Photo of a Giant Kelp Forest with Clean Blue Water

By December 15, 2007July 15th, 2021California, San Clemente Island, Underwater Photography

I used to do an awful lot of diving at San Clemente Island, primarily to spend my time hovering in the middle of the water column amidst a thick forest of kelp. San Clemente Island combines the most magnificent kelp forests (Macrocystis pyrifera) in the world with pretty clean water. The clean water is the key for good photography. Kelp forests flourish in temperate water which is often loaded with plankton, nutrients and other bio-miscellanea, good things for fostering life but a detriment to making photographs. I found that San Clemente Island had consistently cleaner, bluer water than any other kelp forest location I ever dove, including the Channel Islands further north. I would spend many weekends diving from the Boat Horizon at San Clemente Island, shooting wide photos while swimming through the kelp, looking for the perfect kelp forest photograph. Contrary to the saying Perfect is the enemy of Good, I never did find that perfect kelp forest photo but I did manage to make quite a few pretty good ones in the process.

Kelp forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Kelp forest.
Image ID: 02409
Species: Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA

About Phil Colla

I am a natural history photographer. I enjoy making compelling images in the ocean, on land, and in the air. I have maintained the Natural History Photography blog since 2005 and my searchable Natural History Photography Library since 1997. Here are some tear sheets and behind the scenes views. Thanks for looking!