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El Niño, Global Warming & Diving-
 El Niño doesn't occupy the Californian mind as much as something like the Santa Ana winds, but El Niño is just as much a part of the California weather experience. El Nino brings heavy rain and warm waters to our coast, which has a variety of effects on our marine ecology- especially our sensitive kelp forests.

El Niño is a part of the pressure cycles that govern air flow in the Pacific Ocean. During normal conditions, Equatorial winds gather warm water pool toward the west. Cold water upwells along South American coast. During El Niño, surface water warming is prolonged, reducing cold water upwelling. This disrupts the normal flow of air and water, hence the unusual weather phenomena.

The strongest El Niño events was back in 1998,  which caused an estimated 45 billion dollars in damage and 23,000 deaths worldwide. Like the Northridge earthquake, that year was burned into the collective Californian memory. I was only 10 at the time but I distinctly remember the flooded backyards and rain coming down like I'd never seen before. Scientists fear that with climate change warming the surface sea temperatures (SST), conditions will be ripe for El Niños to develop. Super El Niño events like the one in 1998 will not only become more frequent, but more intense as well.  

Those saying that the mild El Niño we are experiencing now is a welcome relief in our extended drought, it is unclear if it will bring enough water to offset the years of depletion our water system has sustained. This winter's El Niño is expected to be less intense than in previous years, but California residents should be prepared for future El Niños with much stronger effects. Last bit of trivia: the name El Niño (The boy in Spanish) refers to Jesus Christ, because El Niño effects were often noticed in South America during Christmas time.

But Warm Water is great! Right?- The extra warm water has been a nice treat for those of us used to the brisk conditions out here in California, but the extended summer temperatures do come at a price. Bull Kelp and Giant Kelp, the native species to our waters, depend on the dense nutrients of cold water to maintain their growth rate of 10-12 inches a day. Warm water not only holds fewer nutrients but also causes a reduction of photosynthesis and consequently, reduced canopy blades. El Niño has been bringing more warm water into our coastline, threatening our kelp forests. Along with over-harvesting and urchin grazing, our kelp forests are at risk. If you would like to help, organizations like LA Water Keeper run kelp forest conservation efforts that are volunteer supported.


Atomic Aquatics SplitFins
Atomic Aquatics SplitFins

Atomic Split Fin Trade In Program-
If you've been eyeing a pair of Atomic Split
Fins, you're in luck. Trade in your old fins towards store credit for a pair of Atomic Aquatics split fins.. Split Fins are designed to be more hydrodynamic, which means less drag and more propulsion, reducing diver fatigue. These fins come in a variety of handsome colors and can really complete that sexy alien mermaid look you've been going for. Without fins, divers would be more or less dead in the water; a good set of fins is an essential piece of kit. This a great time to upgrade your old fins, so bring them over and move up in life!


Marine Protected Areas- The concept of a Marine Protected Area may seem obvious considering our country's many national parks, but they have only actually existed since 1999. With the passage of the Marine Life Protection Act (thanks to Tom Ford), California was split up into five regions that would set up protected marine parks. Now there are over 120 such protected areas up and down the coast where commonly hunted fish can reach reproductive maturity. Fish like the kelp bass, which is very popular with sport fishers, are ten times more common within reserves. These safe havens help reseed other unprotected areas, and scientists have seen an encouraging recovery in fish populations. Fish lovers and fish eaters alike can rejoice, because we have more of them to look at and they have more of them to eat. Everyone is happy!


Princeton Tec Dive Lights- I originally bought my dive lamp to use on a night dive, but since then I take my lamp with me anytime I'm diving. In California visibility can be unpredictable, and often times things get a lot more interesting at depths where sunlight isn't great. Bringing a dive light down to 60 feet brings back all the vibrant color that is lost at that depth, and just makes my dive that much more enjoyable. We stock some of Princeton Tec's excellent dive lamps from small back ups like the Genesis to primary lamps like the 700 lumen Sector 7. SHine these lights to a bit of rock at depth and watch it erupt in life and color. Trust me, once you dive somewhere like Seven Fathom Reef or Farnsworth Pinnacle with a light, you'll never go without one again.


