Here’s some footage and pictures taken while scuba diving off of San Carlos Beach in the Monterey Bay. The footage at end of this post is of a raft of sea lions (they can also be referred to as a pod, or as a colony if on land, or as a rookery or harmen during breeding season, depending on their mating and lady situation), which are incredibly cute and curious, the latter trait of which is in itself curious considering they must see divers everyday but still appear eager to investigate each person individually. They remind me of happy dogs and are very agile in the water. One of the slideshow photos features the rear-end of a harbor seal torpedoing through the water. The harbor seal moves in a more linear fashion than the sea lions (one way of distinguishing between a seal and sea lion is that seals have holes where their ears are, and seals have protruding ears). One of the coolest things I saw during this dive was a cormorant that had dived into the water, swimming at least fifteen feet down. For a moment my land-based brain did not compute what was going on, for here was a bird swimming in the water, but clearly they know what they’re doing.
Other than the sea lions, the pictures in the slideshow are mostly of a variety of more stationary sea creatures: an opalescent nudibranch, a fish-eating anemone, a warty sea cucumber, sea hares, a gumboot chiton, dungeness crabs, jeweled top snails, sea lemons, spiny brittle stars, a decorator crab, and many other beautiful things. I find that they nudibranchs (sea slugs) are the most mesmerizing to look at, for their skin patterns seem to weave and pulsate across their flowing bodies which glow in the pale light of the sea. They make me wonder what types of other marvelous creatures must have existed on Earth and that we will never know about (for instance, I can imagine a gigantic underwater polyp with tentacles – like a cross between an anemone and an octopus -- that snatches up prey like feather duster worms).
After the dive, we drove to Point Lobos in the afternoon. We walked through a forest of lichen-draped pine swaying in the coastal breeze. The sun illuminated the pine tree canopies and cypress trees that grew along the cliffs. Fleets of white clouds sailed like naval armadas across the blue skies above the vast ocean to the west, and the redwood mountains of Big Sur prevailed to the south. Beyond the cove where the sea lions barked, the waterspouts of humpback whales sprayed into the air as the whales breached. At least thirty whales were swimming off the coast, headed south from Alaska to Mexico to feed for the winter. They are the most amazing and inspiring creatures I have seen. I thought to myself that clearly the most logical thing I could do in life would be to abandon every trivial, superficial obligation I have and to get on boat and follow the whales because they know what is truly important in life and how to live. As we drove back north on Highway One, beneath a epic nuclear armageddon sunset, my mind went constantly to those heroic whales and the uncertainty of their fate which is directly linked to ours. I wish them the best and vow to do more in my life to help them. I think about them everyday and hope that this remains the case for the rest of my life.