sunrise, which re-energised us for the coming day, despite our late night.
At 9 a.m. we set off for a day of diving off Avalon Bay, hoping to see the much coveted Catalina goby and to swim with the sea lions. Reaching the first diving location around midday (11 a.m. – 12 p.m.), we immersed ourselves 5 m deep in 21-24 °C cold water with clear visibility. Our first water tests gave us a very low calcium (Ca) value of only 360 mg/l. The underwater landscape was like a monoculture of gorgonians. This probably has something to do with the water parameters. The kelp forests, which had almost completely died out a few years ago, are slowly growing back. The reasons for this widespread decline remain unclear. We were lucky enough to find the Catalina goby (Lythrypnus dalli), a small fish that inhabits the East Pacific from Morro Bay to the Gulf of California and as far as Guadalupe in the west. It gets its name from its first reported sighting near Santa Catalina Island, off Los Angeles. We also came across some garibaldis (Hypsypops rubicundus), who weren’t shy about attacking the divers.
After all the divers had left the water the boat took us to the next diving spot. And because the weather was so fantastic - over 30 °C and with just a gentle breeze - there were no high waves. Reaching the coast of Avalon we jumped back into the water and were able to dive with 3-4 large sea lions. Breathtaking! Three of our group even managed to get as close as 10 m to the animals and communicate with them. The rest of the group was about 100 away and were surrounded by animals. Once all the divers had left the water we continued to the next diving location.
Late in the afternoon we arrived back in Avalon Harbour, took the ferry back to Long Beach (arrival at 7:00 p.m.) and the same day (at 11:59 p.m.) caught the flight from Los Angeles to Tahiti/Papeete. We now had 8 1/2 hours’ time to sleep, and we wanted to make full use of it.