Adam became a certified scuba diver at the age of 12 in the US Channel Islands. For the past six years he’s been diving a couple of times a year. Proving underwater photography is open to all the last few times he's been out he brought a GoPro to record what he sees.
“It’s been very interesting to see how the underwater landscape changes throughout the seasons and over the years.”
Spotting Giant Sea Bass
Recently, Adam became involved in a UCSB project named "Spotting Giant Sea Bass," dedicated to researching the endangered giant sea bass native to California's waters. This initiative relies on contributions from amateur divers, who submit photos of giant sea bass encountered during their dives. Utilising a spot mapping algorithm, researchers match these photos with individual fish in the database, creating profiles that offer insights into migration patterns, lifecycle changes, and lifespans. Beyond contributing to scientific knowledge, the project provides a valuable tool for estimating population dynamics.
“It’s been neat to be able to use my photographs to help the project as well as assist with spot mapping. Helping learn about and conserve endangered species is something that feels really good and I hope to get involved with similar projects in the future.”
Giant sea bass, also known as Stereolepis gigas, is a marine species that prowls the coastal waters of the eastern Pacific, from California down to Baja California. These colossal fish are true ocean giants, with some individuals reaching lengths of over seven feet and weighing several hundred pounds.
What makes giant sea bass particularly fascinating is their slow growth rate and longevity. These majestic creatures can live for up to 75 years, taking their time to mature and contributing to the rich biodiversity of their underwater habitats.
Despite their imposing size, giant sea bass are known for their gentle disposition. They often navigate kelp forests and rocky reefs, using their massive bodies to blend seamlessly with the underwater landscape. Their diet includes a variety of prey, from smaller fish to invertebrates, showcasing their role as apex predators in their ecosystem.
Unfortunately, these iconic giants faced significant population declines due to historical overfishing. Conservation efforts are underway to protect and restore their populations, emphasising the importance of sustainable practices and marine protected areas.
The Channel Islands National Park (Nope not our Channel Islands!)
Where the Channel Islands National Park is located
Left the US Channel Islands National Park - Right the Channel Islands UK
Located off the coast of Southern California, the Channel Islands are five rugged islands renowned for their unique ecosystems and rich biodiversity. Accessible by boat or plane, the park offers visitors a chance to explore diverse landscapes, from sea caves and coastal cliffs to lush valleys. Home to a variety of plant and animal species, some of which are found nowhere else on Earth, Channel Islands National Park is a haven for nature enthusiasts, hikers, and marine adventurers. The pristine marine environment surrounding the islands provides opportunities for snorkelling, scuba diving, and observing marine mammals, making it a captivating destination for those seeking a true wilderness experience.
The Channel Islands hoto by Kush Dwivedi
Adam has visited the Channel Islands a number of times and subsequently got certified to dive there.
“I’ve had a chance to explore Santa Cruz island, Anacapa, and Catalina. We generally camp there for a few nights and then go diving.”
Filming Sea Lion - Catalina
"I recorded this beautiful footage of a sea lion on a morning dive at around 8am in February of 2022. It was cloudy, cold, and the water was pretty cold too because it was the winter. We were one of the few people diving that day. This curious juvenile sea lion kept circling around my father and I. I would swim in right circles occasionally darting at us. It would surface for air and come back down to check us out. I think it was just boring and curious and we were something new in its environment. I was a little nervous when it got close because it did not seem afraid of us and I’ve heard stories of them knocking into divers."
The sea lions' presence in the Channel Islands plays a crucial role in the marine ecosystem, with their interactions influencing the food web dynamics. Visitors often have the opportunity to witness these agile swimmers as they navigate the coastal waters, showcasing the interconnected relationship between the sea lions and the rich biodiversity of the park. The Channel Islands National Park stands as a sanctuary for these fascinating creatures, offering a glimpse into the natural wonders and ecological significance of this coastal haven.
Santa Catalina Island
Santa Catalina Island, situated off the coast of Southern California, is a popular and picturesque destination known for its captivating landscapes and recreational activities. Boasting scenic vistas, rugged terrain, and a charming seaside atmosphere, the island attracts visitors seeking outdoor adventures, including hiking, snorkelling, and wildlife exploration. Its proximity to the mainland and diverse offerings make Santa Catalina Island a favoured retreat, distinct from the Channel Islands National Park, which encompasses a separate group of islands further to the northwest.
Conservation in the Channel Islands
The park's conservation initiatives focus on protecting endemic plant and animal species, ensuring their survival in the face of various environmental challenges.
Rigorous measures are in place to manage human impact, with strict regulations to minimise disturbances to the delicate island ecosystems. The park serves as a refuge for numerous species, including the island fox and the California sea lion, both of which have faced threats to their populations. Through habitat restoration projects and ongoing research, Channel Islands National Park actively contributes to the recovery and sustainability of these critical species.
Marine conservation efforts are equally robust, with initiatives aimed at safeguarding the rich underwater life surrounding the islands. Collaborative programs address issues such as overfishing and habitat degradation, striving to maintain the health of kelp forests, marine mammals, and the diverse array of fish species that call these waters home.
As visitors explore the park, educational programs and interpretive materials emphasise the importance of responsible tourism and environmental stewardship. Channel Islands National Park serves as a living testament to the ongoing commitment to conservation, ensuring that these islands remain a haven for biodiversity and a source of inspiration for future generations.