Category

Photography

Underwater Photos of Southern California Oil Rigs

California, Underwater Photography

Recently I did some diving underneath three of Southern California’s offshore oil rigs: oil rig Eureka, oil rig Ellen and oil rig Elly. It was a lot of fun, and I hope to do it again soon. The amount of invertebrate life on the oil rig beams was impressive — copious amounts of large scallops, mussels, brittle stars, Corynactis and Metridium anemones, schools of fish moving through the beams and a few sea lions. Great stuff! Here are a few more underwater oil rig photos from that day. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Oil Rig Ellen underwater structure covered in invertebrate life, Long Beach, California

Oil Rig Ellen underwater structure covered in invertebrate life
Image ID: 31115
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Brittle stars covering beams of Oil Rig Elly, underwater structure covered in invertebrate life, Long Beach, California

Brittle stars covering beams of Oil Rig Elly, underwater structure covered in invertebrate life
Image ID: 31136
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Oil Rig Eureka, Underwater Structure, Long Beach, California

Oil Rig Eureka, Underwater Structure
Image ID: 31081
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

California sea lion at oil rig Eureka, underwater, among the pilings supporting the oil rig, Zalophus californianus, Long Beach

California sea lion at oil rig Eureka, underwater, among the pilings supporting the oil rig.
Image ID: 31086
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Corynactis anemones on Oil Rig Elly underwater structure, Corynactis californica, Long Beach, California

Corynactis anemones on Oil Rig Elly underwater structure
Image ID: 31130
Species: Strawberry anemone, Corynactis californica
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Oil Rig Ellen underwater structure covered in invertebrate life, Long Beach, California

Oil Rig Ellen underwater structure covered in invertebrate life
Image ID: 31102
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Oil Rig Ellen underwater structure covered in invertebrate life, Long Beach, California

Oil Rig Ellen underwater structure covered in invertebrate life
Image ID: 31111
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Corynactis anemones on Oil Rig Elly underwater structure, Corynactis californica, Long Beach, California

Corynactis anemones on Oil Rig Elly underwater structure
Image ID: 31124
Species: Strawberry anemone, Corynactis californica
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Oil Rig Eureka, 8.5 miles off Long Beach, California, lies in 720' of water

Oil Rig Eureka, 8.5 miles off Long Beach, California, lies in 720′ of water.
Image ID: 31091
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Oil Rig Elly underwater structure covered in invertebrate life, Long Beach, California

Oil Rig Elly underwater structure covered in invertebrate life
Image ID: 31132
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

SCUBA Diving Beneath Oil Rigs Eureka, Ellen and Elly in Long Beach, California

California, Underwater Photography

I recently made a few dives underneath the oil rigs “Eureka”, “Ellen” and “Elly”, about 8 miles off Long Beach, California. Oil rig Eureka is located in about 700′ of water, so from the perspective of recreational divers it is a bottomless dive. Ellen and Elly are in shallower water, about 260′, which is still out of reach of recreational dives but I suppose if you wanted to you could check out the bottom, at which point you could then direct your captain to take you directly to the Catalina chamber. The Power Scuba group with whom I was diving had chartered the dive boat Pacific Star for the day. We left the dock at 7am. I thought the boat looked familiar and indeed it was: I had divemastered on this boat 20+ years ago when it was named Bold Contender. About an hour later, after eating a great breakfast, getting a briefing and putting together gear, we arrived at the Eureka. Seas were flat calm and glassy, and the captain made our lives easy by bringing the stern of the boat close to the rig so we had only a short swim to reach the enormous pilings.

