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Knowing and Catching California Spiny Lobster

Lobster season opens Saturday, October 3, and many California divers are eagerly awaiting it. This article provides information on the life cycle of these savory crustaceans as well as tips and techniques that will help you catch them. First, let’s take a closer look at Panulirus interruptus, aka the California spiny lobster. The most obvious difference between it and the East Coast’s American lobster is that the American lobster has big claws and the spiny lobster has none. While some sea creatures are involved parents […]

The Horn Sharks, Heterodontus: A “Different” Kind

Back in my early days of diving, a couple of men I knew sported necklaces featuring a single horn shark spine. Luckily, the days of West Coast divers killing harmless sharks for jewelry didn’t last long.  Horn sharks (Heterodontus francisci) are members of the order Heterodontiformes (bullhead sharks) and the family Heterodontidae. The genus name, Heterodontus, comes from two Greek words meaning “different teeth” and the species name, francisci, is derived from San Francisco, though these sharks rarely venture that far north.  Heterodontidae is a […]

Sea Slug Courtship and Reproduction

Except for having to dissect a frog, I enjoyed high school biology. As an adult, however, I have found marine biology even more fascinating. Reproduction specifically. I had no idea it could be so complicated under the sea. Take, for instance, nudibranch mating and egg laying. Over the years I have taken photos of a lot of things I could not positively identify. Among them were egg cases. Figuring out the source of some of them was easy because the parent was in the photo […]

Hydro-Powered Holothurians: California Sea Cucumbers

During a late afternoon dive several years ago in Fiji, I came across a sea cucumber (Bohadschia graeffei) that was upright and swaying like a cobra dancing to a snake charmer’s tune. That was very strange and I didn’t know what to make of it. I watched for a while, swam away, then came back, intending to photograph the sea cuke’s mouth and the tentacles surrounding it, which were black with flat, leafy white tips.  That’s when things got stranger. Rising in the water from […]

A Squid Snowstorm

“If they only knew.” That was the thought that ran through my mind as I surfaced at 12:40 a.m. on New Year’s morning on a dive that had began in the final hour of the previous year. It was an extremely clear night, and from my vantage point as we hit the surface I could see the bright lights of the ritzy coastal community of La Jolla. I feel certain that the terrestrial party animals thought they were having a wild time ringing in the […]

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