Post has attachment
You know the feeling: “I shouldn’t have had that extra piece of cake!”  Well, if cognitively possible, this Giant Sea Star (Pisaster giganteus) is probably having the same thought about some limpet, bivalve, gastropod or barnacle.

At first I thought it actually might be sick, as Sea Star Wasting Syndrome (which has been a problem, but appears to be improving in the Monterey Bay region) affects a Sea Star’s ability to regulate its water vascular system. Checking with the experts at the +Monterey Bay Aquarium, however, I got the opinion that it was more likely that this Giant Sea Star is simply in a dramatic process of ingestion/digestion.
 
Between its legs, in the front (with another also slightly visible in the back), is a Salted Nudibranch (Doriopsilla albopunctata). Also known as a type of “Sea Lemon,” this kind has a unique feature, but that will be the subject of another post!
 
This extra giant Giant Sea Star was observed at roughly 56 feet (~17 m) below the surface of Monterey Bay in California while diving in 52 F (~11 C) water at the Aquarium Reef dive site on May 6, 2016.

#scuba #scubadiving #montereybay #monterey #naturephotography #underwaterphotography #giant #sea #star #pisaster #giganteus #salted #nudibranch #doriopsilla #albopunctata #lemon  
Photo

Post has attachment
I was under the impression that it had been charred and disfigured in a funeral pyre on the Moon of Endor only to be obtained some 30 years later and used by Kylo Ren in his Dark Side wannabee conversations.  So, imagine my surprise to encounter it at the Aquarium Reef dive site roughly 56 feet (~17 m) below the surface of Monterey Bay in California. On the remote chance that it is not actually Darth Vader’s helmet and perhaps, instead, some decrepit shell of a Red Turban Snail (Pomaulax gibberosa), I’m going to put it to a vote.

#scuba #montereybay #kyloren #darthvader #helmet #endor #starwars #pomaulax #gibberosa #red #turban #snail
-
votes visible to Public
Poll option image
Pomaulax gibberosa Shell Fragment
What rate did you ascend from that dive?
40%
Darth Vader’s Helmet
48%
Pomaulax gibberosa Shell Fragment
12%
What rate did you ascend from that dive?

Post has attachment
Reaching out are the pinkish-orange and yellow accented tentacles of this White-spotted Rose Anemone (Urticina lofotensis). However, its eponymous white spots can’t be seen. That’s because those spots appear on the sides of the anemone’s (hidden in this view) column, the cylindrical part of the anatomy that, at one end, supports the oral disk and tentacles and, at the other, ends in the pedal disk that attaches to the rock.
 
It is a large anemone, and the column can have a diameter as large as 10 cm (~4 in), and that doesn’t include the full reach of its tentacles that would roughly double that diameter.
 
This fine creature was seen while scuba diving on the morning of May 6, 2016 at the Eric’s Pinnacle dive site, roughly 40 ft (~12 m) below the surface of Monterey Bay in California.

#scuba #scubadiving #underwaterphotography #naturephotography #monterey #montereybay #white #spotted #rose #anemone #urticina #lofotensis #california  
Photo

Post has attachment
Bright, sparkling clear water: not a description I’d associate with scuba diving in Monterey Bay. Add in the challenge of illuminating and focusing on a moving target, and that helps explain why I have relatively few good photographs of fish from Monterey.
 
However, I got lucky when I noticed this nearby Copper Rockfish (Sebastes caurinus) with its path blocked by a large rock (out of frame, to the left of the picture). Floating down to get close to it, I was able to get off this one shot before it went on its way. The colors of the fish are true, being well illuminated by the strobe, but the light did not sufficiently reach the background which appears with an unnatural green hue.
 
On my approach, the fish extended its dorsal fin. While this made for a better picture, I suspect that it was not concerned about its appearance on social media: rather it was establishing a defensive posture, spreading the spines within that fin: spines that can deliver a mild venom.
 
The fish was roughly 10 in (~25 cm) in length. They have been found to grow to almost 2.5x times that size (26 in / ~ 66 cm) and can live as long as 50 years. That’s assuming they are not caught and served up on a plate, as they are a significant target for commercial fishing.
 
