Tagged: diving

Ringed or Banded Pipefish (Dunckerocampus dactyliophorus), another member of the Syngnathidae family

The Reproductive Habits of the Ghost Pipefish (A Limerick)

When asked of his ties to the seahorse,

the ghost pipefish replied in due course:

“Though I lack a pouch,

“our girls are no slouch,

“and they tend to their eggs without remorse.”

Read More...

Why the Mantis Shrimp Rocks

Although named for its resemblance to both praying mantis and shrimp, the mantis shrimp is neither; it’s a stomatopod, in fact only a distant relative of crabs, shrimps, and lobsters. Stomatopods can be loosely divided into two groups based on how they kill prey with their raptorial appendages (I just want to say that over and over again, it sounds so badass). But just wait: the badassery gets better.

Read More...

A Limerick about the Ornate Ghost Pipefish

There once was a pipefish so ornate,

the crinoid it lived in seemed cut-rate.

“This feather star’s plain,”

said the fish, “I’d not deign

“to inhabit so homely an estate.”

Read More...
Diving the Eureka Oil Rig

Getting Riggy on Eureka

The silence of my rebreather allows me to hear every hydraulic hiss, every crash as steel collides with steel, the sounds of industry happening above the surface. I catch myself wondering whether the fish are anchovy or sardine, realizing that I have been contemplating the question for several minutes, lazily resolving the taxonomical conundrum with the label: baitfish.

Read More...
Catalina Island, California: Red Octopus

When the Red Octopus Isn’t: Cephalopod Camouflage in Catalina

More camouflage today–this time from the cephalopods. Red octopus ran rampant at Catalina Island last weekend, scavenging on the discarded squid egg cases littering the seafloor. As they passed over kelp, seagrass, sand, rubble, and the egg cases in various shades of white and brown, their skin color and texture shifted to blend the animal into its surroundings.

Read More...
Elysia crispata sea slug

Wednesday Roundup: “Vegetarian” Vampire Squid, Solar Powered Nudibranchs, and a SEA TURTLE in San Diego!

Happy New Year! In case you need a break from the endless reruns of the Rose Parade, you’re killing time until the football game starts, or you’re just plain too hung over to do anything but mindlessly click links on the Web, I’m here for you.

Read More...

Obligatory End-of-Year Post (A Summary of 2013)

Because (a) It’s pretty much in the rules of blogging to make an end-of-year summary post, and (b) 2013 was full of great diving and photo ops. From technical wrecks to nudibranchs: a photographic summary of my underwater exploits in 2013.

Read More...
Feather star (crinoid) in Anilao, Philippines

Creepy crinoids and the camouflaged critters that colonize them

What stalks across the seafloor and ripples around the reef?

What looks like a plant, but then GRABS you when you swim past?

What has no brain, an anus next to its mouth, and a bunch of sticky arms that reach out and attach to you?

What’s beautiful and terrifying all at once? The crinoid.

What’s underwater and creepier than a crinoid? NOTHING.

Read More...
UB-88 Submarine U-boat wreck

Diving the UB-88 Submarine Wreck

Part of the allure of technical wreck diving is getting the opportunity to experience bits of history that very few others, not even many other divers, get to experience. This is why when I received an invitation to go dive the UB-88, a German WWI U-boat off San Pedro, California, and the only U-boat wreck on the West Coast, I jumped at the chance.

Read More...
Anilao, Batangas, Philippines: Pygmy seahorse

In Pursuit of Pygmy Seahorses

The scene is a hotel room in Anilao, Philippines. Our heroine is standing over a console table, assembling an underwater camera, when her husband enters the room with news from their dive guide.

HUSBAND: The boat is going looking for pygmy seahorses today. How big are they, anyway?

Our heroine looks up, instinctively making a gesture with her thumb and forefinger suggesting about an inch, but seems less certain as she begins to waffle bigger and smaller. The husband smirks at her indecision.

Cut to underwater. The dive guide signals for our heroine’s attention and begins to methodically pick through a purple gorgonian fan, despite the fact that it appears completely barren of life.

He points at a spot on the fan. She squints.

He points again, and a piece of the fan no larger than her pinky fingernail moves slightly. She squints. Recognition washes over her face as it registers that pygmy seahorses are much, much smaller than she had originally thought.

Photographing pygmy seahorses is going to take some work.

Read More...
Anilao, Batangas, Philippines: Chromodoris magnifica nudibranch

How to Fall in Love with Nudibranchs in 12 Easy Steps

It is no secret that I love the nudibranch. But it may come as a surprise that not everyone shares my branchophile tendencies. Fortunately, I have devised a twelve-step program to convert even the most reluctant slug-lover lover into a nudi connoisseur.

Read More...
Anilao, Batangas, Philippines: Frogfish

Frogfish are basically sponges with mouths

How to find a frogfish? Look for sponges. Look at all the sponges. If a sponge looks like it has a mouth, it might be a frogfish. If it doesn’t look like it has a mouth, it might still be a frogfish. Maybe poke it. If it moves, your chances that it is a frogfish just went up.

Read More...
Seahorse, Westpunt, Curaçao

The Recalcitrant Seahorse

Once upon a time, in a magical far away land called Curaçao, there was a seahorse.   And it was a jerk.   Every time I approached it with my camera, it would turn its back to me. Every. Single. Time. Sometimes, it even just got up and walked away. I hated that seahorse. And []

Read More...

Sunlight streaming through the Catalina kelp forest canopy

Just a quickie today. Visibility on our little island Santa Catalina is routinely much better than it is over here on the mainland, but I don’t usually see the Catalina kelp forest quite this good. This was taken off Two Harbors at Ship Rock.

Read More...

