Catalina has some great colors and sea creatures to see when snorkeling.
As a serious snorkeler, I used to partake in the activity at least once a day for the whole time I lived on Catalina, which was 10 years. You can’t do anything on Catalina job-wise except wait on tables at restaurants, and other things that cater to tourists. I got to be 30 years old, and decided I needed to figure out something career-wise.
I never knew how much snorkeling was part of my life until I had to leave Catalina, due to having to get something called a “real job.” Snorkeling opens up an incredible world of sea life that you never knew existed. Colors and creatures abound, including bright orange garibaldi and black perch. Practically every day, I would see this giant sea bass, nearly 7 feet long, who I got to know and named him Gill. I miss snorkeling and especially Gill. The good news is I found a real job in Florida, and can keep snorkeling.
As an avid snorkeler, having lived on Catalina, I thought I had experienced just about all the greatest snorkeling spots there are here in the United States, and that’s including Hawaii.
Then came my Florida trip. There are dozens of nice springs that are very accessible in north and central Florida. Scuba divers are partial to the caves in Florida, but cave diving is very hazardous and divers are always dying. Plus cave divers need very expensive dive gear. The snorkelers in Florida call their particular sport “spring hopping.”
A snorkeler is delighted to see two endangered marine life species make a comeback
I recently got back into snorkeling after a long lay-off, and bought a new dive mask and fins for the event. What I discovered really surprised me, and made me happy. I really didn’t expect to see the sea life that I had once seen in such numbers. But much to my surprise, they were back in some promising numbers.
As a lifelong snorkeler to the Channel Islands off the coast of California, I have personally seen how marine life can deplete in numbers. It’s a sad commentary on man’s voracious appetite for killing anything that moves when you look at the numbers of two species specifically: the beautiful white, green, black and pink abalone, and the magnificent giant black sea bass. These are only two of the beautiful, once thriving species that once inhabited California waters in such abundance, are now gone or in the throes of going. What is it about wildlife that makes people want to kill it just for sport?
I took a hiatus from snorkeling for a year or two, but have recently gotten back into this incredible sport. The first thing I noticed was an improvement in quality of equipment, especially the masks. I found the mask I bought to be a vast improvement over the dive masks I was used to. It has a great low volume design with tempered glass lens molded directly into the soft, silicone skirt in a single, frame-less molding.
I saw lots of new abalone, and literally schools of the giant black sea bass. Masks, abalone and giant sea bass are better than ever! So putting them on the endangered list actually helped!
Once considered critically endangered, the giant black sea bass has been protected since 1982. Now it has made a dramatic comeback. Huge specimens are often seen cruising the edges of kelp forests in Southern California waters. In some locations, it is not unusual to see schools numbering from just a handful to over a dozen.
Is it absolutely necessary to wear a dry suit when the water temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit? Here’s everything you should know about dry suits and wetsuits for cold water diving.
The cut-off temperature for using a dry suit vs. a wetsuit is generally regarded as 50F. For instance, the water in the Bay Area around San Francisco is about 50F, and people generally still use wetsuits to surf and dive there. Below 50F, seriously consider a semi-dry or full dry suit. A good-fitting 7mm wetsuit can be quite adequate even in the coldest of conditions. Divers in Antarctica regularly dive using 10mm-thick neoprene semi-dry wetsuits. However, below 0 Celsius, or 32 Fahrenheit, you should seriously consider staying home and watching a good diving video.
Cold water diving generally means diving in those areas of the world where thermal protection isn’t just recommended, it’s an absolute necessity to avoid hypothermia. Translation: you’ll freeze to death. That would include diving in areas around northwest Europe and parts of North America among other destinations. Even sub-tropical areas such as Southern California will require a wetsuit 3mm in thickness. Wetsuits are even used in tropical waters, although these are generally speaking in the 1mm to 2mm area.
The loosest definition of cold water diving includes most of the wetsuit dive-able waters of the world. In the higher latitudes, cold conditions persist most of the year. And even in the height of summer, fresh water lakes around the world remain at cold water temperatures.
But the payoff for more wetsuitneoprene and equipment cold water gloves, for instance, comes in the form of images of spectacular new subjects as well as the opportunity to dive in the shadow of a Nordic fjord..
For jaded warm water divers who think they’ve seen it all by dressing down, there’s another whole world to be discovered and explored by dressing up in cold water gear. Get awetsuit (or a dry suit) and discover it for yourself!