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Ship Rock - Catalina Island CA

Ship Rock is a boat accessible salt water dive site, located in Catalina Island, CA. This dive site has an average rating of 3.74 out of 5 from 38 scuba divers. The average visibility is 31-35ft/9-11m.

Diving Level: Intermediate
Marine Life: good at all depths
Photography: Great for macro (below 50ft), and wide angle (kelp, schooling fish, angel & horn sharks)
Depths: 20ft - 135ft

Ship Rock is considered on the best dives on Catalina island. Located a couple miles offshore of Isthmus harbor and the town of two harbors, its a popular destination of dive boats when the conditions are right. A large rock covered with bird droppings signifies the dive site.
Large kelp forests surround the rock, in depths of 20-50ft. Large schools of senoritas and blacksmith live here, along with kelpfish, baitballs, yellowtail and barracuda in the summer months. The remains of a small wreck are scattered about the shallow parts of the dive site.

Going deeper, rocky structure brings you down from 50-100ft. Lingcod, cabezon, blue-banded gobies, lobsters and horn sharks are common here.

Search the kelp fronds at 60-100ft for nudibranchs during the spring. Yellow zooanthid anemones, found at 70-90ft depths, also make great photo subjects. Angel sharks and bat rays are often found in the sand at 100ft depth, or deeper.

Strong winds will make it difficult for boats to anchor here, and if don’t see kelp at the surface, that can indicate strong currents below. watch you depth, as the bottom drops from 150ft and deeper. Thermoclines can bring cold water deeper even when the shallows are warm. During calm conditions, early in the morining, ship rock is guaranteed to please all divers.

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DerekR - 3/07/2018 1:39 PM
Rating Added: 5
This was my diving home-away-from-home for many years. If you are at all cold water averse, you will be most comfortable in a dry suit. Great kelp dive to look for groupers, garabaldi, and bugs.
joe_bird - 11/26/2017 4:38 PM
I went scuba diving here on 11/26/2017. Average viz: 91-100ft/28-30m. Water temp: 56-60°F/13-16°C.
Huge boulders going down deep, would love to go back again
Brian_V - 5/02/2015 6:39 AM
Rating Added: 3
Great kelp Forrest dive! Lots of lobster too!
watergypsy - 10/22/2014 10:00 PM
Rating Added: 4
We saw lots of octopus and small sharks
Hawkeye54 - 1/27/2014 4:55 PM
I visited this site aboard the Truth Aquatics vessel, The "Truth" on 19Jan2014. I was conducting an Advanced Open Water class and the conditions were perfect with 100’+ visibility and temps in the mid 50’s. (A little chilly for my FL-based student, but tolerable nonetheless)

Visibility was best in the shallows where we shot some amazing U/W video and had quite a few photo ops with orange garibaldi, little schools of blacksmiths and also kelpfish jetting about. The kelp is very dense on the southeast side of the rock and there was quite a bit of surge, so be careful not to get all wrapped up in it. The seaweed bed is very lush and beautiful but hides most of the critters that live in the rocks. The absolute best thing about this site, though, were the baitballs and schooling fish hanging between 20’ and 60’ along the western slope, where there can be a bit of current but it was manageable for us. We also saw some bluefin tuna cruising with the bait balls and two sea lions were hunting. Dolphins were in the area but would have nothing to do with divers. :/

It is possible to circumnavigate the entire rock in one dive if you stay shallow for the required bottom time, but I recommend splitting it into two dives if you have the time Or you’ll feel rushed and may encounter unexpected current.

Don’t forget about the sand around 100’ either - Lots to see there if you have the eye for it. ;)
Smithsgold - 7/01/2010 11:20 AM
Great dive site!!!! Watch the surge !!!! Lots to see plenty of fish !!!!