Dive-a-Thon, Days 2 and 4 at La Jolla Shores with the Sand Dollars

July 5 2009; 11:57pm

The Dive-a-Thon is off to a great start - I have logged 377 minutes underwater in the last five days, and donations have started to come in. Thank you to all who have stepped up to support me in the Dive-a-Thon so far! The last two day of diving were spent shooting photos at La Jolla Shores in the eleven to sixty foot range, near the edge of the La Jolla Submarine Canyon.

This is a sand-bottom habitat, which is host to a variety of flatfish, invertebrates, and other interesting marine life. We spent a good portion of the dives over large fields of sand dollars (Dendraster excentricus) - literally thousands of them, mostly standing on end and facing the same direction perpendicular to the shoreline…it’s what sand dollars do, and it’s an amazing sight to see. Here is a photo of a swimming crab we saw on today’s dive - it’s sitting in the middle of a giant field of sand dollars. We ventured deeper and found the Spanish shawl nudibranch (Flabellina iodinea) as well. These sea slugs are almost supernatural looking; they are typically an inch or two in length, and get their wild colors from the food they eat (the orange polyps of the athecate hydroid). Stay tuned for a report from our next underwater adventure!