A Complete Guide to Snorkeling Mission Bay

Snorkeling in Mission Bay - San Diego Garibaldi
When you’re looking to go snorkeling near San Diego, you have several options, all of which offer different surf and surge patterns and varieties of animal and plant life. One of the best places to snorkel in the area is at Mission Bay, which also happens to be a lesser known snorkeling area. The water is calmer in this area than in many of the other snorkeling spots along the coast near San Diego, so it’s a great place for beginning snorkelers and children, as well as long-time snorkel aficionados. The cove is somewhat shallow and since it is lesser known, you won’t have to compete with hundreds of people to get into the water. You also won’t have to worry about other snorkelers scaring off the wildlife that you came to see.

As you embark on your Mission Bay snorkeling expedition, you’re guaranteed to come in contact with many beautiful things. Both flora (plant life) and fauna (wildlife) adorn the sea floors and the cove waters, and their striking splendor will get your excited about planning your next trip before you even leave. When you go snorkeling at Mission Bay, you’ll get to experience one or many of the beautiful sights listed below.

Underwater Plant Life in Mission Bay

Anyone remotely familiar with natural bodies of water knows that they are often filled with a robust marine plant life. Although most people participate in Mission Bay snorkeling to see the many animals, the beautiful flora simply cannot be ignored.

Chaetomorpha algae is commonly found in this area, typically in a rich green color. A variation called chaetomorpha spiralis may also be seen in Mission Bay, which is more of a blue color, often with stripes, and looks like long curling strands of noodles. Sea palms are scattered throughout Mission Bay, which are truly reminiscent of tiny palm trees that grow underwater. Many animals eat these plants, and they help those studying marine life to determine the amount of environmental stress in the area.

Coralline algae is an interesting and striking sight that you may observe while snorkeling in Mission Bay. They appear in various colors, including red, pink, purple, yellow, blue, grayish green, or white, and they provide food for various animals, helping to keep coral reef ecology alive and well. Surfgrass is frequently seen in the marshy areas of Mission Bay. It looks very similar to regular grass and is most often found attached to rocky areas.

Mission Bay Inhabitants

In the shallow waters close to the Mission Bay shore, you’re almost guaranteed to see several Garibaldi, California’s bright orange state fish. Black sea hares, also called sea slugs, can grow up to two and a half feet long and will almost certainly adorn the sea floor wherever you’re snorkeling. Their eggs will likely be scattered all over rock ledges and resemble spaghetti noodles that are brightly colored in shades of pink, red, and orange.

Octopuses are quite common around Mission Bay, and so are spiny lobsters, affectionately called “bugs” by the locals. California spiny lobsters usually grow to be about a foot long, and while they have a large pair of antennae, they don’t have any claws like typical lobsters. You may see some giant California sea cucumber, which can grow up to about a foot and a half and have retractable tentacles around their mouths to help them eat.

Due to the shallow waters in the area, kelp bass are sighted quite often, as they tend to stay in more shallow areas around kelp beds. These fish can grow up to two and a half feet long and can live for more than thirty years! You will absolutely see a variety of coral, both small and large, and boasting several beautiful colors.

If you’re lucky, you may encounter some more rare animals, such as giant black sea bass (these can grow up to eight feet!), California sea lions, harbor seals, soupfin sharks, and seven gill sharks.

No matter what you’re hoping to see during your Mission Bay snorkeling excursion, you will undoubtedly be delighted with the beauty that the area has to offer, as well as the robust plant and animal life that is consistently living, growing, and thriving underwater.

Posted in San Diego

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