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Spotting the Two-Spot: All About the Two-Spot Octopus 

While two-spot octopuses are not uncommon in Southern California waters, they aren’t always easy to spot. They are usually wedged into a crevice. Thus, when I came across one sitting quietly on top of a ledge, I took a photo. I expected the animal to flee when my strobe flashed but it did not. I took another photo and ventured closer. That’s when I noticed there were two octopuses, so well camouflaged they blended into the substrate. The cephalopods were about eight inches apart, linked […]

San Miguel Island’s Wild Side: Exploring Tyler Bight

At-A-Glance  Skill Level: Intermediate and above. Kelp diving experience recommended. Location: South side of San Miguel Island. Wyckoff Ledge N34°01.007’, W120°23.276’. Markers Reef N34°01.294’, W120°23.757’ Access: Boat only. Depth Range: 25 to 80 feet Conditions: Currents and swell Visibility: Good, averaging 30 to 40 feet Photography: Good macro and wide-angle photo ops Hunting: poor Cautions: Current can come up suddenly but is generally not strong. Thick kelp. Cold water temps.  Once we’d descended through the thick kelp and through a cloud of black rockfish, we […]

Beyond Basic Dive Gear: Gadgets and Gizmos that Up Your Game 

When I hit the dive center for tank fills I inevitably find myself cruising the equipment area, marveling at the display of gadgets and gizmos designed to improve my diving experience. Over the years I’ve dropped a few coins on scuba accessories, and I have to admit, only a few of these gadgets have become permanent additions to my gear bag and dive kit. The rest have ended up in the dive gear storage area of our garage, in a box labeled, “Misc. Dive Gear.” […]

A Monterey Marvel: Metridium Mountain

At-A-Glance Skill Level: Beginner or better Location: Offshore of Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove at 36° 37.327’ N, 121° 53.982’ W. Access: Boats may be launched from the public ramps at Monterey Breakwater or between Fisherman’s Wharf and Wharf #2. Facilities: None Entry and Exit: Only boat access Depth Range: 48 to 65 feet Conditions: Predictably very calm Visibility: 10 to 30 feet Photography: Great macro photography even when visibility is poor. Great wide-angle photography of anemones when visibility is good. Hunting: None, this […]

Making Sense of Seaweed: The Mysteries of Marine Algae, Part One

Red Algae Stats Kingdom: Plantae Class: Florideophyceae Subclass: Corallinophycidae (Calliarthron cheilosporioides) Rhodymeniophycidae (Gloiocladia laciniata) Order: Corallinales (Calliarthron cheilosporioides) Rhodymeniales (Gloiocladia laciniata) Family: Corallinaceae (Calliarthron cheilosporioides) Faucheaceae (Gloiocladia laciniata)   Brown AlgaeStats Kingdom: Chromista Infrakingdom: Heterokonta Class: Phaeophyceae Order: Dictyotales (Dictyota coriacea) Fucales (Sargassum muticum) Family: Dictyotaceae (Dictyota coriacea) Sargassaceae (Sargassum muticum)   Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part installment on marine algae.   Writing and taking photos for this column has been a journey of discovery and enlightenment. I had learned the […]

A “Dream House” Dive: Copper Roof House

At-A-Glance Skill Level: Beginners should buddy with more advanced divers; otherwise it is an intermediate to advanced site depending on wave height. Location: At the south end of Carmel Beach in Carmel. Access: Drive west on Rio Road from Hwy. 1, turn left on Santa Lucia, and make a left on Scenic Road. Park on Scenic near the intersection of Martin Way. Facilities: None Entry and Exit: The beach is a short walk down a well-maintained staircase. Enter close to the rocks on the south […]

Something For Everyone: Catalina’s Long Point Dive Site

At-A-Glance Skill Level: All Location: The largest promontory on the front side (mainland or north side) of Catalina Island. GPS N33°24.335’, W118°21.996’ for Pirate’s Cove anchorage. Access: Boat only. Entry and Exit: Smooth and easy from your boat or a charter. Depth Range: 20 to 40 feet inside cove. Up to 130 feet outside the point and to the west. Snorkeling good in shallow waters in the cove. Conditions: Pirate’s Cove is protected from prevailing weather by Long Point. Visibility: Good to excellent. Photography: Good […]

Parks in the Sea, Part 2: Crown Jewels in California’s Underwater Kingdom

In the first installment of this article we highlighted the south coast and California Channel Islands offshore and helped make some sense of the somewhat confusing “alphabet soup” of protected areas within our state’s parks, reserves and conservation areas. Here we’ll overview underwater parks along the central and north coasts and will take a look at marine sanctuaries under Federal management. CENTRAL COAST MPAs The vast majority of Central Coast diving takes place off the Monterey Peninsula and areas immediately to the south in Carmel […]

A Good Site, By Any Name: Three Fingers Reef, 
7-Fathom Reef or Tower Reef

Currents are the lifeblood of any healthy reef system, especially in California. In a current, the leading edge of the reef is the most fascinating. There always seems to be a lot of fish life and the reef bustles with activity. Three Fingers Reef is bathed in nutrient-rich currents, creating an underwater garden of color, life and activity. This spot is also frequently called 7-fathom or Tower Reef (named for the water tower on shore). No matter how you call it, it’s a beautiful dive. […]

A Great Escape: Carmel River State Beach

The early Spanish explorers put many of the names on the map, and this spot is no exception. Our Lady of Mount Carmel was the patroness of priests who accompanied the explorer, Sebastian Vizcaíno, in 1602. He named a number of places Carmel in honor of his priests. This beach is found just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, and is popular with beach lovers and a few intrepid divers. My favorite way to dive this site is to enter at the far west end of the beach, […]

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