Friday Deep-Sea Picture (10/19/07): The Art of Kawika Chetron

I am relaxing the 200m rule for DSN, to bring you some photographs from one of my favorites, Kawika Chetron. To say that Kawika’s photos of the kelp forest are stunning would be a gross understatement. Luckily, you can view most of his portfolio online.
“Deep Shale”, Monterey Bay, California February 17, 2007:

Often, when I show a picture to a non-diving friend, the first question they ask is “How deep were you when you took that?”. The implication, of course, being that the deeper the depth, the better the photograph must be. This, then, is the very best photograph on the site. This simnia, Delonovolva aequalis, lives on red gorgonians(Lophogorgia chilensis). If you’d like to see one in the Monterey area, you’ll have to make a relatively deep dive. This picture was taken 120ft. At this depth, the photographer’s senses were impaired the equivalent of two and a half glasses of scotch. Likely this photograph would not have been taken at all had not the boat’s anchor landed smack on top of this very gorgonian. To be sure, this squished the subject somewhat, but also reduced the photographer’s drunkard walk (or, swim) towards the dive’s turnaround point to a voyage of only inches. In truth, diving to this depth without the benefit of helium in one’s breathing gas isn’t very smart. I’m actually a little surprised I didn’t get distracted and start taking pictures of the leprechauns also commonly seen after about 100ft.

Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

4 Replies to “Friday Deep-Sea Picture (10/19/07): The Art of Kawika Chetron”

  1. what a tragedy! Why on earth was he diving on his own? Where was his buddy? I hope other divers are warned by this tragic and unnecessary death of a talented person.

  2. what a tragedy! Why on earth was he diving on his own? Where was his buddy? I hope other divers are warned by this tragic and unnecessary death of a talented person.

    Some folks are just so driven to explore that they can’t resist temptation. Kawika was one of those people. If a weather window opened up allowing him to dive an out of the way place he just had to go. For him it wasn’t an option. When he couldn’t convince somebody to go with him he’d do it alone. The very last email I have from him was simply a link to the marine forecast that day which was an invitation to go diving. I couldn’t make it, and probably would have told him I wasn’t comfortable going there in a single 17 foot Boston Whaler anyway. I wish he’d been more cautious and listened to his friends when we advised restraint but alas that was not his nature.

    The sea is a cruel mistress and it’s my hope that this does serve as a reminder of that fact. I know he had more to offer than a mere cautionary tale but at least we have his pictures.

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