underwater

Nicoise Salad, California Style

Classic Nicoise salad hails from the southeast coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea. Its name means, prepared “in the style of Nice” but I’m giving it a California makeover, featuring fresh-caught local kelp bass instead of the traditional tuna, and topped with goat cheese and dried figs and savory vinaigrette dressing. I encourage you to mix it up a bit and put your own twist on this classic as I did. Be creative and enjoy this delicious summer meal that’s sure to become a […]

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 […]

Just Ducky: Preparing Your Camera System for a Dive

You’ve probably heard this quote about achieving success, “Be like a duck on a pond; always appear calm on the surface but keep paddling like crazy underneath.” I know a lot of successful underwater photographers that can relate, but in reverse. You see, we do a large portion of our paddling on the surface — before we hit water — in order to remain calm underneath. It’s easy to focus on shooting techniques and in-water strategies. For greater success and fewer disappointments, I suggest a […]

A Rolling Stone

“A rolling stone gathers no moss.” This proverb has been around since the 1st century B.C. and as is often the case with proverbs, it’s wide open to interpretation. One way for us as divers to interpret this proverb is from the standpoint of “move it or lose it.” In order to get the best experiences out of our sport, we must keep rolling along, trying new things as we go. It’s an exciting time in the sport of scuba diving, with so many new […]

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 […]

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 […]

ScubaChef: Savory Grilled Seabass

The California white seabass isn’t actually a seabass at all, but is a member of the croaker family. It is also known as the king croaker, weakfish and seatrout, and is prized by commercial and recreational fishermen because of its mild flavor and flaky texture. Thanks to ongoing conservation efforts the California white seabass has received a “Best Choice” rating by the Monterey Aquarium Seafood Watch. Seafood in this category is said to be abundant, well managed and harvested using environmentally friendly methods. Remember “Always […]

Spiny Skinned and Symmetrical: California’ s Sea Urchins

My introduction to sea urchins — on my first scuba dive — was a learning experience. I learned how easily their sharp, brittle spines pierce human skin. Most importantly, I learned to avoid contact with sea urchins, which is easy because the animals are sedentary, slow moving and not aggressive. Sea urchins are classified as Echinodermata, which means “spiny skinned”. The 6,000-member phylum also includes sea stars, brittle stars, sea lilies and sea cucumbers.  Five is a magic number when it comes to echinoid body […]

Welcome to the Second Golden Age of Diving

I attended the 43rd San Diego Underwater Photographic Society (SDUPS) Film Festival recently. Held at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the event showcases still photographs, slide presentations and videos from SDUPS club members.  We were treated to one fantastic image after another. We saw it all from nudibranchs and squids to sharks and whales. The imagery came from destinations as distant as the Solomon Islands and as close as La Jolla Shores, a popular dive site well known for wintertime squid runs that is only […]

The Spice of the California Diving Experience

Mention California diving and the first thoughts of divers around the world are likely to be about our kelp forests. Their reaction is proof that just seeing a photograph of shimmering rays of sunlight dance through a golden undersea forest can get you hooked on California diving. And as so many California divers know, exploring a kelp forest in real life is a magical experience.   More than 800 species have been documented to inhabit a healthy forest of giant kelp. Those creatures include the […]

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