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July 17, 2005

Cabezon, Scorpaenichthys marmoratus, California hydrocoral, Stylaster californicus
Cabezon (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus) rely heavily on camouflage. This
one, however, is easily spotted against a backdrop of California hydrocoral
(Stylaster californicus). These fish have something of a split
personality. Frequently, they bolt in terror when a diver is as much as 30 feet
away. At other times, even when it's quite obvious they've been spotted, they
seem perfectly happy to be an object of close inspection. Some of the most
extreme examples of this latter behavior occur in the early part of the year
when males establish their nests. The animal pictured here was not keeping watch
over eggs, but nonetheless seemed content to stay put. In July, when this
photograph was taken, East Pinnacles is overgrown with Eisenia and other
algae. This makes both finding interesting subjects and taking photographs a bit
more challenging. To take this particular shot, the photographer had to hold
back a bouquet of Eisenia fronds with his forearm at the same time as he
was positioning the camera and illuminating the subject with a cannister light.
It was more than just a little frustrating and was, in fact, the last straw that
led to the purchase of a real focus light which presumably allows for such
pictures to be taken while using only two hands instead of requiring three.

    "East Pinnacles", Carmel Bay, California
    July 17, 2005

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