Scuba Diving Under the Oil Rigs


A big Thank You to Dive Photo Guide for publishing my article on scuba diving under the oil rigs.  I am truly honored to be featured!  To read the article, click HERE.

20150907-_BPP3246

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog and please feel free to share on Facebook or other social media.

My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
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 contact me

Pinnipeds: The Puppies of the Sea


Fall is the right time of year to enjoy the company of playful young sea lions.  By August or September, these young pinnipeds have grown past infancy and are entering the playful “puppy” stage of their lives.  I have enjoyed several dives lately where the curious little guys came to pay me a visit.

20160530-_BPP4117

At first he is shy, keeping his distance and just watching the divers.  A group of sea lions see us from the surface and watch us jump into the water, then they stick their heads under the surface to see what we are doing under there.

20160530-_BPP4114

Pretty soon, curiosity gets the better of this little guy and he comes in for a closer look.

20160530-_BPP4093

After a while, the sea lion starts to think of you as one of it’s playmates.  It starts swimming in front of you and holds various poses, all the while keeping eye contact with you.

20150907-_BPP3463-Edit

Sometimes they start blowing bubbles as they swim past.  It seems they are mimicking the scuba divers.

20160530-_BPP4102

This sea lion began to get a little rambunctious in his play, displaying his teeth, much like young dogs when they wrestle with their siblings.

20160530-_BPP4230-Edit

  If this sea lion had been a large male, I would have felt threatened, but since he was just a few months old, it was hard to take him seriously.

20160530-_BPP4249

Eventually, it is time for us to surface and say goodbye.  The sea lions watch us until we are completely out of the water, as if they yearn for us to stay.  To tell the truth, I wish I could!

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog and please feel free to share on Facebook or other social media.

My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
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 contact me

an Eco-Palooza!


Once a year, for a few weeks, there is a special underwater convention held under the oil rigs in Southern California.  All marine animals are invited and the event is consistently sold out.  I’m being facetious of course, but truthfully, there is an eco-palooza going on under the oil rigs along Southern California’s coast.  The “El-Nino” conditions have kept the west coast waters toasty warm and scuba divers get to see first hand the effect it has on marine life.

20150909-_BPP3592

The first thing a diver will notice when diving under one of the off-coast oil rigs, is the HUGE number of bait fish taking advantage of the cover and protection of the rigs.  Since the rigs are in open water (about 8 miles from shore), their support structures provide an artificial reef for marine life.

20150909-_BPP3735

Bonito patrol around the outside of the structure occasionally picking off one of the bait fish. This effectively encourages the bait fish to remain inside the confines of the oil rigs support columns.

20150907-_BPP3287

Suddenly the fish begin to move in a synchronized pattern as a sea lion comes down for his breakfast.

20150907-_BPP3299

Once the dinner-bell sounds, the cormorants come around looking for their next meal.

20150907-_BPP3421

Sometimes it is just fun to sit down and watch the show.

20150907-_BPP3439-Edit

Apparently, the sea lions like an interactive show.  This little pup came around for about 15 minutes and tried to feed us fish it caught, posed for the camera, and did acrobatics with the divers.

20150907-_BPP3411-Edit

It even played picaboo!

20150909-_BPP3586

Since the structure provides an artificial reef, there are Garibaldi, sea stars, anemones in vivid pinks, oranges and yellows, and many scallops, and invertebrates on the support columns.

20150907-_BPP3437-Edit

Unfortunately for us scuba divers, our time is limited under water and all too soon it is time to go back to the surface.

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog and please feel free to share on Facebook or other social media.

My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
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 contact me

A Gap-toothed Smile


Just for fun last week, I posted a photograph of a fish that had moved too close to my camera and pressed it’s mouth up against the glass dome of my camera housing.  It wasn’t the most technically precise image, but it sure got a lot of attention.  Marinebio.org  an organization focused on marine conservation, shared the image to their facebook page.  Within a few hours I had an inbox full of messages (more than 250) from others who had shared the image.  In addition, there were over 4000 likes and 100 comments posted.  I was completely flabbergasted, and kicking myself for not putting my web address on the original post.

20150824-_BPP2787

Part of the reason I share this story is to point out that beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder and humor is all in our perspective.

Who Wore It Better

The fish seems to imitate the pose made famous by Georgia May Jagger.  I think he nailed it.  But there were lots of other comments that were quite humorous.  More than one person pointed out the resemblance to Disney’s Mater from CARS.  “It’s Fish-Mater!”  Many others mentioned his need for braces, a good dentist,  or the most popular, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.”  In any case, it has been a very entertaining weekend for me and I learned that some images are worth keeping just for their entertainment value.  I might have sent it to the trash bin if not for that little feeling of whimsy that came over me.  So that being said; here is the image that I posted on my page as a more serious fish portrait:

20150824-_BPP2786-Edit

But now, I don’t think it is nearly as good as the somewhat blurry gap-toothed-pouty version!  Isn’t it funny how one’s perspective can change based on a few “likes?”

