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Posted by Max Bottomtime on October 10, 2016 at 18:12:09:

I found sixteen species of nudibranchs at Marineland on a dive a dozen years ago. That was the most I had found until yesterday. My new record is eighteen! First, a little back story.

Kevin Lee is a two time Photographer of the Year with the Los Angeles Underwater Photographic Society. His photos have appeared in books and magazines from North America to Asia. He has photographed underwater on all seven continents. California Diving News has used fourteen of Kevin's images for its covers. Hans Bertsch's latest book Marine Invertebrates of Northwest Mexico features many of Kevin's photos including the cover shot. His works are on permanent display at Chapman University and the University of Connecticut. He appeared as the sole guest on the Chapman University television program Dialogue With Doty and Dodge. Merry and I have been fortunate to be Kevin's dive buddies for the past five years. He won't be with us next weekend as he will be in Illinois receiving yet another honor. I think it is the Luckiest Man in America Award. We really hate Kevin.

I wanted to find a reef that would be worthy of carrying the name Kevin's Reef. I found one a few years ago but didn't get around to diving it until recently. I'm kicking myself for not diving it sooner. Kevin's Reef is a house sized rock a half mile off Christmas Tree Cove. It has walls, a sandy bottom and a gully carved through the center of the reef. It's impossible to shine a light anywhere without exposing one form of marine life or another. It is now our go-to dive site.
OK, who wants to dive Kevin's Reef?

I do! I do!
Henricia aspera photo Kevins Reef 26_zpsyouarsw6.jpg
Blood star, Henricia aspera

We sometimes go a couple of years without seeing black sea hares but they are all over Kevin's Reef. I even found a single California sea hare, Aplysia californica trying to blend in amongst a pile of black sea hares. I spent more than two and a half hours on the reef yesterday, the first sixty minutes scouring a single rock not much larger than I. Every time I would photograph a nudibranch I would spot another species a few inches away. This continued for most of the day.

Okenia rosacea photo Kevins Reef 68_zpsfrqo2aod.jpg
Okenia rosacea

Polycera tricolor photo Kevins Reef 67_zpsrymms4dd.jpg
Polycera tricolor

Flabellina iodinea photo Kevins Reef 66_zpsap9yv8t0.jpg
Flabellina iodinea

Peltodoris mullineri photo Kevins Reef 62_zpsgqodovam.jpg
Peltodoris mullineri

Felimida macfarlandi photo Kevins Reef 57_zps9xuzl9va.jpg
Felimida macfarlandi

Felimare porterae photo Kevins Reef 50_zps6xlivoua.jpg

Felimare porterae photo Kevins Reef 22_zpsur4wvwzo.jpg

Felimare porterae photo Kevins Reef 3_zpsul4vl5np.jpg
Felimare porterae

Aegires albopunctatus photo Kevins Reef 38_zps5y7o1mez.jpg
Aegires albopunctatus

Cadlina limbaughorum photo Kevins Reef 32_zpsx6r7te7h.jpg
Cadlina limbaughorum

Hermissenda opalescens photo Kevins Reef 30_zps2vdjbuqm.jpg
Hermissenda opalescens

Cadlina flavomaculata photo Kevins Reef 17_zpsspqelyig.jpg
Cadlina flavomaculata

Polycera atra photo Kevins Reef 16_zps8ljedi5b.jpg
Polycera atra

Limacia cockerelli photo Kevins Reef 14_zps8mdl6bn1.jpg
Limacia cockerelli

Cadlina luteomarginata photo Kevins Reef 12_zpsdzlmk9fx.jpg
Cadlina luteomarginata

Triopha catalinae photo Kevins Reef 11_zpsqcleoomv.jpg

Triopha catalinae photo Kevins Reef 10_zps6wkem0oy.jpg
Triopha catalinae

Polycera hedgpethi photo Kevins Reef 8_zpsrcclta2h.jpg
Polycera hedgpethi

Flabellina trilineata photo Kevins Reef 4_zpso5ohfn1q.jpg
Flabellina trilineata

Aplysia vaccaria photo Kevins Reef 1_zpse5xkfbek.jpg
Aplysia vaccaria

Nudibranchs are not the only draw to Kevin's Reef. Sponges, tunicates, bryozoan, octopus, crabs and fish are plentiful here as well.

