Are You Enjoying the Ocean?

I hope everyone has completed (or will very soon) the last challenge. I myself finally built up the nerve to brave the cold water of Monterey to enjoy the local subtidal life. As a birthday present, I decided to pursue my dive master master and thus have been spending a lot of my time in the water. All I have to say is that diving off Monterey is some of the most spectacular diving I have ever done. It is also some of the coldest with yesterday’s balmy water temperature of 47 degrees. The diversity and density of life here, especially the nudibranchs, is amazing. The most exciting part was the abundance of several rather large species including: the Gumboot Chiton (at just over 30cm in length the largest chiton species), the white-plumed anemone (Metridium giganteum, at over 50 cm in height), and the impressive sunflower start (Pycnopodia helianthoides, nearly 1m in diameter). The pictures below document my wondrous excursion. I believe the crab in the picture is a kelp crab of the Pugettia genus but feel free to correct me if I am wrong.


Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. 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. 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. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

10 comments on “Are You Enjoying the Ocean?
  1. Hi Craig,

    Indeed Monterey has some of the best diving around. I dive Monterey at least once a week and see something new pretty much every time I do. I never tire of it. For best enjoyment I recommend investing in a drysuit. It makes all the difference in terms of comfort; especially if you’re into going slow and looking for tiny nudibranchs as I am.

    Pretty sure your crab is Pugettia producta but I can’t tell for sure from the picture. The size and the fact that it’s up in the kelp canopy are consistent with that species.

    Lots more pictures and videos of Monterey underwater at my website (a bit dated now) and my dive club’s website which is updated much more regularly.

  2. I can’t imagine something as minor as cold keeping me from the fantastic life in Monterey Bay – but then, I grew up on the Canadian prairies, moved to Vancouver Island, and I’ve never gone anywhere warm to dive. The life in the Pacific Northwest is so fantastic I just haven’t bothered!

    Congrats on doing the divemaster program. I’m just starting mine too! And really – a crushed neoprene drysuit will make you forget what the water temperature is.

  3. oh you zoo-centric divemaster-to-be, you…
    nudibranchs, chitons, stars, and anemones galore…
    yet the only mention of the macrocystis is attached to the kelp crab sighting…

    let’s head to point lobos for a dive and i’ll show you how to marvel at seaweeds!

  4. A little hard here to enjoy an ocean or even the sea, but beware, during your underwater excursions of the “infamous” Strongylocentrotus franciscanus (I suppose they live that far south?) I had a dive buddy nearly sitting on one ……..

  5. Yubi,

    Can’t recall seeing Strongylocentrotus franciscanus in Monterey. Urchins are relatively scarce here, possibly because otters consider them delicious. I do see Strongylocentrotus purpuratus occasionally.

    S. franciscanus is a pretty scary critter though. A few years ago in Alaska a buddy of mine ended up flooding the battery canister for his light due to an encounter with one. The battery canister is mounted on the hip and has a switch covered in a rubber boot. The switch is surrounded by a collar to make it hard to accidentally turn it on or off. When we inspected the flooded light there was a huge urchin spine stuck in the switch boot. We’re still puzzled how he managed to do that without hurting himself or puncturing his drysuit.

  6. What an awesome and breathtaking view! What are the advantages of being a divemaster?

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