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The Monterey breakwater is really best known for being the site at which the majority of the central coast's dive classes are held. This area is moderately protected the previaling wind and swells and conveniently located next to several dive shops and a large parking area. After the sun goes down, most of the dive students go elsewhere. In their place one may find an assortment nocturnal creatures. Sailfin sculpins, masked pricklebacks, and even the elusive red brotula are common here. Red octopus are common enough to be considered a nuisance and the occasional electric, bat, or thornback ray passes through as well. Though the breakwater is much maligned as a dive site, I haven't found a better night dive in the area. And, if you're a fan of counting fish, the Breakwater can't be beat for species diversity.

Blackeyed hermit, Pagurus armatus
Blackeyed hermits (Pagurus armatus) often move quickly and with seeming
purpose. Likely, this is the reason why they're popular hosts for freeloading
barnacles such as the ones seen here. Of course, tracking a speeding crab with a
long focal length lens can be difficult. And, true to popular conceptions of
crab disposition, these hermits quickly tire of posing for pictures and are apt
to protest by hunkering down in an unphotogenic stance.

    "Breakwater", Monterey Bay, California
    February 4, 2006

Spotfin sculpin, Icelinus tenuis
A spotfin sculpin (Icelinus tenuis) shows off some outrageously long
dorsal spines. Elongate fish can be difficult to photograph well. I find shots
in which an eye tracing the subject from nose to tail ends at the edge of the
picture to be somewhat abrasive. The obvious tricks to prevent this are shooting
head on so that the fish's tail is in the shot and/or using a shallow enough
depth of field that the subject is well out of focus where it meets the
picture's edge. In this shot, a different trick is used. The face and long
dorsal spines of the sculpin are highlighted against the bat star in the
background. Where the fish's body meets the edge of the shot however, the body
blends in with the background. I could claim that this was entirely intentional,
but that would be less than true. When shooting this, I was completely focused
on getting the bat star behind the sculpin's head and spines and wasn't really
thinking about anything else. As such, I had low expectations for this shot and
didn't even realize it was anything of value until I got home.

    "Breakwater", Monterey Bay, California
    March 19, 2006

Onespot fringehead, Neoclinus uninotatus
Fire-breathing dragon? No, merely a onespot fringehead (Neoclinus
uninotatus) taking hold of a meal in the form of a segmented worm.

    "Breakwater", Monterey Bay, California
    October 21, 2005

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