Oil Rig Eureka, 8.5 miles off Long Beach, California, lies in 720' of water

Oil Rig Eureka, 8.5 miles off Long Beach, California, lies in 720′ of water.
Image ID: 31093
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Scuba Divers at Oil Rig Eureka, 8.5 miles off Long Beach, California, lies in 720' of water

Scuba Divers at Oil Rig Eureka, 8.5 miles off Long Beach, California, lies in 720′ of water.
Image ID: 31089
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Water visibility was not great and the sun was still low on the horizon, so I had to resort to shutter speeds of about 1/8 to have any reasonable light to balance my strobes. My goal was to photograph the invertebrate life covering the underwater beams and columns. In preparation for a series of dive trips I have starting in October, I’m practicing wide-angle lighting again after taking about 14 years off of shooting underwater seriously. I figured big, stationary oil rig pilings with lots of color in relatively clear water was just the thing upon which to practice. The beams above about 50′ had been cleaned recently so did not offer much color, but below the first set of cross beams (at 60′) large clusters of Corynactis and Metridium anemones were growing and provided something to photograph.

Oil Rig Eureka, Underwater Structure and invertebrate Life, Corynactis californica, Long Beach, California

Oil Rig Eureka, Underwater Structure and invertebrate Life
Image ID: 31073
Species: Strawberry anemone, Corynactis californica
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Oil Rig Eureka, Underwater Structure, Long Beach, California

Oil Rig Eureka, Underwater Structure
Image ID: 31080
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

After finishing our dive on the Eureka we moved to the nearby twin rigs Ellen and Elly, and made a dive on each. Conditions were a little better since the sun had risen further and the water seemed a little cleaner. On all the rigs, we saw large schools of bait along with a few California sea lions in the shallower reaches of the beams, which was fun — I love diving with sea lions.

Oil platforms Ellen (left) and Elly (right) lie in 260' of seawater 8.5 miles off Long Beach, California

Oil platforms Ellen (left) and Elly (right) lie in 260′ of seawater 8.5 miles off Long Beach, California
Image ID: 31095
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Oil Rig Ellen underwater structure covered in invertebrate life, Long Beach, California

Oil Rig Ellen underwater structure covered in invertebrate life
Image ID: 31114
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Corynactis anemones on Oil Rig Elly underwater structure, Corynactis californica, Long Beach, California

Corynactis anemones on Oil Rig Elly underwater structure
Image ID: 31121
Species: Strawberry anemone, Corynactis californica
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Starfish on Oil Rig Ellen underwater structure, covered in invertebrate life, Long Beach, California

Starfish on Oil Rig Ellen underwater structure, covered in invertebrate life
Image ID: 31117
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

I plan to return and try it again, hoping for cleaner water and thicker schools of bait. It was a lot of fun, and pretty easy to do (provided one has excellent control of one’s buoyancy), and offers something very different than most of the other diving pursuits in California. Cheers and thanks for looking!

California sea lion at oil rig Eureka, underwater, among the pilings supporting the oil rig, Zalophus californianus, Long Beach

California sea lion at oil rig Eureka, underwater, among the pilings supporting the oil rig.
Image ID: 31087
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Bait fish schooling underneath Oil Rig Elly, Long Beach, California

Bait fish schooling underneath Oil Rig Elly
Image ID: 31143
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

California sea lion at oil rig Eureka, underwater, among the pilings supporting the oil rig, Zalophus californianus, Long Beach

California sea lion at oil rig Eureka, underwater, among the pilings supporting the oil rig.
Image ID: 31088
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Oil Rig Ellen underwater structure covered in invertebrate life, Long Beach, California

Oil Rig Ellen underwater structure covered in invertebrate life
Image ID: 31100
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Metridium anemones covering Oil Rig Elly underwater structure, Metridium senile, Long Beach, California

Metridium anemones covering Oil Rig Elly underwater structure
Image ID: 31125
Species: Plumose anemone, Metridium senile
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Metridium anemones covering Oil Rig Elly underwater structure, Metridium senile, Long Beach, California

Metridium anemones covering Oil Rig Elly underwater structure
Image ID: 31129
Species: Plumose anemone, Metridium senile
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Corynactis anemones cover Oil Rig Ellen underwater, Corynactis californica, Long Beach, California

Corynactis anemones cover Oil Rig Ellen underwater
Image ID: 31096
Species: Strawberry anemone, Corynactis californica
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Oil Rig Ellen underwater structure covered in invertebrate life, Long Beach, California

