Local Wet Spot

By Al and Laurie Huelga

Monterey, California, is a diver's town. Show up any weekend, year-round, and you'll find the beaches packed with divers. There are more dive shops than Starbucks. Most of the divers are locals, and they're here because Monterey's underwater appeal is as
exciting and interesting as just about anywhere in the world. At its best, there's nowhere they'd rather be.

And this ain't sissy, Caribbean diving. The waters dang cold most of the year and washed by surge and swells more often than not. But the divers keep coming back for more, like it's some kind of blue addiction. And one of the
best places to score can be found near Otter's Cove
at a local wet spot called...Eric's Pinnacle

The pinnacle comes up from a depth of 65 feet to nearly 14 feet from the surface. The pinnacle is quite small, measuring roughly 90 by 60 feet, and surrounded by sandy bottom. The south side drops off to about 45 feet. This side has less surge and is less affected by frequent swells. If you're an underwater photographer, making your way to this side will make your job an easier task.

On the west side there is a rock about 10 feet high that is completely covered with Corynactus anemones, and if you look closely you will see the large barnacles busily feeding. Orange and brown solitary corals cover much of this side as well, with a few tube anemones at the base.

Large schools of Blue Rockfish tend to frequent the northwest side of Eric's, where the tidal currents are a little stronger and more nutrients are available for them to feed upon. The wall here drops to 65 feet and is not as colorful as the other three sides but still offers a multitude of photo opportunities. And, during certain times of the year, comb, brown and purple jellies can be seen here.

The east side of the pinnacle drops vertically from 30 to 65 feet. On this wall you will find a large array of creatures including juvenile hydrocoral, Sculpins, gobies and Painted Greenlings. Nestled in the crevices you will find rockfish and Ling Cod just waiting to indulge on the morsels that pass by. Pink and yellow Tealia anemones are also plentiful here. On one part of the wall a solitary Metridium sits alone, like an outcast separated from its kin. (While these white-plumed anemones do move along the rocks, single ones tend to hang out here.)

Going east for about 20 feet, past the sandy channel, there is another rocky outcropping that is not as prolific as Eric's but still offers plenty of life. If you are adventurous, keep swimming east for another 100 feet and you will find a very large rock, shaped like a pyramid and completely covered with large white Metridiums, at a depth of 75 feet.

Charter boats sometimes visit this area, so don't be surprised to see some other divers. Also don't be surprised to encounter both Harbor Seals and sea otters. Harbor Seal pups especially are very curious and will come in close to investigate. They are generally safe to swim with, but respect them by keeping a safe distance, and allow them to call the shots.

Eric's Pinnacle is not as grand as those in Carmel Bay, but if you only have a small boat or don't want to make a 45-minute run, it will fulfill the desire of most divers. It is abundant in marine life and well worth your time whether the viz is five or 50 feet.