Fish

Cleverly Designed: About the Bat Ray, Pacific Electric Ray and Thornback Ray

My success at photographing rays has hinged on chance. The ray(s) and I have been surprised to see each other and I somehow managed to take one or more photos before it (or they) departed. With the exception of Pacific electric rays, most of those departures were rather hasty. The electric rays, however, seem to be curious about divers and tend to stick around a bit. Sometimes, it is the divers who make a hasty retreat.   The Bat Ray Bat rays are not fond […]

The Curious Reproduction Strategies of California Grunion

That a fish would leave the water and fling itself onto a beach at night in order to produce future generations seems preposterous. That it would need to factor in high tides and full/new moons when determining the right time to do so, stretches the limits of credibility. Yet California grunion do all these things. Reaching a maximum length of eight inches but usually only six, California grunion (Leuresthes tenuis) range from northern California to southern Baja. Leuresthes comes from the Greek for smooth and […]

Those Tricky Treefish

Of the some 102 rockfish species worldwide, about 60 live in the ocean off the SoCal coast. Some are closely related and look very much alike. Colors of the same species can vary and at least some of the fish are chameleon-like, changing color to match their surroundings. Additionally, rockfishes are evolving and forming new species at what Dr. Milton Love calls “a frightening rate.” Given all that, is it any wonder many of them are a challenge to identify? Rockfishes are members of the […]

Top Ten Tips to See More Fish

California reefs are full of fascinating critters adorned in living color. Our fish are among the most colorful and interesting and as conspicuous as they may be, many divers see only a fraction of the fish in residence. Here are a few tips to see more fish 10) Stay off the bottom. Divers who swim on or right off the bottom kick up a little silt and break many of the reef creatures they came to see. This ruckus also scares every reef creature with […]

Exciting Diving Off Anacapa: Celebrating Eel Encounters

“Blub, blub — oooe‚ — ooooooh, glub!” With the excellent visibility, it was easy to see my dive buddy wildly waving her arms in an excited attempt to get my attention. I’ve seen this many times, and even from afar I can tell it means “excitement” rather than “distress.” I really appreciate when another diver wants to show me something underwater, so I quickly made my way over to her. As I searched the area, looking into a small crevice I noticed what she was […]

Camouflage and Courtship: The Colorful Lives of California Kelpfish

Giant kelpfish tend to keep their distance. I have many images of them taken from several feet away as they pretend to be part of the scenery. Since they can change colors (red, lime green, yellow and brown) and patterns to match the kelp or algae in which they have chosen to lurk, as long as they remain stationary this camouflage works quite well. It is their surreptitious slinking through the water that brings them to your attention. Years ago while I was diving off […]

Swimming, Swirling, Schooling, Shoaling: How Fishes Move About

Taking photos of fish schools is one of my favorite underwater activities. It’s always challenging and getting good photos isn’t easy. Schooling fish tend to move away from you in unison, so it’s hard to get close. Only rarely do they let you into their midst. Like birds in the sky, a fish school acts as one, changing direction in an instant. It seems a miracle individuals don’t collide. The school moves like a river, flowing around objects in its path, while each fish maintains […]

The Sequential Life of the California Sheephead

Many marine animals are hermaphrodites. Nudibranchs, for instance. It is thought that being able to mate with any same species creature encountered on the reef gives hermaphrodites a better chance of reproducing.  Many fish, gastropods and plants are sequential hermaphrodites. Instead of having both sexes mature in their bodies at the same time, they start life as one sex and become another later. Protandrous creatures change from male to female. Protogynous creatures change from female to male. According to Wikipedia: “About 75 percent of all […]

A California Icon — The Garibaldi

One of the first things I learned when I moved to California in 1975 was that the garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) was California’s official state fish. It was something I heard over and over again. The problem was that although widely believed, this information was not true. And to some degree there has been and still is some confusion about the status of this iconic fish.  Today, the garibaldi is indeed officially recognized as California’s state marine fish. The golden trout (Salmo aguabonita, also written as […]

The Secret Lives of SoCal Rockfishes

With more than 100 rockfish species worldwide, about 60 live in the ocean off the SoCal coast. Some are closely related and look very much alike. Colors of the same species can vary and at least some of the fish are chameleon-like, changing color to match their surroundings. Additionally, rockfishes are evolving and forming new species at what Dr. Milton Love calls “a frightening rate.” So is it any wonder many of them are a challenge to identify? I sought out Dr. Love’s expertise and […]

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