A bit of trivia about its name: the Genus Sebastes is from the Greek meaning “venerable”, and it shared by many species of Rockfish.  You might infer that the Latin species name caurinus is somehow related to the copper color, but it actual is related to the Latin word for “northwestern”, with the first of these fish being taken off of Sitka, Alaska (in the northwestern region of North America: see http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/Rockfish-Game/description/copper.htm)
 
This Copper Rockfish was observed at roughly 56 feet (~17 m) below the surface of Monterey Bay in California while diving in 52 F (~11 C) water at the Aquarium Reef dive site on May 6, 2016.

#underwaterphotography #naturephotography #fish #monterey #montereybay #copper #rockfish #sebastes #caurinus #venerable #northwestern #alaska #sitka  
Photo

Post has attachment
I didn’t bring a ruler with me, but based on the normal expected and relative size of the Brown Cup Coral (Paracyathus stearnsi) visible in the upper left of the photo, I estimate this Red Turban Snail (Pomaulax gibberosa) to be roughly 6 cm (~2.4 inches) in diameter, which is toward the larger end of the range for this marine gastropod mollusk.
 
The shell has a delightful texture that creates the illusion that it is composed from a spiral of braided rope. The shell’s color is actually reddish-brown, but this obscured by a variety of plants and animals that have made their home on the shell’s surface.
 
The most obvious fouling of the shell is the pink Encrusting Coralline Algae on the top half of the shell. This is a type of red algae (Phylum Rhodophyta) that is impregnated with calcium carbonate (CaCO3), contributing to both the light pink color and the white margins of the algae.
 
If you zoom in on the left side of the snail, in the pink region, you’ll see two pink and somewhat ellipsoidal shaped creatures: one is near the bottom boundary of the pink algae and the other closer to the shell’s apex.  Both of these, I believe, are small Chitons, an animal known to thrive on coralline algae.
 
Also, while zoomed in, you can observe fine wisps extending from the shell in contrast with the dark background behind it. I believe these are the legs of small Barnacles, sweeping the water for nutrients. The snail provides a mobile feeding platform for these otherwise sedentary animals.
 
This Red Turban was observed at roughly 56 feet (~17 m) below the surface of Monterey Bay in California while diving in 52 F (~11 C) water at the Aquarium Reef dive site on May 6, 2016.

#underwaterphotography #naturephotography #scuba #scubadiving #macrophotography #brown #cup #coral #paracyathus #stearnsi #red #turban #snail #pomaulax #gibberosa #encrusting #coralline #algae #chiton #barnacle #montereybay #monterey  
Photo

Post has attachment
The Chestnut Cowrie (Neobernaya spadicea) is a marine gastropod mollusk with a very smooth and beautiful shell.  The reddish-brown accent color, on the shell’s white base, is the origin of the “Chestnut” in its common name.
 
Like all shelled mollusks it has a mantle, an organ that, from the inside, secretes the material that forms the shell. The Chestnut Cowrie oftentimes will extend the mantle through the narrow slit at the shell’s bottom and partially cover the outer shell surface. This can be seen in this photo as the orange-brown tissue around the periphery of the shell that is studded with dark marks that look like kiwi seeds.
 
Just to the left of the mantle in the photo is a spongy white material: this is the foot. It also has a pair of orange tentacles, one of which is slightly visible extending from the front of the shell (at the top of the picture).
 
This Chestnut Cowrie was about 2 inches (~5 cm)  long and was observed at roughly 56 feet (~17 m) below the surface of Monterey Bay in California while diving in 52 F (~11 C) water at the Aquarium Reef dive site on May 6, 2016.


#underwaterphotography #naturephotography #scuba #scubadiving #chestnut #cowrie #cowry #montereybay #Neobernaya #spadicea #marine #gastropod #mollusk #porcelain  
Photo

Post has attachment
Clinging to a rock face covered in a variety Red Seaweed (Phylum Rhodophyta), is a Pacific Blood Star (Henricia leviuscula) extending its slender arms.

Nearby, below and to the right, we see two Blue Top Snails (Calliostoma ligatum). The common name for these snails is a trifle confusing as, with their spiral pattern of brown and orange stripes, they don’t look remotely blue; but, if the outer layer of their shells were worn off, as sometimes happens, it would reveal the iridescent blue color found in the inner shell layer.

Further diagonally down the rock we see a portion of a buff colored Bat Star (Patiria miniata), reportedly the most ubiquitous type of seastar in the Monterey region.

