Marine Life

Safe Abalone Diving

Each spring Northern California divers look forward to the beginning of abalone season with the exuberance of children waiting for Santa Claus. With good reason since abalone are one of the tastiest shellfish that you will ever harvest in California and they are still very abundant. Although diving, in general, and abalone diving, specifically, are very safe activities, a small number of abalone divers seem to get hurt each year. The three biggest safety issues in abalone diving are big seas, kelp, and alcohol. Most […]

How to Photograph Lobster

Now that the fever of lobster hunting has died down as far as eating them goes, perhaps it is time we pick up our cameras and turn our attention to photographing them instead. These funny crustaceans that we just grab and head them off to the dinner table are actually quite interesting creatures, albeit on the simple side.  ABOUT LOBSTER The California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) is actually not a lobster, per se, but rather a crayfish. They lack the large front claws of their […]

Yellowfin Fringehead

Those with patience and good eyesight are frequently rewarded with glimpses of exceptional beauty. California has many tiny invertebrates and fishes that are difficult to find, even though they are brightly colored and quite common. The yellowfin fringehead may be one of the cutest and hardest to find little fish a California diver will ever encounter. Yellowfin fringeheads have three pairs of massive, multi-branched cirri between and above their eyes. Their “Marty Feldman eyes” can be used to distinguish them from other native fringeheads including […]

Fried Eggs for Breakfast at La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Shores is a popular beach located near San Diego. Besides being a great spot for teaching scuba, it is also very popular with many local and visiting divers. Although it doesn’t have the most beautiful underwater topography, it does have a nice variety of fish and invertebrate life living in and on its sand and mud bottom. There seem to be creatures that you can almost always find at home here, like various nudibranchs and other invertebrates such as crabs or shrimp. There […]

How to Photograph Blue and Mako Sharks

While you may be lucky enough to stumble upon a naturally inquisitive blue or mako shark on the edge of one of California’s lush kelp forests, your best bet is to head out to blue water where the continental shelf steepens before plunging into the deep Pacific. The days of diving into a writhing ball of pelagic predators may be long gone, but with a little patience (and an enticing chum slick) you’ll probably see a fin or two snaking towards your boat. When the […]

Know Your Nudibranchs

If there was a contest for the brightest, most intricate, or most ostentatious critter in California waters, the animals we call nudibranchs have got to be at the top of the list. As a group they show off the most vivid colors, and are adorned with intricate gill plumage that would arouse jealousy of the most ornate tropical bird. Yet they are extremely common and may be enjoyed by divers at nearly every site in the state. Nudibranchs are gastropod mollusks that are distantly related […]

How to Photograph Sea Lions by Dale Sheckler

The California seas are full of marine animals that can be a challenge to photograph. Personally, for me one of the most difficult is the sea lion. They are fast and they are dark. And they are smart. Back in the day I burned a lot of film on these funny guys. I have had a bit more luck with digital, but that is only because of the ever-present friend of the underwater electronic photographer: the delete button.  I have met some excellent underwater photographers […]

California Marine Life: Technology Provides New Insight Into White Shark Behavior

The image of a white shark invokes extremes in our emotions. They bring out a deep, primal fear in some, while others experience joy in observing their grace and beauty. White sharks are big–up to twenty-one feet long and 7000 pounds. They have a mouthful of serrated teeth that are effectively used to hunt fish when they are young, but switch to marine mammals after they grow to nine or ten feet. On very rare occasions they will bite a human. Yet, those who have […]

Jewels of the Sea: California?s Most Photogenic Sea Shells

In the early years of my diving career I collected shells (a long time ago). That stopped when I learned how to photograph them. This was much more rewarding, allowing me to record not only the shell’s appearance but the animal that lived in it and behaviors such as mating and laying eggs. No longer alive and removed from their habitat, many shells lose their luster—but photographs preserve their beauty forever. California waters contain a variety of seashells, some of which are exquisite. This does […]

Orange County Ocean Restoration Project Celebrates Its Successes

Giant kelp forests are one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet. Often referred to as the rainforests of the sea, more than 800 species depend on them and we are one of them. We use products everyday that contain algin, a compound extracted from giant kelp. Over the last 30 years, giant kelp bed densities have been in decline. This is thought to be due to the population explosion in Southern California and an unbalanced food web. According to the California Department of […]

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