Catalina Trip Picture 3/14/15
On March 14, renowned underwater photographer Chris Shi, joined an Ocean Safari dive trip aboard the Cee Ray to Bird Rock, located on the front side of Catalina Island. In addition to his SCUBA gear, he brought something very special, his camera. Chris dove with an Olympus E-PL2 equipped with a 8mm fisheye lens. He used a single Sea & Sea YS-250 strobe and cone for external lighting. To achieve these remarkable photographs, Chris fine-tuned his camera settings to F13, 1/125, ISO200. With the help of his equipment as well as several years of experience, Chris Shi was able to capture a wide spectrum of color, painting a striking representation of the underwater world in which he was submersed. Vivid red, rich gold, vibrant green, and deep blue give his photographs an alluring quality and stunning clarity, displaying the brilliance of this dynamic dive site.
Written by Sara Hall
Dive Blog February 21, 2015. Anacapa Island.
“Go, go, go, go!” Crew members called out as the boat erupted into a flurry of motion. Several divers hit the water in quick succession, creating a staccato rhythm as they stepped off the boat into the current.
The first dive of the morning was a semi-drift dive. After extensive planning, Ocean Safari teamed up with the Explorer to offer this unique semi-drift experience for divers. But, as a novice diver, I didn’t have the skill for this kind of dive yet. I sat perched on the Explorer’s upper deck, my favorite place on the ship, as the action unfolded below me.
I watched in awe as the current slowed, leaving the freshly departed divers bobbing in the water next to the boat instead of drifting. Suddenly, the divers didn’t need to hurry off the boat. The sense of urgency was gone, replaced by a surge of excitement. It was a beautiful day at Anacapa Island and the conditions were exceptional for diving.
The first group of divers climbed back onto the boat and exhilaration hit me like a bolt of electricity. I was ravenous to get in the water. My first dive of the morning was a skin dive lead by Thomas and Norbert. Kelp blanketed the surface thickly, creating the odd sensation of crawling on the water as if it were a solid mass.
This was my first free dive. I struggled to descend against the buoyancy of my wetsuit, flapping my fins helplessly against the surface. Thomas and Norbert made it look so easy! I wanted to be able to do that. What I enjoyed most about the skin dive was that it gave me a little taste of what I could expect once I got back on the boat and donned my dive gear. From the surface of the water, I could see forty feet down to the bottom. I’d never experienced visibility like that.
After gearing up, I hit the water a second time and felt adrenaline rush through me. In seconds, I was surrounded by marine life including urchins, starfish, sea slugs, and countless creatures I couldn’t name. The kelp forest was encompassing, surrounding us like long fingers reaching up from the ocean floor.
As a group, we demonstrated a few skills for Thomas and Norbert including mask flooding and neutral buoyancy. Then came my favorite part, exploring through the lush kelp forest. I quickly became enthralled by the underwater world. There was so much to see!
Lunch was an interesting experience, as it seemed just as exciting for some of us. We had many hungry divers. But, I couldn’t stop thinking about getting back into the water. There was so much wonder and discovery at my fingertips. I wanted to explore. I wanted to see more.
The last dive of the day didn’t disappoint, offering the same remarkable visibility as the previous. I’d never been on a dive where I could see so clearly, so vividly. It seemed endless. It blew me away.
My first trip with Ocean Safari, also my first dive since certification yielded tons of new friends and adventures. The Explorer is an excellent boat with a professional and hospitable crew. I can only describe the day as phenomenal. I enjoyed every minute of it. Ocean Safari is not your average dive shop; they rose above my expectations, striving to offer unique and one-of-a-kind experiences, giving divers the best that California has to offer. The beauty I saw underwater was enough to leave me breathless. Never hold your breath! Oh, right…
Look for me on your next dive trip, lets buddy up!
Written by Sara Hall
OCEAN SAFARI ANNUAL NEW YEAR PARTY 2015
Time: 11am-3pm, Saturday, January 10, 2015
Location: Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, Irwindale
Participants: Ocean Safari Dive Team members, their friends, family, & pets. (All pets must be on leash)
- Eating, chatting, & relaxing w/OSDT.
- Slide Shows & Video Shows.
- Fishing (The lake is stocked with rainbow trout constantly; please bring your freshwater fishing license.)
- Excellent bicycle and walking trails around the lake & natural area.
- Drawing will be held to give away prizes value totaling over $1500.00
This event is a Pot Luck, so please bring one dish sufficient for serving 5-6 people & beverages for self consumption or to share. (No Alcohol allowed please)
Want to BBQ? No problem! We will prepare a BBQ fire grill at the location. You are welcome to bring different kinds of meat and vegetables to cook over the grill!
There is no charge for our party. However, there is an entry fee of $10.00 per car load for day use of the park. If you wish to save some money, you can car pool.
For everybody’s convenience, please arrive no later than 1130AM
Big Sur Trip
Big Sur, California, has got to be one of the most beautiful places in California. Maybe even the whole US. Tourists from around the world flock to this gorgeous gem to see its clear turquoise waters, with majestic rugged coastline, surrounded by tall luscious trees. I first fell in love with this place during my sophomore year of high school (2007) on a school trip. I didn’t even know that such tropical looking waters existed in temperate oceans.
