Monday morning dive

Underwater Musings

I wonder just what these fish think of me, this invader into their world, fumbling around in front of their perfection. Do they want me to leave, or stay as entertainment? I feel like an awkward clown in their world, with my camera and crab-like strobes, my abundance of gear and my loud explosions of air. Maybe it’s just a moment in their day or maybe they enjoy seeing me as much as I enjoy seeing them. Either way, I am honored to be in their presence.

 

 

From the book "Sea of Light"

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Quotes

That moment when this heart stops, almost as if it never existed. 

When every breath slows down,
almost as if you never needed a
single breath of air. 

 

 

From the book "Luminous Sea"

When time stops, almost as if
every second never mattered. 

In that moment, I’m infinite.
In that moment, I am immortal.
In that moment, I am finally alive.

Hafsa Shah

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Quotes

The ocean is a place of skin, rich outer membranes hiding thick juicy insides, laden with the soup of being.

Vera Nazarian

 

 

From the book "Luminous Sea"

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The story behind the shot

Swimming along to see the silvertip shark cleaning station, I spotted this curmudgeon relying on its camouflage to hide it from possible prey. Without any artificial light they are hard to find because they perfectly blend in with their surroundings. Luckily, I have a light and get to see it for what it really is. As I stop to get a shot, it moves, and as I follow it, it sticks its dorsal fins up just in case I’m thinking of laying a hand on it. Not a good idea since it would inject poisonous venom into my hand with its quills. A paralyzing pain and a never-to-be forgotten mistake if that were to happen. I know better, so I let its irritation with me make a better shot.
I’ll bet its prey would like to have a light
to see it as well as I do.

 

 

From the book "Blue Visions"

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Underwater Musings

While I’m swimming along, this jet makes me look like I’m standing still. Sea lions are a perfect torpedo shape, and can blast by at 30 miles per hour. They are the most graceful animals I have ever seen. To see the contortions and spins they perform is truly a wonder. They look like they are having so much fun, I can almost hear them laughing. It’s like the Cirque du Soleil on steroids. It makes my blood rush.  

 

 

From the book "Sea of Light"

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Quotes

There is nothing noble in being superior
to your fellow man; true nobility is
being superior to your former self.

Ernest Hemingway

 

 

From the book "Luminous Sea"

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The story behind the shot

Tiny creatures, you never know how they’re going to look in the final photograph. Not only are my eyes getting older, but there are a couple of inches of air space between my eye and the glass in my mask. There is also the camera housing viewing window, and then the camera inside the housing viewing screen, all of this distance from my one eye which is popping out of my head trying to see if this tiny crab is in focus and composed the way I want it to be in the frame. My day can be frustrating but perhaps not as bad as his bad hair day.

 

 

From the book "Blue Visions"

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Underwater Musings

Eating is one of the great pleasures of life! Bat stars eat in a very unusual way. When they find a tasty
morsel they extend their stomach over the unsuspecting food and release digestive juices onto it. The prey is liquefied, turned into a soup-like substance, and then slurped up by the hungry diner. How yummy is that? 

 

 

From the book "Sea of Light"

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Quotes

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

Winston Churchill

 

 

From the book "Luminous Sea"

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The story behind the shot

After a short bumpy ride over to Roca Partida Island, we rolled off the panga into the crisp blue ocean, and off to a new adventure. Roca Partida Island is a lava plug that stands 100 feet high, 300 feet long, and 26 feet wide, 250 miles southwest from the tip of Baja California. The volcano that spewed it forth sits in 10,000 feet of water. It’s a small pinnacle in the middle of nowhere that is known for attracting a multitude of big life. On this day, there were no giant mantas, no breaching humpbacks, nor any pods of dolphins, only explosions of prickly blue urchins. It just goes to show there are no guarantees. Out here there is only serendipity. 

 

 

From the book "Blue Visions"

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Underwater Musings

Peek-a-boo. Different kinds of fish have different personalities. This fish likes to see what’s going on in his part of town. I have a wide angle lens on so he is very close, probably seven inches.  His curiosity is getting the better of him, for if I were a spear fisherman he would be joining me for dinner on a plate.  I am not, and so I hang out with him in his world until I have to go back to mine.