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog!

My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
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 contact me

Monterey Bay, California’s Underwater Paradise


As a California scuba diver, I spend a lot of time in the coastal waters surrounding my home in Southern California.  But every once in a while, I get to explore the California coastal waters in Central California:  Monterey Bay.  The Northern California Underwater Photographic Society (NCUPS), and Backscatter Underwater Photo and Video sponsor a contest in Monterey called the Monterey Shootout.  This is what initially lured me into the colder waters up north.  Last year I attended and won a nice prize to Raja Ampat, Indonesia for my efforts.  This year I won a second place and an honorable mention in my division which earned me some new photography gear.  The contest is expertly managed and the atmosphere is friendly, making the whole experience very pleasurable.

As much as I love participating in the Monterey Shootout, it is not the anticipation of winning a prize that attracts me to Monterey as much as the great diving experience.  This year, the water was unusually blue and calm. There were many creatures and critters to be found and many that I have not seen or photographed before. In addition, I made new friends and sincerely enjoyed the company of old ones.

Top Snail

Top Snail

One of the common critters in Monterey is the beautiful Top Snail.  They can be found all over the kelp and reefs of Monterey.

20150807-_BPP2144-Edit

The image above is quintessential Monterey:  A beautiful anemone on the reef surrounded by the kelp forest and fish.  This image placed second in the Unrestricted Wide Angle category of the contest in the Intermediate division.

Kelp Crab

Kelp Crab

If you are observant, you might be able to find a kelp crab.  They are camouflaged by the kelp but can be seen skittering away if you get too close.

20150808-_BPP2355

In the crooks and crannies shrimp are abundant.  This image received an honorable mention in the Monterey Shootout.

20150807-_BPP2044-Edit

Did I mention all the beautiful anemones?

20150808-_BPP2400-Edit

Nudibranchs also abound on the Monterey reefs.  This one is called Dall’s Dendronotis and it is tiny and delicate.

20150808-_BPP2299-2

Decorator crabs and hermit crabs are everywhere.  I loved this one because he made his home inside a beautiful top snail shell.

Diving in Monterey may well become one of my guilty pleasures.  If you take a trip to Central California, be prepared to dive in a drysuit as the water temperatures are in the 50 degrees fahrenheit range.  You can dive by boat or by shore, and enjoy the playful harbor seals, sea lions, and the occasional sea otter as well.

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog!
My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
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 contact me

Meet the Giant Black Sea Bass


In the summertime, I always hope to see the Giant Black Sea Bass that swim along in the coastal waters of Southern California.  The first time I saw one, I didn’t know how special the sighting was. I swam right up to it, snapped its picture with my point-and-shoot camera, and swam off looking for something else to photograph.  It was four years before I saw one again.  And that was from a distance.  But last week I got a real treat.  I was looking for the Giant fish in water that was a bit murky.  I thought, “I’ll just go down by that rock and see if there is anything down there.”  It turns out, the “rock” was a Giant Black Sea Bass.  He didn’t seem to mind my presence, and let me snap around 50 images over 20 minutes before he moved in to deeper water.

20150710-20150710-_BPP1324-Edit

These fish can grow to be more than 7 feet long and up to 800 pounds.  This one was around 6 feet and 200 pounds. They are so large that when fully grown, their only predator is the great white shark and humans.  They were hunted by humans almost to extinction in Southern California waters, until they became a protected species in 1982.  Now they seem to be on the rebound, but you have to keep your eyes open and have a good bit of luck to see one.

20150710-_BPP1310

An interesting thing about this fish is that it can cause its spots to come and go.  But when it is dead, it appears very dark or black all over (thus the name, Giant Black Sea Bass.)

20150710-_BPP1320

When these fish are in their first year, they transform from a black fish to a bright orange fish looking little like a Giant Sea Bass at all.  But as they mature, they take on the characteristic coloring with large spots that is seen in the images above.

If you are scuba diving in Southern California in the summer months, a good place to see these fish is at Catalina Island, Santa Barbara Island or Anacapa Island.  They are sometimes seen near shore as well.

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog!
These photographs are taken with a Nikon D810  in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
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 contact me

New Nudi’s! A Nudiphile Episode


After a somewhat disappointing week in the Caribbean (photographically speaking), I came home and did three days of diving along my beloved California Coast.  What a wonderful week it has been!  The ocean seems to be coming alive again after taking a break over the winter.  The warmer “El Nino” waters seemed to have been detrimental to our local small marine animals, but now they are making a comeback.  I found many species of nudibranchs and their eggs on my dives and even some I haven’t seen before.  Here are a few of my favorites:

20150625-_BPP0788-Edit

This nudibranch is actually a headshield slug called a Navanax.  It is carnivorous and will track it’s prey (other nudibranchs) by following their slime trail until it catches them and eats them.

