Kelp frond showing pneumatocysts, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Giant kelp frond showing pneumatocysts which make the algae bouyant. Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island, California

A kelp forest, with sunbeams passing through kelp fronds.  Giant kelp, the fastest growing plant on Earth, reaches from the rocky bottom to the ocean's surface like a submarine forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

A kelp forest with sunbeams passing through kelp fronds. Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island, California.

A SCUBA diver swims through a giant kelp forest which is tilted back by strong ocean currents.   Giant kelp, the fastest plant on Earth, reaches from the rocky bottom to the ocean's surface like a submarine forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

A SCUBA diver swims through a giant kelp forest which is tilted back by strong ocean currents. Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, the fastest growing plant on Earth, reaches from the rocky bottom to the ocean's surface like a submarine forest.

California sea lions swim and socialize over a kelp-covered rocky reef, underwater at San Clemente Island in California's southern Channel Islands, Zalophus californianus

California Sea Lion

A SCUBA diver swimming over a rocky reef covered with kelp, watches a brightly colored orange garibaldi fish, Hypsypops rubicundus, San Clemente Island

Garibaldi, Hypsypops rubicundus, San Clemente Island, California.

San Clemente Island Pyramid Head, the distinctive pyramid shaped southern end of the island.  San Clemente Island Pyramid Head, showing geologic terracing, underwater reefs and giant kelp forests

San Clemente Island Pyramid Head, showing geologic terracing, underwater reefs and giant kelp forests

Bryozoan grows on a red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater.  The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

Bryozoan grows on a red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Lophogorgia chilensis, California.

Surf grass on the rocky reef -- appearing blurred in this time exposure -- is tossed back and forth by powerful ocean waves passing by above.  San Clemente Island, Phyllospadix

Abstract surfgrass in motion, underwater movement and blur, San Clemente Island, California.

Red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater.  The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

A school of blacksmith swims over a red gorgonian growing on a rocky reef. California.

Sunrise at San Clemente Island, south end showing China Hat (Balanced Rock) and Pyramid Head, near Pyramid Cove, storm clouds. Panoramic photo

Panoramic Photo of San Clemente Island, Sunrise, Pyramid Head

Red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater.  The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

Lophogorgia chilensis, red gorgonian, grows below a towering forest of giant kelp, San Clemente Island, California.

Kelp fronds and pneumatocysts.  Pneumatocysts, gas-filled bladders, float the kelp plant off the ocean bottom toward the surface and sunlight, where the leaf-like blades and stipes of the kelp plant grow fastest.  Giant kelp can grow up to 2' in a single day given optimal conditions.  Epic submarine forests of kelp grow throughout California's Southern Channel Islands, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Kelp Fronds And Pneumatocysts

Garibaldi and California golden gorgonian on underwater rocky reef, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Hypsypops rubicundus, Muricea californica

California golden gorgonian and Garibaldi, San Clemente Island

Garibaldi and red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Hypsypops rubicundus,  Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

Garibaldi and Red Gorgonian, San Clemente Island, Underwater

California golden gorgonian on underwater rocky reef below kelp forest, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Muricea californica

California golden gorgonian in giant kelp forest, San Clemente Island

Giant kelp, blades, stipes and pneumatocysts, backlit by the sun in shallow water, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera

A leopard shark, swimming through the shallows waters of a California reef, underwater, Cystoseira osmundacea marine algae growing on rocky reef, Triakis semifasciata, Cystoseira osmundacea, San Clemente Island

Leopard shark swimming through the shallows, San Clemente Island

Boat Horizon above kelp forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

A boat anchored in a giant kelp forest

Garibaldi swimming through southern sea palm, San Clemente Island, Hypsypops rubicundus, Eisenia arborea

Garibaldi and Southern Sea Palm, San Clemente Island

California golden gorgonian, Garibaldi and Sheephead wrasse fishes on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Semicossyphus pulcher, Hypsypops rubicundus, Muricea californica, San Clemente Island

Sheephead Wrasse, Garibaldi and California golden gorgonian

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

Stephanocystis dioica and Surfgrass underwater

California golden gorgonian and small juvenile sheephead fishes on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater.  The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep.  Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Muricea californica, Semicossyphus pulcher, San Clemente Island

California golden gorgonian and small juvenile sheephead fishes on rocky reef. Muricea californica and Semicossyphus pulcher, San Clemente Island, California.

Giant kelp plants lean over in ocean currents, underwater.  Individual kelp plants grow from the rocky reef, to which they are attached, up to the ocean surface and form a vibrant community in which fishes, mammals and invertebrates thrive, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Giant kelp plants lean over in ocean currents

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 giant kelp forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island, California.

Red gorgonian on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater.  The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Lophogorgia chilensis, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

A red gorgonian reaches out in the ocean current to grasp small particles of food. Kelp forest, California.

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

Kelp beds adorn the coastline of San Clemente Island, aerial photograph, Macrocystis pyrifera

Aerial photo of thick giant kelp forests along the coast of San Clemente Island

Jack mackerel and kelp, Trachurus symmetricus, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Pacific Jack Mackerel

Kelp canopy, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Giant Kelp

Garibaldi, Hypsypops rubicundus, San Clemente Island

Garibaldi

Jack mackerel schooling in kelp, Trachurus symmetricus, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Pacific Jack Mackerel

Garibaldi in kelp forest, Hypsypops rubicundus, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Garibaldi

California sea lion, Zalophus californianus, San Clemente Island

California Sea Lion

Divers and kelp forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Giant Kelp

Diver amid kelp forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

SCUBA diver swimming through a giant kelp forest, San Clemente Island.

