underwater

Your Basic Certification: Licensed to Learn

Like a lot of divers I participate in the diving community in several ways. One way is by serving on the Board of Trustees of the Reef Environmental and Educational Foundation (REEF). REEF’s membership is free, and we welcome anyone who cares to join.  REEF volunteers survey fish populations around the world, including many sites in California. The results are available to anyone that wants to use them, and a lot of scientists put REEF’s data to good use in a variety of ways.  Surveyors […]

Bunny Love: The California Brown Sea Hare

Although the California brown sea hare bears a faint resemblance to a rabbit, it is actually a very large sea slug. A member of the phylum mollusca and class gastropoda, it is a cousin of both nudibranchs and octopuses. Like nudibranchs, brown sea hares are hermaphrodites. Like octopuses, they can produce ink.  The brown sea hare has a reticulated color pattern that resembles that of the two-spot octopus, also found in SoCal waters. And despite the name, these animals aren’t always brown; sometimes they are […]

New Year, New Adventures — Tips for Getting More Out of Your California Diving in the Year Ahead

The coming of the New Year is a time to expand new options and opportunities in every avenue of our lives. More than ever this New Year has multiple opportunities with which to grow in your avocation of scuba diving in California. Here we will look at some obvious and not so obvious solutions and ideas for improving your underwater experiences in diving the waters of California. Get Warm With the multitude of exposure protection options available for divers these days, there’s simply no excuse […]

Careers in Diving, Part 1

Diving is an important tool for many people in their work. For some, such as sea urchin divers, it’s their most important tool for getting the job done. For others, such as police divers, it’s just one in a selection of tools. Over the past year, we have done video interviews with 14 different people who are professionally employed in careers that involve diving. We wanted to find out what they do, why they do it, and what they like and dislike about their jobs. […]

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 […]

Homecoming to California Diving

I have just returned home from Orlando, Florida‚äîwhere I did not go to Disney World. However, I did attend the annual Diving Equipment Marketing Association (DEMA) trade show. This “wasn’t my first rodeo,” as a DEMA show attendee. I’ve been to this event thirty-some-odd times and it’s easy to fall into the “same show, different year” mindset.  But not this year. At this year’s show I felt a buzz of excitement, on the show floor that I haven’t noticed in a few years. What was […]

Tunicates: The Surprisingly Complex Sea Squirts

Of all the marine animals in the world, tunicates are vetebrates’ closest relatives and that includes the class Mammalia (us). Both tunicates and mammals are members of the phylum Chordata. Both have a notochord (a cartilaginous skeletal rod) when they are embryos. The notochord is lost as most tunicates grow older but it segments and turns into a backbone in mammals and other vertebrates. Tunicates further belong to the subphylum Tunicata and the class Ascidiacea. The latter includes 2,500 to 3,000 species, about 90 of […]

California’s Undersea Flower Animals: The Stony Corals

It’s a fact stranger than fiction: there are underwater creatures commonly found in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast that are biologically classified as “flower animals.” The class is Anthozoa, formed from two Greek words, anthos, meaning “flower” and zoa, meaning “animals,” and it contains the stony corals. Anthozoa is a class within the photogenic phylum Cnidaria (the “C” is silent), which means “nettle” in Greek. Besides corals, phylum members include sea anemones, sea pens, gorgonians, jellyfishes and hydroids. Cnidarians have two forms, polyps […]

Go Diving. Now.

Experienced California divers know that our diving changes with the seasons. In the winter we can experience squid “runs” and visits from California gray whales. In the spring numerous species including our iconic garibaldi strut their stuff in captivating courtship displays in an effort to win hearts and procreate. In summer the days grow longer and nutrient-rich waters fuel explosions of fish populations.  And then there is fall‚ a magical time of year in California. Weather and water conditions are often at their very best […]

On Moray Hunting

I am thankful for the opportunity to contribute this guest editorial, especially since I’m writing to take issue with an article that appears in the August 2013 issue of California Diving News. I am writing to express my opposition to the Scuba Chef column “Grilled Eel with Spicy Thai Sauce.” I was stunned by the suggestion that divers should hunt moray eels for food. In my opinion, this is a very bad idea, for several reasons.  I’ll start with the current population of eels. It […]

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