Sunday, August 25, 2013

Kelp Bass - La Jolla Shores

I saw these Kelp Bass today in La Jolla Shores San Diego while snorkeling near the Marine Room.  These white belly and mottled black and brown top bass are common in Southern California and I've seen them in sea grass and kelp.  They will sometimes congregate around floating pieces of kelp.  They seem to mostly eat small crustaceans off of the kelp.  They will sit pretty still and let you get close enough for a good picture if you swim slowly.

I took these pictures with the Panasonic Lumix TS4 12.1 TOUGH Waterproof Digital Camera  which I feel is currently the best waterproof point and shoot camera you can now buy.  Panasonic also makes a cheaper camera (model TS20) that it is hard to tell based on the specifications that it is significantly different, but the underwater picture quality is much worse.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lake Miramar, San Diego CA

Lake Miramar or Miramar Reservoir (top picture) (location) is in the north eastern portion of the city.  It is popular for jogging, walking and biking since it has a 5 mile trail around it with very few (if any) cars.  There is also a dirt path you can mountain bike around the lake on.  You can also kayak, boat (there is a boat launch), or fish, but it is less popular for those activities.  The lake generally gets windy in the afternoons, but is relatively cool (70s or 80s).  You may see typical canyon animals, squirrels, lizards, rattlesnake, rabbits, maybe a coyote.  A portion of the lake is blocked off from entry.  The view from the dam is good (bottom picture).  Entry and parking are free, fishing requires a license.  Gates close at 8, so don't get trapped inside the parking lot.  Definitely a local destination and not something to go out of your way for if you're out of town.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

La Jolla, San Diego, CA

La Jolla is one of the most popular spots in San Diego and it is easy to see why.  This part of the ocean is calmer or cleaner than other beaches, close to downtown and you can park not too far from a beach.  Kayaking, diving, snorkeling, surfing, and paddle boarding are all popular, or you can just walk along the coast and watch the sea lions.  Get there really early on the weekends and make a day of it.  Avoid San Diego in May and June if you're vacationing, you risk showing up on a stretch of June gloom and not seeing the sun for a whole week.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Red Sea Urchin - Laguna Beach

This is a red sea urchin crammed into the rocks at Diver's Cove in Laguna Beach California.  Apparently they can live 50+ years.  Red sea urchins are common and if you are scuba diving or snorkeling you are likely to see one every time you go out.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sea Hares - Laguna Beach

I saw these two sea hares while snorkeling off Laguna Beach, Diver's Cove this weekend.  They live about a year and eat algae.  If you are looking you can see a sea hare about every time you go snorkeling in the Laguna Beach area.

Amazon offers a Sea Hare Peel and Stick Wall Decal for those really love sea hares.  Oddly the item has no reviews yet.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Laguna Beach Stonefish

I think this is a stonefish, which I saw while snorkeling outside of Crescent Beach near Seal Rock.  They can quickly change colors depending on what they are sitting on.  Apparently they are the most venomous fish in the world, however they are not usually deadly, I think I'll stay far away from them from now on.  Fortunately they don't seem to be a problem unless you step on them.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Laguna Beach Shore Crab

These shore crabs are common to the southern California area and you can see them all over if you look closely while tide pooling.  I saw this one at Shaw's Cove.  The differences between the shore crab and kelp crab are interesting..

I use the Panasonic Lumix TS4 12.1 TOUGH Waterproof Digital Camera for all of the underwater and beach shots on this blog.  It is a decent camera, you can see the camera's main flaw in the picture above, when coming out of the water, it is hard to clear the lens of water, particularly if you and all of your stuff is soaking wet.  All of the underwater cameras including the Gopro seem to have this problem at this time, so not much you can do about it.  

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Laguna Beach Octopus

After never seeing an octopus while snorkeling at Laguna Beach, I saw two in one day.  One at Fisherman's Cove and one at Shaw's Cove.  The picture is not very good, but taking pictures of these is challenging.  I can not tell what kind of octopus it is.

I think a lot of people are afraid of going out in the CA ocean because it is "cold".  A lot of this is in your head, people swim in the ocean here all year wearing only a bathing suit.  I have been snorkeling all winter and spring using the O'Neill Wetsuit Reactor 3/2mm Full Suit, it is among the cheapest ones you can buy and it is working just fine for me.  I get at least 40 minutes in the water before I get cold.  The water temperature has been between 55 and 62 this winter and spring.  You will probably need a thicker suit for scuba diving in the winter.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is undoubtedly a world class zoo.  However, if you live in a city with a zoo, I would probably not visit the San Diego Zoo if vacationing here unless you really like pandas.  Your zoo probably has 75% of the same animals and you probably don't care about the rest, unless they're pandas.  If you do go and live in Southern California, buy the membership, it is reasonable and will save you money if you have guests.