The Ruby E: One of San Diego’s Most Richly Historied Shipwrecks

The Ruby E, one of San Diego’s premiere wrecks for divers, has a rich and colorful history. Although initially commissioned to intercept Prohibition-Era alcohol shipments on behalf of the United States Coast Guard, she also assisted in Bering Sea patrols, thwarted Japanese task forces in the Aleutian Islands during WWII, and worked as a commercial fish processing boat in Central America. She now rests in 85′ of water outside of Mission Bay.

Read More...

I saw things in the Sea of Cortez that were not nudibranchs

Despite troublesome conditions on our Sea of Cortez diving trip (on the liveaboard dive boat Nautilus Explorer), we did manage a few days where the visibility was good enough to leave the macro lens in the cabin and get underwater for some wide-angle action. In fact, the water was so clear and beautiful on our first []

Read More...
USS Hogan wreck

Diving the Hogan Wreck

USS Hogan was a Wickes-class destroyer commissioned in 1919. During WWII, she served as a minesweeper and coastal convoy ship. In November of 1945, she was used as a target ship for firing tests and sank. Located south of the Point Loma peninsula on the US-Mexican border, the Hogan wreck rests just far enough from the []

Read More...
Sarcastic Fringehead

Diving at La Jolla Shores is like Going to the Zoo…

… In that I always seem to end up seeing one of everything. Seriously, head down there with a creature checklist and cross it off, and then ascend when you’ve seen it all. WOW, what an amazing night dive at La Jolla Shores. We went in at 8pm and dropped into about 15 feet of []

Read More...
Melibe leonina nudibranch

Melibe leonina nudibranchs are weird and awesome

Nudibranchs never cease to amaze me. Just when I think I’ve had enough nudibranchs for, like, ever, a new one I’ve never seen before comes along and voilà, instant nudibranch love affair all over again. I’d seen the Melibe leonina nudibranch in photos but never in the flesh (in the slime?). Then we went for a shore []

Read More...

The Sea of Cortez is Riddled with Nudibranchs

Being the kiss of death that I am when it comes to dive trips and good conditions, I shouldn’t have been surprised when we arrived in the Sea of Cortez to find cold, green, murky, Socal-esque water. For months prior to the trip, I entertained fantasies of seeing whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, orcas, manta rays, []

Read More...

Diving the Palawan Wreck

Palawan, formerly a Liberty Ship, is an artificial reef off Huntington Beach, California.   What is a Liberty Ship? Liberty Ships were WWII-era cargo carriers designed to be built cheaply and quickly, and were mass-produced by the thousands in the later years of the war. These steel-hulled ships were 441 feet long and 56 feet []

Read More...
Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber

Chamber Day 2013 and Catalina Kelp Diving

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013, marked the 25th annual Chamber Day on Catalina. The event benefits Catalina’s hyperbaric chamber, the only hyperbaric chamber in Southern California that is exclusively dedicated to the treatment of diving accidents. The Chamber, which is staffed 24/7/365 by volunteers, derives over half of its annual budget from Chamber Day proceeds. We []

Read More...
Acanthodoris rhodoceras nudibranch

New-dibranch: Acanthodoris rhodoceras

I love finding new critters I’ve never seen before. Sunday, Mat spotted this adorable tiny nudibranch in about 100 feet of water. We were diving off the Pacific Star near Blue Cavern on Catalina Island. It was a brave little thing, too; when I crash-landed into the sand next to it (oops), it retracted its little []

Read More...
Metridium (white plumose anemone) on the Eureka oil rig

13 More Photos from Diving the Oil Rigs and the Wreck of the Olympic

Another dive trip to the oil rigs off Long Beach came and went recently, with the typical trifecta of sites: the wreck of the Olympic, the Eureka rig, and the Ellen-Elly twin rigs. The swell prediction leading up to the trip was not encouraging, and surface conditions the day of the trip did not bring []

Read More...
Spanish Shawl nudibranch

A Sojourn with the Shawls

So I was having some issues with my strobe connection, which made my lighting situation pretty much suck, especially when it was called upon to light anything farther than 0.000000001 cm away. Incidentally, there aren’t a whole hell of a lot of sea creatures who tolerate that kind of proximity to us noisy bubble-blowers. So I opted for my old standby, the nudibranch, which either doesn’t care or can’t get away or both. And Spanish Shawls were all over the rocks. Awesome!

Read More...
Rebreather divers at the wreck of the Infidel

Tech Diving Catalina Island and the California Oil Rigs

Southern California Tech Diving with Ocean Research Group This past weekend, I attended my first Ocean Research Group technical dive trip on the Sand Dollar out to Catalina Island, California.  As a fledgling SoCal tech diver, it was pretty cool to do some “big kid” deep dives under the guidance of experienced divers and instructors. I’m also []

Read More...

Curaçao: Stunning Slugs, Snails, and Worms, or… the Pretty Yucky Stuff

Christmas Tree Worm Go anywhere stateside after Thanksgiving (hell, after Halloween), and Christmas stuff is everywhere. We arrived in Curaçao Thanksgiving Day, and I don’t recall seeing anything glaringly festive. That’s OK. The only Christmas tree I needed in the Caribbean was of the worm variety. Possibly the prettiest worm ever: the Christmas Tree Worm. []

Read More...

Curaçao: Claws, Jaws, and Cephalopods

Just some crustaceans, eels, and mollusks we encountered on our recent scuba diving trip to Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles: Banded coral shrimp…   The batwing coral crab…   The red reef hermit crab…   The white speckled hermit crab…   Banded clinging crabs… which I think are just ADORABLE…   Spotted cleaner shrimp…   The perennially-grumpy []

Read More...

Newer Posts   Older Posts