The More Morays, the Better: Adventures in Eel Land 

Did you know that the moray eels found in Southern California waters (the California moray, Gymnothorax mordax) are actually semi-tropical visitors? It is thought that our local waters are too cold to serve as eel breeding areas. Instead of being “born” here, larval eels hitchhike here on the currents from warmer waters to the south.  While it is not unusual to find an individual animal here and there, there are spots that are abundant with eels. One such spot is often referred to as Eel […]

California Glory: Our Coastal Kelp Forests

California divers are lucky that giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera), the largest kelp in the world, grows off our coast. With sunlight sparkling down through the canopy swimming through a kelp forest is an awesome experience, as magical as driving through a redwood forest on land. Giant kelp is a type of brown algae that can grow up to 24 inches a day and attain a maximum length of 175 feet under ideal conditions. While it is known to live at least six years, the blades […]

A Model Relationship: Modeling for and Diving with an Underwater Photographer 

By Kim Sheckler • Photo by Dale Sheckler  Working with a photographer is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done as a diver. I’ve been diving for 35+ years now, many of them as a photo subject for my husband Dale. Underwater modeling sounds like fun, and you might think it doesn’t involve anything more than swimming around and smiling, but I can tell you from decades of personal experience that working with an underwater photographer involves far more than smiling for the […]

Fishy Fun at Lingcod Lair

AT-A-GLANCE  Location: On the mainland side Anacapa Island (actually a chain of three islets) that is the closest to mainland of all the Channel Islands at only 11 miles off Port Hueneme. It is wedged between the dive sites known as the Pelican Preserve (which can only be dived in November and December) and Goldfish Bowl.  Access: Boat only. Skill: All levels. Visibility: Fair to good. Depths: up to 50 feet on sand. Hunting: Not allowed. Photography: Excellent fish photography. Only fair for all other. […]

Cool and Calm in Carmel Bay: Stillwater Cove 

AT-A-GLANCE Skill level: Beginner or better Location: Along the 17-mile drive in Pebble Beach. Access: By boat from Monterey or via the beach near the Pebble Beach Clubhouse. Facilities: Public parking toilets, boat and kayak launching at the clubhouse. Entry and Exit: Best to dive from a boat or kayak. Depth range: 10 to 50 feet Conditions: Predictably very calm Visibility: 10 to 30 feet Photography: Good macro photography for nudibranchs and other small invertebrates. Also good for fish portraits. Hunting: Stillwater Cove is within […]

Domoic Acid Outbreak Sickens California Sea Lions

It’s not unusual for beachgoers to see California sea lions stranding this time of year as one-year-old animals wean from their mothers and strike out on their own in search of food. But the increased number of starving young sea lions is of particular concern given what National Marine Fisheries Service observers, including animal care specialists from the Marine Mammal Center, saw during a recent assessment of the population. Dramatic influxes of starving young sea lions in the past have been driven by intense swings […]

Talking Shrimp: Identifying Shrimplike Creatures

Shrimp belong to the Phylum Arthropoda, which means jointed leg and includes 75 percent of all animals. They aren’t all aquatic. Spiders, scorpions, centipedes and millipedes are arthropods that live on land. Shrimp are members not only of the Subphylum Crustacea — which includes crabs, lobsters, barnacles, amphipods and isopods — but also of the Class Malacostraca. This article discusses three so-called “shrimp.” Only one of them, however, is a true shrimp. Here’s a hint: The “shrimp” are: a Hyperiid (Order Amphipoda), a California longbeak […]

The Fun of the Hunt: Discovering (and Rediscovering) Local Dive Sites

California divers thrive on new. We love learning about the latest in gear, the most recent ocean science discoveries and we’re always craving new underwater experiences — especially new and exciting dive sites. Exploring a new dive site is a thrill. In many cases we gain a sense of accomplishment — and bragging rights — when we enter a new dive location into our logbooks. Even when the site is “new to us” rather than a site previously unknown to the diving world, this is […]

Wreck, Reef, Kelp: A Winning Trifecta at Doctor’s Cove

Our group had just completed two great dives in conditions that were a bit challenging due to depth and moderate to strong currents. We were ready for our last dive of the day to be another great experience, so we were happy when the divemaster and skipper chose Doctor’s Cove as our final dive site of the day. Because Doctor’s Cove is in the vicinity of spectacular Emerald Bay it is often ignored. You see, the reefs surrounding Indian Rock in the middle of Emerald […]

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