Filed Under: Animals

Giant manta ray at Revillagigedos Islands

I Got Pooped On By A Whale, And All I Saw Were These Lousy Manta Rays

It was hard to pinpoint where, exactly, the whales were, but I had a guess—and my guess was confirmed when we were suddenly doused with a brown cloud of whale poo.

I’ll let the reality of that sink in for a second.

Pooped on. By a whale.

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Add Electric Effects To Your Underwater Photos: A Topaz Glow Review

Topaz Glow doesn’t just leave your photos with the lights-in-the-tree twinkle. I mean, it can. But where Glow really shines (ahem) is in making an in-your-face, red-light-district, girls-girls-girls neon effect. It’s an acid trip. It’s the reflections of traffic lights at night in the rain.

And it’s so, so rad.

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Painted greenling fish and Hermissenda crassicornis nudibranch.

Photo of the Week: Painted Greenling (and a Bonus Hermissenda Nudibranch)

Those who have been following this blog for any length of time will recall that finding tiny surprise creatures in a photo is one of my favorite things in the whole world.

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This Spanish Shawl is the Goldilocks of Nudibranchs

In unpredictable surge and weird currents, it’s a challenge and a half to get a Spanish Shawl photo “just right.”

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The Easiest Way to Fix Ambient Light Underwater Photos: A Topaz ReMask Review

I really just love the people over at Topaz Labs. Every time I use a Topaz plugin, I’m blown away at how the Topaz developers manage to pack in features and precise controls while still maintaining the simplicity and ease of use the plugins are famous for.

I’ve worked with Topaz Detail and Topaz Clean in the past, and both plugins have yielded impressive results, but I think ReMask is my favorite and the most useful so far. But what does it do? Read on to find out…

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Cyclosalpa affinis tunicate colony

Photo of the Week: Cyclosalpa affinis

DID YOU KNOW that the salp, while it looks like a jellyfish, is actually a tunicate, a member of the phylum Chordata, and is more closely related to vertebrates than it is to jellies?

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A wolf eel living in the wreckage of the UB-88 submarine wreck

No Wolf Eel Left Behind

On Saturday, I got up at the ungodly hour of 4-something-a.m. and made the pilgrimage up to Long Beach to catch a charter out to dive the UB-88 submarine wreck.

Sometimes, I think I’m doing “leisure” wrong.

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San Diego, California: Divers and a black sea nettle jellyfish on the USS Hogan wreck near the US-Mexico Border.

Photo of the Week: Black Sea Nettle Jellyfish on the USS Hogan Wreck

Regular readers are by now aware of my obsession with the black sea nettle jellyfish. I worked a dive charter a few weeks ago and spotted my first black sea nettle of the summer from the confines of the boat. It was all over–from that moment on, I lived and breathed black sea nettles. (Seriously: it’s a sickness. We even slow down the boat so we can stare/go around/not shred them with the props.)

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Macro Mania

I love shooting wide angle.

When the water is clear, there is nothing more gratifying than that fisheye lens and dome port. Wrecks. Kelp forests. Big animals. Coral reefs. And people. Wide angle means context, and people love context. People identify with the scene. They like seeing themselves, or people like themselves, in the frame.

When the water is clear.

But betting on clear water in San Diego is not a smart bet. So I often hedge with the macro lens.

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Point Loma Kelp, San Diego, California: Spanish Shawl (Flabellina iodinea) Nudibranch

Dreamy Nudibranch

The kelp forest can be a pretty dreamy place. The light coming through the kelp canopy has an ethereal beauty, and the gentle sway of the kelp stalks in light surge could rock you to sleep.

I wanted to capture that surreal, unearthly quality in this week’s nudibranch photos.

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Wolf Eel on USS Hogan Wreck, San Diego

Photo of the Week: A Wolf Eel on the USS Hogan Wreck

The USS Hogan wreck is pretty much the perfect San Diego dive site–the conditions are usually excellent, the sea life is abundant, and the depth and distance from port are such that the site has an air of exclusivity to it.

It’s also so rife with wolf eels that it almost–note I said almost–renders them old hat.

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San Diego, California: A Purple-Striped Sea Nettle (Chrysaora colorata) on the USS Hogan wreck near the US-Mexico Border.

The Purple-Striped Jellyfish/Sea Nettle (Chrysaora colorata)

There were ripping currents on the deep wrecks this past weekend, and with the currents came a whole slew of jellyfish and tunicates. I’m mildly obsessive about the Black Sea Nettle bloom we sometimes get in San Diego in the summers, and I’m well-known as a nudibranch zealot, so it should come as no surprise that I get pretty excited about other squishy invertebrates as well.

This is why, when I actually happened to look up for once and spotted a big Purple-Striped Jellyfish (Chrysaora colorata) crossing the anchor line about 20 feet over the USS Hogan wreck, I took a quick mental note of where my teammates were, and went up for a closer look.

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Back to the Fuchsia

Everything came together. I navigated through crappy visibility. I clambered around in surge that felt like the spin cycle. I stared at rocks until my vision focused on tiny fuchsia Spanish Shawls, my favorite nudibranch. I shed the responsibility of someone else’s good time, and all I had was my own.

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