When the visibility gets tough, the tough find nudibranchs

San Diego Nudibranchs: Hermissenda crassicornis

San Diego Nudibranchs

A swell that has been plaguing the San Diego coastline with rough surf (seemingly forever...) finally subsided late last week, just in time for our scheduled Easter Sunday boat dive. Visibility was severely compromised, though, as a result of the extended period of rough ocean conditions. The water was green and murky... and notably quite cold as well (51F). Pretty much the only thing you can do in low-vis conditions like these is look for the little stuff (nudibranchs!) on the rocks, so that's what we did!

(What is a nudibranch, you ask?)

Dino Head

We began the morning at Dino Head, a dive site on the edge of the Point Loma kelp beds. The site is so named for a rock formation that is thought to look like the head of a Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur. I can't speak to the resemblance, however, because in the ~6 feet of visibility we had, we never found it! Instead, we spent the dive circling around a rock pinnacle and spotting common San Diego nudibranchs such as the Spanish Shawl, the yellow-edged Cadlina, the Sea Lemon, and Hermissenda crassicornis.

Spanish Shawl - San Diego Nudibranch

San Diego Nudibranchs - Yellow-edged Cadlina

San Diego Nudibranchs - Sea Lemon

San Diego Nudibranchs: Hermissenda crassicornis


The Acropolis

Our second dive was on The Acropolis dive site, also in the Point Loma kelp beds. The reef structure here is said to resemble the seats in a Greek amphitheater. I clearly lack sufficient imagination to see the resemblance, but it was a really nice site nonetheless! It had a depth of about 60 feet, with light kelp and a rocky floor. The visibility also opened up to 10+ feet, which was a pleasant surprise, though I still stuck mostly to my macro lens. We were able to see some slightly bigger animals on this dive, such as spiny lobster, sheephead, and painted greenling. We also found plenty more nudibranchs.

Painted Greenling fish

California Spiny Lobster

San Diego Nudibranchs: Hermissenda crassicornis

Low visibility in the kelp forest.


Sometimes it takes a little bit of extra composure to descend into murky water with few or no visual references until you're within feet of the bottom. It can be disconcerting, to say the least... but you can still see lots of cool macro life with just a few feet of visibility. I'm learning not to discount these types of conditions, since low visibility doesn't mean the dive can't still be great. Hopefully, the swell model will continue to be favorable, and the water will keep clearing up!


sharing with our world, finding beauty in the ordinary, lisa's chaos, love bug, jaymi, communal global, and then she snapped, m3b, create with joy, angry julie monday, kent weakley

16 Responses to “When the visibility gets tough, the tough find nudibranchs”

  1. Boom & Gary says:

    Really interesting post!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

    · April 9, 2012 @ 3:43 pm


  2. Libby says:

    I know it was disappointing in terms of visibility – but non-divers like me could not tell that by your photos. To me they look amazing! Really – like something that should be in a glossy magazine. First of all the nudibranches themselves are beautiful with great colors, and secondly I think your photos are really top notch. I hope you keep posting. I’m going to follow your blog…

    · April 9, 2012 @ 4:34 pm


  3. Desirae R says:

    Love these pictures, and I just love the colors of the nudibranch!
    Thanks for sharing!

    · April 10, 2012 @ 1:25 am


  4. Lovely underwater world. :)

    · April 10, 2012 @ 10:09 am


  5. MG Atwood says:

    What glorious shots! I’m in awe. What camera do you use? I adore the ocean, so much! Joining you from live, love travel

    · April 10, 2012 @ 11:54 am


  6. Ashley says:

    Thank you! I’m using a Canon s95!

    · April 10, 2012 @ 12:03 pm


  7. Wow! I love salt water coral reef life in aquariums and in tropical waters. These photos are outstanding and very beautiful!

    · April 10, 2012 @ 12:07 pm


  8. kewkew says:

    The world underneath our waters is beautiful, strange and mysterious. Your pictures are lovely

    · April 10, 2012 @ 12:28 pm


  9. kewkew says:

    Would love for you to stop by and share

    · April 10, 2012 @ 12:31 pm


  10. Jaymi says:

    wow, these are amazing underwater shots! Couldn’t tell there were visibility problems based on these! Thanks for sharing at Tips & Pics!

    · April 10, 2012 @ 12:33 pm


  11. zongrik says:

    amazing natural sights we don’t normally see

    · April 10, 2012 @ 4:45 pm


  12. momto8blog says:

    wow!!! thank you for these pictures!! amazing!

    · April 10, 2012 @ 7:02 pm


  13. KelleynGrBe says:

    Beautiful! Great shots!

    · April 10, 2012 @ 9:15 pm


  14. Linda says:

    I am so glad you post these because there is absolutely no way I will ever be under the water to see them otherwise!These were stunning photographs!

    · April 11, 2012 @ 3:04 am


  15. Tito Eric says:

    Simply enchanting! Your photographs inspire me to really get going with my PADI certification.


    · April 11, 2012 @ 6:16 pm


  16. I just LOVE your underwater posts! I’ve featured this one on today’s Photo Show Off! Come check it out!

    · April 16, 2012 @ 6:50 am


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