San Diego Sampler


It could have been the dead sea lion, or the tope sharks, or maybe the fascinating topography, because today I discovered that La Jolla Cove is one of the best kept secrets in Southern California scuba diving.  Besides all the great sea life, the cove was perfectly flat with no surge and visibility a staggering 50 feet or more.  (Unusual for Southern California shore diving.)

I had planned to photograph nudibranchs and other critters, even though I knew there were lots of large animals in the area.  I thought I could compromise by taking a 60mm lens which would allow me to photograph both tiny critters and basketball sized animals.  However, the larger creatures were more abundant and the only tiny critters were a few MacFarland’s Chromodorids:

MacFarland's Chromodorid

MacFarland’s Chromodorid

On a relatively larger scale, I found an octopus defending her hole,

Southern California Octopus

Southern California Octopus

And several lobsters who have survived this season’s lobster hunt.

Lobsters

Lobsters

One of the most interesting things, if not the most morbid, was the carcass of a sea lion that was covered with sheep crabs who were scavenging for food.  At this point, the lens I had was not sufficient for the whole scene, so only a single sheep crab was captured in the frame.  The whitish material is the sea lion.

Sheep Crab picking flesh off a sea lion carcass.

Sheep Crab picking flesh off a sea lion carcass.

Also spotted on this dive were four tope sharks which were too far away to photograph, but were nonetheless exciting to see.  I am eager to visit this site again as it appears to be a treasure trove of marine life.

 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
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The Wee Beasties of Anilao


Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,

O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!

Thou need na start awa sae hasty,

Wi’ bickering brattle!

I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,

Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

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I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,
Has broken nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!
Hairy Frogfish, yawning
Hairy Frogfish, yawning
I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
‘S a sma’ request;
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t!
Blue Ribbon Eel

Blue Ribbon Eel

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!
Pygmy Seahorse

Pygmy Seahorse

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell –
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.
Ambon Scorpion fish

Ambon Scorpion fish

That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!
Candy Crab  (Soft Coral Crab)

Candy Crab (Soft Coral Crab)

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
Hairy Squat Lobster

Hairy Squat Lobster

Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!
–Robert Burns  (To a Mouse)

Feeling Crabby?


To some, the mention of “crab” conjures up images of warm butter sauce and crab claw crackers.  I will admit, that I am fond of a good mouthwatering crab claw, but today I was feeling a little crabby, and not in a hungry, appetite sort of way.   The crabs I am thinking of are too small for human consumption, although I’ve seen a wrasse gobble them up without a second thought.  I have accumulated a good number of crab images in my underwater adventures.  It is remarkable that the crab family is as huge and diverse as it is.  There are hundreds and probably thousands of different crabs and they are all on a photographer’s “hit” list as far as shooting them goes.  One of the features I love the most about crabs is their eyes.  They have very interesting claws too, but their eyes are curious and colorful and seem to portray depth and intensity.  Many people may regard crabs as the spiders of the sea, but unlike spiders, I have no fear of crabs.  To me they are fascinating creatures who deserve to be acknowledged for their contributions to the balance of the marine environment.

Spotted Porcelain Crab
Spotted Porcelain Crab

This beautiful Spotted Porcelain Crab lives among the tentacles of anemones.  It has feather-like appendages that it uses to sift the water for plankton and other tiny nutritious micro algae.  The feather-like fans are like little hands that reach out and grab tiny meals out of the water and stuff them in the crabs mouth.  It makes you wonder why he has such big claws?

Spotted Reef Crab or Seven Eleven Crab

Spotted Reef Crab or Seven Eleven Crab

Big claws certainly belong to this Spotted Reef Crab.  Its carapace can get up to around 7 inches wide.  It is also known as a Seven Eleven crab in Hawaii because it has seven spots on the top of its shell, and four along it’s back side.  In Hawaii, there is a story of a hungry god who caught the crab and was pinched by it, drawing blood.  Although the hungry god got his meal, the crabs descendents still bear the god’s bloody fingerprints on it’s shell.

Mosaic Boxer Crab
Mosaic Boxer Crab

One of my favorites is this boxer crab.  It looks like a bruiser with it’s slitted eye pattern.  This one especially so as it has a tiny anemone growing over it’s eye that just resembles a black eye.  These crabs hold a tiny anemone in each claw that they use for defense.  The anemones get their side of the bargain, too.  They get transported around so that they can more easily grab nutrients from the water with their tentacles.

Orange Hermit Crab

Orange Hermit Crab

Hairy Hermit Crab

Hairy Hermit Crab

These hermit crabs represent a huge population of crabs that live inside a shell, coral, or any other object (even rocks) they can climb into.  It is their eyes that mesmerize me.  They can be virtually any color, but the blue-eyed ones are my favorite.  Up close, you can see into their depths.  Their iris bears an uncanny resemblance to human eyes, and their pupils follow you around like those creepy statues in the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland.

Hairy Squat Lobster
Hairy Squat Lobster

This image is actually a squat lobster, and not a crab, but it deserves mention anyway.  It is covered with tiny hairs and lives on huge barrel sponges.  It is also a bit flamboyant with it’s purple veins, pink body, and orange eyes.

Orangutan Crab

Orangutan Crab

The Orangutan crab is often found on bubble coral and has turned under claws at the end of its feet that resemble an orangutan.  They are sometimes orange or brown, and often red.  Their bodies are covered with tiny hairlike fibers which seem to accumulate debris.

