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Deep Shale

A vast area with a shale bottom extends from Monterey's Del Monte beach to a depth well past the limit for recreational diving. Much of this area is unexplored but well worth visiting.

Giant plumed anemone, Metridium farcimen, Club-tipped anemone, Corynactus californica, Zoanthid anemone
A column of anemones. From top to bottom: giant plumed anemones (Metridium
farcimen), yellow zoanthids (Epizoanthus scotinus), and club-tipped
anemones (Corynactus californica). This is an example of how strobe
lighting can be used to manipulate how the human eye and brain perceive a scene.
In this case the strobes were set to make the Metridiums appear higher
off the bottom than the Corynactus. This isn't actually the case. The
subject's true orientation actually makes it look rather unphotogenic. I was a
little slow to realize how pretty this column is, and, oddly enough, this shot
was taken more out of frustration than anything else. The sole purpose for this
dive was to take pictures of a subject about three feet away. These pictures
didn't turn out nearly as well as I had hoped and I switched to taking shots of
this anemone column to console myself.

    "Deep Shale", Monterey Bay, California
    April 16, 2005

Simnia, Delonovolva aequalis, Red gorgonian, Lophogorgia chilensis
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.

    "Deep Shale", Monterey Bay, California
    February 17, 2007

Red gorgonian, Lophogorgia chilensis, Giant plumed anemone, Metridium farcimen
Red gorgonians (Lophogorgia chilensis) contrast nicely with white giant
plumed anemones (Metridium farcimen).

    "Deep Shale", Monterey Bay, California
    April 16, 2005

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