Night Dive Specialty with Lobster & Shrimp Hunts-  Sure, diving into the blackness of night has its spooky factor, but at night is when many nocturnal animals are up and about, like octopi, squids, sarcastic fringeheads, and a variety of more bizarre animals that are hiding during day time hours. It's a very otherworldly vibe. I pretend I'm in outer space, exploring an alien landscape.

Now that it's October, lobster season is in! My Facebook feed is flooded with pictures of my dive friends feasting on lobster they caught on their night dives, and you can do the same. Our night dive speciality will get you familiar with lobster hunting techniques and regulations. If your class is up for it, you can get together and share recipes and pig out on lobster you caught yourself. Nothing tastes better than your own catch. Just a tip from us: the bigger the lobster, the less tasty he is; go for the little ones.

Classes are $199, which includes three dives with your instructor, rentals, and all PADI materials. email


Worst Shark Weak EVER- Shark weak sounds like a pretty good idea, right? A week dedicated to educating the public about one of nature's coolest and most tragic figures. It's a chance to redeem a creature much maligned by pop culture, right? That TV Channel says, "NOPE! We are gonna run stupid-ass shows with names like Alien Sharks, Zombie Sharks, Sharkageddon, Great White Serial Killer and Sharkpocalypse because they get good ratings. Science can suck it!" Not only does this sort of programming perpetuate falsehoods about shark behavior, but is even driving up public demand for shark meat! Television suffers from a dearth of strong scientific communicators, and it's a shame that what used to be an earnest series of science and discovery has devolved into a stonery B-movie flurry of misinformation. Sharks and people alike are worse off for Shark Weak.


Spooky Dive Shindig October 7th 7pm-  Most of the time, scuba diving is just a Finding Nemo-esque paradise of friendly sea creatures and colorful corals. Every once in a while, however, scuba gets real scary. Tales of hungry animals, explosive decompression, and a visit from the LA county deputy coroner will set off our spooky Halloween themed Dive Shindig this coming October 7th at 7pm.

There will be a Casa Andreas tamale bar & Togo's sandwich's from 6:45 to 7:20 and our usual raffle. Prizes this time around will be an excellent boat ticket to Catalina, a first aid kit, and a Pool Discovery Diver course for a friend.

Our first speaker will be Scott of Bluewater Travel. Scott began experimenting with cameras later in life, falling in love with underwater and wildlife photography. He travels often to remote destinations, specializing in adventure expeditions where he can be close with the natural world. Ask him about his gnarliest underwater experiences!

Captain John Kades has been the deputy coroner of the LA County Coroner's Office for the past 12 years. As a part of the Special Operations Response Team, he specializes disaster operations, aircraft fatalities, drowning/SCUBA cases, and skeletal/buried body cases. Kades is an expert when it comes to scuba diving that goes wrong, and more importantly he can teach us how not to end up like his subjects.


Free Octo with Regulator Purchase- Buy a new regulator in October and we will throw in a free Oceanic Delta 4.1 2nd Stage Octopus. Simple as that! Your dive buddy will be super stoked about having a new octo to chill on if he ever runs out of air, which I'm sure you could use to leverage a beer of two out of him.


 The Sherwood Amphos is a more than capable entry-level dive computer for the recreational diver. It supports air and free diving, and its nitrox setting accommodates multiple FO2 mixes- perfect for aspiring tech divers. As many vets will tell newer divers that a computer is a crucial piece of safety equipment. Having a computer help keep track of air usage and managing safe ascents has certainly kept me out of trouble. If you buy an Amphos during the month of October, we'll include a free transmitter, a value of $480 and we'll pay your sales tax on the wrist unit too..


Pre-order a Drysuit- Summer may be over and water will be getting cold again, but there's no reason to stop diving when we stock such great drysuits. Much of eco's staff dive year round, and drysuits make that third or fourth dive of the day feel so much more comfortable than diving wet. As you may be aware, purchasing a drysuit includes the PADI drysuit specialty class, which also goes towards your master scuba diver card. Winter diving has some of the best visibility(50-80 feet), and drysuits totally make you look like an astronaut(sick!). Come into the shop and we can help you order the suit that is right for you.


