baja

Uribe 121 Sinking April 25 Off Baja California

A date has been set for sinking the first underwater park attraction off Baja California. April 25 is the date planned to sink Uribe 121, an old Mexican Navy battleship in The Rosarito Underwater Park, or Parque Sumarino Rosarito.   The area in northwest Mexico is about 40 miles from San Diego. The decommissioned Uribe-class patrol boat, Uribe 121, has been donated by the Mexican Navy and is being cleaned to protect the environment and modified for diver safety. Other ships and sculptures will be added […]

Soft Bodies, Sharp Teeth: California Moray Eels

While watching a documentary on freshwater eels, I was surprised to learn that European and American freshwater eels are born in the Sargasso Sea and migrate to the freshwater rivers, lakes and estuaries where they grow up. They return to the Sargasso Sea to spawn.  No one knows for sure where California morays spawn. Scientists believe SoCal waters are too cold for reproduction. And, since larvae have been taken all along the Baja coast and into the Gulf of California, those are likely the areas […]

The Sequential Life of the California Sheephead

Many marine animals are hermaphrodites. Nudibranchs, for instance. It is thought that being able to mate with any same species creature encountered on the reef gives hermaphrodites a better chance of reproducing.  Many fish, gastropods and plants are sequential hermaphrodites. Instead of having both sexes mature in their bodies at the same time, they start life as one sex and become another later. Protandrous creatures change from male to female. Protogynous creatures change from female to male. According to Wikipedia: “About 75 percent of all […]

A Committed Commuter: The California Gray Whale

It is early fall in the northern hemisphere as I write this. By now a significant number of California gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) have reached the coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest on their southward journey from their feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi Seas to a series of coastal lagoons off the west coast of Mexico’s Baja peninsula — about a 5,000-mile commute, each way‚– where they will mate, calve and spend the winter.  By late fall and early winter many of these […]

Blend In or Brawl? Crabs as Misunderstood Crustaceans

Some of the sea creatures I’ve described for California Diving News are more than a little aggressive. Many crabs, however, prefer hiding to fighting even when equipped with those seemingly formidable defensive tools called claws. Like 75 percent of all animals, crabs belong to the phylum Arthropoda, which means jointed leg and includes not only aquatic creatures, but also many terrestrial ones, such as spiders, scorpions, centipedes and millipedes. The subphylum Crustacea includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps, barnacles, amphipods and isopods. Some isopods and a few […]

The Scuba Chef: The Magical Flavor of Fresh Sea Urchin

When I was 13 my father took me camping at Rosarito Beach on the Pacific side of Mexico’s Baja peninsula. We set up our tent right on the beach. The next day a local fisherman took us on his small wooden boat to a shallow reef just a half-mile off the coast. It is a day I’ll never forget — it was the day I discovered the magical flavor of sea urchin fresh from the ocean. The bright orange roe was firm and possessed a […]

Bat Rays

One fine summer day years ago, a friend and I took a small boat to a shallow cove off Anacapa, hoping to photograph the large number of bat rays that had gathered there. To avoid spooking the rays, my friend advised me to “slither” into the water as silently as possible. He slipped in first and I followed.  Perhaps our technique needed work. First one, then another, then all of the rays — and there were a lot of them — rose from the bottom […]

Thornback Rays

I couldn’t believe my luck. I had just reached the bottom at 20 feet and was cruising toward the kelp forest in deeper water when I saw a prehistoric looking creature lounging on the sand. It was light brown, with a distinctive flat, heart shaped head and a long tail. There were three rows of spines on its back. The animal, which reminded me of an armored vehicle, was a thornback.  The creature tolerated having its photo taken for several minutes before moving on. (Yes, […]

Yellowfin Fringehead

Those with patience and good eyesight are frequently rewarded with glimpses of exceptional beauty. California has many tiny invertebrates and fishes that are difficult to find, even though they are brightly colored and quite common. The yellowfin fringehead may be one of the cutest and hardest to find little fish a California diver will ever encounter. Yellowfin fringeheads have three pairs of massive, multi-branched cirri between and above their eyes. Their “Marty Feldman eyes” can be used to distinguish them from other native fringeheads including […]

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