Oil Rig Ellen underwater structure covered in invertebrate life
Image ID: 31112
Location: Long Beach, California, USA

Beautiful Oaks and Perfect Sunrise at Oak Alley Plantation

Landscape, Panoramas

Oak Alley Plantation, with its remarkable double row of 300-year-old southern live oaks (Quercus virginiana) is, I imagine, a near-ideal vision of what the old South once was. I photographed this amazing tunnel of oaks at both dusk and dawn and, after contemplating the images for a few weeks, have decided the light I had in the morning was perfect, sublime. After the sun rose it side-lit the trees beautifully. Since it had to pass through heavy, wet Louisiana air the light was just diffuse enough that it filled in the shadows of the trees. I was alone the entire morning, enjoying listening to the cicadas and watching the squirrels move about the trees and over the lawn. Perfect.

This image will print 36″ x 60″.

Oak Alley Plantation and its famous shaded tunnel of  300-year-old southern live oak trees (Quercus virginiana).  The plantation is now designated as a National Historic Landmark, Vacherie, Louisiana

Oak Alley Plantation and its famous shaded tunnel of 300-year-old southern live oak trees (Quercus virginiana). The plantation is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Image ID: 31019
Location: Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie, Louisiana, USA

If you enjoy this image but want something wider or bigger, this panoramic photo will print 60″ x 150″ long:

Oak Alley Plantation and its famous shaded tunnel of  300-year-old southern live oak trees (Quercus virginiana).  The plantation is now designated as a National Historic Landmark, Vacherie, Louisiana

Oak Alley Plantation and its famous shaded tunnel of 300-year-old southern live oak trees (Quercus virginiana). The plantation is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Image ID: 31018
Location: Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie, Louisiana, USA

Photographing Macrocystis in La Jolla’s Beautiful Forests of Giant Kelp

La Jolla, Underwater Life, Underwater Photography

I have been photographing kelp forests in California with a passion for 25 years, from the Mexican border on up to Monterey including all the Channel Islands. Usually when I go diving in kelp its to San Clemente Island, which arguably has the most beautiful underwater scenery anywhere in California. In doing so I have bypassed the large tracts of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) just offshore of La Jolla and Point Loma because the water is just not as clear as I would like in those places. During the last couple years, however, the kelp forests at San Clemente Island have thinned out incredibly due to overly warm water, while those along the coast are still thick and healthy. Recently while out with a friend on his boat, I was able to do a little freediving in the kelp beds just off Point La Jolla and managed to get some nice photographs. The light was great, the visibility “good enough” and I was reminded again just how beautiful a healthy kelp forest is. As is done with a lot of my underwater photography, these images are made with only the available light — no strobes or tricky equipment. In other words, this is what you would see if you put on a mask and fins and went for a swim off in the kelp beds off Alligator Head or Children’s Pool. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

The Kelp Forest offshore of La Jolla, California. A kelp forest. Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2' per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy. Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest. Lush forests of kelp are found throughout California's Southern Channel Islands, Macrocystis pyrifera

The Kelp Forest offshore of La Jolla, California. A kelp forest. Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2′ per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy. Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest. Lush forests of kelp are found throughout California’s Southern Channel Islands
Image ID: 30986
Species: Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera

The Kelp Forest offshore of La Jolla, California. A kelp forest. Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2' per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy. Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest. Lush forests of kelp are found throughout California's Southern Channel Islands, Macrocystis pyrifera

The Kelp Forest offshore of La Jolla, California. A kelp forest. Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2′ per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy. Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest. Lush forests of kelp are found throughout California’s Southern Channel Islands
Image ID: 30989
Species: Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

The Kelp Forest offshore of La Jolla, California. A kelp forest. Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2' per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy. Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest. Lush forests of kelp are found through California's Southern Channel Islands, Macrocystis pyrifera

