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.

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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
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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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  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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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It even played picaboo!

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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

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Did I mention all the beautiful anemones?

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

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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:

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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).

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

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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