Diving for lobster can be a thrilling experience, but it's essential to do it right, both for your safety and to preserve this fantastic resource. Here are some tips and advice for newer divers interested in hunting for California spiny lobster:
1. Get Your Gear in Order:
First things first, ensure you have the right gear. A good wetsuit or drysuit is essential to stay comfortable in California's cool waters. Don't forget your mask, snorkel, fins, gloves, weight belt, and a reliable flashlight or headlamp for night dives.
Per California regulations, you need to carry a lobster gauge with you to measure the animal.
Lobster Bag. Any one will do. Consider attaching it you a float or on your person.
Flashlight for night diving
2. Finding Lobsters:
Lobsters love rocky reefs and kelp forests, so start your search in these habitats. Look for nooks and crannies where they might be hiding. They're masters of camouflage, so go slow and keep an eye out for antennae poking out from crevices.
Night diving is when lobsters are most active. They venture out of hiding, making them easier to spot.
3. Approaching and Catching Lobsters:
When you spot a lobster, approach it calmly and without sudden movements. Try to grab the carapace, which is the hard shell covering its body, from behind.
Use your lobster gauge to check if it meets the legal size requirement. In California, the carapace must be at least 3.25 inches (8.3 cm). If it's too small, gently let it go.
4. Familiarize Yourself with Regulations:
This is critical! Staying within the rules is not just important; it's the law. Bag limits, seasons, and other regulations can change, so check with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) for the most current information.
The recreational bag limit is seven lobsters per person. The season typically runs from October to March.
5. Safety Matters:
Safety is paramount. Always dive with a buddy for added security.
Share your dive plans with someone onshore and consider using a surface marker buoy to signal your location.
Pay attention to weather conditions and tide charts. Strong currents or unexpected weather can change your dive plans quickly.
Avoid areas of high boat traffic.
Consider avoid diving on holiday weekends
6. Be Eco-Conscious:
Respect the environment and the lobsters' habitat. Only take what you need.
Release undersized lobsters gently, and never harvest egg-bearing females.
Diving for lobster in California is not just about catching dinner; it's about connecting with the ocean and its amazing creatures. So, follow the rules, dive responsibly, and ensure we can continue to enjoy this remarkable experience for years to come. Dive safe and happy hunting!