The Kelp Forest offshore of La Jolla, California. A kelp forest. Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2′ per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy. Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest. Lush forests of kelp are found through California’s Southern Channel Islands
Image ID: 30996
Species: Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

The Kelp Forest offshore of La Jolla, California. A kelp forest. Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2' per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy. Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest. Lush forests of kelp are found throughout California's Southern Channel Islands, Macrocystis pyrifera

The Kelp Forest offshore of La Jolla, California. A kelp forest. Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2′ per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy. Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest. Lush forests of kelp are found throughout California’s Southern Channel Islands
Image ID: 30998
Species: Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

The Kelp Forest offshore of La Jolla, California. A kelp forest. Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2' per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy. Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest. Lush forests of kelp are found through California's Southern Channel Islands, Macrocystis pyrifera

The Kelp Forest offshore of La Jolla, California. A kelp forest. Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2′ per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy. Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest. Lush forests of kelp are found through California’s Southern Channel Islands
Image ID: 30992
Species: Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Oak Alley Plantation and Its Famous Tunnel of Old Oak Trees, Vacherie, Louisiana

Landscape, Panoramas

While in New Orleans recently, I made a side-trip to visit Oak Alley Plantation. I love ancient, huge and gnarly trees, and when it comes to oak trees — specifically the southern live oak, Quercus virginiana — Oak Alley Plantation has some of the most photogenic in the South.

Oak Alley Plantation and its famous shaded tunnel of  300-year-old southern live oak trees (Quercus virginiana).  The plantation is now designated as a National Historic Landmark, Vacherie, Louisiana

Oak Alley Plantation and its famous shaded tunnel of 300-year-old southern live oak trees (Quercus virginiana). The plantation is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Image ID: 31009
Location: Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie, Louisiana, USA

Oak Alley Plantation and its famous shaded tunnel of  300-year-old southern live oak trees (Quercus virginiana).  The plantation is now designated as a National Historic Landmark, Vacherie, Louisiana

Oak Alley Plantation and its famous shaded tunnel of 300-year-old southern live oak trees (Quercus virginiana). The plantation is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Image ID: 31005
Location: Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie, Louisiana, USA

My goal was to produce one or two very large prints — 6 to 7 feet long — of the trees that grace this plantation, hopefully for hanging in our dining room. This required waiting for good light with no people around and shooting multi-image high resolution panoramic photographs, a slow process. The plantation’s most captivating view is that of its stately Antebellum mansion framed by the canopied tunnel of enormous trees, and that is where I spent most of my time. The double row of southern live oaks in this view was planted in the early 18th century, well before the house itself was built, and now forms a remarkable path between the house and the Mississippi River. The river itself can no longer be seen due to the the levee at its edge, but the effect is still stunning. Could the person who planted the trees 300 years ago have known what a perfectly balanced and imposing instance of deciduous wonder they would one day become, centuries hence? That would have been foresight indeed.

A tunnel of old southern oak trees stretches off toward the Mississippi River.  Oak Alley Plantation and its famous shaded tunnel of  300-year-old southern live oak trees (Quercus virginiana).  The plantation is now designated as a National Historic Landmark, Vacherie, Louisiana

A tunnel of old southern oak trees stretches off toward the Mississippi River. Oak Alley Plantation and its famous shaded tunnel of 300-year-old southern live oak trees (Quercus virginiana). The plantation is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Image ID: 31021
Location: Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie, Louisiana, USA

Oak Alley Plantation and its famous shaded tunnel of  300-year-old southern live oak trees (Quercus virginiana).  The plantation is now designated as a National Historic Landmark, Vacherie, Louisiana

Oak Alley Plantation and its famous shaded tunnel of 300-year-old southern live oak trees (Quercus virginiana). The plantation is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Image ID: 31004
Location: Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie, Louisiana, USA

