San Carlos saw a very quiet spring break this year with families far outnumbering college students. The weather was beautiful, often in the 80’s, but it seems our winter water is clinging on for a last hurrah. Temperatures this last weekend ranged from 62-65 F. There is 70 degree water attempting to push its way north right now, and is currently about 20 miles south of San Carlos. Now it’s a waiting game, requiring sustained northerly winds to pull the warm equatorial waters into the Gulf and change the water circulation to a summer downwelling pattern.
While a tad chilly, the diving has remained excellent with visibility often exceeding 50 feet. The arrival of large jellyfish in the last few weeks has stirred some apprehension among divers, but have no fear, these are not a variety that tends to sting humans. This particular species combines plankton harvesting with photosynthesis to acquire energy, and this is an ideal time to get in the water and witness the transient bloom of these graceful cnidarians.
When warmer water arrives, they will disappear till next winter, being replaced by Physalia pacifica, the not-so-friendly Pacific Man O’ War. This is a small surface-restricted species that packs a wallop of a sting. Easily identified by its small deep blue bell that extends above the water, they are only a hazard in the top 1-1.5 feet of the water column. Scuba divers can avoid them by simply submerging, but snorkelers should be constantly vigilant if it is jelly season.
Most people crave the arrival of the warmer waters, but for those wishing to see how “the other half “lives, the next few weeks should be exciting. As the Sea of Cortez transitions to summer, the influx of deep-water nutrients slows, and photosynthesis consumes what is left. This creates a massive base for the food chain and during the next month or so, the Gulf of California will explode with organisms intent on either breeding with one another, or eating each other. Either way, it will be quite a show.