Diving the Kelp Forests of California

Diving the Kelp Forests of California

The nutrient rich California current brings cold arctic sea water along the active continental margin of North America. The area is too cold for a formation coral reefs, but incredible productive macro algae forms along the shallow waters of the coast. For example, the Giant Kelp can grow up to 12 inches per day!

We are fortunate to live close to a unique marine environment: The Kelp forests of Southern California. Only 6 hours of driving time separates us from these highly productive ecosystems. Several days and a few liveaboards boats leave from San Diego or the area of Los Angeles to dive the costal kelp forests, fantastic ship wrecks and locations like the Channel Islands or Catalina Island. All along the coast shore diving is very popular as well.

The nutrient rich California current brings cold artic sea water along the active continental margin of North America. The area is too cold for a formation coral reefs, but incredible productive macro algae forms along the shallow waters of the coast. For example, the Giant Kelp can grow up to 12 inches per day! Marine ecologists consider the kelp being the primary producers, supplying nutrition for the rest of the food web. An amazing community of marine organisms is associated to these forests. From nudibranchs to Seven Gill sharks and from huge Metridium anemones dollars to California sea lions there is a lot to find here. Several great ship wrecks like the destroyer HMCS Yukon or the smuggler boat Ruby E are sitting close to the shore in San Diego, only 30 min by boat.

All -year-round water temperatures make the area 7mm semi-drysuit or drysuit “weather”. The long swells forming over the Pacific Ocean can make the conditions tricky with water movement. Besides the suit a good dive light like the BigBlue 1200AL series makes sense as well as the rocky reef offers lots of crevices with lobsters, horn sharks or even Wolf eels. When shore diving proper booties like the sturdy MARES Flexa are excellent to walk into the rough surf zone. Gloves and hoods are 

We arrange dive trips to the area and I feel the area is underrated. Short weekend get-aways on the comfortable dive boats in San Diego or Liveaboards leaving from San Pedro. We can dive there all year round; however, I like the time outside the summer as visibility can be better and cost for lodging is better as well and everything is less crowded.

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