Brown gorgonian and California golden gorgonian on underwater rocky reef below kelp forest, Catalina Island. Gorgonians are 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: Brown gorgonian, California golden gorgonian, Muricea californica, Muricea fruticosa
Location: Catalina Island, California
Image ID: 37292
A California sea lion plays with a piece of kelp, underwater at Santa Barbara Island. Santa Barbara Island, 38 miles off the coast of southern California, is part of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park. It is home to a large population of sea lions.
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Santa Barbara Island, California
Image ID: 23427
A great white shark is countershaded, with a dark gray dorsal color and light gray to white underside, making it more difficult for the shark's prey to see it as approaches from above or below in the water column. The particular undulations of the countershading line along its side, where gray meets white, is unique to each shark and helps researchers to identify individual sharks in capture-recapture studies. Guadalupe Island is host to a relatively large population of great white sharks who, through a history of video and photographs showing their countershading lines, are the subject of an ongoing study of shark behaviour, migration and population size.
Species: Great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico
Image ID: 19468