Marine Life Identification

Diving with Seahorses–Am I California Dreaming?

After diving for 2½ hours underwater in the murky Mission Bay in San Diego, I am starting to have doubts that there are any seahorses here. All that I’ve seen is algae, stingrays, and more algae. Checking my air gauge, it’s getting low and I decide that I have to get back to shore. Just before the water is shallow enough for me to stand, I can’t believe what I see in front of me. Could it be real? I had to pinch myself, twice. […]

Lions Invade La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Shores is well known to most San Diego divers. Many local divers received their scuba certification there, including myself. Some divers after being certified at “The Shores” swear they will never dive there again! Many comments from new divers are, “There’s nothing but sand!” Veteran “Shores” divers know better. There is a great deal of marine life in the area and all one needs to do most of the time is slow down and keep their eye’s peeled. This is not to say […]


The most common California reef fish, both by number of individual animals and number of species has got to be the rockfish (genus Sebastes). On every dive you are likely to see dozens of these fish and over a dozen different species. They come in many colors and fill an important niche in the reef community. The fossil record of rockfish from California goes back to the Miocene, some 5 to 30 million years ago; and they have changed little since then. Rockfish belong to […]

Giants on the Star – Black Sea Bass Inhabit The Star of Scotland Wreck

The dive plan for the day was to have a black sea bass encounter, and the location chosen was the venerable wreck, Star of Scotland in Santa Monica Bay. Santa Monica Bay? Most divers would ask, why there, instead of Catalina? True, most divers typically meet these amazing creatures at the offshore islands, but our coastal waters harbor a robust and fairly predictable population of the gentle giants. A mere 15-minute run from Marina del Rey Harbor aboard the D/V Moby Kate found us anchored […]


Some of California’s underwater critters are easy to find–they swim right up to you. Others are shy and reclusive and you have to hunt for them. Still others are so well camouflaged that they can be right in front of your face and you may never see them. These ultimate masters of disguise are among the most intricate and beautiful of our marine life, and are well worth the effort it takes to find them. In California waters the snail simnia is clearly in the […]

Sevengill Shark

One of the first things we noticed upon reaching the bottom was absolutely no fish–anywhere. The lighting was also strange: a strange, yellowish-green tinge to everything, lending a deserted, eerie feel to the whole place. But Dave and I had decided to forage eastward to see what we could find, so we plodded along the bottom, with Dave’s flash going off every now and then as he found some small, sessile life to photograph along the way. We continued deeper and deeper into this spooky, […]

Is That Lobster Smiling at Me? (plus hunting tips)

Do lobsters have lips? I’d swear they do for all too often I have seen them smiling at me. During the off-season they definitely look at me with that “can’t touch this” grin and I think I can even sometimes hear them snicker. But during the season it is really upsetting. They crouch back in their deep holes just a smilin’. I have not done well the last few lobster seasons. Now granted, I often have a camera in my hand and it is difficult […]

Alien Creatures Of The Deep

As we head out of San Diego’s Mission Bay on a bright and sunny day, it’s the ocean conditions that will determine the dive site today. If conditions aren’t just right it will mean a kelp forest or wreck dive. There’s nothing wrong with that, but what we are hoping for is a dive experience that is quite a bit different, an open ocean dive! What we’re looking for way out in the “Big Blue,” isn’t fish or mammals, but pelagic invertebrates. Conditions are looking […]

Cancun Whale Shark

Just offshore from Cancun, Mexico, a new protected biosphere named Reserva de la Biosfera Tiburón Ballena (Whale Shark Biosphere Reserve) has been named. It is located in front of the north coast region of Quintana Roo and covers a surface area of 145,988 acres. The marine surface of this Protected Area guarantees the protection of the region that contains waters rich with organic material. This concentration of nutrients allow for the exceptional presence of species such as mussels, crustaceans, birds and marine mammals, and above […]

Blue Sharks

California divers have the opportunity to encounter numerous species of shark in our near shore waters. While only a very few are regarded as dangerous, most are beautiful and are a joy to encounter in the water. Of all our sharks, the blue shark may be the most elegant. They move in a relaxed, confident manor as their long tail propels them forward with graceful strokes. Blue sharks are nothing short of poetry in motion. Blue sharks are classified into the class Chondrichthyes and the […]

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