Oil that is, Black Gold, Texas Tea

One of the unique things about diving in California is the opportunity to dive on the oil rigs.  There are only a few rigs available to divers and permission to scuba dive on them must be granted by the oil companies that own them.  Currently, divers can visit Eureka and the “twins”  Elly and Ellen.  These rigs are 8.5 miles off shore in Long Beach, California.  Eureka, sits in 720 feet of water.  The support system for the rig makes an excellent artificial reef and offers shelter for schooling fish and sea lions.  Recently, I had the opportunity to dive on Eureka, where I saw the largest school of anchovies I have ever seen.


The structure supports all kinds of life, such as starfish, muscles, scallops, anemones, and mating fish.  In the photo below, two Geribaldi aerate their nest of eggs.



Divers enjoy the opportunity to photograph all the life on the rigs.



On this dive, a Cormorant came down to 60 feet deep looking for a meal.




Sometimes, the waters around the oil rigs can be treacherous with large swells, currents, and of course the depth and the hazards of open water.  It is recommended that only advanced divers visit the oil rigs.  Those that are qualified, will not be disappointed.





Are you a Nudiphile 2?

In the early months of this blog, I wrote about my obsession with nudibranchs.  I had discovered that I favored browsing the internet for photographs of nudibranchs, which led to the realization that I was a nudiphile.  Since that time, I have gone into underwater therapy  a number of times to see if perhaps I could be persuaded by other critters.  But no, the tendency only worsened.  The sluggish things are so colorful and charming.  They seem to smile at the camera and I just can’t help but stop to photograph them.

Pikachu Nudibranch  AKA Thecacera picta

Pikachu Nudibranch AKA Thecacera picta

This little lovely (above) is known as a Pokeman or Pikachu nudibranch.  It belongs to the Dorid family.  They are about an inch long and are one of the more interesting slugs in the sea.

Hypselodoris kangas
Hypselodoris kangas

This colorful Hypselodoris was the only one of it’s kind to grace me with it’s presence.  For some reason, it reminds me of a clown, although less humorous and more refined.  Perhaps it is a French clown.

Chromodoris (similar to Willan's Chromodoris)

Chromodoris (similar to Willan’s Chromodoris)

Here a Chromodoris appears to be wearing a jeweled crown.

Batangas Halgerda

Batangas Halgerda

One of the amazing things about nudibranchs is their ability to blend in with their environment, or their ability to stand out in their environment.  This Batangas Halgerda does a little of both.  It’s body stands out, while it’s rhinophores and gill branches resemble plants in it’s environment.


These two breeding hypselodoris are wonderful to photograph because of their creamy pinkish coloring that looks like glass.

Yellow-Tipped Phyllodesmium  (Phyllodesmium briareum)

Yellow-Tipped Phyllodesmium (Phyllodesmium briareum)

Unfortunately for this Yellow-Tipped Phyllodesmium, it is a tasty meal for fish.  Most nudibranchs seem to be left alone perhaps because their remarkable coloring announces they might sting or be poisonous.

Halgerda Reticulidia  (Reticulidia halgerda)

Halgerda Reticulidia (Reticulidia halgerda)

Here’s an interesting specimen.  Hey, you got a bug on your face!

Solar Powered Phylledesmium  (Phyllodesmium longicirrum)

Solar Powered Phylledesmium (Phyllodesmium longicirrum)

Here’s another example of a “blender.”  It looks so much like the soft corals in it’s environment, that you have to search for the rhinophores to determine if it is a coral or nudibranch.  Of course, the corals don’t crawl.

Twin Chromodoris  (Chromodoris geminus)

Twin Chromodoris (Chromodoris geminus)

This guy has a mantle that flaps up and down as it crawls across the sea bed.  So intriguing to watch, it is no wonder my fetish for sea slugs is only growing.  Admit it.  You are a closet nudiphile too.

How Would You Like Your Eggs? (Part 2)

The eggs featured in this post come from a variety of sea beasties.  The interesting critter below, is a Hairy Shrimp.  The first time I encountered one, a guide was pointing it out to me.  I looked at the end of his pointy stick only to see a tiny bit of moss (no bigger than half my pinky fingernail) floating around some leaves.  I looked closer at the leaves, and rocks, thinking he meant something hiding underneath.  The guide tapped my shoulder and again pointed at the bit of moss.  So I shrugged and took a photograph of the moss, just to make him happy.  Later, when I looked at the image on my computer, I noticed there was an eye in that bit of moss.  I asked another photographer what it was and was shocked to find out it was a Hairy Shrimp.  Needless to say, I began hunting for the furry bug, and soon found this one, which has a clutch of eggs filling her back half.

hairy shrimp

In keeping with the “shrimp” theme, I found several other types of shrimp with eggs.  These two are glass shrimp.  One has a tight round whitish ball of eggs, while the other has a more developed pinkish clutch.

Glass shrimp with eggs

Glass shrimp with eggs


The largest shrimp I have ever encountered is this Peacock Mantis Shrimp.  She was about 7 inches long and carries her eggs in between her front legs.  She was not happy about being photographed, and tried to flee and hide under rocks and coral.

Peacock Mantis with Eggs

This one simply stayed put in her burrow, and showed me her babies from her front door.

Peacock Mantis with Eggs

Peacock Mantis with Eggs

Here a Coral Crab shows off a carapace full of eggs.

Coral Crab with eggs

Coral Crab with eggs

This Simnia from Southern California is busy laying her egg sacs on this Red Gorgonian.

Simnia with eggs

Simnia with eggs

Nudibranch eggs are commonly seen on reefs where Nudis are found.  They are often laid in a spiral pattern.  These Nudibranchs were “holding hands” near a spiral of nudibranch eggs.

Mating Nudibranchs with eggs

Mating Nudibranchs with eggs

The world under water is full of fascinating behavior.  I am particularly interested in how diversely aquatic creatures reproduce.  So how would I like MY eggs?  With salt water of course!