Marine Life Identification

Farming Fishes

In recent years, fish farming has taken off big-time, becoming a virtual “blue revolution.” The theory is rather than exploit the wild stock of fish species, it is better—and more convenient—to raise food fishes in controlled conditions, be that on land and pens at sea. Fish farming has impacted the market to such a degree that now aquacultured fish has become the forth-largest source of farmed meat. But, as expected, fish farming is not as easy as it might seem. Besides all the environmental and […]

Beach Towels

Have you ever been to a beach in the summer that is completely lined with towels? Everywhere you look, there is another such towel, or related object? Furthermore, sometimes after a storm, there appears what seems to be an abundance of tattered strips of terry cloth, with others all faded. This is depending, of course, on the species. Species? Yes, species, for these towels that line many of California’s beaches are not made of cotton or other cloth, but are common seaweeds of the genus […]

California’s Changing Abalone Regulations-The Science Behind The Law

In California abalone is big business. In 1957 the yearly commercial abalone harvest peaked at 5 million pounds, and dropped to around 300,000 pounds annually in the mid 1990s. Sport harvesters in Northern California currently take some 2 million pounds of abalone per year, and spend an estimated $10 million to do so. With the closure of commercial take in 1997, the price of a poached abalone has risen to between $80 and $100 per abalone, and the value of abalone poached each year is […]

How to Photograph the California Spiny Lobster

As the clock struck twelve, thousands of hard-core lobster-hunting divers invaded many popular California dive sites on the night lobster season opened, either by crashing through the surf or by jumping off boats in search of that oh-so-delicious crustacean, the California spiny lobster. For some, this invasion proved rewarding, but for many others, myself included, we returned home holding an empty game bag and perhaps the memory of the big one that got away. In my days of a wannabe lobster hunter, I unfortunately came […]

Copious Copepods

One of Odysseus’ less than pleasant encounters during his wanderings was with a Cyclops. There were supposedly three giant sons of the sea god Poseidon, with only single eyes in the middle of their foreheads. They also were said to have the bad habit of eating people and the Cyclops who held the wandering Greeks captive was said to have dined on some of Odysseus’ men. The rest were only able to escape a similar fate by ram-rodding a hot branding iron into the beast’s […]

Stalking Squid

It was 8 p.m. The ocean looked inky black. A light haze enveloped a moonless sky, blotting out the stars. We stood on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean with one thing certain: We knew they were out there. But where, exactly, and could we find them? Our elusive quarry. . . opalescent squid (Loligo opalescens). Each year from mid-December to March in Southern California, these squid migrate from their deep-water habitat into shallower waters to spawn and lay their eggs. This is what we […]

Fishes Who Are Much More than a Bunch of Hot Air

Pufferfishes and porcupinefishes are members of two closely related families—the Tetraodontidae and the Diodontidae—that are known throughout the world. But not always for the same reason. One of those reasons is because in some cultures they are highly prized for food. The only trouble is that the members of these two families contain one of the most deadly toxins around. The poison is largely confined to the visera, gonads and skin, and thus when properly prepared, these fishes can be safely consumed. Usually. But for […]

Mako Madness

Doc Anes broke to the surface, the afternoon sun glinting off his stainless steel shark suit, and yelled to the divers snoozing on the boat, “Get in, I’ve got two Mako’s!” Six divers and $20,000 worth of camera gear poured into the water. Soon we were all hanging to the outside of the submerged shark cage and snapping pictures as the sharks flew up the chum line and bolted past the assembled spectators. This was California blue water diving at its finest, and for the […]

California White Shark Diving

For many divers the opportunity to safely view an apex predator at close range is the ultimate experience. Sport divers have been traveling to South Australia and South Africa for over two decades to see and film the great white shark. Although it has been known for some time that there are many white sharks in California waters, until recently no one has offered the experience to the public. Now California divers can experience big sharks close to home–at Guadalupe and the Farallon Islands. Guadalupe […]

How to Photograph Elephant Seals

There are several “rules” in big animal photography. You must be where the animals are, and when they are there, you must find cooperative animals in clear water. And, most important of all, you got to have a lot of luck. Elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) are a good example of this. These pinnipeds belong to the family phocidae, the true seals. Males may grow as long as 16.5 feet and weigh in excess of 5000 pounds, while females may only weigh 2000 pounds. Only the […]

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