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Two-for-One Fun at Anacapa: Goldfish Bowl

Just the name Goldfish Bowl makes you think of a fun, cute dive site. And it is. But there is a deeper, more advanced dive also here that a lot of people don’t know about (more on that later). Goldfish Bowl has long been and remains to this day a favorites site for many dive charter boats out of Ventura and Santa Barbara to drop in newbie divers. It is relatively shallow with calm, clear, life-filled waters and a beautiful small kelp forest. Currents are […]

Big Fun, No Matter How You Define It: Enjoying Aumentos Reef 

On a good day in Monterey many boat divers hope their captains head south to Carmel Bay. While Carmel does offer some of the best dive spots on calm days, some of the more exposed and more interesting Monterey sites should not be overlooked. One of my top Monterey sites has got to be Aumentos Reef. I have heard some boat captains say that Aumentos is Spanish for “the enlargement;” however, this is incorrect. The name of this site is likely derived from one of […]

CA Diving Community Mourns Divers Lost in Boat Blaze 

Early on the morning of September 2, 2019 the Truth Aquatics live-aboard dive boat, Conception, caught fire while anchored off Santa Cruz Island, California. Flames prevented five crewmembers who were on the top deck from reaching the stairs or emergency hatch to free those asleep below. Tragically, all 33 passengers and one crewmember who were sleeping in the bunk room below deck perished.  The critically damaged Conception sank in 64 feet of water a few hours after the fire started. Recovery of the remains took […]

The Flower Animals of California: All About Stony Corals

It’s a fact stranger than fiction: there are underwater creatures commonly found in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast that are biologically classified as “flower animals.” The class is Anthozoa, formed from two Greek words, anthos, meaning “flower” and zoa, meaning “animals,” and it contains the stony corals. Anthozoa is a class within the photogenic phylum Cnidaria (the “C” is silent), which means “nettle” in Greek. Besides corals, phylum members include sea anemones, sea pens, gorgonians, jellyfishes and hydroids. Cnidarians have two forms, polyps […]

The Otter Option: Exploring Elkhorn Slough

Sometimes the weather guy gets the predictions wrong, and when you get to a dive site the waves look like so many mountain ranges crashing on the beach. What’s a diver to do? One suggestion is to grab your kayak, or rent one, and paddle up Elkhorn Slough. Elkhorn Slough is a huge estuary that begins at Moss Landing and extends inland about seven miles. It is the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California outside of San Francisco Bay, and is home to […]

The California Photo Challenge: Tips for Creating Winning Underwater Images 

Talk with underwater photographers about shooting in California and it probably won’t take long before you hear some comments about how much more difficult it is to produce compelling photographs in our home waters than it is in clear tropical water. I am not going to refute this premise as nonsensical. But I will to say that with some forethought, practice and good shooting techniques it is possible to create strong macro and wide-angle images in California waters on a lot of days. The bottom […]

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. […]

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