Marine Life Identification

How to Photograph Blue-Banded Gobies

California underwater photographers are always looking for bright colors to shoot against the muted greens, blues, grays, and browns of the reef and water. The striking contrasts make for excellent images. In Southern California waters one of the most brightly colored fish is the blue-banded goby (sometimes called the Catalina goby because it is so prolific at Catalina Island). These small fish (1 to 2.5″ in length) dot rocky reefs in 20 to 80 feet of water. They are brightly colored reddish-orange with neon blue […]

The Eyes Have It

You are walking down the street and you cannot help but notice the very attractive member of the opposite sex walking toward you. Enjoying beauty for beauty sake, you try not to stare, then you lock eyes. What a rush! A husband and wife find themselves lost in a dark alley. A dirty beggar asks for change and the nervous and cautious wife says, “Just walk and don’t make eye contact.” Ever stare down a vicious dog? Usually not a good idea. All of these […]

Hagfishes – Repulsively Fascinating

“The most repulsive creature around!” Such is the typical reaction of people when they first encounter a hagfish. But, really, such an extremely negative opinion is not at all justified. Not only are there plenty of other repulsive animals to choose from (how about, for example, a blood-bloated tick?), but hagfishes actually have many redeeming and fascinating features. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that hagfishes are often considered to be the “lowest of the low” as far as fishes are concerned. If sharks and rays, […]

The Secret Lives of Lobster

The key to the successful hunt of an animal is a solid understanding of the habits, quirks and behavior of your particular quarry. With lobster season starting soon, the focus for underwater seafood hunters will shift to these crustaceans that avid stalkers call “bugs.” Here are some facts (and some observations that may not be “facts,” per se) to help you in the upcoming lobster season, or at least better appreciate this odd quarry. LOBSTERS BITE Their jaws are powerful and, particularly with larger specimens, […]

Fun With Mirrors

Many of the reef fish in our California seas are territorial or just plain curious. When confronted with their own image in a mirror, they become pugnacious or confrontational, even confused. Prop up a mirror on the reef and watching the ensuing behavior patterns will be at the least, entertaining, but also educational. PRACTICALITIES Do not take a glass mirror underwater. The risk of breakage is too great. Plastic or metal mirrors are readily available at sporting goods stores in the camping or backpacking section. […]

The Sea’s Thrilling Cetacean Speedster

What is black and white and lives in the sea and is the fastest of its kind in the world? If you guessed a cetacean (the grouping of animals that includes dolphins and whales), you are right. But if you guessed the famous Orca (or killer whale), you were close, but not quite there. While the above description could in a sense fit the Orca; that animal is fast, but not the fastest to be found. That title is held instead by a much lesser […]

Great White Sharks of Guadalupe

While all diving is enjoyable and memorable, some dives stand out above the rest. We may not agree on which dives should be included among the “pinnacles of diving,” but many will think far off locations. A conspicuous exception to this generalization is the cage diving experience that is offered right here in California. While divers can view great white sharks worldwide, Isla de Guadalupe is now recognized as the best place to observe and photograph these top predators. Guadalupe Island is located in Mexican […]

The Bent-nosed Clam?King of the Midden Heap

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Nowhere is this saying more true than in the field of archaeology. An old piece of junk that may have been tossed into a pile of trash hundreds or thousands of years ago, when unearthed in modern times, can suddenly become a valuable window to the past. For example, centuries ago, before the days of landfills and recycling, discarded objects were often just chucked into what are now called ‘midden heaps.’ While some of these were relatively small, […]

Sea Turtles of the Eastern Pacific

On a tropical sandy beach, a baby turtle frees itself from its leathery egg. It has been about two months since its mother dragged herself ashore during a neap tide and laid her clutch of a hundred or so eggs. While she faced certain dangers while nesting and her unattended eggs were vulnerable to the predation of rats and large lizards, the most precarious period of a turtle’s life is right after hatching. As soon as the couple-inch-long baby digs its way out from the […]

Throw Your Kids to the Sharks then Jump in Yourself

Parents know what I am talking about. By the end of summer break, you are ready to throw your kids to the sharks or into a cage—or both. And you can! And without going to jail! It will actually be good for them and exciting for you. The shark diving experience on the Aquatica dive boat is unique in that it caters to divers of nearly all ages—6 to 66 and all experience levels, including novice snorkelers. Shark diving for children novice snorkelers? Yup, and […]

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