Dive Report: Farnsworth Bank

By Michael Zeigler and Todd Winner


A giant-spined sea star trying to blend in with the purple hydrocoral at ~100 fsw. Nikon D810 in a Sea&Sea housing, Sigma 15mm fisheye lens, Nauticam 140mm dome, and dual Ikelite DS160 strobes. 1/50, ƒ/16, ISO 400.


We recently headed out to Farnsworth Bank the backside of Catalina Island, California. Located about five miles from the shore of Catalina, Farnsworth Bank is an underwater seamount, with the top of the reef reaching 50′ below the surface of the Pacific. From there, the reef drops off to hundreds of feet deep, forming sheer walls and ledges on the way down.


Michael glides past the top of the pinnacle, encrusted with purple hydrocoral. Canon 5DSR, Nauticam Housing, Canon 8-15mm Fisheye lens, Zen Mini Dome, and dual Ikelite 160 strobes. 1/200, f/8.0, ISO 160


A large red octopus amidst the purple hydrocoral was one of the highlights of the second dive at FWB. 1/60, ƒ/16, ISO 400.

The big draw to this site, besides the vast quantities of fish and torpedo rays, is the purple hydrocoral. Found at very few dive sites around Southern California, purple hydrocoral always delivers at Farnsworth Bank.

On this day, current was minimal until the afternoon, and visibility was marginal but the water was blue. Water temperatures averaged 59ºF and topside it was sunny but cool (~60ºF).


Close up on a nice outcrop of purple hydrocoral. The coral is quite fragile so take care not to damage it with your fins or other equipment. 1/200, f/8.0. ISO 160

The last dive of the day was on the “front” side of the west end at a site called Eagle’s Nest. Although we were treated to seeing a few bald eagles high on the cliff above, the site delivered very little photographically. I guess we’ll have to go back!

Michael ZeiglerMichael Zeigler is a contributor, instructor, and trip leader for Samy’s Underwater Photo & Video, as well as an AAUS Scientific Diver. More of Michael’s underwater photography can be seen at www.seainfocus.com. For the latest information on workshops and trips, sign up for our newsletter.

Todd WinnerTodd Winner is a contributor, instructor, and trip leader for Samy’s Underwater Photo & Video and has over 20 years of experience in underwater still and broadcast video. To see more of Todd’s work please go to www.toddwinner.com. For the latest information on workshops and trips, sign up for our newsletter.

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