Oak Alley Plantation receives hundreds of visitors each day, so I opted to avoid the crowds and shoot at sunrise and sunset. I lucked out and got both types of light I was hoping for: overcast skies and muted, soft, flat light at dusk, and fairly clear skies and warm side lighting at dawn. I was alone for some hours walking the grounds in peace and quiet, checking out the stately mansion and its varied barns, cottages, gardens and out-buildings in addition to the many huge old oaks spread across the plantation. After sunset the sound of what I am guessing were cicadas buzzed everywhere and continued through the night. Once all hint of color had left the evening sky, I returned to my cottage and enjoyed the meal of gumbo, etouffee and grits that the kitchen staff had left for me in the fridge. I was tempted to walk around again as the moon had risen and I knew the movie Interview with a Vampire had been filmed here so there must be some kind of evening spirits inhabiting the property, but jet lag caught up with me so I set my alarm for 30 minutes before sunrise and crashed for the night. The following morning the overcast skies had lifted so I knew there would be some side lighting on the trees. It is fortunate I rose early, since the first thing that happened when I stepped outside into the heavy, wet, warm morning air was to completely fog every surface of my camera. After many years of diving with cameras in the tropics I should have known better than to take a cold camera out into a warm humid place. After 20-30 minutes the camera fog had cleared and I could shoot properly, and I set about photographing the panorama that I had planned for just as the sun crested the horizon and shed warm, diffuse Louisiana light on the oaks. Around 7:30 I had to leave, needing to be back in downtown New Orleans by 9am. The light and conditions had been just perfect and I lucked out on this one.

Oak Alley Plantation and its famous shaded tunnel of  300-year-old southern live oak trees (Quercus virginiana).  The plantation is now designated as a National Historic Landmark, Quercus virginiana, Vacherie, Louisiana

Oak Alley Plantation and its famous shaded tunnel of 300-year-old southern live oak trees (Quercus virginiana). The plantation is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Image ID: 31017
Species: Southern Live Oak, Quercus virginiana
Location: Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie, Louisiana, USA

Oak Alley Plantation and its famous shaded tunnel of  300-year-old southern live oak trees (Quercus virginiana).  The plantation is now designated as a National Historic Landmark, Quercus virginiana, Vacherie, Louisiana

Oak Alley Plantation and its famous shaded tunnel of 300-year-old southern live oak trees (Quercus virginiana). The plantation is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Image ID: 31020
Species: Southern Live Oak, Quercus virginiana
Location: Oak Alley Plantation, Vacherie, Louisiana, USA

I was hoping to be captivated by the place — by the trees especially — and I was not disappointed. If I sound romantic it is with good reason since Oak Alley is indeed a romantic place, evoking the grace, decadence and elegance of the Old South. Will I return? Absolutely. The next time I am in New Orleans it will be the first thing I put on my calendar.

Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Sport Diver Cover, June 2015, Sea Lion in the Sea of Cortez

Sea Lion, Sea of Cortez, Underwater Photography

I love diving in the Sea of Cortez in the Fall. The water is warm, the weather is often serene, the diving easy and fun. And there are some amazing rookeries of sea lions, including the world famous Los Islotes island in the Espiritu Santo Biosphere Reserve. So I was pleased when a photograph from my last visit to the Sea of Cortez ended up on this month’s cover of Sport Diver. Thanks Sport Diver and Seapics who arranged the photo use! If you like this cute sealion, be sure to see more Sea Lion Photos and more photos from the Sea of Cortez. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Aerial Panoramic Photo of Torrey Pines Golf Course and Black’s Beach

Aerial Photography, La Jolla, Panoramas, San Diego

This aerial panorama of Torrey Pines Golf Course will print huge: up to about 4′ high and 10′ wide! In the center is seen Torrey Pines Golf Course south course, with the north course to the left. I played Torrey Pines often when I first moved to La Jolla and it is as beautiful on the ground as it looks from the air. Dominating the scene are the 300′ tall seacliffs that characterize the coastline from Torrey Pines State Reserve south to Scripps Institute of Oceanography. To the right is seen Torrey Pines Glider Port on the mesa, and Black’s Beach at the base of the seacliffs. Interstate 5 is seen in the center distance along with University City, Del Mar to the extreme left and Mount Soledad and La Jolla to the extreme right. I am often asked if I use a drone to shoot aerials, since they are becoming so popular. The answer for now is “no”: I always hold the camera. Someday I will probably use a drone but for my current interests and goals, I have greater control and can produce a higher quality image if I am in the air with my camera. Besides, its fun to fly, and I don’t want a drone to have all the fun. It was exciting making this panorama, hovering over some of the most beautiful coastline in all of California. If you like this, see more of my aerial panoramic photographs. Cheers, and thanks for looking.