Red Sea Dive Trip July 25th to August 1st- Our trip to the Philippines may be sold out, but do not despair; we've got another far flung luxury live aboard trip lined up with Eco Instructor Lacie Marshall! The Red Sea is the bit of ocean between Africa and Arabian Peninsula. You may be imagining vast deserts and camels, but the warm water temperature makes for a tropical style dive experience. Think short wetsuits and vibrant coral reefs. Highlights include the massive Daedalus reef, Anenome city, and wrecks like the Thistlegorm, which was discovered by none other than Jacques Cousteau. Divers will be living aboard the Red Sea Aggressor, a very cushy luxury yacht with all meals included. Oh yeah, did I mention beer and wine is all included as well? Beds start at 1899. Airfare is not included. Contact for more information or visit here.

Views: 1980
Posting: 10-28-2014
Tags: california, el nino, la, los angeles, malibu diving, news, scuba

Harsh conditions made for a challenging day of diving The Explorer this weekend.  This is in part due to the super moon that we are experiencing (in case you were wondering.)  We departed late Saturday night for Santa Rosa Island, one of the outer Channel Islands.  Santa Rosa is one of the best spots to dive but conditions are usually bad so there is a very small window that charters have to fit into.  Hence the reason why Santa Rosa trips are generally done once per year.  There were very strong currents, wind, and big swells.  But still doable. This was definitely a trip for those with a fat healthy logbook. The first site was right off the island.  There was a large reef directly below the boat with a huge crack in it.  Almost looked like a wall had fallen down.  In the crack you could see all the nocturnal fish taking shelter – mostly because their bright colors make them easy prey for predators.  We saw a ton of treefish in there.  You can spot these at night or in darkened holes or cracks during the day. Look for the black and yellow striped fish with rosy red lips. The second site is where things got great.  After an hour or so of searching for a spot, the captain came across what looked like a huge plateau (mesa?) on his sonar thingamajig.  The crew then elected me to jump in and check it out before we sent all the divers in.  What I found was unreal.  A huge underwater island.  The top was flat sitting in about 20 feet and then rounded down a bit then dropped off to a sheer wall to ~50 feet.  Sorta looked like if you cut the top third of a scuba tank off.  Surrounding the base of the wall were a half dozen swim-throughs – or at least that is how many I saw.  The entire underwater structure was massive and would take some planning if you were to try and get around the whole thing. There was tons and tons of life.  Some of which included gigantic sheepheads, scorpionfish, and hundreds of scallops.  After we surfaced everyone was so jazzed that we made sure the captain marked the spot for next time.  The captain did so and informed the entire boat that the spot was to now be known as Jason’s Underwater Island.  Huge thanks to the crew of the Explorer

Onward and downward,


Views: 1192
Posting: 08-11-2014
Tags: advanced, california, diving, santa rosa, scuba, underwater island

It was a crazy day of diving aboard The Magician dive boat this weekend.  It started out as a typical day of great California Diving – sunny, great viz, and warm water.  Dive one we went to Ripper’s Cove.  One of my favorite spots, Ripper’s Cove has all three types of underwater terrain all in one spot: Sandy bottom, reef, and open ocean.  My ideal dive in this spot is to start deep of the bow looking for giant sea bass in the wide open space then come up the slope through the sand and then ending in the reef and kelp forest.  This time of year the warmer water brings tons of life. About 10 min into the dive we saw a school of barracuda!   We slowly tracked the school, which were swimming around us for a good 5 minutes.  Tip: The slower and calmer you are the more fish you will see.  If you are flapping around like a spaz you will scare away all the fish.  Dive 2 we went to Fraggle Rock – a very cool site loaded with giant underwater rocks.  In a sandy area we saw a baby bat ray.  So cute.  It was very curious and ended up circling the area during our whole dive.  Dive 3 was at Rock Quarry.  This site is famous for the rare butterfly fish that live in a very specific area.  We did not see the butterfly fish but some other divers saw a turtle. So cool. The craziest part of the day had to be when we were pulling into port and there was a 20 ft gray whale in the harbor.  Goes to prove you never know what you are going to see on a day of diving in California.  

Onward and downward


Views: 1085
Posting: 07-29-2014
Tags: barracuda, bat ray, california, fish, kelp forest, scuba diving, turtle

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