monterey

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 […]

California Dreaming

Summertime is here! That means a lot more Californians will be getting scuba certified and there will be a significant uptick in the number of out-of-state divers that visit California to take advantage of what our local diving has to offer. This increase in diving activity gives me an ideal opportunity to welcome all a lot of new divers to the California diving scene and first time diving visitors to our Pacific Ocean backyard.  I’d also like to provide a brief overview of some things […]

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 […]

Swell Sharks

What can I say? I am a sucker for cute and interesting faces underwater (other than divers, of course). And fortunately, for California underwater photographers we have many. But for me, I am especially drawn to our bottom dwelling sharks, specifically horn sharks and swell sharks. What fascinating faces! Of these two sharks I find the swell sharks to have the most interesting faces. Especially striking is the metallic golden colored eyes. Their flat heads spread out their funny “smiles” underneath. “Nostrils” just above the […]

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, […]

Sheephead: The Bold Rogue of the Kelp Forest

When I first came upon a male California sheephead, I thought I had wandered into the neighborhood of the local bully. The adult sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher) are bigger than many fish of the Central and Southern California rocky reefs and kelp forests. With a big, blunt, black head, red mid-section, and black tail he looks at you with alert eyes, a sense of cool detachment and a mouthful of long, crooked teeth. Itʼs not just his appearance that is a bit intimidating, itʼs his attitude. […]

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 […]

Jewels of the Sea: California?s Most Photogenic Sea Shells

In the early years of my diving career I collected shells (a long time ago). That stopped when I learned how to photograph them. This was much more rewarding, allowing me to record not only the shell’s appearance but the animal that lived in it and behaviors such as mating and laying eggs. No longer alive and removed from their habitat, many shells lose their luster—but photographs preserve their beauty forever. California waters contain a variety of seashells, some of which are exquisite. This does […]

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