Local diver, Jack Likins, recently SCUBA dove at Stillwater Cover. He's one of the volunteers with Reef Check California. These divers collect data by doing invertebrate, fish, algae and habitat transects using SCUBA tanks. Here's a photo of Jack taken by David Hills.
Jack reports that the conditions at Stillwater Cover are pretty dismal. He didn't see much kelp, though he did see some big fish and plenty of abalones in deeper water - over 20 feet deep. He did find the abalones there were hungry. He waved a kelp frond in front of some abs, and they would 'jump' up and grab it.
He then took some of the volunteer divers to a spot off The Sea Ranch to dive for abalone. Of course no tanks can be used for that - it's free-diving only. Here's what Jack found, "Sea Ranch was a completely different story. The bull kelp and the shorter brown kelp is making a strong recovery with some nice thick patches. The abalones looked 'meaty.' The bad news is the purple sea urchins are still pretty dense, but there seems to be enough food for everyone. We didn't see many fish, but maybe because of the wind and currents, which made it hard to free-dive. There is still a lot of sand in areas that are usually rocky this time of the year.
"The Nature Conservancy has developed a website for recreational abalone divers to submit size data for the abalones they catch. The hope is that the data will be used by the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife to help manage our abalone fishery." People can check it out and submit data at https://tncfish.typeform.com/to/CzaLS3
To learn more about Reef Check California, here is the link to their website: http://www.reefcheck.org/california/ca-overview
Here is one of my favorite photos of Jack with a ten+ inch abalone. He was photographed among Naked Ladies, a non-native flower that many of us love.