shark

It’s Good to Have the Blues

In California we are fortunate to have a variety of sharks that inhabit our coastal waters. It is the blue shark, Prionace glauca, a species that lives in the waters of the open sea that I want to comment on here. Graceful swimmers, blues are sleek, slender and nothing short of absolutely stunning especially when sighted on sunny days in relatively clear, shallow water. In that setting the brilliance of their shimmering indigo coloration is mesmerizing. Given their stunningly handsome appearance, it is not surprising […]

Photographer’s Mantra: Get Close. Get Low. Shoot Up.

Please envision yourself diving along your favorite California reef. The sea is calm, the water clear, and the sun shines bright. Out of the corner of your eye a once-in-a-lifetime subject swims by right in front of your camera. It could be a whale, a shark, or a tiny fish that has never been photographed. You know that if you get the shot it will make the cover of a major magazine, or at least a Facebook post that will get you millions of “likes.” […]

Unusual Marine Life Sightings In So Cal Waters

A group of fishermen off Catalina Island were treated to a rare surprise on Sunday, September 14, 2014 when a large shadowy figure surfaced near their fishing boat, the Triton. It turned out to be a whale shark, estimated to be about 25 feet in length. Whale sharks are the world’s largest fish and have been measured at more than 40 feet long. They are plankton eaters, and usually seen by divers in the warmer waters of Southern Mexico and in the Sea of Cortez.  […]

Naming Names: A Diver’s Guide to Taxonomy

As kids most of us learned the common names of many of the plants and animals we encountered in our everyday lives. We learned the common names of various trees, flowers and butterflies as well as names of iconic species such as the bald eagle and killer whale. For many years and most applications our use of common names seemed perfectly sufficient when it came to communicating with our peers. Aside from cartoon aficionados that sometimes referred to the speedy and often mischievous Road Runner […]

Exploring a Not-So-Barren Landscape: The Sand Biome

Some divers swim over patches of sand in California as if they are trying to escape from something. The faster they go, the better. I understand the magnetic appeal of the adjacent kelp forest and rocky reef communities, but experience has taught me to appreciate, rather than avoid, the sand biome. At first glance, some sandy areas appear to be vast wastelands of nothing but sand. But I invite you to look again. I have learned that if I slow down and take a good, […]

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, […]

California Marine Life: Technology Provides New Insight Into White Shark Behavior

The image of a white shark invokes extremes in our emotions. They bring out a deep, primal fear in some, while others experience joy in observing their grace and beauty. White sharks are big–up to twenty-one feet long and 7000 pounds. They have a mouthful of serrated teeth that are effectively used to hunt fish when they are young, but switch to marine mammals after they grow to nine or ten feet. On very rare occasions they will bite a human. Yet, those who have […]

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