This scene was observed while scuba diving on the morning of May 6, 2016 at the Eric’s Pinnacle dive site, roughly 40 ft (~12 m) below the surface of Monterey Bay in California.

#underwaterphotography #naturephotography #scuba #scubadiving #monterey #montereybay #seastar #seaweed #Rhodophyta #pacific #blood #star #henricia #leviuscula #blue #top #snail #calliostoma #ligatum #bat #patiria #miniata  
Photo

Post has attachment
Somewhere well-hidden below this mass of branching orange tentacles is the tubular body of an Orange Sea Cucumber (Cucumaria miniata). The tentacles are extensions from 10 separate feeding arms that are radially distributed around the creature’s mouth. These arms are used to pull plankton and detritus into the mouth from the surrounding water.

This one was observed at roughly 56 feet (~17 m) below the surface of Monterey Bay in California while diving in 52 F (~11 C) water at the Aquarium Reef dive site on May 6, 2016.

#underwaterphotography #scuba #scubadiving #monterey #montereybay #seacucumber #sea #cucumber #orange
#cucumaria #miniata   
Photo

Post has attachment
If the advertising folks at +Dunkin' Donuts  ever adopt a Sea Star to be their marine-mascot, I think this Bat Star (Patiria miniata) would have to be it! Bat Stars appear in some of my other photo and video posts, which is not surprising since they are reportedly the most abundant Sea Star in the Monterey region. They are known to appear in a wide variety of colors but this one, with its simultaneous mixture of orange, reddish-purple, and cream patches, is the most boldly colored one I’ve observed. It’s worth zooming in on the photo to appreciate the complex textures on the surface of the arms. And while you’re zoomed in, take some time to appreciate the lovely orange Orange Cup Coral (Balanophyllia elegans) with its transparent tentacles, just to the left of the Bat Star.
 
As seen while scuba diving at the Aquarium Wall dive site of Monterey Bay in California on November 9, 2014.

#underwaterphotography #naturephotography
#coral #seastar #bat #star #dunkin #donuts #patiria #miniata #balanophyllia #elegans #montereybay #scuba #scubadiving #monterey  
Photo

Post has attachment
Illuminated from above and to the right, this Giant Keyhole Limpet (Megathura crenulata) casts a large shadow to the lower left of the photo, making its boundaries difficult to discern.  However, even if you could see the full, roughly oval, extent of its body, the anatomy of the creature is, visually, still a bit difficult to understand.
 
The Giant Keyhole Limpet is a type of Gastropod, possessing a shell that grows in length in the range of 60 - 132 mm (~2.4 - 5.2 in) along the longest axis. Under the shell, as with all Gastropods, is a foot. This foot is yellow-brownish on the underside, but the rest of the animal’s soft parts are usually black (although sometimes mottled).
 
From what you see here, you might think that the shell is also black, but it is actually a light yellowish-orange, with only a small portion of it exposed (as seen in the center of this photo, the visible patch being somewhat triangular and curved to the left). The black that you see is actually the limpet’s mantle, extending from the soft body under the shell, and wrapping around the shell’s exterior almost all the way to the top.
 
At the top, there is a hole in the shell, the explanation for the ‘Keyhole’ in its name; without the mantle, the shell looks somewhat like a gently pitched volcano. If you zoom in, you’ll see more black adjacent to the left curvature of the exposed shell --- there you are actually seeing through the hole to the black body that’s inside the shell rather than seeing the portion of the black mantel that extends around the exterior
 
This particular Giant Keyhole Limpet was seen crawling up a rock adjacent to (from top to bottom, on the right of the limpet) what appears to be a patch of Bryozoan (possibly Lagenicella punctulata), a Solitary Cup Coral (Paracyathus stearnsi), and some Strawberry Anemones (Corynactis californica). Incidentally, most of the bright white specks in the photo are not on the surface of the limpet, but are just backscatter, light reflected off particles floating in the water.
 
This scene was observed while scuba diving at the Eric’s Pinnacle dive site of Monterey Bay in California on November 9th, 2014.


#scuba #scubadiving #naturephotography #underwaterphotography #giant #keyhole #limpet #bryozoan #lagenicella #punctulata #solitary #cup #coral #paracyathus #stearnsi #strawberry #anemone #corynactis #californica #backscatter #megathura #crenulata #gastropod #monterey #bay  
Photo
Wait while more posts are being loaded