Scripps Canyon is a shallow submarine canyon in the Pacific Ocean off La Jolla, CA.

It is the best studied of all submarine canyons by virtue of its proximity to Scripps Institution of Oceanography, for which it was named.

The canyon’s shallow tributary valleys head very close to shore in water only 40 feet (12 m) deep, but divers usually start their dive at one of two major sites: (1) South Branch and dive up Sumner Branch, or (2) North Branch. The two sites have very different structure, although both are vertical walls. Where Scripps Canyon joins La Jolla Canyon, at 980 feet, the walls of Scripps Canyon are V-shaped and have a height of approximately 360 feet.

This video was taken on North Branch at a site we call "Cathedral Heights" which is the wall just below "Shepard's Tributary," named in honor of Francis Parker Shepard (10 May 1897—25 April 1985).

Shepard was an American sedimentologist most associated with his studies of submarine canyons and seafloor currents around continental shelves and slopes, especially Scripps Canyon.

The walls of North Branch are as steep as the other branches, but here you will find both vertical and horizontal striations in the walls. It is in these places that you may find swell sharks, moray eels, and many other critters. We call this site "Cathedral Heights" because as you look up from 120 or so feet, spires soar up into the skylight above. Within "Cathedral Heights" is "The Chimney". It is one of those vertical locations wide enough for a diver to get halfway inside and look up to the ceiling about 10 feet above.

Sumner Canyon has tiers of fingers that reach out and repeat as you go deeper. You might try picturing the top half of a mature pine cone still on the tree. Each layer is wider as you go towards the middle, and the individual pieces flare out further.

"Francis Parker Shepard." Wikipedia Online. 12 Jul. 2009

"Scripps Canyon." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009.
Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 12 Jul. 2009

"Scripps Canyon, San Diego, California." Eco Dive Center Online. 12 Jul. 2009

"Scripps Canyon." Scubapost Online. Author: ScubaSean 12 Jul. 2009

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