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China rockfish, Sebastes nebulosus, California hydrocoral, Stylaster californicus, Red sponge, Unidentified
A young China rockfish (Sebastes nebulosus) nestles between a colony of
California hydrocoral (Stylaster californicus) and an unidentified red
sponge. One could say that this picture was actually several months in the
making. I had my eye on this sponge and hydrocoral colony for quite some time.
It's a striking background, but doesn't appear to be a particularly popular
hangout for interesting foreground subjects. Eventually, one day sunny July day
with pedestrian water clarity I ran across this cute little China. It should
have been a fantastic opportunity, but the heavy surge and the animal's
exceptionally skittish disposition made things difficult. The hole this guy was
using as refuge provided excellent protection from the glaring strobes of
inquisitive photographers, however it lacked a hideaway small enough to keep out
a lingcod or other predator. This might explain why I've not run across this
fish since my initial encounter. Interestingly enough, little is known about the
habits of juvenile China rockfish. In fact, there seems to even be some debate
about what very young ones even look like!

    "East Pinnacles", Carmel Bay, California
    July 16, 2005

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