Soft coral Crab or Candy Crab
Soft coral Crab or Candy Crab

Soft  coral crabs like to hide down in the coral and have to be coaxed up to the top to pose for the camera.  This one has a friend on it’s shoulder.  They have red, multidimensional eyes that seem to see everything at once.  Sometimes they accumulate “weeds” that begin to grow on their bodies making them resemble decorator crabs.

You can see more of my images on my flikr stream or at  waterdogphotography.com,
Also, I love to make new friends!  Please visit my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/waterdogphotographyunderthesea
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.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!


I’ve always wanted to be an award-winning person. It hasn’t ever mattered what the award was for, as long as it was something I earned and had some kind of value.  Well, I recently participated in the Monterey Shootout.  Now, a shootout is a photography contest that is restricted by time and/or location.  In this case, this contest was restricted to 36 hours and photographs had to be taken under water in Monterey, California.  Participants could submit up to six photographs in four categories.

Anemone, 1st place under water wide angle unrestricted
Anemone, 1st place under water wide angle unrestricted

The photograph above was entered in the unrestricted wide angle category.  This means that the photograph could have some changes made to it via photo editing software.  In this case, I removed a few fish that were facing the wrong way. I believe the photo is also cropped by five percent.

Starfish and schooling fish, 1st place underwater wide angle traditional

Starfish and schooling fish, 1st place underwater wide angle traditional

Anemone, 2nd place under water wide angle  traditional

Anemone, 2nd place under water wide angle traditional

The two photos (above) were entered in the wide angle traditional category.  This means that the photograph could have only a few global changes to it.  In both cases, I bumped up the contrast slightly, and made minor brightness and color enhancements.  These are pretty much straight out of the camera.

Nudibranch, 1st place in under water macro unrestricted

Nudibranch, 1st place in under water macro unrestricted

This nudibranch image (above) is my favorite from the shootout.  It was entered in the macro unrestricted category, although I needn’t have made any changes to it.  I removed three small dots of backscatter (particles in the water that show up as white spots), and increased the contrast.  I had to wait for this slow moving slug to get into position, but it was worth the wait.

Top Snail.  3rd place winner in Underwater Macro, Traditional
Top Snail. 3rd place winner in Underwater Macro, Traditional

Finally, two more traditional macro shots.  The one above is a photograph of a top snail.  They are so beautiful for a snail that is only the size of my thumbnail.   The photograph below is of a hermit crab that really didn’t like my focus light shining in its eyes.  After this shot, it turned away from me and refused to show it’s face to me again.

Hermit Crab.  2nd place winner in Under water Macro Traditional

Hermit Crab. 2nd place winner in Under water Macro Traditional

In this contest, points were given for each photograph that placed.  Then the points were added up.  Those photographers with the highest number of points were able to choose their prize first.  Because all six of my photographs received a place, I had the highest number of points, so I had the good fortune of being first to pick my prize.  There were lots of fantastic prizes!  They offered several different dive vacations, as well as dive gear, camera equipment, and gift certificates.  I chose the top prize:  a 7 night stay at Misool Eco Resort  in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.  I look forward to diving there and taking many more photographs!

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

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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!

 

 

 

Darling it’s Better, Down Where it’s Wetter, Under the Sea!


I’ve been thinking about Horatio Thelonious Ignacious Crustaceous Sebastian Crab.  I think he hit the nail on the head with his philosophy about the joys of being under the sea!  He said,

“The seaweed is always greener, in somebody else’s lake.  You dream about goin’ up there, but that is a big mistake.  Just look at the world around you, Right here on the ocean floor.  Such wonderful things surround you, What more is you lookin’ for?
Under the sea
Under the sea
Darling it’s better Down where it’s wetter Take it from me!”

Well, He is right.  The ocean floor is where all the crustaceans creep about.  It is always a thrill to come upon one of these fascinating creatures.

Arrow Crab

Arrow Crab

The arrow crab has a long pointed head, and shovels food into it’s mouth with it’s two front appendages.

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The diversity of the crabs is one of the most interesting things.  Below are a few decorator crabs.  These crabs take pieces of sponge and moss and attach them to their bodies for camouflage.  See if you can spot their eyes.  They are a little easier to put in perspective that way.

Teardrop Crab

Teardrop Crab

Decorator Crab

Decorator Crab

This guy (above) is completely covered with bits of plant matter, except for his eyes and two front claws.  If he hadn’t moved, I would have never seen him.  The crab below also has some great camouflage going.

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Teardrop Crab

Teardrop Crab

Hermit crabs are some of my favorite subjects to photograph.  I love how their eyes protrude from under the shell and watch the camera.

Hermit Crab

Hermit Crab

20130310-crab close cropped

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And finally, the shrimps!

Banded Shrimp

Banded Shrimp

This banded shrimp has a claw on every foot.  Although the two front ones are the largest, he uses all of them to put food in his mouth.

20130323-single shrimp

The red ones above are often found in the den of an eel as they clean the eel’s body of parasites.

Shrimp

Shrimp

Coon striped shrimp

Coon striped shrimp

Down here all the fish is happy, as off through the waves they roll.  The fish on the land ain’t happy, They sad ’cause they in their bowl.  But fish in the bowl is lucky,  They in for a worser fate,  One day when the boss get hungry, Guess who’s gon’ be on the plate!

Under the sea

Under the sea

We got no troubles

Live is the bubbles

Under the Sea!