Redondo: where did all marine life go?

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MariaT
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Redondo: where did all marine life go?

Post by MariaT » Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:37 am

Hi all! Yesterday I and my husband went diving at Redondo beach in the midday i.e. pretty low tide. The water was cold (47F), vis okay but what stunned us both is that the place was almost bare! We saw a bunch of sea cucumbers and nudis - probably the only creatures who seemed more or less okay - but other than that just one tiny flounder, a school of unknown tiny silvery baby fishes, no more than 4-5 sea stars, a dozen of perches hiding inside one boat, and a few large crabs clinging to a tire or hiding under a boat. Very few anemones, I wonder where these could have gone and why! The bottom is mostly boring sand and muck, saw not a spot of green except where the eel grass field just started growing.

Overall, this was a very sad and boring sight! I have done a few dives there during the last couple of years and know that this is not a place known for great variety of wildlife but I never seen it looking this miserable. Does anyone who has more experience with the site know if this is a normal seasonal state of things, or was there some recent water pollution, or something else - like colder temps and low tide? Or was it just a case of bad luck, and other divers have seen a lot of creatures there lately?

-Maria

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Re: Redondo: where did all marine life go?

Post by SwamiMacGyver » Mon Mar 05, 2018 9:15 am

FWIW, I've been to a few different dive sites in the last month, and there seems to be less wildlife than normal. Alki Cove 2, Alki Fishing Reef, Sund Rock, and Rockaway have all been a little light on life. I haven't been to Redondo in a few months, though. Not sure if I have bad luck as well, or if there's a seasonal dip.

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Tom Nic
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Re: Redondo: where did all marine life go?

Post by Tom Nic » Mon Mar 05, 2018 9:37 am

I have no doubt that in general we have decreases in some Marine Life in our inner Sound sites over the last decade or so. And some of this is no doubt due to external factors (over-fishing, pollution, etc).

But what you saw at Redondo (and other sites in general) is very typical in Winter time. Wildlife in general seems to be less active and "goes somewhere" (totally unscientific description) during Winter months. Check with those of us who dive our inner Sound sites monthly throughout the year (and often weekly) and you'll find the same observation. There is significantly less life visible to recreational divers during Winter months. This is pretty "normal". I do REEF surveys on every dive I do, and the data (free to look at on Reef.org) bears that out.

Take a dive July to November. The amount of life that you see is hugely greater.
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Grateful Diver
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Re: Redondo: where did all marine life go?

Post by Grateful Diver » Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:33 am

You have to know where to look, but there is always something to see at Redondo. I always find things in the bottle fields, often hiding inside of the bottles and other detritus. Also, there are some known locations for juvenile wolfies ... they're not always "home", but the chances are pretty good of finding them in the same place time after time. Also keep in mind, Redondo's always been a better night dive than day dive.

That said, the site has definitely fallen off over the past decade or so ... particularly for nudibranchs. I'm convinced that at least some of the change is due to all the construction that has happened on the hillside above the dive site. A few years ago they tore up the road and expanded the number of storm drains ... to accommodate all the new pavement that's gone into the development. That has certainly changed both the pollution levels (particularly heavy pollutants from vehicle traffic), the salinity and pH of the water, and quite possibly water temps ... particularly in the shallows. I think Redondo's one of the casualties of increasing human population in our area ...

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Re: Redondo: where did all marine life go?

Post by Sharkb8 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:35 pm

I haven't been diving enough to notice any long term changes in the sound (other than the sea star wasting), but I feel like I have started noticing seasonality in the dive sites over the last few years. I had a Cove 2 dive last October when the water was still warmer and the seaweed hadn't died off yet. We were seeing nudis by the dozens, huge perch schooling around everywhere, and even ran into a large school of yellowtail rockfish at the cannon logs. My buddy who I witnessed throw in the towel after 10 min diving 1000 Steps in Bonaire and head in (because the reef "sucked") still talks about how awesome that dive was. A few weeks ago it was back to the usual brown and dark for this time of the year with seemingly not a lot of life other than the usual anemone logs. However, the more I dive I find the more I notice small things right under my nose on days where the obvious stuff isn't around. Sometimes it just takes awhile to let the eyes relax and to just get in the groove of noticing the small and strange.
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fmerkel
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Re: Redondo: where did all marine life go?

