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Seas of black coral (named for the color of its exoskeleton) greeted us beneath the surface in the Sea of Cortez.

Our journey began in Puerto Peñasco as we boarded the Rocio del Mar for a 7-day expedition with our guests in search of amazing critters and creating memorable images. Our Immersed Imaging workshop concentrated on the inhabitants of the Midriff Islands including the seemingly omnipresent orangethroat pikeblennies and bluespotted jawfish.

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A bluespotted jawfish (nuptial male) pauses briefly before diving head-first back into the safety of its hole in the sand. Nikon D810, Nikon 105mm macro lens, dual Ikelite DS160 strobes.
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An orangethroat pikeblenny (nuptial male) in the sand near Punta Diablo off the coast of Angel de la Guarda Island. Canon 5DS R, Canon 100mm macro lens, dual Ikelite DS160 strobes.

Although the topside conditions were hot, humid, and often very windy, we enjoyed ocean temperatures ranging from 69ºF to 86ºF. Visibility varied from 20′ to 60′, although a majority of our guests spent their dives searching for all-things macro.

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Nudibranchs were not uncommon, like this large Diomedes’ sapsucker (Elysia diomedea).
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The sea lions came out to play near San Pedro Martir Island. Nikon D810, Sigma 15mm fisheye with Nauticam 140mm dome, and dual Ikelite DS160 strobes.
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A browncheek blenny peeks out of its hiding place near La Muela. Canon 5Ds, Canon 100mm macro lens, Nauticam SMC, dual Ikelite DS160 strobes.

On the day before our departure, we went in search of whale sharks in Bahía de los Ángeles. They did not disappoint!

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It took just 5 minutes of searching before we discovered we were surrounded by over two dozen whale sharks! Nikon D810, Sigma 15mm fisheye, ambient light.

Contributions to this article have been made by Michael Zeigler and Todd Winner.