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 […]

A Perfect Day in Monterey: Enjoying the “BB” Pinnacle

AT-A-GLANCE Skill Level: Advanced Location: About 2/3-mile northeast of Coral Street entry in Monterey Bay, the high spot is at: N36° 38.488’, W121° 55.169”. Access: Boats may be launched from the public ramps at Monterey Breakwater or between Fisherman’s Wharf and Wharf #2. Please don’t anchor on the high spot. Instead, anchor just off the rock at: N36 38.483 W121° 55.159’ and at N36° 38.504’ W121° 55.158’. Charter dive boats frequent this spot. Facilities: None Entry and Exit: Boat dive only Depth range: 70 to […]

Steller: How a Sea Lion, Sea Cow, Birds, a Mollusk and Plants Came to Share a Name 

As a birder, it has always been a pleasure to see and hear a Steller’s jay. This beautiful blue-tinged jay has a raucous call and a comical appearance when its expressive black crest feathers blow askew in the breeze. This bird proved to one early seagoing explorer that he had reached the northern shores of North America and that Alaska was part of North America. It wasn’t until a road trip along coastal Northern California that I learned how a large, playful pinniped and a […]

If the Shell Fits: The Curious Habits of Hermit Crabs 

While riding an Amtrak train along the coast just south of Santa Barbara I had an epiphany. It was sparked by the neatly parked RVs on the two-lane road along the shore below the train tracks. Are you ready? Here it is: Hermit crabs are the RVers of the crab world.  Of course, human RVers can live independently of their vehicles while hermit crabs require a sea shell home for protection because only their heads, part of their carapace and the first three pairs of […]

Out in the Blue: Making the Best of Monterey on a “No Dive” Day

At-A-Glance Skill Level: Divers and non-divers will enjoy this experience. Location: Offshore of Monterey Bay and Carmel Bays Access: Boats may be launched from the public ramps at Monterey Breakwater, between Fisherman’s Wharf and Wharf #2, and Moss Landing. Commercial whale watching boats depart from Monterey, Moss Landing and Santa Cruz harbors. Facilities: None Entry and Exit: Only boat access Depth Range: Variable Conditions: Highly variable Visibility: Not relevant Photography: Great photography for marine mammals Hunting: None Cautions: Be aware of changing conditions. So, what […]

Santa Cruz Island: “On Fire” at Flame Reef

At-A-Glance Skill Level: All dependent on sea conditions and currents. Location: On the backside of the east end of Santa Cruz Island, west of Sandstone Point. GPS coordinates N33°59.166’, W119°35.118’. Access: Boat only. Professional charter boat recommended. There are several out of Ventura and Santa Barbara. Private boat launch ramps are available at these same harbors as well as Channel Islands Harbor. Entry and Exit: Boat. Depth Range: 40 to 70 feet. Visibility: Very good, averages 40 feet. Photography: Good macro. Only fair wide-angle. Hunting: […]

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