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.

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 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

Hair, Hair, Everywhere!


One of the freaky things about the under water world is discovering creatures that are “hairy.”  It never occurred to me that a fish could have hair, or a lobster or crab for that matter.  The interesting thing about hairy critters is that they blend in so well with their environment which is often made up of hair-like substances.  One of my favorites is the hairy frogfish.

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The Striated Frogfish (Hairy Variation) has all these filiments growing from it.  They live in or near filamentous algae and at about one or two inches long, are very hard to see.  They have a fuzzy lure atop the head which they use to attract fish.  The frogfish has a very quick strike and can eat another fish it’s own size.

Hairy Frogfish

Hairy Frogfish

Another hairy fish is the Yellow coral goby, or bearded goby.  It lives inside hard coral where it hides from predators.  This fish definitely has a cute factor with it’s chin stubble and big blue eyes.  What a heart breaker.

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The Shortpouch Pygmy Pipehorse is an interesting critter that is covered with various sized skin flaps.  It can be found living in sea grass and is only a few centimeters long.

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This fun critter is a Hairy Squat Lobster.  It lives on giant Barrel Sponges and blends into it’s pinkish environment.  It’s carapace is covered with numerous long white bristles.

Hairy Squat Lobster

Hairy Squat Lobster

The Algae shrimp (nicknamed hairy shrimp) are some of the most obscure tiny critters to be found.  They are only about 1/4 inch at best.  If you look closely, you can see that both specimen have a belly full of eggs.

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hairy shrimp

One day I hope to have an image of a hairy octopus (Yes!  Octopus!)  And the Lacey Scorpionfish has a coif that rivals the most cryptic of marine animals.  The amazing world of hairy creatures continues to inspire me, and lures me back to the water again and again in search of it’s crazy inhabitants.

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

 

Creepy Crawly


The words “Creepy Crawly” often conjure up images of centipedes, spiders, caterpillars, and other unsavory types of insects we would classify as pests.  As I was searching through images I took in Anilao, Philippines, I realized that what we photographers affectionately refer to as “critters” in the ocean, might be considered a creepy crawly if it lived on land.

Dragon Shrimp, AKA Rhino Shrimp

Dragon Shrimp, AKA Rhino Shrimp

The critter in the image above is a dragon shrimp.  Not the kind you might have as a sushi plate, however.  This little guy is only about a centimeter or two in length.  It lives on whip coral and black coral.  The way it clings to the branch of the coral reminds me of a grasshopper.

Zanzibar Whip Coral Shrimp

Zanzibar Whip Coral Shrimp

The Whip Coral Shrimp looks similar to the dragon shrimp, only it doesn’t have three spikes on it’s back.  It does have a pointed spike behind its eyes, though.  These shrimp are translucent, making them very interesting to study closely.

Anker's Whip Coral Shrimp

Anker’s Whip Coral Shrimp

Another Whip Coral Shrimp looks a lot like the Zanzibar, but doesn’t have the spikes on its back.

Anker's Whip Coral Shrimp

Anker’s Whip Coral Shrimp

Here is an ocean-dwelling spider-like crab, called a Conical Spider Crab.  It also dwells on whip coral, and reminds me of a spider getting ready to jump.

Conical Spider Crab

Conical Spider Crab

Broken Back Shrimp AKA Ocellated Tozeuma Shrimp.

Broken Back Shrimp AKA Ocellated Tozeuma Shrimp.

This is one of the larger creepy crawlies, coming in at about 5 cm.  I call this the Pinnochio crab because it’s nose is almost as long as it’s body.

Elegant Crinoid Squat Lobster faces off with a Slender Crinoid Shrimp.

Elegant Crinoid Squat Lobster faces off with a Slender Crinoid Shrimp.

I was lucky enough to spot a Squat Lobster on the same arm of a crinoid as a slender shrimp.  Both are about a centimeter long, and just happened to be facing each other.

Whip Coral Shrimp

Whip Coral Shrimp

My last image is of another Whip Coral Shrimp.  This one matches its host, and is almost impossible to find, making it invisible to predators.  It is also about a centimeter in length.

One of the interesting things about the creepy crawly critters in the ocean, is that they don’t creep me out like the creepy crawly critters on land.  I wonder what the difference is?  It can’t possibly be because of their ability to crawl down my neck, because I did find crinoids creeping up my leg several times while in Anilao, and I didn’t freak out.  I guess it is just another one of the wonders of the sea!

 

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.