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A garibaldi near the surface at Bird Rock. All images taken with a Nikon D810 in a Sea & Sea housing and Ikelite DS160 strobes. 1/250 sec, ƒ/16, ISO 160, ambient light.

While heading toward Two Harbors at Catalina Island, one is sure to notice the guano-covered landmark known as Bird Rock. Below the sometimes chaotic scenes of birds and sea lions on the drab rock itself, the scene below the surface can sometimes be described as tranquil, colorful, and dynamic. The most recent Samy’s Demo Day took place here, and the guests were not disappointed at the variety of structure and marine life that greeted them. Click here to be a part of the next Demo Day aboard the Magician on Saturday, 10/15!

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Sargassum horneri at Bird Rock. Catalina Island, California. 1/320 sec, ƒ/20, ISO 320.

On the west side, divers are greeted by a shallow field of golden Sargassum algae. This invasive species seems to be dying off, allowing the slow return of the native forests of giant kelp.

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A giant sea bass cruised by at 85 fsw near the drop-off. 1/8 sec, ƒ/8, ISO 400.

Just beyond the shallow plateau is a sheer drop-off, leading divers to depths of 100 fsw before slowly descending to the depths well beyond recreational limits. It is not uncommon to see giant sea bass coming in for a closer look at the bubble-making intruders.

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Huge red gorgonian sea fans add a pop of color for divers exploring the deeper sections of the drop-off. 1/160 sec, ƒ/14, ISO 320

Michael Zeigler is a contributor, instructor, and trip leader for Samy’s Underwater Photo & Video, as well as an AAUS Scientific Diver. More of Michael’s underwater photography can be seen at www.seainfocus.com. For the latest information on workshops and trips, sign up for our newsletter.