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, […]

Parks in the Sea Part 1: Crown Jewels in 
California’s Underwater Kingdom

It is no secret that through the last 100+ years the pressure from industrial expansion and population growth in California has put our ocean environment at serious risk. Can that risk be mitigated? Is any damage that has occurred reversible? Yes to bosdth questions. There is a solid argument for optimism. That case for optimism comes from the joy of those who’ve experienced our underwater parks first hand. The marine life abundance, size and diversity are undeniable. Studies show that there are 20 percent more […]

The Bright Spots

The world’s oceans are under siege, and California waters are no exception. Veteran divers know it, and hard science confirms the facts. Scientific studies tell us that without any significant change in commercial fishing regulations, the total tonnage of finfish and invertebrates, with the exception of other than squid, taken commercially in California waters decreased by more than an astonishing 68 percent in the period from 1976 to 1998. By 2000, fishermen were catching less than half of what they were catching in 1990, and […]

California’s Undersea Flower Animals: The 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 […]

Monterey’s Iconic Dive Site: The Breakwater

At-A-Glance Skill Level: Beginner or better. Location: The Breakwater is located at the intersection of Cannery Row and Foam Street in the City of Monterey. Access: Available at the base of The Breakwater, or above San Carlos Beach, northeast of The Breakwater. It is a short walk to the beach down a well-maintained set of stairs. Facilities: Restrooms and showers are available on The Breakwater. Breakwater Scuba is located on Cannery Row at the north end of San Carlos Beach, and Out To Sea is […]

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