pacific

El Niño Correlates With More Shark Sightings

The 2015 El Niño may have a significant impact on weather and climate, but that’s not all. Researchers are blaming El Niño, a period of increased water temperatures in areas of the Pacific Ocean, for increased numbers of shark sightings on the West Coast. This pattern of increased sea surface temperatures generally causes more storms in places like southern California, Mexico and South America. During El Niño periods, Australia and Indonesia tend to get significantly less rainfall.  Now marine scientists are taking note of the […]

A Little Burst of Sunshine: Enjoying Yellow Dorids

Writing articles for this column motivated me to sort my thousands of California marine life images into specific folders such as bryozoans, hydrocorals, crabs, fish, nudibranchs, etc. Nudibranchs are further separated into aeolid and dorid folders — including 40-plus “yellow dorids.”  In the beginning, all of my yellow dorids looked alike to me. However, as time went on, I became more adept at recognizing the subtle differences among the colorful slugs.  There are more than 170 species of nudibranchs living off the Pacific Coast and […]

Awesome Nature: Predator Versus Prey

There comes a time in the evolution of a diver, and particularly underwater photographers, when we graduate from reef scenics and little macro creatures and set our sights on more exciting subjects — that is to say big subjects. While there are many places in the world where divers may safely interact with large animals, the Revillagigedo Archipelago off Mexico’s west coast stands out as one of the very best, both for numbers of species and numbers of animals. My buddies and I recently spent […]

The Mysteries of Marine Algae, Part Two

Last month’s article pointed out that algae are classified as red, brown or green based on the color of their photosynthetic pigments and their evolutionary lineage. They all have chlorophyll a but only green algae look green. Other pigments mask green chlorophyll a in brown and red algae. In this article you will learn that basing an ID on the color of an alga in an underwater photo won’t always result in the correct classification. I thought I had several photos of green algae but […]

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 […]

Dream It, Do It

A blue whale, the largest creature to have ever lived, appears on the edge of visibility and then comes into view as it swims through a dense concentration of krill-like crustaceans upon which it feeds. Two male sarcastic fringehead confront each other, opening their gaping mouths as wide as they can in an effort to intimidate their opponent and claim their territory. Cruising in the open sea, a Pacific white-sided dolphin grabs a strand of free-floating kelp with its pectoral flipper as it swims by. […]

Rocks, Rainbows, Scorpions: A Playful Look at the Scorpaenidae Family

Paper covers rock. Scissors cut paper. Rock dulls scissors. You know the game, right? In the California fish version, called “Rocks, Rainbows, Scorpions” the rainbow scorpionfish beats its California scorpionfish cousin, but the rockfish beats ’em both with its “magnificence.” Read on to learn why — and to decide if you agree with the rules of this made-up game. The Scorpaenidae family is represented by no less than 56 genera and 421 species, 85 of which can be found off the Pacific Coast. The latter […]

Those Darling Dorids: SoCal Nudies Exposed

Many underwater photographers love nudibranchs and I am not the only one with numerous images of these colorful creatures. We Southern California divers are lucky; of the more than 170 species found off the Pacific Coast, a large number live in our part of the ocean.  Most nudibranchs range in size from less than an inch to several inches long and can have unusual shapes. While a few have colors that serve as camouflage, most are flamboyant eye-catchers. They can afford to be highly visible […]

Making Sense of MPAs: A Guide to California’s Marine Protection Areas

The world’s oceans are under siege. That’s not exactly news, especially for divers. Overfishing, pollution, coastal development, habitat destruction, climate change. You name it. The oceans seem to be suffering from it. And here in California, our ocean is no exception.  Scientific studies tell us that without any significant change in commercial fishing regulations, the total tonnage of finfish and invertebrates other than squid taken commercially in California waters decreased by more than an astonishing 68 percent in the period from 1976 to 1998. In […]

Sport Chalet’s Treasure Hunt Begins July 12

Sport Chalet, in cooperation with Tabata USA, Aqua Lung, Mares and Sea Pearls, will be taking divers on an adventure this July with their first annual Treasure Hunt. In the 1700’s the San Philip set sail for the West in search of new resources and riches. The 30-person ocean vessel sailed from the Atlantic Ocean across to the Pacific Ocean carrying cargo, supplies and gold. The ship mysteriously disappeared and was never found again. Three different gold treasure bars will appear somewhere off of the […]

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