Aerial panorama of Blacks Beach, Torrey Pines Golf Course (south course), and views to La Jolla (south) and Carlsbad (north)

Aerial panorama of Blacks Beach, Torrey Pines Golf Course (south course), and views to La Jolla (south) and Carlsbad (north)
Image ID: 30851
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Underwater Photos of Marine Algae in Southern California and Baja California

California, Underwater Photography

I dive in Southern California and Baja California, and one of the most appealing things about the underwater landscapes I see are the many species of marine algae. Marine algae cover the reefs in most places with a lush, colorful, vibrant carpet of life. Following are photos of some of the more common and beautiful forms of marine algae found underwater along the Pacific coast of Southern California and Baja California. Descriptions are from Wikipedia. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all marine algae, nor is it meant to be an identification guide — it is simply to show the variety and beauty of my favorite types of marine algae. Thank you to Dr. Kathy Ann Miller of UC Berkeley for help in identification, any errors are strictly mine. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Giant Kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera

Macrocystis pyrifera, commonly known as giant kelp or giant bladder kelp, is a species of kelp (large brown algae), and one of four species in the genus Macrocystis. Giant kelp is common along the coast of the eastern Pacific Ocean, from Baja California north to southeast Alaska, and is also found in the southern oceans near South America, South Africa, and Australia. Individual algae may grow to more than 45 metres (148 ft) long at a rate of as much as 2 feet (61 cm) per day. Giant kelp grows in dense stands known as kelp forests, which are home to many marine animals that depend on the algae for food or shelter.

Kelp frond showing pneumatocysts, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Kelp frond showing pneumatocysts.
Image ID: 00627
Species: Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA

A kelp forest.  Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2' per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy.  Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest.  Lush forests of kelp are found through California's Southern Channel Islands, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

A kelp forest. Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2′ per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy. Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest. Lush forests of kelp are found through California’s Southern Channel Islands.
Image ID: 23428
Species: Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA

A view of an underwater forest of giant kelp.  Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2' per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy.  Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest.  Lush forests of kelp are found through California's Southern Channel Islands, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

A view of an underwater forest of giant kelp. Giant kelp grows rapidly, up to 2′ per day, from the rocky reef on the ocean bottom to which it is anchored, toward the ocean surface where it spreads to form a thick canopy. Myriad species of fishes, mammals and invertebrates form a rich community in the kelp forest. Lush forests of kelp are found through California’s Southern Channel Islands.
Image ID: 25400
Species: Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA

Kelp holdfast and substrate, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Kelp holdfast and substrate.
Image ID: 00622
Species: Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA



Feather Boa Kelp, Egregia menziesii

Egregia menziesii is a species of kelp known commonly as feather boa kelp. It is native to the coastline of western North America from Alaska to Baja California, where it is a common kelp of the intertidal zone. It is dark brown in color, shiny and bumpy in texture, and may reach over five meters long. It grows a branching stipe from a thick holdfast. It bears long, flat, straplike fronds lined with small blades each a few centimeters long. There are pneumatocysts at intervals along the fronds which provide buoyancy. The alga varies in morphology; the rachis, or central strip, of the frond may be smooth or corrugated, and the blades along the edge of the rachis may be a variety of shapes.

