Marine Life

The North Central Marine Life Protection Act – Impact on Abalone Divers

On April 1st the adopted Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) areas in the North Central Region are scheduled to take effect. This follows the creation of protected areas in Central California in 2007. California abalone season also opens April 1st, and it is timely to consider the impact of this legislation on abalone hunting in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties where the vast majority of abalone are harvested. Any legislation represents a comprise between opposing factions. Conservationists wanted more area protected, avid fishermen less. While many […]

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 […]

One Less Angel. Who Cares?

On a recent lobster trip I was the only photographer onboard doing my duty as a reporter and editor for this publication. The rest of the boat were fervent lobster hunters. A few were spearfishing as well. Those who know me know I don’t have any problem with hunting so long as it is done legally and ethically. Although I have not shot a fish in years, I used to be an underwater hunter and, occasionally, still take lobster. On this particular dive I was […]

The Price and Pain of Ocean Conservation

The application of the Marine Life Protection Act to the coastline of California came one step closer to completion as the proposals for the area from Pt. Conception to the Mexican border were forwarded to the Fish and Game Commission for approval on December 9th. Over the next several months the merits of the proposals will be debated and final evaluations will be determined before the end of 2010. This third of four phases will be complete when late this year. The final work on […]


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 […]

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