Descending: The hunt for the red devil

16:00, Oct 01 2013

Canadian Scott Wilson and Kiwi Ellis Emmett have been where no men have been before.

An 18 month trip took them to some of the world's remotest dive locations - many of which have only recently been discovered.

Scott and Ellis chronicle these travels as co-hosts of a show, Descending on the Travel Channel. We'll catch up with them each week about the destinations they've been to.

This week, Scott and Ellis are in Los Angeles to see if vibrant marine life can exist off the highly developed coast of Southern California. After meeting up with a pair of eco-warriors, the team scours the Sea of Cortez in search of the elusive and fearsome "diablos rojos".

We chat to Scott about this incredible experience.

What was your favourite dive from this episode?


Certainly the most memorable was dangling by aircraft cable like a piece of bait, out in the darkness of night while fisherman jigged for the invasive Humboldt squid.

As they came out of the dark, it was a pretty amazing experience. Oh, and why the aircraft cable you ask? So that the squid don't drag you down to the depths!

How did you get there?

Our first dives of this show started right off the shores of Los Angeles and surrounding area. Then a quick flight down to the Baja Peninsula of Mexico on the Sea of Cortez.

What diving risks were you concerned about in this location?

Hmmm, let's see... dangling by a cable below an active fishing boat with fisherman jigging around us with huge hooks, in the dark, over 2000 foot of water, looking for highly aggressive Humboldt squid in heavily shark-filled waters. Yep, that about covers it!

What's one thing every traveller should try there?

I think doing our dive below the oil platform off of Los Angeles was a real eye opener. The oil rig is such a symbol of death and disaster in the media all the time, but diving below nature had made the pilings and structure into its own design.

Completely coral and anemone encrusted, schools of fish and seals galore. Such a harsh juxtaposition of man and nature right at the water line.

What should you avoid in this destination?

Sunburn. If you think California is hot and sunny, wait until you get to the Sea of Cortez!

Did anything go wrong on a dive?

We almost didn't get to see the Humbodlt squid, which was bizarre as they are a highly invasive species in the Sea of Cortez, wiping out native species and their foods.

They were nearly a "guarantee" for us to see, and it took until the last minute to find them. 

It goes to show you that the ocean is a pretty big place, and you can never predict nature.

What's the coolest thing you saw?

I think watching a live Humbolt pulse and strobe colours while you hold it in your hands is pretty amazing, but something has to be done to bring this species back into control.

This episode really got us to notice and take interest in researching for ourselves just what impact humans can and have made on our oceans.

There are lots of theories, lots of proof, arguments and so on.

Get involved, read up and make your own conclusions. There are lots we can do to live symbiotically with our oceans rather than working against them.

Watch Descending, Wednesdays, 8.30pm on the Travel Channel.