October 21, 1997
Monterey, California, USA

There were three things I especially wanted to do on my way down the west coast of the US: rock-climbing in Yosemite, scuba diving in the kelp forest at Monterey Bay, and sky diving over San Diego. Well.. two down.. one to go!

I was really fortunate to find a dive partner as easily as I did. The owner of Monterey Bay Kayaks, Mike McNulty, offered to let an employee take a few hours off work to go diving with me. Heather happened to be a dive master, and within 20 minutes of meeting, we were at Bamboo Reef dive shop picking up my rental equipment. The folks at the shop were very kind and gave me a great deal: all the equipment and two tanks for 30 bucks!

After a two minute drive from the shop, we arrived at the dive site. As soon as Heather stopped the car, a Seagull dropped out of the sky, onto the sidewalk, thirty feet in front of us. The bird was alive, but it was unable to turn its head around. The Gull had landed right at a lady’s feet. She immediately picked it up, and carried it down to some divers on the beach.

Extremely curious, I ran down the beach and saw that the Seagull had a fishing hook straight through both the top and bottom of his beak. The line from the hook was tangled around his body. Once the ladies got the hook free, I borrowed a bystander’s dive knife to cut away the line rapped around its foot. We let it loose on the beach and gave the poor little fellow a round of applause as it flew away. Then we went diving!

The conditions today were perfect! On the first dive, we had 30 feet of visability, which is excellent for this area. The marine life was phenomenal and we stayed down for over an hour on our first dive. After only 5 minutes in the water, I saw something that blew me away - a small flock of birds running along the bottom! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I had no idea any kind of bird could do that. I always thought birds dove down a few feet.. then popped back up. The little guys I saw looked as though they belonged down there. If I had been wearing socks, they definitely would have been knocked off!

We also saw tons of star-fish, crabs, and sea anenomies, as well as a few seals. It’s so impressive to see seals swim by when you’re in their surf. They move so smoothly. It’s also cool to come face to face with fish. The biggest ones I saw, were about a foot and a half long. They aren’t scared of you a bit, and don’t swim away unless you try to touch them.

On our second dive, we swam around in a forty foot high kelp forest. It was awesome to swim on the bottom facing up, watching the sunbeams shoot down through the blanket of kelp above. After half an hour, we still had lots of air left in our tanks, but it had been almost four hours since we left Monterey Bay Kayaks, possibly twice as long as Mike had intended Heather to be away from her job.