Photo: Haruka Ito, 2007. No color adjustments, no filter. It’s the real thing taken by a little point and shoot I had at the time. Isn’t it beautiful?
When I saw the trip listed on the OSDT 2014 calendar, I couldn’t be more excited. I wanted to be the first one signed up! Who wouldn’t want to dive in that stunning place?
The first day of the trip, we toured another beautiful city in California, Santa Barbara. We visited the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, where we got a special private tour by Gabriel’s professor from UC Santa Barbara. This museum houses the spectacular lens from the Point Conception lighthouse, hand crafted in the 1800s. A lens like that, built with numerous precise, handmade glass pieces, can no longer be made, even with modern technology. And the modern replacement cannot shine as bright as that one. The museum is filled with history, not only of the lighthouse, but also the history of how Santa Barbara is the birthplace of commercial diving. The exhibit also highlighted surfing, submarines, rowing, and shipwrecks, so pretty much anyone who loves the ocean will enjoy this museum.
After eating at a harbor side restaurant, which used to be Gabriel’s favorite places to treat himself after long study sessions, we headed to Morro Bay where the boat was docked. The boat is nicer than all the usual local boats we charter! It is the biggest boat, and the galley is so wide that no one has to worry about bumping into each other while walking through. We had a small group, so people had a whole table to themselves! There were very nice large shower rooms, not the usual cramped shower with a toilet taking up most of the space. The single bunks were the size of the usual double bunks. The back deck was so large that there was room to leave gear bags right there! They had dryers, freezers, and refrigerators for the guests to use. The food was amazing and probably the freshest meals I’ve ever had on a California dive boat. So should this be considered a local trip or an overseas trip? Well, I think the feel of it is very much like our local trips, but aboard a nice, huge boat with great food and awesome crew (kind of like a small-scale overseas liveaboard). I don’t think our California diving boats can get much better than aboard the Vision.
The dive sites were top notch. We went to pinnacles, underwater caves and canyons, and other hard-to-get-to spots. One of the highlights was swimming through Thomas’s Cave, which is a huge underwater cave with three entrances. After swimming out of the cave, I entered a spectacular little cove, where the light was shimmering through the water to the eelgrass and seaweed bed. My other favorite dive involved finding little pieces of real jade at Jade Cove, where I got a handful of jade that can be easily turned into nice jewelry pieces.
The Big Sur dives are definitely for advanced dive sites, with plenty of surge, swells, and currents (side current, down current, and currents going all directions). This means that life was abundant and the underwater scene was in full action. The reefs were teeming with life, including white plumose anemone, huge lingcod everywhere, nudibranchs I had never seen before, and purple hydrocorals. Since the water is colder, we saw many things that you can only see at deeper depths in the Channel Islands. There were vermillion and lingcod at fairly shallow depths, around 40 feet or less. This area is also unique, because there are two types of kelp in the kelp forest. From Southern California through the Channel Islands, you only see giant kelp. Giant kelp likes the warmer waters, so they’re not found in the colder Northern waters. From Alaska to Central California, you see lots of bull whip kelp that likes the cold waters. Big Sur is unique in that both types of kelp thrive in the same location. This variety of kelp creates a forest that can house a greater diversity of marine creatures. Things that can only live up north and others that can only live in the south meet and live together in unison. Another interesting marine life observation I made were the number of bat stars that scatter the sea floor in Big Sur. You might see some bat stars at Santa Cruz Island, but they are not the dominant sea star species in the Channel Islands. Also, if you are tired of seeing so many sea urchins on the local trips, Big Sur’s lack of sea urchins overtaking the landscape might soothe your eyes. (The sea otters keep the urchin population in check.) Since the Vision is the only dive boat that operates in the area, and only for two weeks out of the year, you can bet that not many people have a chance to dive in these hard-to-access pinnacles and dive sites.
Aside from diving, you can’t help but stare at the beautiful coastline. We passed by one the most photographed bridge one the West Coast (due to the beautiful design and location that makes it easy to photograph from land). This bridge, the Bixby Creek Bridge, is also the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world. We also visited McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. This waterfall is the tallest freshwater waterfall (84 feet) that cascades straight into the ocean on the Pacific coast. Hundreds of tourists visit the waterfall, but since there is no beach access allowed, they go on a paved walkway and view the waterfall from high above the falls and far away enough to take in the whole scenery with the turquoise cove. Unlike those tourists, the Vision went straight into the cove, and saw the waterfall up close. I’ve seen the waterfall from the far away viewpoint. To see the waterfall from sea level was one of the most memorable and special moments of the trip.
There’s just so much to do on this trip, from touring Santa Barbara, sightseeing, diving, and simply enjoying the cruise. They also have kayaks on board, if just looking at the coastline isn’t good enough. What an extraordinary trip! You’d better not miss the next opportunity to go dive at this special gem in California, aboard the most comfortable local dive boat, the Vision.
Photo: Haruka Ito, 2012. View of McWay falls that tourists see
Photo: Haruka Ito, 2014. View of McWay falls aboard the Vision