Everything that Creepeth on the Earth

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Creepy.”

This challenge is a fun one for me because I love finding the creepiest things in the ocean to share with my landlocked friends.  This image is of a critter called a “skeleton shrimp.”  It is an isopod that is only about half an inch tall.  This one is a mother, and she is carrying all her creepy children on her back, arms, legs, and head.


This one is also a skeleton shrimp, only he is baby-less.


If that’s not creepy enough for you, the image below is of a fish called a Stargazer, that buries itself in the sand until its prey comes by, then it strikes and swallows the unfortunate critter whole.



Oh, and did you know that the ocean has spiders too?

Sea Spider

Sea Spider

The “Hairy Squat Lobster” is a creep as well .


And finally, the snake eel, which buries it’s entire body in the sand and only peeks out a few inches to watch for a passing meal.


To learn more about the Weekly Photo Challenge, click HERE.

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  D7000 or 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

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.



A Day in the Life of a Hydro-Sapien

A Hydro-Sapien is an advanced species that thrives in water and on land.  I think I have evolved into one of these during the last few years.  I definitely thrive in water.  The most exciting thing about this is discovering all the things that have evolved under water that the land dwelling Homo-Sapiens are unaware of.  Some of these critters are so indistinct, that my photographs of them are meaningless to the common land-dweller.  I will attempt to educate the waterless by taking you on an underwater photo-safari of some of the more obscure creatures.

Slender Crinoid Shrimp (Araiopontonia odontorhyncha)
Slender Crinoid Shrimp
(Araiopontonia odontorhyncha)

The shrimp family is truly vast.  And weird.  They are colorful and full of character.  The Crinoid shrimp (above) is hosted on another animal called a Crinoid.  Crinoids come in many colors, and the shrimp that inhabit their tentacles match their color.  They are very small, growing up to 1.5 cm.

Skeleton Shrimp (Caprellidae)

Skeleton Shrimp (Caprellidae)

The Skeleton shrimp is one of my favorite.  It is actually an amphipod, whose slender body makes it look like a filament of seaweed.  The female will carry her babies all over her body which makes them look like a creepy mass of claws and legs.  (below)

Yup.  That's mommy in the middle, holding about two dozen babies.

Yup. That’s mommy in the middle, holding about two dozen babies.

The skeleton shrimp below appears to be riding on a nudibranch.  She reminds me of a queen riding on a float, waving at her underlings.  They are very entertaining to watch.  They move somewhat like an inchworm and spark the imagination with their unique character.

Skeleton Shrimp and Nudibranch

Skeleton Shrimp and Nudibranch

Next is the Ornate Ghost Pipefish.  These small fish come in a lot of different colors.  The one below is a male, black, Ornate Ghost Pipefish.  They often hide among plants that look just like them.

Ornate Ghost Pipefish  (Solenostomidae)

Ornate Ghost Pipefish (Solenostomidae)

Just to satisfy your curiosity, a few other ghost pipefish are the Robust and Halemida (below)

Halemida Ghost Pipefish

Halemida Ghost Pipefish

Robust Ghost Pipefish

Robust Ghost Pipefish

The Paddle-Flap Scorpionfish (below) is a rare and odd shaped fish.  It has a false “eye” (the white spot below it’s real eye), to trick it’s prey into thinking it isn’t watching when it really is.

Paddle-flap Scorpion fish (Rhinopias eschmeyeri)

Paddle-flap Scorpion fish (Rhinopias eschmeyeri)

Here’s a tiny little,  uh,  thing:   They do have a scientific name; Idiomysis.  They are called sea owls by the locals.  They hover above anemones and are about the size of an ant.

sea owl

sea owl

sea owls

sea owls

The Homosapien in me is pretty creeped out by spiders.  But, it turns out, spiders inhabit the sea too.  This one was one of many that inhabited some seaweed.  After the “photo shoot” I had the heebie jeebies for hours.

Sea Spider

Sea Spider

The electric file clam (below) is hard to describe.  It would look better in video.  The iridescent blue that lines it’s mantle actually looks like light or electricity moving across it.

Electric Fileclam

Electric Fileclam

These are only a few examples of the unique aquatic beasties under the sea.  With thousands more to see, it’s no wonder I’ve developed gills.  Don’t you wish you were a Hydrosapien too?


What’s Buggin’ You?

The last few weeks our weather has turned a bit wintery and although I long to get back in the water to my “studio,” I have found an alternate that is almost as enticing.  I have always been fascinated by the little critters, especially some of the more unusual ones.  Happily, there are plenty of odd little bugs to photograph on land.  Here are some of my favorites:

Juvenile Praying Mantis

Juvenile Praying Mantis

I found this little praying mantis one day walking up my arm.  I had been outside thinning the peach tree, and I guess he hitched a ride.  I carefully put him back on the tree where he graciously posed for some very flattering portraits.

aussie caterpillar

Cairns Birdwing Caterpillar

Sometimes we get all creeped-out by insects.  It is hard to believe that the spikey-creepy-crawly caterpillar above becomes the beautiful Cairns Birdwing butterfly which is endemic to Australia.  These papilions can have a wingspan of up to 11 inches.  One of the photographs below is of a male, the other female.  Can you guess which one is which?

Cairns Birdwing Butterfly

Cairns Birdwing Butterfly


 In contrast to the huge butterflies above, is this little velvet moth that was just over a quarter of an inch long.  It landed on my bathroom mirror one morning where it almost got clobbered by the flat of my hand until I saw it’s brilliant red wings and decided it was photogenic.  It stayed on the mirror all day, and finally flew away in the evening.

20130717-_DSC8975small file

Okay, so on to a REALLY creepy bug. The creature below is a walking stick.  Don’t ask how that thing eats with a mouth like that, because I have no idea.  He was about three inches long and moved slowly up the branch like he was stalking me.


A Bumble Bee comes in for a landing

A Bumble Bee comes in for a landing

One of the most common fliers is the bumble bee.  They are surprisingly difficult to photograph.  That is partly because they are always moving, and partly because this photographer is wary of being stung.  These guys were busy collecting the first of this year’s pollen.

A Bee gathers pollen from a poppy

A Bee gathers pollen from a poppy

As I was photographing the flowers and bees, this little fly stopped by to rub his back legs together.  He only visited for a moment, but I caught him!


The bug below is a common nuisance.  When I was a kid, we called them fire-bugs, but my dad called them Box Elder bugs.  He was right, that is the common name.  You have probably stepped on these outside your front door.

20130215-Boxelder Bug

Last but certainly not least; the creepiest of all creepers in my opinion, is the spider.  I believe this one still resides in Hana, Hawaii, guarding the seven sacred pools and protecting visitors from the horde of flying bugs that torment tourists.


I have to admit that I have a love-hate relationship with the insect world.  While they fascinate me beyond reasonable measure, they also give me the heebie-jeebies and I wouldn’t want to find one crawling down my back.  Yet, I can’t help being visually stimulated by them.  How about you?