Kelp forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Beautiful giant kelp forest, Macrocystis, San Clemente Island

Garibaldi swimming over surfgrass in kelp forest, Hypsypops rubicundus, Phyllospadix, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Garibaldi In Kelp Forest

Diver in kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Giant Kelp

Diver and red gorgonian, Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

Red Gorgonian

California Golden gorgonian polyps.  The golden gorgonian is a colonial organism composed of thousands of tiny polyps. Each polyp secretes calcium which accumulates to form the structure of the colony. The fan-shaped gorgonian is oriented perpendicular to prevailing ocean currents to better enable to filter-feeding polyps to capture passing plankton and detritus passing by, Muricea californica, San Clemente Island

California Golden gorgonian polyps, Muricea californica, Catalina.

California Golden gorgonian in kelp forest, Muricea californica, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Two California Golden gorgonians (Muricea californica) in kelp forest (Macrocystis pyrifera), San Clemente Island, California.

Red gorgonian, polyp detail, Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

Red Gorgonian

Kelp fronds grow upward from the reef below to reach the ocean surface and spread out to form a living canopy, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Giant Kelp

A freediving spearfisherman glides quietly through the kelp forest in search of game fish to hunt.  The most skilled spearfishermen forego the use of SCUBA, which is noisy underwater and scares away fish.  Instead, they practice breathhold techniques to move silently through the water.  San Clemente Island

Freediving spearfisherman, San Clemente Island, California.

San Clemente Island, aerial photo, steep cliffs and mountainous terrain on the south eastern shore of the island

San Clemente Island, Aerial Photo

Ghost lobster trap, abandoned lobster trap, San Clemente Island

Ghost Lobster Trap, San Clemente Island

Fish hiding in invasive sargassum, Sargassum horneri, San Clemente Island, Sargassum horneri

Fish Hiding In Invasive Sargassum

Blacksmith Chromis and California golden gorgonian on underwater rocky reef, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Chromis punctipinnis, Muricea californica

Blacksmith Chromis And California Golden Gorgonian, San Clemente Island

California golden gorgonian and small juvenile sheephead fishes on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Semicossyphus pulcher, San Clemente Island

Juvenile Sheephead And California Golden Gorgonian

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

Southern Sea Palms, a type of marine algae

Southern sea palm (yellow) and surf grass (green), shallow water, San Clemente Island, Eisenia arborea, Phyllospadix

Surfgrass and Southern Sea Palms, Rocky Reefs, San Clemente Island

Kelp fronds and pneumatocysts. Pneumatocysts, gas-filled bladders, float the kelp plant off the ocean bottom toward the surface and sunlight, where the leaf-like blades and stipes of the kelp plant grow fastest. Giant kelp can grow up to 2' in a single day given optimal conditions. Epic submarine forests of kelp grow throughout California's Southern Channel Islands, San Clemente Island

Macrocystis Kelp Fronds And Pneumatocysts

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

Asparagopsis Taxiformis, Red Marine Algae

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

Phyllospadix surfgrass

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

California golden gorgonian on underwater rocky reef below kelp forest, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, San Clemente Island. The golden gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Muricea californica

California Golden Gorgonian, Muricea Californica

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

Southern Sea Palm, Palm Kelp

Garibaldi and various marine algae, San Clemente Island, Hypsypops rubicundus

Garibaldi And Marine Algae

Red gorgonian (left) and California golden gorgonian (right) on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater.  Gorgonians are filter-feeding temperate colonial species that live on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep.  Each individual polyp is a distinct animal, together they secrete calcium that forms the structure of the colony. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

Red gorgonian (left) and California golden gorgonian (right) on rocky reef

A giant kelpfish swims over Southern sea palms and a kelp-covered reef, mimicing the color and pattern of the kelp leaves perfectly, camoflage, Heterostichus rostratus, San Clemente Island

A giant kelpfish swims over Southern sea palms

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

Feather boa kelp and other marine algae cover the rocky reef.

California bat ray, laying on sandy ocean bottom amid kelp and rocky reef, Myliobatis californica, San Clemente Island

California Bat Ray

Red gorgonians and California golden gorgonians on rocky reef, below kelp forest, underwater. The red gorgonian is a filter-feeding temperate colonial species that lives on the rocky bottom at depths between 50 to 200 feet deep. Gorgonians are oriented at right angles to prevailing water currents to capture plankton drifting by, Chromis punctipinnis, Muricea californica, Lophogorgia chilensis, San Clemente Island

Red and Golden Gorgonians underwater

China Hat Point, San Clemente Island, sunrise

China Hat Point

Giant kelpfish in kelp, Heterostichus rostratus, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Giant Kelpfish

Panoramic photo of San Clemente Island, southern end from China Hat Point (aka, Balanced Rock, right) along the length of Pyramid Cove, sunrise

Panoramic photo of San Clemente Island at Pyramid Cove, sunrise. California.