There is no clear path to walk the entire zoo in a day, you have to double back at some point.  Also the map only shows a select few of the animals, there are many more not shown.  The aerial tram is useful to get from one side of park to the other, the far side generally has a long line in the afternoon.  The bus tour can have a long wait if you don't catch it early, I wouldn't spend 30 minutes in line, you have to walk through most of it anyway.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Laguna Beach

I like this picture of the Laguna Beach coastline.  I forgot to turn off the camera's underwater mode so it has a red tint.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Laguna Beach Pacific Harbor Seal

You can almost always Pacific Harbor Seals while roaming around the ocean in Laguna Beach, I do not see them often while snorkeling though.  However, if you really wanted to, you could probably just drive from beach to beach and then go snorkeling or diving near where you saw a seal on land.  I would suggest starting north Laguna Beach near Crystal Cove.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Laguna Beach California Spiny Lobster

The Pacific ocean around Southern California is filled with California spiny lobsters.  However, they are hard to see while snorkeling, you will often see parts of them floating on the sea floor or beach.  They do hang out in rocky areas near shore.  They are much easier to see while scuba diving at night.  If you do find a place where they hide, they seem to stay there and you can find them again the next time out.  Laguna Beach is a no take zone for lobsters and fishing now.

Also in this picture is a juvenile Garibaldi with the iridescent blue spots, purple sea urchin, and I think an abalone of some type.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Laguna Beach Keyhole Limpet

The Keyhole Limpet can be found while snorkeling or scuba diving in California.  They are fairly common in Laguna Beach.  Keyhole Limpets are black sea snails with a small non-swirling (flat) shell which has a keyhole in the middle.  They outgrow their shell and I'm surprised they don't get eaten quickly.  I've seen them stay in the same place for weeks.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Laguna Beach Giant Kelpfish

You can see these long, green Giant Kelpfish (apparently not kelp fish) about every time you go snorkeling or diving at Laguna Beach, CA.  They are common in the California part of the Pacific Ocean, the word "giant" in their name is incorrect as they do not really grow more than 2 feet long.
The giant kelpfish in the top picture has an eye issue that is not normal.  The top picture was also taken with a cheaper camera on a day with less visibility than the picture on the bottom.  Unlike most other fish, kelpfish will let you get close to them since they are pretending to be leaves of kelp and darting off quickly will ruin the charade.  They can change colors and sometimes kelpfish are more red and white to blend in with the red and white plants on the sea floor.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Laguna Beach Kelp Snail

A kelp snail (Norrisia norrisia) on kelp at Laguna Beach, California.  The body of the snail is bright orange while the shell is usually off white or brown.  These are very common to see while snorkeling or diving, just look closely at kelp.  The kelp twists with the waves, so keep looking if you don't see any.  The snails supposedly crawl up the kelp during the day, then down the kelp at night.  From time to time you can see them while tide pooling, but not very often.  I've never seen them on washed up kelp either, so they must know to find new kelp when that happens.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Laguna Beach Garibaldi

If the visibility is good, you can see Garibaldi (the bright orange fish) every time you go snorkeling in Laguna Beach.  In some places (like here in Diver's Cove) they will swarm over to you because some divers feed them.  They are near the kelp and reefs in shallow water near shore and are obviously very easy to see.  They are illegal to fish in California.  You can't see any in this picture, but the young Garibaldi have iridescent blue spots, stick very close to the reef and are challenging to take pictures of.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Laguna Beach Round Ray

A round ray or round stingray seen while snorkeling off of Diver's Cove in Laguna Beach, California.  They are hard to find in Laguna Beach, but very common in the back bay Newport Beach and areas of Seal Beach.  Don't confuse them with the more common and larger bat ray.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Laguna Beach Pyrosome

pyrosome floating around in Laguna Beach, California.  These pink jellyfish like tubes are uncommon, but apparently 2012 was a banner year for pyrosomes.  They seem to wash up to shore occasionally,  so if you see a couple you'll see hundreds.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Laguna Beach Kelp Crab

A Southern Kelp Crab hanging on to the kelp in Diver's Cove, Laguna Beach, California.  Search the kelp and you're likely to find several, they seem to be more later in the year.  If the water visibility is poor, you can entertain yourself trying to find these.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Laguna Beach Bat Ray

A bat ray at Diver's Cove, Laguna Beach, California.  This is a smallish one, you usually find them on the edge of sandy areas on the sand.  They are very common in the area and you can find them just about every time you go out snorkeling or diving if you're looking for them.