Feather boa kelp (long brown fuzzy stuff) and other marine algae cover the rocky reef, Egregia menziesii, San Clemente Island

Feather boa kelp (long brown fuzzy stuff) and other marine algae cover the rocky reef.
Image ID: 25416
Species: Feather boa kelp, Egregia menziesii
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA



Southern Sea Palm, Palm Kelp, Eisenia arborea

Eisenia arborea, or the southern sea palm (not to be confused with the sea palm), is a dominant species of kelp that is found in the Northern and Eastern Pacific from Vancouver Island, Canada south to Isla Magdalena, Mexico, and along the coast of Baja California. They are commonly found from the midtidal areas stretching to the subtidal areas. It is an edible seaweed, a source of nutrients for grazing marine invertebrates and a source of alginic acid, a food thickener. Some of the algas have a hollow stripe above its holdfast with two branches terminating in multiple blades. Eisenia arborea is studied in order to predict environmental stress in oceans intertidal zones. Hollow stripes where present when the Eisenia arborea did not receive essential nutrients for its thalli development. Eisenia arborea with hollow stripes are believed to be evolved algae in order to increase their survival in harsh living conditions. They play a huge role in determining environmental stress.

Southern sea palm, palm kelp, underwater, San Clemente Island, Eisenia arborea

Southern sea palm, palm kelp, underwater, San Clemente Island.
Image ID: 30919
Species: Southern sea palm, Eisenia arborea
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA

Southern sea palm, palm kelp, underwater, San Clemente Island, Eisenia arborea

Southern sea palm, palm kelp, underwater, San Clemente Island.
Image ID: 30917
Species: Southern sea palm, Eisenia arborea
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA

Southern sea palm, Eisenia arborea, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Southern sea palm.
Image ID: 09537
Species: Southern sea palm, Eisenia arborea
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Palm kelp. Southern sea palm, Eisenia arborea, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Palm kelp. Southern sea palm.
Image ID: 01249
Species: Southern sea palm, Eisenia arborea
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Kelp covered wall of Isla Afuera, diver, Eisenia arborea, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Kelp covered wall of Isla Afuera, diver.
Image ID: 03724
Species: Southern Sea Palm, Eisenia arborea
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico



Surfgrass, Phyllospadix

Phyllospadix is a genus of seagrass or surfgrass, a flowering plant in the family Zosteraceae, described as a genus in 1840. Phyllospadix grows in marine waters along the coasts of the temperate North Pacific. It is one of the seagrass genuses that can perform completely submerged pollination.

Surfgrass (Phyllospadix), shallow water, San Clemente Island, Phyllospadix

Surfgrass (Phyllospadix), shallow water, San Clemente Island.
Image ID: 30941
Species: Surfgrass, Phyllospadix
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA

Surfgrass and diver, Phyllospadix, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Surfgrass and diver.
Image ID: 03736
Species: Surfgrass, Phyllospadix
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Surfgrass (Phyllospadix), shallow water, San Clemente Island, Phyllospadix

Surfgrass (Phyllospadix), shallow water, San Clemente Island.
Image ID: 30886
Species: Surfgrass, Phyllospadix
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA



Asparagopsis taxiformis

Asparagopsis taxiformis, red marine algae, growing on underwater rocky reef below kelp forest at San Clemente Island, Asparagopsis taxiformis

Asparagopsis taxiformis, red marine algae, growing on underwater rocky reef below kelp forest at San Clemente Island.
Image ID: 30939
Species: Asparagopsis taxiformis
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA

Various kelp and algae, shallow water, Asparagopsis taxiformis, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Various kelp and algae, shallow water.
Image ID: 21376
Species: Asparagopsis taxiformis
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Garibaldi and Asparagopsis taxiformis (red marine algae), San Clemente Island, Hypsypops rubicundus, Asparagopsis taxiformis

Garibaldi and Asparagopsis taxiformis (red marine algae), San Clemente Island
Image ID: 30881
Species: Garibaldi, Hypsypops rubicundus, Asparagopsis taxiformis
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA



Stephanocystis dioica

Stephanocystis is characterized by highly differentiated basal and apical regions and the presence of catenate pneumatocysts (air-vesicles). In Stephanocystis old plants have an elongated main axis, and in time the primary laterals become proportionally elongated. Their lower parts are strongly flattened into ‘foliar expansions’ or basal leaves. Fertile regions which bear conceptacles are known as receptacles. These are normally found at the tips of the branches. Their basal and apical regions are highly differentiated. They have catenate pnuematocysts (air vesicles). The aerocyst or air vesicles keep the organism erect, by causing it to float in strong currents.

