Ornate Ghost Pipefish


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

The Ornate Ghost Pipefish has the word “Ornate” in its name.  This one was found in Puerto Galera, Philippines.

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It is a beautiful fish, and even has an evil twin:

Ornate Ghost Pipefish (Solenostomidae)

To learn more about the weekly photo challenge, click HERE

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 at waterdogphotography@gmail.com
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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

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.

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

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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.

Stargazer

Stargazer

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

Sea Spider

Sea Spider

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

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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.

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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

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

Fun Facts about the Cuttlefish


Of all the interesting creatures in the sea, the cuttlefish has to be one of the most unusual.  Though it bears the name “fish,” it isn’t a fish at all, but a cephalopod, which includes creatures such as octopus, squid, and nautiluses. The Cuttlefish wears its shell on the inside and is called a cuttlebone.  This bone is used to help keep the cuttlefish neutrally bouyant.  Many bird owners buy cuttlefish bones at pet supply stores for their birds to sharpen their beaks on.  One of the remarkable things about cuttlefish, is their ability to blend in.

This cuttlefish has taken on the coloring and texture of the sand in which it has half buried itself.

This cuttlefish has taken on the coloring and texture of the sand in which it has half buried itself.

This little guy is a fraction of the size of the cuttlefish in the above picture.  No bigger than my thumb, it also takes on the color and texture of its surroundings.

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One of the amazing things about this Cephalopod, is watching it feed.  It has a very long “tongue” that slowly protrudes from it’s mouth until it is a fraction of an inch from it’s pray, then it quickly grabs it’s food and reels it in, in the blink of an eye.

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The male and female pair below are courting.  A male cuttlefish has four pairs of tentacles, while a female has three.  Sometimes younger or weaker males may try to hide one of their pairs of tentacles by tucking them in so that they can approach a female unnoticed by other dominant males.  When they mate, the male places a sperm sack inside the mouth of the female with one of his tentacles.  She saves it until she is ready to fertilize her eggs.

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One of the most exciting cuttlefish is the Flamboyant cuttlefish.  This one doesn’t try to blend in at all.  On the contrary, they are as colorful as can be, hence their appropriate name.  Sometimes their colors will undulate so that it looks like its white stripe is moving down its body.  They often hold up the two front tentacles in a “boxing” stance if they are feeling threatened.

Flamboyant Cuttlefish

Flamboyant Cuttlefish

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

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