Norbert Wu’s Favorite Images: Monterey

Norbert Wu’s Favorite Images: Monterey

After my San Blas experience, I took a marine ecology course at Hopkins Marine Station and then spent the summer of 1984 diving around the Monterey Peninsula in a 10-foot Avon. I convinced my friend Spencer Yeh to spend two months with me, diving every day in the cold but astoundingly rich waters of Monterey Bay. Thanks, Spencer.

I remember taking this image very well, even though I took it in 1986, almost 30 years ago. My friend Matt Murphy and I were diving at Point Lobos State Park one day, while I was working as a “systems analyst” for Daisy Systems Inc. in Silicon Valley. Matt was a fellow engineer who also dove. We fast became friends. On this dive, hundreds of giant purple jellies had floated into Bluefish Cove at Point Lobos and become stranded there. Most of these jellies had dozens of these commensal, or perhaps juvenile, crabs that lived within them. The crabs were probably protected from predators by living with the jelly’s bell.

I clearly remember coming across these jellies and Matt very patiently handling the jellies while I photographed them. I was limited by the frame of my Nikonos-and-extension tube combination. Out of 36 images, this one jumped out at me on the light table. Thanks Matt.

Norbert Wu on Wetpixel
Juvenile Crab in Pelagic Jelly (Pelagia colorata)

A juvenile slender crab crawls unharmed among the bell of a purple oceanic jelly. One large jelly can harbor hundreds of these small crabs, which ride along with the jelly, then drop off in shallow waters, to develop into larger, heavily armored adults. Monterey, California.

This image was published a bunch of times. It was a difficult image to get just right when published. Outside Magazine published a bunch of my images in their Exposure section when I was getting started. That was nice, but then the photo editor lost one of my favorite and most valuable original transparencies that he requested for a cover. Never did much work for them after that!

About the author:

Norbert Wu is an independent photographer and filmmaker who specializes in marine issues. His writing and photography have appeared in thousands of books, films, and magazines. He is the author and photographer of seventeen books on wildlife and photography and the originator and photographer for several children’s book series on the oceans. Exhibits of his work have been shown at the American Museum of Natural History, the California Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Museum of Wildlife Art.

He was awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) Artists and Writers Grants to document wildlife and research in Antarctica in 1997, 1999, and 2000. In 2000, he was awarded the Antarctica Service Medal of the United States of America “for his contributions to exploration and science in the U.S. Antarctic Program.” His films include a pioneering high-definition television (HDTV) program on Antarctic’s underwater world for Thirteen/WNET New York’s Nature series that airs on PBS.

He is one of only two photographers to have been awarded a Pew Marine Conservation Fellowship, the world’s most prestigious award in ocean conservation and outreach. He was named “Outstanding Photographer of the Year” for 2004 by the North American Nature Photographers Association (NANPA), the highest honor an American nature photographer can be given by his peers.