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.
Species: California golden gorgonian, Muricea californica, Semicossyphus pulcher
Location: San Clemente Island, California
Image ID: 23421
A Pacific harbor seal pup hauls out on a sandy beach. This group of harbor seals, which has formed a breeding colony at a small but popular beach near San Diego, is at the center of considerable controversy. While harbor seals are protected from harassment by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and other legislation, local interests would like to see the seals leave so that people can resume using the beach.
Species: Pacific harbor seal, Phoca vitulina richardsi
Location: La Jolla, California
Image ID: 02162