Post by fmerkel » Mon Mar 05, 2018 5:21 pm

Seasonality is an issue. Takes some attention and a lot of diving to wrap your perspective around that. I think Grateful Dive has a viable view as he's been diving a long time and knows Redondo quite well. Tom Nic's perspective on 'winter' is also part of the equation.
IMO another factor has been the seastar wasting. That has change the entire bottom environment. The longer that change has been in place, the more the environment at many of the sites has also changed....not for the better.
Put them all together > diving is a bit less exciting, especially this time of year. Consider it the winter doldrums, with extenuating environmental factors.
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Re: Redondo: where did all marine life go?

Post by dlh » Mon Mar 05, 2018 6:41 pm

Give Redondo one more try after dark before too long. I agree that Redondo can be pretty boring in the daytime, all the critters really seem to come out at night.
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Re: Redondo: where did all marine life go?

Post by YellowEye » Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:39 am

Hi
I tend to dive the same profiles, same time of day at Redondo, Junkyard, Three Tree and Keystone year after year. There does look to be a recent down turn. :( I believe it goes well beyond just a lack of seastars... for instance, the rockfish are disappearing (barely any rockfish left at keystone or junkyard?!), and the plumose look ill... :(

You said you dismayed at "no green". That's normal, the kelp dies off this part of year.

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MariaT
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Re: Redondo: where did all marine life go?

Post by MariaT » Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:48 am

Wow, this is exactly what I was wondering about! I also remember Redondo being quite different last October-November - everywhere I looked there was some creature large or small crawling, swimming or just sitting there! Things is, I am really into observing wildlife underwater (read: stare at fishes) and often joke that photographers are my favorite dive buddies :) I am so glad to hear that what we saw it likely a seasonal slumber, and now you got me curious about doing a night dive there. Thank you!!!

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MariaT
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Re: Redondo: where did all marine life go?

Post by MariaT » Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:57 am

YellowEye wrote:You said you dismayed at "no green". That's normal, the kelp dies off this part of year.


Oh. I hoped that only eel grass dies off! "Green" always harbors some creatures, lack of it could be contributing too. Well, at least visibility was pretty good, and I tested my drysuit after repair so ready to do more diving.

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Re: Redondo: where did all marine life go?

Post by YellowEye » Tue Mar 06, 2018 8:52 am

Definitely go at night! Go slow and you can still see a lot of stuff...

Eel grass is not kelp, it's a grass so it should be there year around.. it's important for the ecosystem so it's a sad sight to see it missing from so many dive sites. I thought you were referring to the green kelp we often see deeper.

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MariaT
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Re: Redondo: where did all marine life go?

Post by MariaT » Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:31 pm

YellowEye wrote: Eel grass is not kelp, it's a grass so it should be there year around.. it's important for the ecosystem so it's a sad sight to see it missing from so many dive sites. I thought you were referring to the green kelp we often see deeper.


Eel grass in the shallow area looked alive but miserable as opposed to summer lush, old leaves died, new growth was too short. Yep, not a bit of green in deeper areas. As this is my first winter of regular diving watching the seasons change underwater is a new fun thing.

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Tom Nic
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Re: Redondo: where did all marine life go?

Post by Tom Nic » Wed Mar 07, 2018 7:44 am

MariaT wrote: ...watching the seasons change underwater is a new fun thing.


This is indeed one of the fun things about becoming a regular diver as opposed to vacation or only a couple times a year.

You begin to become familiar with the sites, their wildlife, their seasons, and more.

By the way, doing regular REEF surveys has been a huge part of that. REEF employs the "roving diver" method, so it suits your individual passions and experience level. Check out reef.org or hit me or one of the regular "reefers" in the Sound sometime after a dive and we'll give you an earful!

Best of luck as you continue to pursue the underwater joys of the Salish Sea and beyond!
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