kelp

The Mysteries of Marine Algae, Part One

Writing and taking photos for this column has been a journey of discovery and enlightenment. I’ve learned the common names of many marine creatures I encountered (most specifically in SoCal, where I have spent the most time) but didn’t delve into anything bordering on the scientific. I also photographed a lot of “stuff” I couldn’t identify. While looking for material for this column, I’ve made a lot of progress on that.  The Internet is a godsend, but, this article proved more difficult to research than […]

That Thing We Do

Legend has it that the wonderful author and humorist who went by the pen name Mark Twain was once asked how much he might charge for a speech. His answer was something like “Nothing if there is no time limit, and $20 if I have to make all my points in five minutes or less.” As a public speaker, author and member of the team that produces California Diving News every month, I truly appreciate Twain’s point. It’s far more challenging to deliver a complete […]

Who You Calling Shrimp?

Shrimp belong to the Phylum Arthropoda, which means jointed leg and includes 75 percent of all animals. They aren’t all aquatic. Spiders, scorpions, centipedes and millipedes are arthropods that live on land. Shrimp are members not only of the Subphylum Crustacea — which includes crabs, lobsters, barnacles, amphipods and isopods — but also of the Class Malacostraca.   This article discusses three so-called “shrimp.” Only one of them, however, is a true shrimp. Here’s a hint: The “shrimp” are: a Hyperiid (Order Amphipoda), a California […]

There’s No Place Like Home

Like most divers I know, I thoroughly enjoy my dive trips to tropical destinations. After all, who doesn’t enjoy great visibility, warm water, colorful reefs and all of the associated marine life?  In the coming months, various photo assignments will have me diving off the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe, Dominica and Grand Cayman. As you probably suspect, I am looking forward to all of these trips. But the dive trip that I am looking forward to the most in the coming months is an October […]

The Challenges of California Underwater Photography: A Guide to Local Shooting Success

Here’s a quick photo fact: it is technically easier to shoot compelling underwater photos in the bright sunlight and clear water of the tropics. Compared to the tropics, shooting in California means shooting in generally dark water that has less visibility and more suspended particulate matter. But just because California water is less forgiving is not to say creating pleasing images can’t be done. Any underwater photographer who pays close attention to their shooting scenario and technique can enjoy success in our waters. That’s another […]

Summertime Is The Right Time

Water temperature is on the rise. Visibility is increasing. There’s plenty of daylight to go along with flattening seas and small surf. You’ll find a variety of migrating fishes in a lot of sites. And our kelp forests and reef communities are exploding with new life. It’s summertime, and our diving season has kicked into high gear. Like a lot of California divers, I like to dive year ’round. Different seasons bring different conditions, different animals, and different natural phenomena. But there’s no question about […]

Own Unique California Underwater Art

This year’s Scuba Show featured a lot of artistic talent from our attendees who helped assemble the collaborative painting featured on this month’s cover. The underwater California reef scene was divided into 414 small square chips that guest artists reproduced onto larger tile “canvases.” They used paint, glitter, crayons, pastels and pencil. The completed tiles were placed together with stunning results — a magazine cover image and an original work of art that is now available to the highest bidder, to benefit a nonprofit. Proceeds […]

Swimming, Swirling, Schooling, Shoaling: How Fishes Move About

Taking photos of fish schools is one of my favorite underwater activities. It’s always challenging and getting good photos isn’t easy. Schooling fish tend to move away from you in unison, so it’s hard to get close. Only rarely do they let you into their midst. Like birds in the sky, a fish school acts as one, changing direction in an instant. It seems a miracle individuals don’t collide. The school moves like a river, flowing around objects in its path, while each fish maintains […]

Shell Games: The Curious Habits of Hermit Crabs

While riding an Amtrak train along the coast just south of Santa Barbara I had an epiphany. It was sparked by the neatly parked RVs on the two-lane road along the shore below the train tracks. Are you ready? Here it is: Hermit crabs are the RVers of the crab world. Of course, human RVers can live independently of their vehicles while hermit crabs require a sea shell home for protection because only their heads, part of their carapace and the first three pairs of […]

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 […]

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