The Primary Colors of Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island

I managed to make four successful trips to Farnsworth Banks this year, with one more planned in a few weeks.  I managed to take many photos, including a few that I was happy with.  The top of Farnsworth Banks lies at a depth of about 60′, with most of the stuff of interest being considerably deeper.  My profiles at Farnsworth Banks typically reach 90-100′, which even if diving Nitrox does not leave a lot of bottom time. So I’m happy if I manage to make 3-5 good images on a dive.  My personal favorite underwater composition is the “reefscape”, for two reasons.  First, the main reason I dive at all is for the scenery — it is so foreign to what we experience above water, and often so beautiful, that I simply want to depict that scenery in a way that non-divers can appreciate.  Second, most scenery does not really move much underwater which means I have some time to get the photo exposed and composed well.

At Farnsworth Banks, the dominant reef theme is that of purple hydrocoral (Stylaster californicus), which is infrequently found in California and generally only in deep, cold water. Farnsworth offers fantastic displays of purple hydrocoral at relatively accessible depths.

Purple hydrocoral  Stylaster californicus, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island, California, Allopora californica, Stylaster californicus

Purple hydrocoral Stylaster californicus, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island, California.
Image ID: 37238
Species: Hydrocoral, Allopora californica, Stylaster californicus
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

Purple hydrocoral  Stylaster californicus, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island, California, Allopora californica, Stylaster californicus

Purple hydrocoral Stylaster californicus, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island, California.
Image ID: 37268
Species: Hydrocoral, Allopora californica, Stylaster californicus
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

After a couple dives, I realized the more compelling theme was to focus on the primary colors found at Farnsworth. In addition to purple hydrocoral, one can find richly-colored red gorgonians (Leptogorgia chilensis) occupying points on the reef where currents are strongest, catching passing plankton in its sticky polyps.  In contract, two species of zoanthid are found at Farnsworth, each providing a brilliant yellow punctuation in the deep, dark scene: the occasional Savalia lucifica found encrusting gorgonians, and large swaths of Epizoanthus giveni that in one place have overtaken so much reef as to be named the Yellow Wall.  Lately I have been spending my time trying to find compositions that include two or all three of these colors, and some examples are below.  Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Red gorgonian Leptogorgia chilensis, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island, California, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis

Red gorgonian Leptogorgia chilensis, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island, California.
Image ID: 37224
Species: Red gorgonian, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

Red gorgonian, California golden gorgonian, purple hydrocoral, on rocky reef, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island, Allopora californica, Stylaster californicus

Red gorgonian, California golden gorgonian, purple hydrocoral, on rocky reef, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island.
Image ID: 37245
Species: Hydrocoral, Allopora californica, Stylaster californicus
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

Red gorgonian (Lophogorgia chilensis) on Farnsworth Banks reef, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis, Catalina Island

Red gorgonian (Lophogorgia chilensis) on Farnsworth Banks reef.
Image ID: 37182
Species: Red gorgonian, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

Purple hydrocoral  Stylaster californicus and yellow zoanthid anemone Epizoanthus giveni, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island, Allopora californica, Stylaster californicus, Epizoanthus giveni

Purple hydrocoral Stylaster californicus and yellow zoanthid anemone Epizoanthus giveni, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island.
Image ID: 37216
Species: Hydrocoral, Givens Zoanthid, Allopora californica, Stylaster californicus, Epizoanthus giveni
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

Red gorgonian Leptogorgia chilensis, purple hydrocoral Stylaster californicus, and yellow zoanthid anemone Epizoanthus giveni, at Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis, Allopora californica, Stylaster californicus, Epizoanthus giveni

Red gorgonian Leptogorgia chilensis, purple hydrocoral Stylaster californicus, and yellow zoanthid anemone Epizoanthus giveni, at Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island.
Image ID: 37251
Species: Red gorgonian, Hydrocoral, Givens Zoanthid, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis, Allopora californica, Stylaster californicus, Epizoanthus giveni
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

The rare yellow zoanthid anemone Epizoanthus giveni, in large aggregations on the Yellow Wall at Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island, Epizoanthus giveni

The rare yellow zoanthid anemone Epizoanthus giveni, in large aggregations on the Yellow Wall at Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island.
Image ID: 37270
Species: Givens Zoanthid, Epizoanthus giveni
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

Red gorgonian Leptogorgia chilensis. The lower sea fan has its polyps retracted while the upper sea fan has all of its polyps extended into the current. Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island, California, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis

Red gorgonian Leptogorgia chilensis. The lower sea fan has its polyps retracted while the upper sea fan has all of its polyps extended into the current. Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island, California.
Image ID: 37266
Species: Red gorgonian, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

Red gorgonian with polyps retracted, Leptogorgia chilensis, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island, California, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis

Red gorgonian with polyps retracted, Leptogorgia chilensis, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island, California.
Image ID: 37263
Species: Red gorgonian, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

Garibaldi maintains a patch of orange algae (just in front of the fish) to entice a female to lay a clutch of eggs, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island

Garibaldi maintains a patch of orange algae (just in front of the fish) to entice a female to lay a clutch of eggs, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island.
Image ID: 37255
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

Gorgonian (yellow) that has been parasitized by zoanthid anemone (Savalia lucifica), and red gorgonian (Lophogorgia chilensis), Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island, Parazoanthus lucificum, Savalia lucifica, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis

Gorgonian (yellow) that has been parasitized by zoanthid anemone (Savalia lucifica), and red gorgonian (Lophogorgia chilensis), Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island.
Image ID: 37185
Species: Luminescent parazoanthid, Zoanthid anemone, Red gorgonian, Parazoanthus lucificum, Savalia lucifica, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

Red gorgonian Leptogorgia chilensis with yellow zoanthid anemone Epizoanthis giveni, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island, California, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis, Epizoanthus giveni

Red gorgonian Leptogorgia chilensis with yellow zoanthid anemone Epizoanthis giveni, Farnsworth Banks, Catalina Island, California.
Image ID: 37269
Species: Red gorgonian, Givens Zoanthid, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis, Epizoanthus giveni
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA

Red gorgonian (Lophogorgia chilensis) rises above fields of purple hydrocoral (Stylaster californicus, Allopora californica) on Farnsworth Bank, Catalina Island, Allopora californica, Stylaster californicus, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis

Red gorgonian (Lophogorgia chilensis) rises above fields of purple hydrocoral (Stylaster californicus, Allopora californica) on Farnsworth Bank, Catalina Island.
Image ID: 37179
Species: Hydrocoral, Red gorgonian, Allopora californica, Stylaster californicus, Leptogorgia chilensis, Lophogorgia chilensis
Location: Catalina Island, California, USA