La Jolla Snorkeling with Leopard Sharks

So I went snorkeling in one of my favorite La Jolla spots.  The weather conditions were pretty good at this particular time in this particular spot.  It was about halfway between a 2 ft low tide and a 6 foot high tide with waves ranging between 0 and 1 ft and was relatively sunny.  I would estimate visibility to be at 15-20 feet.

For the first 10 minutes I didn’t see a single creature and was beginning to think it would be a pretty quiet day.  But then, while traveling through a pathway in a seaweed forrest:

sea weed tunnel

I discovered a baby leopard shark:




I followed it around, photographing it for about 10 minutes before moving on.


When I came across three adult leopard sharks and caught a photo of one:

adult leopard shark

From there I ventured out of the seaweed and caught a brief glimpse of the tail of a larger shark than the first four, but couldn’t quite make out what it was.  I swam forward as it left my sight, and climbed onto a nearby submerged rock, where I captured these silhouettes against a murky background.

big leopard 2



big leopard

From there I tried to shoot several more leopard sharks in the shallows: I was surrounded by about 20 or 30 of them, but they didn’t come out very well as my feet were kicking up dust and silt from the bottom.  So I headed back out toward deeper water and on the way, floated over a stingray laying in a trench.  It’s hard to judge size under water, but I would guess it was about 5 feet long.  It was long enough that I couldn’t get the whole thing on my camera from head to tail tip:





A smaller, lighter brown stingray swam over top, but it escaped my lens.  A few yards past the stingray I hopped off the rock and back into the seaweed forrest and deeper water:

sea weedII sea weed tunnel sea weed  SeaWeed

Where I found a large fish hovering and facing upward toward the sky:

big fish


and some garibaldi:



gherabaldi in seaweed


and more leopards:





and then I heard some barking.  So I looked up and noticed a sea lion visiting the seaweed forrest:



But I wanted to get into the shallows where I saw two of what I believe to be baby dog sharks or soup fin sharks near the leopards the day before when I didn’t have my camera with me.

And on the way, in rockier terrain I found some colorful fish and lobsters:

bright II










orange blue II



including this tiny one:






Once I made it onto the shore, I headed back over to the area where I had seen the small sharks the day before.  And from the shore I photographed some surface breaches:



shark fins


I headed into the water, and got some more shots of leopards, but didn’t see any other types of sharks in here today:





So I left the water and headed down further along the land and enjoyed the birds:



bird II


And headed back into the water one last time where I found another stingray and a pretty big lobster:



But it was starting to get murky and dark, so I headed home.


For the record, this was around 6:00 PM PST – 7:00PM PST on August 7th 2013.

These were the conditions:

Picture 7

Picture 5