 

 

From the book "Sea of Light"

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Quotes

Unless someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,

Nothing is going to get better.
It’s not. 

Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

 

 

From the book "Luminous Sea"

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The story behind the shot

Nature is a funny and sometimes frustrating experience. During the trip I took the week before at Darwin’s Arch we saw hundreds of hammerhead sharks, providing me with two of the best dives of my life. The next week it was if they all went on vacation! Two, three, five, not hundreds of hammerheads. What happened? Where did they go? It’s just how nature works sometimes with no explanation. So we tried another spot just off Darwin’s Island, not known for great diving. You could see the look on everybody’s face of, “I just spent thousands of dollars not to see hammerhead sharks?” Once we got in the water, though, we were greeted by some fun-loving young Galápagos fur seals, darting so fast it was hard to follow them with my camera. Definitely not hammers, but these little fellows had the biggest eyes of any seals I had ever met, almost saying “Hey there Mister, got any fish today?”

 

 

From the book "Blue Visions"

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The Story Behind The Shot

I wish I could say these dolphins just came by when I was diving and stayed around for 30 minutes. The truth is we saw them on the surface in the open ocean and followed them with our Zodiacs, jumping in ahead of them to try to let them swim up to us. It never seemed to work. As luck would have it, Nicolas and I swam ahead of our fellow divers and the dolphins turned around and gave us a brief look, then with a couple of waves of their tails, were gone. They are in charge. You have to wait for them to swim to you, not try to swim to them.

 

From the book "Blue Visions"

Underwater Musings

I’ve seen many different animals falling through the water column. Sea stars, nudibranchs, sea hares, urchins, and others can get knocked off of kelp, or picked up, carried, and dropped by a sea lion. Others just get swept off the reef by surge. However it happens, it is mesmerizing to see something familiar from entirely new angles.

 

From the book "Sea of Light"

Underwater Musings

When I was a youngster my mom would take me to Laguna Beach in California. I loved to go there because it was the best beach I knew for tide pools. I would never go into the water. I would just crouch down and gaze into the pools. I loved to reach in and touch the sea stars, urchins, sea anemones, and all the new and unusual animals I would find: the slimy sea hare, the hard and pinching purple shore crabs, and one rare day, a small octopus. I wanted so much to be small enough to swim in the tide pools with these strange creatures. I now see all those old friends, and am small enough to jump into this giant tide pool known as the ocean. Sometimes little-kid dreams do come true, and this little kid is grateful.

 

From the book "Sea of Light"

the story behind the shot

I had just come up from a depth of 115 feet looking for a giant jawfish that had been eluding my photographic and diving expertise the entire trip. While doing my decompression stop at 15 feet for the required time, I decided to swim around and enjoy the sea lions that live in the area. A rather large male had been barking and swimming towards us, warning us not to get too close to the females. I proceeded with caution and adopted a very submissive posture so the big guy would let me get closer to this female. She looked so serene enjoying her moment of quiet away from the rest of the frolicking pinnipeds. Now when I see this image, I am instantly transported back to that peaceful place
with her. 

 

From the book "Blue Visions"

Quotes

salas_pacific_octopus

When we approach with reverence, great things decide to approach us. Our real life comes to the surface and its light awakens the concealed beauty in things. When we walk on the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us. The rushed heart and arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience to enter that embrace. 

John O’Donohue

From the book "Luminous Sea"

Underwater Musings

Navanax, Navanax inermis

Navanax, Navanax inermis

Red Abalone, Haliotis rufescens

Red Abalone, Haliotis rufescens

They say there are only two things on a navanax’s mind: eating and mating. A navanax is a gastropod that eats its own kind. It is also a hermaphrodite, able to mate as a male or a female. So when one navanax meets another, it has to decide whether to eat it, or have sex with it. Life: so full of choices! The abalone, seen above, is ahemophiliac: if cut, it could bleed to death. The hermaphrodite and the hemophiliac: same class, different homerooms.

 

From the book "Sea of Light"