California is known for epic kelp diving but the waters can be a bit chilly for tropical divers like myself. Looking for a quick summer dive trip close to home, I finally grew some skin and booked a trip with Truth Aquatics to the Channel Islands – my first truly temperate dive experience. My only regret…I shouldn’t have waited so long!

California sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher)
California sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher)

Beneath the surface, kelp takes on a magical appearance. The gently swaying fronds create an undersea jungle of incredible beauty. Swimming through a dense kelp forest for the first time is like being on a safari, offering the promise of surprising animal encounters.

Halfmoon (Medialuna californiensis) seek shelter in kelp forest.
Halfmoon (Medialuna californiensis) seek shelter in kelp forest.

Even common fish species, like California sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher), kelp bass (Paralabrax clathratus), giant kelpfish (Heterostichus rostratus), giant sea bass (Stereolepis gigas), Catalina goby (Lythrypnus dalli) and Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus),  leave a lasting impression under the incredible backdrop of the unique kelp forest ecosystem.  Favorite images from my trip to the Channel Islands, California.