California’s Underwater Halloween Party

To celebrate Halloween and in honor of all things orange, I thought it might be fun to go through my archives in search of images of orange sea life found in California.  Of course, the top prize goes to last weeks post of the orange and black nudibranch that made it’s first appearance in California.  But surprisingly, there are quite a few creatures of the orange persuasion in the sea!

 The Geribaldi is the California State Marine Fish.  It is found mostly in shallow coastal waters in Southern California.


The male fish builds a nest of red algae every year in the same place, attracting females to lay their eggs.  The female will check out several nests before she decides on one.  These fish protect their nests while they are brooding.   They are the largest of the damsel fish.  I have found that I can attract them to me by tapping two rocks together.  They are curious, and unafraid of divers.

Geribaldi protecting it's nest.

When a juvenile, the Geribaldi has bright electric blue spots.

Juvenile Geribaldi

The Spanish Shawl is a nudibranch that takes the cake when it comes to dressing for Halloween!  It’s orange mane and purple robe put it fully in the Halloween category, but those maroon colored rhinophores make it very eccentric.

Spanish Shawl

Sea Stars are a rarity nowadays along the California coast because of the devastating Sea Star Wasting Syndrome that has been wreaking havoc on our echinoderms.  I found this guy just last month, and was intrigued by it’s texture and color.  He is certainly a survivor as he is the only sea star I have seen for months.

Texture on the back of a Sea Star

This Skeleton Shrimp gets double Halloween points.  One for being a skeleton (well not really, but they look like they are), and one for being mostly orange.  These guys are tiny (only 5 to 8 mm long), and have so much character.

Skeleton Shrimp

Here is a Bluebanded Goby that is found all over the place in Catalina.  They are tiny and this one was hiding in a deserted tube worm’s hole.  When he poked his head out, he seemed to have his tiny teeth barred.

Bluebanded Goby

Last, but not least, and certainly not all of the orangey types, is a Simnia.  This is a kind of snail that pulls its foot up over it’s shell.  It is very hard to see while under water because it appears brown and is perfectly camouflaged with the sea fan it lives on.  But just add light, and WOW!


Waterdog Photography, Brook Peterson wishes you a happy and safe kickoff to the upcoming holidays!

 All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please use the contact form below.



First Place!

Bluewater Photo in Culver City, California runs an annual underwater photography contest they call the So Cal Shootout.  In this shootout, participants are given a 36 hour period to take images and submit them for judging.  The photographs cannot be manipulated digitally, and can only have a few global changes made to them such as adjustments in contrast, exposure, and clarity.  No removal of backscatter is allowed and no cropping.  This year I entered eight photographs.  The judges smiled in my favor and awarded me first place in the open macro category for this image I took of an octopus eye.

Eye Candy

Eye Candy

Underwater photographers gathered during these three days to photograph everything from tiny nudibranchs to large schools of baitfish.  You can view all the winning photographs HERE.  Of course, there are many more images that didn’t win a place.  A few of my other entries can be seen below.

Hopkins Rose

Hopkins Rose

Envious Eyes Without a Face Reef Scene A Rose Among Thorns

Underwater Shootouts are a fun way to test your skills and get to know other underwater photographers.  Though the prizes are certainly a big motivation, just participating in the contest for the experience would be time well spent.

 All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please use the contact form above.

Slug Bug! Another Nudiphile Episode

Introducing P. cremoniana!  While on a dive, searching for tiny critters, I came across this little fella, the likes of which I have never seen before.

Placida cremoniana

Placida cremoniana

Just in time for Halloween, this tiny critter makes its appearance in Southern California!  I have written an article that has been published in California Diver Magazine, so rather than reiterate the entire story here, I will refer you to the magazine, where you can read it in its entirety.  Suffice it to say that I am very pleased to have found the very first sea slug of it’s kind in Southern California.  This little guy originated in the Medeteranian, and has been found in the Western Pacific and also Mexico, but never as far north as California.

Placida cremoniana

My obsession with nudibranchs continues, even though this guy isn’t technically a nudibranch.  (It’s a sea slug)  It still has the beautiful colors that are typical of nudibranchs and the fascinating cerata and rhinophores, but lacks a gill plume.  It is unique.  And tiny.  It was no larger than the head of a pin, about 3 or 4 mm, although I have read they can get twice that size.  Still.  T  I  N  Y!

Placida Cremoniana

All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson, and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.

A Bit of Philosophy, Mingled With Picture

The past few days I have been deeply impressed by some beautiful people who are living their final days with cancer. Last night, one of my dear friends succumbed to this disease, and yet instead of feeling overwhelmed by grief, I am lifted up by her lovely spirit and encouraged by her life FULLY lived. Although she suffered for many years, this particular friend sought and found peace in the love of her family. She served them and strengthened them even while her strength failed her.

I have also been following a virtual friend who goes by PTS. (You can view her blog HERE.)  She has a website dedicated to her dives complete with pictures and the most descriptive and deeply thought out narratives I have ever read. She is also a terminal cancer patient. What makes these women so special is that they have been able to look at the time they have left on this earth, and focused on the thing that fulfills them the most. Then they took action to make that thing happen.

Life's Symbol

It has given me some food for thought. Although I have not ever suffered a debilitating disease, I can’t help but wonder how I would respond to my life if I knew what my expiration date was. I would like to believe that I would live the time I had left to the fullest, without grief for the days that would be lost. I would like to believe that I would still spend time discovering God’s creations both above and below the water line. But regardless of whether or not I “know” when my time is coming, I hope to honor the beautiful people I know who have passed too soon by living. Truly living. For me, that means exploring my world. It means exploring the talents I have, the limitlessness of my intellect, the vastness of my potential, and all my capabilities; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. For truly, I believe that my purpose for living at all is to discover who I am.

Thank you to my dearly departed and also to my cherished living for your daily reminders of the precious life we have. You have inspired me.