Magic in the Midriff Islands.

Last summer I lead a trip for Bluewater to the Sea of Cortez. An incredible week aboard the Rocio del Mar liveaboard diving these unique and incredible waters. Here’s my trip report from this fantastic trip (adapted from what I wrote up for Bluewater’s website).

Welcome to the Sea of Cortez. Dubbed by Jacques Cousteau as the “World’s Aquarium” this living sea definitely lives up to the name. Abundant life swimming through warm waters provides a unique diving experience where temperate and tropical worlds collide. From the tiniest skeleton shrimp to the giant whale shark, the Sea of Cortez offers a variety of marine encounters and incredible diving.

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The Stressful Short Life of the Pelagic Tuna Crab

The past few months the waters around the Channel Islands have been inundated with tiny little pelagic tuna crabs. These poor sea creatures are about 3 inches long, bright red and seem to live life within three feet of the surface. They float around just below the water’s surface, constantly working to evade death from above and death from below.

I got to see these little creatures on a dive last November, and felt so sorry for their stressful little lives. As they sink towards the bottom I watched fish flash up and and devour them. To escape that horror the little crabs would swish away towards the surface, where they’d get dive bombed by the circling sea gulls. There was no rest, there was no safety.

So here’s to the little pelagic tuna crab. May your short life be free from terrors above and below. May you ride the currents of the sea until that time when you become lunch.

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Interlude.

You know how sometimes life changes, bringing a halt to things you enjoy? Well, that’s pretty much what happened here. At the beginning of 2012 I started to work with Bluewater Photo, and I struggled to stay on top of my writing. I lapsed, came back Spring of 2013 and held on for about 8 months. Then I lapsed again. Its been more than 2 years now since I’ve typed for myself, as opposed to the reviews, blog posts, product pages and more I’ve been creating for Bluewater. I miss it, and I miss being able to share the stories that belong with my photos.

So now I’m back… (from outer space) and I have stories to share. I hope to spend the next few weeks… months… catching up on the many great adventures under the water (and a few topside) from the past two years. There’s at least a few folks still checking these pages, or happening across by accident, so I hope Dear Readers that I can capture you for a few moments each week and continue to delight and inspire through my words and my images. If this sounds enticing, then please come back soon, this interlude has ended.

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Award Winning!

I submitted my eight photos to the SoCal Shootout after the amazing weekend full of diving in the middle of September. To recap, i spent three solid days diving off the Los Angeles coast with probably the best conditions I have ever seen. It was amazing. I realize I am WAY behind in updating you all on my dive adventures, but instead of starting back at the beginning and moving forward through time, I’m going to jump ahead to the results of the contest. They were announced last week and much to my surprise and excitement I got third place in two different categories! Shooting on my new OM-D, a mirrorless camera I had to compete in the “Open” categories with all the big gun dSLR folks, so placing at all made me really happy. The first was a third place in the Wide Angle category with my photo of a female sheephead on one of the oil rigs off the coast of long beach. If you read my previous post, you can see just what amazing visibility we experienced that day. It was incredible.

The second picture that I placed with was in the Portrait category. I was swimming back to the boat after one of the dives off Santa Barbara Island when this huge lobster came cruising up from below. My guess, it was startled from a hidey hole by someone or something, and we crossed paths at just a perfect time. He shot past me into a growth of kelp and disappeared. Intrigued, I followed and found him clinging to a strand of kelp, upside down, just hanging there. The colors and the way he clung to the  strands of kelp. I really liked it because the lobster stands out, since you never find lobster in the kelp, and the blues of the water, greens of the kelp and reds in the lobster create a bold palette. Apparently the judges liked it too!

I came away from that weekend of diving with many good images, but these two were definitely my favorites, which furthered my excitement that they were chosen as winners. I’m working to get the rest of the pictures from that weekend up and shared with everyone, followed by a day of diving at Casino Point with a couple of the nice macro lenses for the micro four-thirds cameras and my latest adventure, another night dive (2) on the wreck of the Palawan… deep in the Redondo Bay. Too much diving and too little time to sit in front of a computer!

Up from the Deep.

I went out blue water diving with some friends a couple weekends ago and while we were shunned by any of the big stuff… no molas or other large pelagic life, we did see lots and lots of jellies. Small and transparent most of these would be hard to photograph on a normal dive. Since this was a blue water dive we were tethered to a line dropped off the boat and just floating along with the current. Drifting as such means that I only get about 30 seconds to compose, focus and shoot any passing jelly before the float past and out of my reach. This makes the dive more exciting as I tried to get a good shot, or even just a shot in focus. This was my second time out, and I was a bit more successful.

It’s Electric.

Hopefully you’re all now humming the Electric slide, as that’s what I first think of when I hear “it’s electric.” However, today I’m not talking about an old dance move. I’m talking about the Pacific Electric Ray (or Torpedo Ray). Last month out at Santa Barbara Island we hit a deep reef before going to play with the sand dollars. I had my wide angle lens on and was greatly rewarded with an awesome ray sighting. While I was practicing wide angle and admiring the rare purple hydro-coral, Scott pulled Shane and I over to where he had come across the ray which was slowly moving along the wall as it scanned for prey. I had seen pictures of these rays before but never actually spotted one while diving, so I was extremely excited. It swam along seeming casual, but in reality was using its electric field to scan for possible prey. I’m sure it was annoyed by us crowding around it and shooting pictures, but oh well.. it was only for a few minutes. Scott posed for me as I tried to compose some shots. Here’s the results: