Once a year, for a few weeks, there is a special underwater convention held under the oil rigs in Southern California. All marine animals are invited and the event is consistently sold out. I’m being facetious of course, but truthfully, there is an eco-palooza going on under the oil rigs along Southern California’s coast. The “El-Nino” conditions have kept the west coast waters toasty warm and scuba divers get to see first hand the effect it has on marine life.
The first thing a diver will notice when diving under one of the off-coast oil rigs, is the HUGE number of bait fish taking advantage of the cover and protection of the rigs. Since the rigs are in open water (about 8 miles from shore), their support structures provide an artificial reef for marine life.
Bonito patrol around the outside of the structure occasionally picking off one of the bait fish. This effectively encourages the bait fish to remain inside the confines of the oil rigs support columns.
Suddenly the fish begin to move in a synchronized pattern as a sea lion comes down for his breakfast.
Once the dinner-bell sounds, the cormorants come around looking for their next meal.
Sometimes it is just fun to sit down and watch the show.
Apparently, the sea lions like an interactive show. This little pup came around for about 15 minutes and tried to feed us fish it caught, posed for the camera, and did acrobatics with the divers.
It even played picaboo!
Since the structure provides an artificial reef, there are Garibaldi, sea stars, anemones in vivid pinks, oranges and yellows, and many scallops, and invertebrates on the support columns.
Unfortunately for us scuba divers, our time is limited under water and all too soon it is time to go back to the surface.
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