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HenRock Reef - CA

HenRock Reef is a boat accessible salt water dive site, located in CA. This dive site has an average rating of 3.40 out of 5 from 5 scuba divers. The maximum depth is 81-90ft/25-27m. The average visibility is 21-25ft/6-8m.

Swim-throughs, thick kelp, schools of fish, mini-walls and overhangs — sounds like an advanced dive site, doesn’t it? It’s not. Hen Rock is one of the best beginner dive sites at Catalina Island. It has a lot of fun reefs to explore with abundant life, most in shallow water.

A jumble of car-sized boulders make up the labyrinth of the main inner reef with most diving in just 15 to 35 feet of water. Passages include a moderately long tunnel under an arch formed by huge rock sitting atop a few smaller boulders, a narrow causeway with deep overhangs on either side and yet another swim-through with a 90 degree turn half way through. You’ll have to spend a fair amount of time looking to find these features but with depths shallow, a tank of air lasts a long time.

A nice thick (but not too thick) kelp forest is usually growing over the rocks. In and out of kelp weave schools of blacksmith fish, occasionally bronze colored Salema or silvery jack mackerel and even barracuda. When you see barracuda, keep an eye out for giant black sea bass lurking underneath, as barracuda is one of their favorite foods. A bit closer to the rocks giant kelpfish will hide among the kelp, blending in as if they are part of the kelp plant. A keen eye will spot them but they can be hard to follow as they duck for cover in the thick kelp that looks so much like their own body. Other reef fish include rockfish, thousands of colorful blue-banded gobies, and occasionally an exceptionally large calico bass holed up in one of the reef’s many small caves.

The invertebrate life is not too shabby either. Lobsters are quite abundant. As a matter of fact, this is one of the better lobster hunting spots in the area, when in season of course. Along the deeper portions of the reef, the Spanish shawl nudibranch can be found easily displaying its distinctively bright blue-purple and orange colors. Gorgonian sea fans sway in the gentle surge. Other critters include hermit crabs, decorator crabs, a variety of snails including Kellet’s welk, wavy turban snails and Norris top snails notable for their bright orange mantle as the crawl across the kelp fronds on which they feed.

As much as the reef can be fun, be sure to spend some time over the sand. Bat rays are often encountered. Look for round holes in the sand about the size of half-dollar as these are the lairs of the shy mantis shrimp. They are colorful and entertaining to watch. Sheep crabs are always here looking like spiders crawling across the bottom.

Conditions at Hen Rock are very consistent. Lying behind the protection of Long Point to the southwest, waters are generally very calm. With little current, light winds and a solid sand bottom, it is easy to anchor if you are bringing a private vessel over to the island. Water clarity is not stellar but quite good, averaging 40 feet.

And for the intermediate to advanced diver there are small outer reefs in 50 to as much as 85 feet of water.

Hen Rock rarely disappoints. It offers good quality diving with a lot to see with easy conditions. Try it out!

Source: - California Diving News - California Dive Spots

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HousesInMotion01 - 12/08/2016 6:29 PM
I went scuba diving here on 11/25/2016. Average viz: 51-60ft/16-18m. Water temp: 61-65°F/16-18°C.
WILLO - 10/23/2014 4:39 PM
I went scuba diving here on 10/13/2013. Average viz: 21-25ft/6-8m. Water temp: 66-70°F/19-21°C.
Logged Dive 1106, Anchored just before sunset in 20ft. Set our Hoop-Nets for the first time. We suited up and stepped of the swim platform of the Buganeer at 9:00PM. Hen Rock is a very rocky dive area with pinnacles that reach within a few feet of the surface. At low tide, a minus tide the Pinnacles are above the surface, this can add a little bit of a problem to navigation at night. The bugs are close to or still at the entrance to their lairs and are very skittish and shy about the dive lights out and about. The TOADS are back out of reach. I picked a number of shorts only one legal. I need to come up with a light scheme that will help me get bugs.
As we cruise west along the island all hell breaks loose, my engine overheats and come to an abrupt halt. The engine is dust. We call for U.S. Boat, it’s 11:30PM, the tow-boat arrives after mid-night we are towed to San Pedro, we arrive around 2:45am.
watergypsy - 3/22/2013 5:48 PM
Rating Added: 4
Like a maze! Cool