The Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific recently arranged to use one of our photographs of the tiny Corynactis californica anemone for a huge wall mural, to be hung in the coming month. It reminded me of how cool these small creatures are, and how many times I have hunkered down on the reef to spend a dive photographing them.
The club-tipped anemone, or corynactis anemone (Corynactis californica), is common in the nearshore environment in Southern California and Baja California. Its range extends north to at least Washington. Corynactis californica is not a true anemone, but rather a Corallimorph cnidarian. One of the distinguishing characteristics of these corallimorphs is that their tentacles, which are not fully retractable, end in knobs resembling clubs (hence the name club-tipped anemone). Corallimorphs have a number of physiological similarities to hard corals but lack the hard coral skeletons of corals. The corynactis anemone is often found in large groups covering rocks, wrecks, piers and other hard substrate to which it can cling. These groups take on beautiful colors: pink, red, orange, blue, purple. Corynactis californica can reproduce asexually by longitudinal fission in which case all clones will take on the same color.
A cluster of vibrantly-colored strawberry anemones (club-tipped anemone, more correctly a corallimorph) polyps clings to the rocky reef.
Image ID: 10165
Species: Strawberry anemone, Corynactis californica
Location: Santa Barbara Island, California, USA
Boat strikes of marine animals are increasingly common, for obvious reasons. It is disappointing to observe a marine animal severely or mortally wounded by a collision with a boat. We have encountered several marine animals bearing unmistakable boat propeller scars:
North Pacific humpback whale showing extensive scarring, almost certainly from a boat propeller, on dorsal ridge.
Image ID: 05910
Species: Humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae
Location: Maui, Hawaii, USA
Gray whale dorsal aspect showing injury/wound/indentation likely caused by boat, Laguna San Ignacio.
Image ID: 06426
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: San Ignacio Lagoon, Baja California, Mexico
See more boat strike and propeller scar photos.
Keywords: propeller scar photo, boat strike, injury, photograph, boat collision.
The humpback whale photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under provisions of NOAA / NMFS and State of Hawaii scientific research permits.<
The California sheephead wrasse, Semicossyphus pulcher, is an interesting fish. It begins its life as a female and remains so until adulthood. When the region’s dominant adult male dies or leaves then switcheroo! one of the remaining adult females will switch genders to assume the role of dominant male of the reef. Note the distinctly different colorations of the juvenile, female and dominant male sheephead wrasses below:
Sheephead wrasse, adult male coloration (a juvenile or female is partially seen to the right).
Image ID: 09624
Species: California sheephead wrasse, Semicossyphus pulcher
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico
Keywords: California sheephead wrasse photo, Semicossyphus pulcher, gender change, underwater photo, Guadalupe Island.
A West Indian manatee, also known as a Florida manatee, at the Three Sisters Springs on the Crystal River, Florida.
A Florida manatee, or West Indian Manatee, swims slowly through the clear waters of Crystal River.
Image ID: 02696
Species: West Indian manatee, Trichechus manatus
Location: Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River, Florida, USA
I found that the best time to photograph these animals is early in the day, at least before groups of tourists arrive and begin stirring up the water or causing the manatees to leave the area. I would actually arrive before sunrise, when the canal is steaming in the cold dry air. The available light is dim at that time, in fact the trichoidal patterns on the back of the manatee are not from sunlight filtering through the water but from strobe light reflected off the surface of the water back down onto the manatee. Colleague Doug Perrine, one of the top working marine photographers in the world and recent winner of the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2004 Competition, offered this most important piece of advice when I was planning a visit to Crystal River to see manatees: time your visit with the passing of a cold front. The reason for this is simple. Florida spring waters flow at a constant temperature of 72 degrees F. Manatees gather in the springs — which is where you want them to be for purposes of observing and photographing them — for warmth and to rest when the surrounding ocean and river waters are too cold for their comfort, such as during a cold spell. Once the cold front has passed and the surrounding waters have warmed again, the manatees will leave the springs to forage for food in the surrounding canals, wetlands and coastal areas.
See more West Indian Manatee photos.
Keywords: manatee photo, West Indian manatee photo, Florida manatee photo, Trichechus manatus photo, Crystal River, Three Sisters spring, underwater photograph, photo of the day, manatee picture, manatee photograph.