An Underwater Safari: Exploring Africa Cove

When we boarded the Sundiver Express we were headed for Catalina Island, but when we reached our dive site, the skipper, Kyaa, said we’d just reached Africa. I’m not exactly certain how Africa Cove got its name, but I’m guessing it’s because exploring this site is like being on an underwater safari. Almost immediately I found a pair of moray eels and about a half-dozen lobsters. Africa Cove is part of a Marine Conservation Area, which accounts for some of its bounty. As with most […]

Ocean Creatures Without Borders: Observing SoCal’s Changing Ocean

Political borders are essentially meaningless to marine life, as they can swim or drift across them without concern. Recently several marine critters have entered into southern California waters, including Catalina, as somewhat natural range extensions through dispersal. I find these new arrivals of great interest. Fish such as barracuda, yellowtail, tuna and even tiny anchovy can migrate through active dispersal, swimming into new or seasonal habitats. Others, such as marine invertebrate larvae and the eggs and larvae of fish not strong enough to swim long […]

Monterey’s Accidental Dive Site: Municipal Wharf II

‘What is the best dive in Monterey Bay? What is best? Best for photography? Easiest entry? Most diverse marine life? Not an easy question… No easy answers… One way to address the question is to listen to what the experts say. Lynn May, the original owner of the Silver Prince dive boat, could dive anywhere he wanted. He claimed that the best dive in Monterey Bay was the Municipal Wharf II. Wharf II was actually inspired by an accident. On March 3, 1923, the largest […]

Red, Green, Yellow and Brown: The Colorful Lives of California Kelpfish

Kelpfish Stats Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Superclass: Gnathostomata Superclass: Pisces Class: Actinopterygii Order: Perciformes Family: Clinidae: Giant kelpfish, crevice kelpfish, striped kelpfish, spotted kelpfish Family: Labrisomidae: Island kelpfish Genus/species: Giant kelpfish (Heterostichus rostratus) Island kelpfish (Alloclinus holderi) Spotted kelpfish (Gibbonsia elegans) Striped Kelpfish (Gibbonsia metzi) Crevice kelpfish (Gibbonsia montereyensis) Giant kelpfish tend to keep their distance. I have many images of them taken from several feet away as they pretend to be part of the scenery. Since they can change colors (red, lime […]

A Coastal Kelp Diving Excursion: Leo Carillo State Beach

There is nothing quite as peaceful and refreshing as a glide through a wonderful kelp forest to forget about the frantic-paced life of Los Angeles. And Leo Carrillo State Beach is just the place to do it. While I know a dive cruise out to Catalina or Anacapa Islands is preferred, sometimes we simply do not have the time to devote an entire day for a charter boat trip. A half-day excursion to local waters for a beach dive or two can be just the […]

Salty Talk: A Diver’s Guide to Seas and Oceans and Bays and Such

Archipelago. I love that word. While it can mean any group of islands close to each other I frequently hear it used to describe many islands that carry great diving opportunities. In the eastern Pacific Ocean we have the Galapagos Archipelago off Ecuador, and off the tip of Baja, the Archipelago Islas de Revillagigedo (try saying that one with marbles in your mouth) and, in our neck of the woods, I have often heard the Channel Islands described as an archipelago. A lot of the […]

In Maui Before Sunset: Enjoying the Ease and Excitement of a Hawaiian Adventure

We’re lucky to have some incredible diving right here in our own backyard, but even hardcore California divers get a bit of underwater wanderlust from time to time. The thing is, we’re a little spoiled. When we’re planning local dive trips we don’t have to carry a passport and wait in line to clear immigrations and customs. We don’t have to convert currency. We don’t have to be concerned with charging our various electronic devices. And we don’t have to worry about which side of […]

The Jewel of Emerald Bay: Indian Rock

My buddy and I became separated. We could not see each other. Although the water clarity was upward of 50 feet, and we were about 20 feet off the bottom, and only 20 feet apart we were blinded simply by the engulfing mass of silver life that surrounded us. I even had trouble telling which way was up! The school of jack mackerel was massive, the largest I’d ever seen. It must have numbered 10 to 20 thousand, but who was counting or even could. […]

The Perfect “Camp and Dive” Site: Ocean Cove

Ocean Cove is well protected from the northwest wind and swell and provides access to some of Sonoma County’s best diving. A road runs from the campground to the beach, allowing easy access to the cove, and making this a very convenient place to launch inflatable boats and kayaks to explore areas further from the beach. The bottom of Ocean Cove is mostly rock, sprinkled with boulders. Eelgrass covers much of the inshore rocks. In the old days many divers came here to catch abalone, […]

Gorgeous Gastropods: Admiring SoCal’s Colorful Seashells Shell Stats

Intriguing shapes and gem-like colors distinguish the seashells shown here — but the vast majority of these fascinating marine creatures are much more cryptic. Many of them live in shells so covered with growth they are difficult to see, let alone identify. Seashells have been around for 500 million years. Many are collected, some are eaten, and some have been used as currency. There’s even a “money cowrie.” Seashells belong to the second largest phylum, Mollusca, which is exceeded in size only by Arthropoda. Various […]

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