Photo Gallery

I'm a beginning underwater photographer, but I'm trying. On this page I'll post some of my attempts at capturing underwater sights from my dives.

Sea Raven (Sally Growler) Shark River Inlet, Nov, 2003

One of the ugliest sights in NJ waters is the Sea Raven, sometimes called a Sally Growler or Mother-in-Law Fish. Its one of the few fish that Iím never tempted to poke or play with. This one was hiding under a rock along the Shark River Inlet on the Belmar side. He was sharing the hole with a small eel on the right of the picture. This was a beautiful day in early November when the air temperatures had dipped into the 30ís but the water was a balmy 55 degrees and the visibility was over 20 feet. It doesnít get much better than that around here.

Butterfly Fish Ė Shark River Inlet, November 2003

In late to mid-summer some tropical fish start to show up in local waters. These butterfly fish are the most common, but Iíve seen other fish like banded rudderfish, various kinds of jacks, and many I donít know the names of. With their bright colors they really stand out and bring extra interest to a dive. Iíve been told that the fertilized eggs of these fish are carried along in the Gulf Stream and the fry hatch and live for a short time in the warmish water temps of late summer and fall. Unfortunately, they donít have much of a future come late fall and winter. Some divers catch them and put them in marine aquariums.

Crab and Sea Urchin - Belmar Back Bay, March 2002

This shot shows a little of what it's like diving in low visibility conditions in NJ waters. I found it very challenging trying to focus my camera and take the picture while juggling my light in one hand, the dive flag line in the other, and my camera in my third hand. Oops, ran out of hands. Meanwhile, I'm drifting with the current, my subject wants to scurry away, and I'm trying to manage my buoyancy in very shallow water.

Spider Crab - None too happy- Belmar Back Bay, March,2002

A very common sight at this location throughout the year. In June, they  appear in the bay by the thousands in a spider crab mating orgy. I've see the bottom literally covered with spider crabs ranging in size from a few inches to a foot or more claw to claw.  As you drift over them, they rear up on their rear legs and wave their front claws menacingly. I'm always afraid of having sensitive part pinched. Fortunately their claws are pretty weak compared to blue crabs. This picture was taken in very low visibility conditions and the flash caused a lot of back scatter.

Fishing Pier - Belmar Back Bay, March, 2002

This isn't a great picture, but I think it captures the sometimes spooky and almost surreal atmosphere of low vis diving. The main attraction of the Belmar Back Bay is a condemned fishing pier that extends out into the bay. Underneath the supports have rotted  from an original 12'' to in some cases a few inches. I expect the whole thing to come crashing down any day now. The posts and boards of the pier are covered with a variety of marine life and seem to form their own little ecosystems. This shot shows a clump of mussels and some orange sponges. At night you can often see eels swarming in and around the pier and in the warm weather tropical fish, carried up by the Gulf Stream, often seek refuge around the pilings. I hope to get some pictures of these before the pier disappears.

Mussels and Coral, Belmar Back Bay, March 2002

For this picture I managed to shine my light on the coral while taking the picture. The coral is called "White Encrusting Coral"  or "Northern Stony Coral"  and is common in NJ waters. Most of the time, however, it's very flat and thin - more like lichen on a rock. This is the first time I've seen it flowery like this, and there were several more growths of it along the pier. I've never seen it like this in warmer weather and I wonder if it's a seasonal "flowering" or whether the coral gets eaten by other marine life in the warmer times of the year.

Coral - Belmar Back Bay, March,2002

This is the same coral under natural lighting conditions.

Copyright 2002 Carl Muhlhausen