Off the Beaten Path in Laguna: Woods Cove

If anywhere along the southern California coastline can be called a Mecca for beach divers, it would be the Laguna Beach area along Orange County’s southern shores. The reasons are obvious: clear water, easy access, and an abundance of marine life that’s hard to match. It is not unusual to see a hundred or more divers assaulting the beaches here on any given weekend during the summer. Not to worry though. Laguna Beach offers enough quantity and variety of dive spots where one can obtain […]

A Cool Dive Off Cannery Row: Enjoying San Carlos Beachs

Sometimes I seek out challenging sites with access to exposed reefs, deeper water and large animals. At other times I prefer to experience a relaxing dive, with an easy entry and exit, and plenty of colorful critters to photograph. Monterey County offers a great variety of dive sites, so there are plenty of sites to choose from depending on my mood and conditions. One of the most relaxing sites is San Carlos Beach. San Carlos Beach may be found at the end of Cannery Row […]

Visiting a Friend Off Anacapa’s West End: Say Hello to Larry the Lingcod

As we were anchoring off the far west end of Anacapa, I half-jokingly pointed down toward the water and said, “And this is where I will find a lingcod.” Checking my log it seems I have encountered what appeared to be the same lingcod in the same spot the last six times I have dived here. We were developing a close personal relationship. It was small and scrawny but with a big gnarly mouth full of teeth. I descended and headed over to the general […]

A Perennial Favorite: Returning to Eric’s Pinnacles

I enjoy the excitement of being the first diver on a new site. However, not every unexplored site offers a great dive, and sometimes you have to pick through the rock pile before you find the true gems. I also enjoy diving my favorite sites year after year to visit with old friends, witness any changes and embrace the predictability of a great dive. Diving a familiar site can be as comforting as sharing coffee with an old friend. One site I enthusiastically dive time […]

Think Big

For this month’s issue I wrote and provided photographs for a feature story about the natural history of humpback whales. When writing the article, I couldn’t help but think that it might come as a surprise to some readers to find an article about humpback whales in California Diving News because humpbacks are not commonly encountered in our waters. But sightings do happen here, and they are fairly routine in Hawaii, Mexico’s Sea of Cortez and Revillagigedo archipelago, and several other destinations around the globe […]

Mega Magic: The Magnificent Humpback Whales

Humpback whales commonly grow to a length of close to 50 feet, and by the time they are adults, they weigh roughly one ton per foot of body length. Yet with as few as three beats of its tail an adult humpback is able to launch itself almost completely out of the water in a behavior known as breaching. It is difficult to comprehend how powerful and well adapted for life in the oceans humpbacks must be to accomplish this feat. Yet, if you ask anyone who […]

SoCal Rock Star: The Treefish

Of the some 102 rockfish species worldwide, about 60 live in the ocean off the SoCal coast. Some are closely related and look very much alike. Colors of the same species can vary and at least some of the fish are chameleon-like, changing color to match their surroundings. Additionally, rockfishes are evolving and forming new species at what Dr. Milton Love calls “a frightening rate.” Is it any wonder many of them are a challenge to identify? Rockfishes are members of the Scorpaenidae family and […]

Kingdom, Phylum, Subphylum and So On: A Diver’s Tour of the Taxonomic System

Imagine walking into an introductory biology class, and on day one your teacher presents you with specimens of one male, female and juvenile of every living species found in the world’s oceans. Next, your professor adds in all of the fossil evidence known to science. Your semester-long assignment: “Start sorting, make sense of it all, and create a system of classification that will be accepted by scientists worldwide.” With just under two million extant (living) and many more extinct species, it’s not hard to imagine […]

The World Of  Fishes: A Primer for Divers

Fish fanatics. That term is an apropos way to describe a lot of divers. Those of us that fit the description love the seemingly endless variety of shapes and colors found in fishes. We are fascinated by their antics and the ways some species blend into their environment while others standout. We get a charge out of learning about and watching their courtship rituals, displays at cleaning station, the challenge of trying to identify and photograph them, and so on and so forth. But ask […]

Our Changing Oceans: California’s Marine Ecosystems in Flux

Divers have a front row seat to witness the profound changes that occur in our ocean world. Back in March I wrote a little piece about the seasonal changes we all enjoy each time our planet takes a lap around the solar system. This issue is about the longer term, and perhaps, more persistent changes that are happening to our California reefs. Outside of the annual changes in our seasons there are multiyear weather patterns that occur regularly, but not predictably. The most well known […]

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