20150626-_BPP0967

This Hopkin’s Rose is one of my favorite nudi’s.  It is very small (about the size of a fingernail).

20150625-_BPP0825

This was one of hundreds of Hermissendra crassicornis that were all over the rocks.  I haven’t seen any for a few years, so this was particularly exciting.

20150521-_DSC7769

Here is a Porter’s Chromodorid, which is only about an inch long and seems to be proliferating in the Laguna Beach area.

MacFarland's Chromodorid

MacFarland’s Chromodorid

Porter’s cousin, MacFarland was also present and accounted for.

20150625-_BPP0845-Edit

There were so many Hermissendra crassicornis at this site that they were crawling all over the other nudibranchs, including this Diaulula sandiegensis (San Diego Dorid).

20150625-_BPP0950

And to my great joy and satisfaction, I found this Polycera tricolor, a nudibranch I have never seen before.

20141031-_DSC1621-Edit-Edit

Lately, I haven’t seen the nudibranch in the above picture (which I discovered a year ago at Catalina Island, and which has not been defined yet), There have been reports that it is alive and well on the island and hopefully here to stay in California.

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.  Don’t forget to follow me here at waterdogphotographyblog!
These photographs are taken with a Nikon D810 or D7000 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 Strobes.
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 contact me

California Divin’


All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray

I’ve been for a dive, on a winter’s day.

I’ll be warm and dry, when I get back to L A,

But now I’m California divin’  on such a winter’s day.

I spend a good amount of time on this blog talking about the exotic animals I have seen all over the far reaches of the world.  But truly, I spend the majority of my diving time along the coast of California.  These temperate waters host some of the most interesting creatures in the world, and the topography is unique and beautiful.  One of the first things my non-diving friends ask is if it is green and murky in our California waters.  I am here to tell you, that the coast of California can rival the most pristine diving in the tropics.

Pink and Orange cup corals cover this pinnacle near Catalina Island

Pink and Orange cup corals cover this pinnacle near Catalina Island

The images above and below show some of the corals that can be found along the California coast.  Above are pink and orange cup corals covering a pinnacle at Farnsworth Banks near Catalina Island. The photo below shows part of a wall there called “Yellow Wall” and also shows some purple hydrocoral, which is found in just a few dive sites along the California coast.  These two images were taken just minutes apart, showing the diversity that can be found on just one site.

20150402-_DSC7175

 Another gem of California diving are the oil rigs.  There are only a few rigs that divers can visit, and since there can be current and depths of up to 700 feet, the oil rigs are for advanced divers only. The structure under the oil rigs provides an artificial reef for hundreds of animals.  The structure is encrusted with life, and great schools of fish and sea lions enjoy life under the rigs as well.

20150222-_DSC6603

_DSC9072-Edit

The Channel Islands are a favorite dive destination for local divers as well as world travelers.  Santa Barbara Island boasts a sea lion rookery where the young curious pups will come out to play around and with scuba divers.

20150327-_DSC7072-Edit

Anacapa Island is loved by photographers for its macro subjects such as nudibranchs and amphipods.

Hermissendra crassicornus is one of the beautiful nudibranchs found in California

Hermissendra crassicornus is one of the beautiful nudibranchs found in California

This pregnant skeleton shrimp is one of the amphipods commonly found in California

This pregnant skeleton shrimp is one of the amphipods commonly found in California

Catalina Island has a large population of blue-striped, orange gobys commonly called the Catalina Goby.

Catalina Goby

Catalina Goby

Beautiful fish of all different colors can be found in dive sites all around Southern California, not to mention our own state marine fish, the Geribaldi.

A Geribaldi and a red sculpin (rockfish or scorpion fish) look curiously at the diver with a camera.

A Geribaldi and a red Cabezon  look curiously at the diver with a camera.

But the one defining feature of diving in California is the beautiful kelp forests.  In many ways the kelp reminds me of a forest in a fairy tale.

20150328-_DSC7111-Edit

The King's Forest

The King’s Forest

The great thing about diving in California is it doesn’t matter if it’s Winter or Summer.  The diving is great year ’round.  The water is temperate and requires adequate protection.  I recommend a 7mm wetsuit in the Summer and late Fall, and a drysuit during the winter months.  And oh, how I love diving California in the Winter months.

California divin’ on such a winter’s day.

As always, if you enjoy my images please visit my website, waterdogphotography.com, or give me a like on facebook at Waterdog Photography Brook Peterson.
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 contact me.

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.

Geribaldi

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!

Simnia

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.

 

 

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.