Marine Life Identification

One-in-a-Billion Clam

Imagine coming to a nice, long stretch of sandy beach, fully intent on finding a spot to settle in. But when you do, there are already others there with the same idea. Why, there are thousands, millions — even billions — packed in. Virtually every square inch of sand is occupied, making it hard to even get a foothold! What would you do? Well, if you are a beach-going human being, you might decide to try the mountains on this particular occasion. But if you […]

A Hydroid That Stands Alone

For the most part, a person who knows a hydroid, knows a whole bunch of hydroids. While it is true that many hydroids will be found in one environment together, the main reason it’s hard to get to know just a single individual hydroid is because these animals tend to form colonies. Numerous individuals will be joined together into what appears to be one unit. Take for example the Ostrich-plume Hydroid (Aglaophenia latirostris). The graceful beauty of this species is popular with divers and underwater […]

California’s Fish-of-Steel

Look! Up in the stream! It’s a bird-it’s a plain (trout)—no, it’s Super Fish! Oh, you don’t recall Super Fish from your comic book days? Well, why not? After all, there is Super Dog, Super Horse, Super Cat and Super Monkey, so why shouldn’t the Man-of-Steel have a Fish-of-Steel? But, you’re right, he didn’t seem to, or if he did, it certainly was not one of the most popular of the super animals that was thought of over the past decades of story telling. However, […]

Photograph Giant Sea Bass

In the year 2000, I had the good fortune to make over 25 dives with one of the largest fish found off our Southern California coast, the giant sea bass. This wouldn’t have been much to write about 40 years ago, but today, after years of overfishing by commercial and private fishermen, and being a much sought-after trophy by many spearfishers, the number of these gentle giants has dropped dramatically. However, since a moratorium on landing these fish has been in place, this species has […]

Interacting with Sea Lions

Diving California even just a few times and odds are you will have an exciting underwater encounter with a sea lion. Underwater, these animals are very fast moving, precocious, and prone to mischief. They will zoom in right at your face, sometimes blowing bubbles, roaring all the way. It is all at the same time frightening, exhilarating, and fun. Such encounters are truly special but often don’t last long enough for elaborate study or photography. The best sea lion encounters are those that last an […]

Playing with Garibaldi

When I have guests over to the house I often find myself showing off my dumb dog George and the few silly tricks I have managed to teach him. On command he will sit up, come, stay, roll over, dance on his hind legs, and even speak. Did you know you can get a garibaldi to stand on its nose? How would you like to get one to “speak” to you? A bit more coercion and they will freeze and be a perfect model for […]

A Sea Urchin Which Inspires Thoughts of Love

As a rule, neither sea urchins nor their scientific names are thought of by the average person in terms of anything except pain and suffering. Take, for instance, one of California’s most visible species, the giant red sea urchin. Certainly, it has left extremely unpleasant reminders of its presence with many a diver or beachgoer who have had any of its numerous brittle spines imbedded into their flesh. But it is unclear if all that pain and discomfort has rivaled the suffering of countless students […]

Attracting Fish and Manipulating Their Behavior Without Food

And the controversy over the ethics of fish feeding rages… Florida has now banned fish feeding. Does it artificially alter fish behavior? Does it have a negative impact on the environment? Whatever side you take, it is nice to know that there are ways other than fish feeding to attract and hold the attention of fish. RUBBING ROCKS TOGETHER Many species of reef fish are very sensitive to noises near them because it tells them feeding activity is in progress. Many fish feed by breaking […]

Little Known Lobster Facts

It is that time of year again when the underwater hunters come out of the woodwork beating their chest and weaving great stories and yarns about fantastic exploits of lobster hunting. While you may not be the greatest lobster hunter, you can certainly impress your buddies with some obscure facts about the wily crustaceans. Want to impress your friends with a few facts about lobster are not generally known? Read on! FAMILY TIES California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) is only a distant cousin to the […]

Two Common Seashells with Triple Names

How many seashells do you know? A thousand? A couple hundred? Maybe only a few dozen? Worldwide, it is estimated that there are tens of thousands of species of seashells, and likely there is no one on earth who could really claim know them all. But of the hundreds, dozens, or whatever number of the seashells that you figure you know, how many of those could you locate in their natural habitat? If you are like most people, probably less than whatever number you know. […]

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