Serpula columbiana photo Kevins Reef 65_zpspctbzfbl.jpg
Serpula Columbiana

Myxicola infundibulum photo Kevins Reef 61_zpstxxmsekx.jpg
Myxicola infundibulum

Coenocyathus bowersi photo Kevins Reef 60_zpsipubyf4i.jpg
Coenocyathus bowersi

Phidolopora pacifica photo Kevins Reef 58_zps3eyhsewy.jpg
Phidolopora pacifica

Crassadoma gigantea photo Kevins Reef 43_zps3lwflw08.jpg

Crassadoma gigantea photo Kevins Reef 41_zpsu6zwil9w.jpg
Crassadoma gigantea

Parazoanthus lucificum photo Kevins Reef 29_zpsiwljylg5.jpg
Yellow zoanthids, Parazoanthus lucificum

Distaplia sp. photo Kevins Reef 25_zpswgabcve2.jpg
Distaplia sp.

Corynactis californica photo Kevins Reef 24_zpsd7tejdew.jpg

Corynactis californica photo Kevins Reef 23_zpsrexhrzai.jpg

Corynactis californica photo Kevins Reef 21_zpsym4b0es6.jpg

Corynactis californica photo Kevins Reef 20_zpslx22wlio.jpg
Corynactis californica

Sebastes carnatus photo Kevins Reef 64_zpscoviuf2c.jpg

Sebastes carnatus photo Kevins Reef 19_zpse8aguddd.jpg
Sebastes carnatus

Lythrypnus dalli photo Kevins Reef 59_zpsjjcsbq7n.jpg
Lythrypnus dalli

Lythrypnus zebra photo Kevins Reef 47_zpscnkj5inz.jpg
Lythrypnus zebra

Sebastes serriceps photo Kevins Reef 37_zpsdr0dejbc.jpg

Sebastes serriceps photo Kevins Reef 28_zpshrq81sj0.jpg
Sebastes serriceps

Sebastes caurinus photo Kevins Reef 31_zpshch5kuba.jpg
Sebastes caurinus

Stelletta estrella photo Kevins Reef 45_zpsbx01v8r7.jpg
Stelletta estrella

Microciona prolifera photo Kevins Reef 35_zpsvxv0czmd.jpg
Microciona prolifera

Cliona californiana photo Kevins Reef 27_zpsdaqvtuih.jpg
Cliona californiana

A few other sponges...
 photo Kevins Reef 9_zpslhuyafng.jpg

 photo Kevins Reef 18_zpsqqbnm6dj.jpg

 photo Kevins Reef 63_zpsf8dqhwiv.jpg

 photo Kevins Reef 44_zpsjdskusub.jpg

 photo Kevins Reef 42_zpszxdxrl6a.jpg

I found some mystery eggs. We'll try for better images next week and a possible identification.
Mystery eggs photo Kevins Reef 15_zpssb4jkdb9.jpg

 photo Kevins Reef 36_zpsh0kmp4qb.jpg
Guardian of the Gully

While photographing a nudi I saw movement above me. A Yellowfin fringehead was poking out of its den in an abandoned barnacle shell. As I got off a few shots it exited his home and came to rest on top of the reef. Five feet away was another Yellowfin fringehead out in the open.

Neoclinus stephensae photo Kevins Reef 51_zpswqvprhqy.jpg

Neoclinus stephensae photo Kevins Reef 52_zpsqtkgc9oq.jpg

Neoclinus stephensae photo Kevins Reef 53_zps9rhmtupc.jpg

Neoclinus stephensae photo Kevins Reef 56_zpswbiuyyhx.jpg
Yellowfin fringehead,Neoclinus stephensae

Most of these photos were shot within twenty five feet of each other. Maybe next time I'll explore more of the reef.



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