Nudibranchs of SoCal

The surge, current and cold may fight against you, but stop, don't blink and look closely. If you're lucky, you might find one.

 

Sometimes they hide under the kelp, other times they blend in seamlessly with the surroundings. There are even times you'll find them out in the open, glorious in their color. In an often dark world, these are the ocean's sparkling lights.

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I will never forget the first time I saw a nudibranch. A new diver, still coming to terms with this strange world, I somehow managed to stumble upon SoCal's most famous resident, a Spanish Shawl [Flabellina iodinea]. The bright purple and orange body was in stark contrast to the drab, brown surroundings and its movement in the surge was mesmerizing. From that moment, I was hooked. Now, years later, I still cannot resist spending the majority of a dive searching for these wonderfully, yet sometimes elusive, miniature bursts of color.

 

This library contains not only nudibranch, but a predator of the nudibranchs known as a navanax. All are found in the waters off Southern California. These photos were shot in all 8 of the Channel Islands as well as off the coast of Malibu and San Diego.

 

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