A group of juvenile and female Guadalupe fur seals rest and socialize over a shallow, kelp-covered reef.  During the summer mating season, a single adjult male will form a harem of females and continually patrol the underwater boundary of his territory, keeping the females near and intimidating other males from approaching, Arctocephalus townsendi, Stephanocystis dioica, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

A group of juvenile and female Guadalupe fur seals rest and socialize over a shallow, kelp-covered reef. During the summer mating season, a single adjult male will form a harem of females and continually patrol the underwater boundary of his territory, keeping the females near and intimidating other males from approaching.
Image ID: 09677
Species: Guadalupe fur seal, Arctocephalus townsendi, Stephanocystis dioica
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Stephanocystis dioica (yellow) and surfgrass (green), shallow water, San Clemente Island, Phyllospadix, Stephanocystis dioica

Stephanocystis dioica (yellow) and surfgrass (green), shallow water, San Clemente Island
Image ID: 30946
Species: Surfgrass, Phyllospadix, Stephanocystis dioica
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA

Stephanocystis dioica (lighter yellow), southern sea palm (darker yellow) and surfgrass (green), shallow water, San Clemente Island, Eisenia arborea, Phyllospadix, Stephanocystis dioica

Stephanocystis dioica (lighter yellow), southern sea palm (darker yellow) and surfgrass (green), shallow water, San Clemente Island
Image ID: 30948
Species: Southern palm kelp, Surfgrass, Eisenia arborea, Phyllospadix, Stephanocystis dioica
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA

The Disappearing Kelp Forests of San Clemente Island

Aerial Photography, California

I was recently diving at San Clemente Island. The profound lack of giant kelp forests was a striking contrast to what I am used to seeing over 25 years of diving at the island. Under ideal conditions, giant kelp can grow about 2′ per day (the fastest growing plant on Earth), but it does require relatively cool water to really flourish. In 2014, water temperatures were higher than normal, leading to poor growth conditions. The kelp has not recovered, and if an El Nino that is predicted to occur in 2015 comes to pass, it is almost certain to cause whatever kelp forests are at the island to recede considerably. Here are two images, from above the southeastern tip of the island (“Pyramid Head”) looking northwest along the axis of the island, shot in September 2010 (top, healthy thick kelp forests appear in brown, from Pyramid Cove in upper left around Pyramid Head point and up the eastern side of the island) and July 2014 (almost total absence of giant kelp forests). These two images are crops, click on either to see the original composition.


See more photos of San Clemente Island, photos of giant kelp forests, and aerial photos. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Aerial Panorama of Point Loma, Cabrillo Monument and San Diego Bay

Aerial Photography, California, Panoramas, San Diego

This is a highly detailed aerial panoramic photo of the southern end of Point Loma, with Cabrillo Monument and both old and new lighthouses visible. The original Cabrillo lighthouse is seen atop the bluff, while the new lighthouse is down near the water’s edge next to the green lawns. North Island Naval Air Station and San Diego Bay are seen in the distance over the top of the peninsula. The submarine reefs of Cabrillo State Marine Reserve are clearly visible through the clear water. The Coronado Strand stretches off to the right (south) toward Mexico, while the broken coastline of Point Loma and Sunset Cliffs stretches off to the left (north). This high resolution panorama will print 40″ high by 90″ wide. If you like this, please see more aerial photos of San Diego. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Aerial Panoramic Photo of Point Loma and Cabrillo Monument, San Diego, California

Aerial Panoramic Photo of Point Loma and Cabrillo Monument
Image ID: 30847
Location: San Diego, California, USA