US Destinations

California's Channel Islands: Kelp Diving on the US West Coast

A bright orange Garibaldi fish and crimson-colored California sheephead with red gorgonian at Santa Barbara Island. Photo by Frankie Grant

Due to their unique position relative to the eastern Pacific current, or the California Current, the Channel Islands off California’s coast receive an ideal amount of nutrients and water circulation for optimum growth of California giant kelp. This colonial algae forms forests over the rocky reefs and walls surrounding the islands, and act as one of the world’s most productive marine ecosystems.

The Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail

While Florida’s eastern coast certainly offers countless popular wreck dives, the Panhandle is an often-overlooked gem. The Florida Panhandle Shipwreck Trail provides an enjoyable mechanism for divers to experience the history and heritage the Gulf of Mexico has to offer within the realm of wreck diving.

La Jolla: Classic Southern California Diving

Playful California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are a highlight of diving La Jolla Cove. Photo Brent Durand.
Playful California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are a highlight of diving La Jolla Cove. Photo Brent Durand.

Cool sunlight slowly crept down from the horizon to the kelp beds off La Jolla in southern California. I took another sip of coffee. Sea lions barked on occasion as small groups of pelicans flew up the coast to start their day.

Salmon Sharks of Alaska

Salmon sharks lack a nictitating membrane, so their eyes can be seen following a subject, Port Fidalgo, Alaska, USA. Photo by Jennifer Idol.
Salmon sharks lack a nictitating membrane, so their eyes can be seen following a subject, Port Fidalgo, Alaska, USA. Photo by Jennifer Idol.

Sharks elicit strong emotions, be it the thrill of a planned encounter underwater or fear propelled by social media and lack of information. Of the more than 400 species of sharks, it is the small family of mackerel sharks that is most iconic. These sharks prompted me to share why one of them, the salmon shark, is an especially remarkable species.

Photographing Giant Manta Rays at Night in Kona Hawaii

Female reef mantas mature in eight to ten years.

Diving with giant manta rays is always an exhilarating experience. Being in the water with these large intelligent animals is always humbling. They are also spectacular subjects for photography and video. Kona Hawaii in the United States is famous for night diving and snorkeling with the local mantas. This can produce stunning images, but it does take some special techniques.

Northern California: A Dive Off the American Wild West Coast

Metridium anemone and corynactis grow on a rock while blue rockfish swim overhead, Northern California, USA. Photo by Brent Durand.

Warm rinse water sloshed in the jug as my car hugged a sharp turn on California’s Pacific Coast Highway. I looked left at the mighty Pacific Ocean, the cliffs tumbling to the sea dotted by rugged pinnacles, stretching farther up the coast than the jam band solo currently playing out of the car speakers. Deep blue, favorable conditions all week, minimal swell, no-wind forecast—only unpredictable visibility could affect the diving today.

Sand Tiger Sharks of North Carolina

There I was, off the coast of North Carolina at a depth of about 20m (60ft) when the shadowy shape of the WWII wreck Caribsea came into view—but it looked almost as if it was moving! Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a cloud of tiny bait fish completely covering the wreck. As they moved, the ship seemed to move with them; and then, out of the swarm, a massive, tank-like, gray silhouette emerged.

Graveyard of the Atlantic: Wrecks of North Carolina's Outer Banks

One of the problems with the proverbial bucket list is that whenever you tick a dive trip off the list, it seems that you add at least three more destinations to it. This is exactly what happened to me. I had never considered North Carolina as a dive destination, much less one of the top wreck diving locations in the world.

San Diego: Gateway to Wreck Alley and Islas Coronados

Larry Cohen on the wreck of the Ruby E, San Diego, California, USA. Photo by Olga Torrey.

San Diego’s Wreck Alley is an area with intentionally sunken ships. One of the wrecks divers can find here is the HMCS Yukon, which was a Mackenzie-class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and later the Canadian Forces. She was named after the Yukon River that runs from British Columbia through the Yukon and into Alaska.