April 13, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Los Coronados

With the forecast calling for overcast skies and drizzle, I feared the dive conditions might adversely affect yesterday's trip to Los Coronados Islands, as happened at Shaw's Cove three weekends ago. But Saturday dawned with the barest morning fog, which quickly burned off into a perfect southern California spring day. The weather couldn't have been better for a trip to the three islets off the coast of Baja California. We left the dock at around 8:00 a.m. for the hour-and-a-half boat ride. For me, boat diving is a double pleasure. Just being on the water is a joy in itself, especially since I don't get to go sailing or boating nearly as much now as I did in my youth. Add a couple of dives, and I'm in heaven.

About halfway to the islands, we crossed an imaginary line in the Pacific and entered Mexican waters. No Border Patrol officers or Mexican federales were there to greet us, but away to the east, I could make out Tijuana and Rosarito Beach on the Baja coastline. As we approached our destination, I finally got my first close-up view of these three islands, which until now I had only seen from afar. Recent rains had given the largest, Coronado del Norte, a dusting of green grass. Here, we dropped anchor for our first dive, at a dive site called Lobster Shack.

The site earned its name for a couple of squat buildings erected by Mexican lobster fishermen years ago. Today, no visible remains of the shacks are apparent. Nor do many lobsters remain in the waters here, though I did come across a small lobster carcass on my first dive. Large numbers of seals and sea lions call this place home, however. They barked at us and circled our boat as we donned our wet suits and dive gear.

Once in the water, I encountered a great variety of features. The site boasted many reefs and crevices, a small wall and a large field of boulders. Though the boulder field supposedly housed a number of moray eels, we didn't see any on this dive. We did, however, find many sea urchins. My dive buddy cracked one of these open, instantly attracting about 50 garibaldi and other fish.

And, as above water, we were greeted by many sea lions below water. As one would guess, they were incredibly playful, buzzing divers from above and below, zooming past with fluid grace. One of them seemed especially taken with my buddy, repeatedly nibbling on his snorkel.

We moved on to the middle island for our second dive. Though we found many reefs and rocks at this site as well, the variety and visibility came a distant second to the first dive. I caught a brief glimpse of a seal, but hindsight suggested a second dive at the first location would have been a better choice.

The boat ride to Los Coronados Islands is short enough to make a half-day excursion quite feasible. And it's certainly a much cheaper way to dive in Mexican waters than taking a trip to Cozumel or Cabo San Lucas. It's a trip I won't hesitate to do again, should the opportunity arise.

Photo credits: Richard Herrmann, Frank Huntley


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year, I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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4/12: Y2K in Y2K3
4/11: Slow Glass
4/10: Freedom of Speech
4/9: Why We're Fighting
4/8: Eucalyptus Memories
4/7: Sleep
4/6: Writing, Just Not Here
4/5: Sci-Files Trivia
4/4: Sobering Up
4/3: Great White Hope
4/2: Entropy
4/1: Peace on Earth
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