California scuba diving in the kelp forests around the Channel Islands and Big Sur is a unique and different experience for divers more accustomed to tropical waters. Diving in kelp is similar to a walk in a lush forest of trees with these plants growing to heights of more than 120 feet. Giant kelp helps support this rare aquatic ecosystem, providing domicile for more than 800 species of marine life.
The rocks are covered with brightly colored bouquets of anemones, starfish, and garlands of hydrocoral, sponges, and sea fans. Moray eels, octopus, abalone, rock scallops, California spiny lobsters, and a host of other sea creatures inhabit rock fissures and crevices. Divers may chance upon giant black sea bass weighing in at 500 pounds, or halibut, lingcod, vermilion rockfish, calico bass, bat rays and more. Friendly seals and sea lions pay visits to divers to show off their graceful swimming abilities. Migrating gray whales, blue whales, hump back whales, and schools of dolphins, are familiar sightings during daylight channel crossings.