Diving at the Santa Cruz Wharf

Ken Jones

Staff member
The scene under the wharf is true at most large piers and wharves.

SC Wharf Provides Good Diving Spot For Divers

A landmark of Santa Cruz which is hardly noted for its exceptional diving is the Municipal Wharf. However, if you were to don your SCUBA paraphernalia and venture from the beach with a friend, you would be amazed at the abundance of life on every square inch of the seemingly bland pilings . You can find a mass of interrelating plants and animals.
There are barnacles which gather plankton with fine combed plumes. Covering most pilings, you’ll find gardens of white anemones. Dotted between the anemone stocks are puffs of white, yellow, and orange tube worms. Entwined within the barnacles and anemones, you may discover the writhing arms of brittle stars.
There are cottid fish which have made their home on the pilings. The cottid colors blend the animal into its surrounding environment. The animal is so protective of its home that they will only move when forcefully prodded.
The wharf actors and adventures do not end with the pilings. Follow a piling down to its base and wait on the surface of the sandy bottom. In a moment you will see sea life appear in the form of flat discs of sand dabs. They will bump into each other like boardwalk bump cars and flutter into different directions. If you move slowly along the sand surface you may encounter a flounder.
In the summer months, halibut are found beneath the wharf within the sand environment. These animals can be found up to 50 and 60 pounds and will burst out of the sand like rockets when disturbed.
There are untold numbers of animals and critters in the wharf setting. The bottom is alive with crabs making their clawed sideways escape. Small bass will swim to your hand if it offers food. Larger fish, such as ling cod and cabezon, can be found in the pile of debris scattered under the wharf.
If you’re inspired, swim to the end of the wharf and visit the artificial reef planted there by the local Rod & Gun and the Aquatic SCUBA Diving Club.

Santa Cruz Sentinel, Dennis Johnson, December 15, 1971​