California Divin’

California Divin’

I love diving in California, so I have recycled this post from last year, with new images.  Please enjoy!

All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray

I’ve been for a dive, on a winter’s day.

I’ll be warm and dry, when I get back to L A,

But now I’m California divin’  on such a winter’s day.

I spend a good amount of time on this blog talking about the exotic animals I have seen all over the far reaches of the world.  But truly, I spend the majority of my diving time along the coast of California.  These temperate waters host some of the most interesting creatures in the world, and the topography is unique and beautiful.  One of the first things my non-diving friends ask is if it is green and murky in our California waters.  I am here to tell you, that the coast of California can rival the most pristine diving in the tropics.

Pink and Orange cup corals cover this pinnacle near Catalina Island
Pink and Orange cup corals cover this pinnacle near Catalina Island

The images above and below show some of the corals that can be found along the California coast.  Above are pink and orange cup corals covering a pinnacle at Farnsworth Banks near Catalina Island. The photo below shows part of a wall there called “Yellow Wall” and also shows some purple hydrocoral, which is found in just a few dive sites along the California coast.  These two images were taken just minutes apart, showing the diversity that can be found on just one site.



Another gem of California diving are the oil rigs.  There are only a few rigs that divers can visit, and since there can be current and depths of up to 700 feet, the oil rigs are for advanced divers only. The structure under the oil rigs provides an artificial reef for hundreds of animals.  The structure is encrusted with life, and great schools of fish and sea lions enjoy life under the rigs as well.


The site is well known for its wide angle potential, but there are a lot of tiny critters on the oil rigs as well.  Here is a bi-valve (clam) openly feeding.


Lately, all of the islands and the water along the coast has been inhabited by tuna crabs, a small pelagic crab that swims in open water.  They are fun to see and a bit challenging to photograph.


The Channel Islands are a favorite dive destination for local divers as well as world travelers.  Santa Barbara Island boasts a sea lion rookery where the young curious pups will come out to play around and with scuba divers.


Other large animals that can be found there and several other dive sites include the torpedo ray, a ray that can deliver an electric shock, so no touching!


Anacapa Island is loved by photographers for its macro subjects such as nudibranchs and amphipods.



Catalina Island has a large population of blue-striped, orange gobies commonly called the blue banded goby.

Catalina Goby
Catalina Goby

Beautiful fish of all different colors can be found in dive sites all around Southern California, not to mention our own state marine fish, the Geribaldi

A Geribaldi and a red sculpin (rockfish or scorpion fish) look curiously at the diver with a camera.
A Geribaldi and a red Cabezon  look curiously at the diver with a camera.

But the one defining feature of diving in California is the beautiful kelp forests.  In many ways the kelp reminds me of a forest in a fairy tale.

The King's Forest


The great thing about diving in California is it doesn’t matter if it’s Winter or Summer.  The diving is great year ’round.  The water is temperate and requires adequate protection.  I recommend a 7mm wetsuit in the Summer and late Fall, and a drysuit during the winter months.  And oh, how I love diving California in the Winter months.

California divin’ on such a winter’s day.


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My photographs are taken with a Nikon  D810 in Sea and Sea Housing using two YS-D1 or YS-D2 Strobes.
All images are copyrighted by Brook Peterson and may only be used with written permission.  Please do not copy or print them.  To discuss terms for using these images, please contact me.
 Copyright 2017 Brook Peterson

4 thoughts on “California Divin’

  1. So, yeah, I was one of those that thought the coast off of California was vacant of any interesting sea life. I should’ve known better. I love seeing the creatures through your lens, creatures I most likely will never get to experience in person. I admire you and as always, am very jealous!

    1. Thanks Gery! Grab your fins, plug your nose, and come for a dive with me!

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