Author : Dale and Kim
Sheckler - December 02, 2010
name--Goldfish Bowl--evokes a feeling of a fun and cute dive
site. And it is. But there is a deeper, more advanced dive also here
that a lot of people don't know about (more on that later).
Bowl has long been and remains to this day a
favorite site for many dive charter boats out of Ventura and Santa
Barbara to drop in newbie divers. It is relatively shallow with calm,
clear, life-filled waters and a beautiful kelp forest. Currents are
generally mild and water clear.
The dive site gains its name from
the numerous garibaldi
that frequent this site. If you are not familiar to Southern California
diving, the garibaldi is a bright orange fish that are easy to approach
(they often approach you). Named after a 19th century Italian general
that wore a bright orange vest into battle, the garibaldi is the
California State Marine Fish and has been a protected species for
nearly a half a century.
Speaking of protection, Goldfish
Bowl lies in a California
State Marine Conservation area. The only animals that may be taken from
here are lobster (in season) and pelagic finfish (yellowtail, tuna,
| Anacapa Island
is often designated as a cove toward the west
end of west Anacapa Island (actually three small islands that run east
to west), but many look at as just a general area near the west end of
the island. The bottom topography along any of this area is similar no
matter where you go--a moderate to gentle slope away from the island
ending in jumbled boulders and course sand in about 40 to 45 feet of
water, then a sloping sand bottom outward. The islands are SW of
Don't touch the rock scallops, which are numerous in spots.
Rock scallops gain their name from the fact that they, well, look like
rocks. You can spot them by their bright orange "smile" on the rock
(although sometimes it is a more muted brown/olive "smile"). Approach
slowly before they slam shut and you can usually get in close enough
for a good macro-photo of their bright orange mantle that, if you look
closely, contains dozens of tiny eyes.
|Other favorite macro-photo subjects include small reef
fish--painted greenlings, ghost gobies, island kelpfish, a variety of
blennies and the occasional blue-banded goby providing a dash of bright
color. In addition, there are Christmas tree worms, and, if you look
close on the stalks of the red gorgonia, tiny simnia snails. Due to
their size, and the fact that they blend so well with red gorgonia,
simnias can be challenging to photograph. But persist, as they make for
an excellent image.
gorgonia also provide for good wide-angle images.
Its bright pink color against the muted blue-green background of the
kelp forest can be dramatic. Throw in a few fish and a diver and you
have achieved an excellent image. Another beautiful gorgonia to see
here is the uncommon purple gorgonia. While not rare, you will not see
more specimens than here at the west end of Anacapa Island. Their
"branches" (actually an animal, not a plant) reach only about 12
inches, but you still have to get the photo for the beautiful
But you don't have to dive rarely
touched reefs or grab bugs
to enjoy Goldfish Bowl. Just head over to the island, plunk into the
kelp want watch the "goldfish" swim by.
||Being a protected area that includes reef fish you can
expect to see larger and friendlier fish like the sheephead (the make
for good photo material), fat calico bass, opaleye, halfmoons, and
black perch. Occasionally, a large black sea bass will cruise through
this area, usually in the summer and early fall. Unafraid of divers
(protected not just here but in all California waters), they can reach
five feet in length and several hundred pounds. Two other large fish
here worth mentioning include halibut and bat rays on the sand near the
Location: A general area around the
last cove before
the west end of the West Anacapa Island.
Access: Boat only. A short run from
dive charters operate from Ventura and Santa Barbara.
Skill level: All except more
experienced on outer
Snorkeling: Good next to island,
especially in the
Depths: to 45 feet near shore, 65 feet
on outer reef
Visibility: Good, averages 40 feet but
Hunting: Lobster and pelagic finfish
Photography: Very good for both macro and
this general area off the west end of the west
island and about a mile offshore is another reef that few divers know
about, talk about, or visit. This strip of deeper reefs peaks out at
about 45 feet and then drops to the sand at about 65 feet. Currents are
more of an issue here and, for some reason, the visibility is worse. So
why dive here? First, the macro photo opportunities are better and
second, lobster. While not a lot, there definitely are more here than
at the inner reefs. Exact location? Cruise around out from Goldfish
Bowl in about 65 feet of water with your depth finder and you'll find
this large reef structure.
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