Diving underwater with giant jellyfish

Diving Underwater with giant jellyfish

Underwater photographers hit the jackpot


It was my 5th day of blue-water diving over the last 3 weeks for pelagic jellyfish in Southern California, and my 2nd charter I was bringing out to experience the jellies.


Dropping down our line, at about 70ft the water was getting clear. The ocean floor was 1,000ft below us.


Wow, we really hit the jackpot. A giant 15ft purple jellyfish, with an entire squadron of fish being sheltered, started to swim by. 



Although we normally stay tethered to an anchor line, we swam into the blue-water for a brief encounter with this majestic beast. This was definitely one of the highlights of my diving career!


giant purple jellyfish underwater

 Anastasia taking video of the jellyfish at 100ft depth. Although we were floating away from the boat, luckily our dive buddy Dana was waiting on our drop-line and flashing her HID light so we knew the way back. I had 68 wonderful seconds with this jelly before Dana's light started to get dim, and we knew it was time to leave the jelly and head back to the safety of the line. Nikon D300, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye @12mm, F9, 1/320th, ISO 640


Not only was this jelly huge, but it had it's own underwater habitat, with several medusa fish taking shelter under it. I was starting to feel that open-ocean diving was more fun than diving on the reefs! (or was it just a little narcosis?)


big purple jellyfish underwater photo

Chrysaora colorata, the purple-striped jelly, with Medusa Fish, Icichthys lockingtoni. What an incredibly beautiful jelly! This jelly has a powerful sting, but we were well covered. I have more underwater photos of this jellyfish that I'll get up later.


Later in the dive, and on other dives (we did 3 blue-water dives total) we saw hundreds of 12-inch orange jellyfish, comb jellies, a couple more extremely rare juvenile ragfish under jellies, many salps, pelagic gastropods, and a giant siphonophore that was at least 60ft long! Maybe even up to 100ft long. It just kept going on and on and on, out of the range of visibility. Stay tuned for more photos from the group.


Here's a link to the underwater video that Anastasia was taking while I took these photos.


Further Reading


How to blue-water dive for pelagic invertebrates


Underwater photography tips for photographing clear jellyfish


Guide to diving the Channel Islands, Southern California




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