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Bonanza in Santa Monica Bay


Outer Bamnks diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat


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Posted by Merry on July 01, 2020 at 19:05:31:

Last Saturday, Captain Andy Saxon wanted to meter some sites and generally prowl around Santa Monica Bay. We jumped at the opportunity to join him. Besides being in the delightful company of a true ancient mariner, the Bay is a welcome change of habitat from our local rocky reefs. "Let's dive somewhere new" was the phrase of the day, "because you never know what you're going to find". No truer words were ever spoken.


We hit the JACKPOT with the amphipod, Podocerus cristatus.


The name Podocerus cristatus has been applied to a group of amphipods first described from New Zealand and ranging here from Alaska to Baja California. In 2015, Dr. Jeff Goddard wrote a paper describing how different coloration in these species may mimic the warning coloration of two of our common local nudibranchs. Since nudibranchs have toxic defense mechanisms, this would be an adaptive strategy to deter predators.


There were at least four different color morphs hanging out together on gray moon sponge. The camouflage version greatly outnumbered the colorful forms.

P. cristatus is likely a species complex. We've been put in touch with a graduate student who is working to unravel the mystery of this amphipod’s adaptations.


Three color forms


Cryptic form



California cone snail laying eggs, Californiconus californicus


Amphissa versicolor snail and its eggs. ID thanks to Paul Kanner (aka Sheller).


As far as I can tell this is a moonglow anemone, Anthopleura artemesia


Doto columbiana mating and egg laying is in full swing.


Note the size of the skeleton shrimp relative to the tiny Doto.



Haime's colonial cup coral, Astrangia haimei, formerly Astrangia lajollaensis





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