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.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Laguna Beach Sea Star

A sea star (no longer called starfish) in Fisherman's Cove, Laguna Beach, California.  You can see these while snorkeling, or tide pooling (at low tide).  They generally hang out on the piles of mussels.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Laguna Beach Sea Anemone

A sea anemone just off the shore at Fisherman's Cove, Laguna Beach, California.  I think it is a giant green sea anemone, but I'm not positive.  You can see many of these snorkeling on the right side of the beach or in tide pools all over the area.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lake Campground and Jackson Lake Review

A typical campsite at Lake Campground.

Just back from Lake Campground California, west of Wrightwood in the San Gabriel Mountains in the Angeles National Forest.  It looks like the campground is remote, but its really not, with other campgrounds right around it and a lodge touching the east side, it is also fairly close to the road (for this reason I would argue the south side campsites are better with the exception of the one next to the toilet).  There are 8 well spaced out campsites, which on summer weekends are 100% full, there are two pit toilets, one latch didn't work, but they were clean.  There are probably four water faucets.  The campsites are typical fire ring, bear box and some semi-flat land to pitch a couple tents.  Parking might be rough if you have two cars depending on the site, but the road isn't that far at all.  The campsite host was great and actually is based in the next campsite over, Mountain Oak.

The campground is about a quarter mile walk from Jackson Lake, shown below.  Jackson Lake is a small lake, not really suitable for anything but swimming and fishing.  Even kayaking would probably get old quick.  There is a rope swing and it would probably be fun to go in after a day of hiking and then just walk back to the campground.  It was pretty busy on the weekend.

Anyway, June is a nice time of year to visit the area, the weather was great, a little windy, but good temperature.  It is a surprisingly close 75 minutes from orange county with no traffic, twice that on a Friday night.

The small beach at Jackson Lake, CA. 

A view of pretty much the entire lake.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Huntington CA Dog Beach

Huntington Dog Beach is right off the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in Huntington Beach California.  The whole point of the beach is your dog can run around off leash.  It is pretty much the only decent beach in the LA / Orange County area you can do this.  A few tips:
  • Bring quarters for parking (currently $1.50 an hour, so don't bring 4 quarters and think you're good)
  • Come early if you want to park close (this means before 10) otherwise be prepared to park 1+ miles away
  • There are two lots, but they fill up fast and people hover for spots creating a long line
  • The best thing is to throw your bike / scooter / skateboard in back of your car, drop your kids off then find parking wherever and ride to meet up
  • There are only two bathrooms, which usually have 4-5 people in line, so plan ahead
  • If you don't have a dog go to the main beach (Huntington beach...), which has more bathrooms, more parking, and shops close by
  • If you get tar on you, it comes off with nail polish remover, it won't just wash off

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Laguna Beach

This picture is the beach off brook street.

A few tips:

  • Bring quarters for parking, meter parking is usually closer and cheaper than lot parking
  • Drop everyone off at the beach with all the stuff then troll for parking by yourself
  • Staying in town is not necessary, you can save $400 a night by staying someplace 15 minutes away
  • If you want to stay in the water for a while, you'll need probably want a wet shirt
  • The water was surprisingly clear, visibility was good
  • Getting out on the water by kayak or SUP is worth it
  • Lots of great places to eat within walking distance (unlike say some parts of Huntington Beach)
  • High tide goes quite a bit up the beach, so if you plan to stay for a while, park your stuff high up