The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum will host an art opening and lecture by Doug Klug on “The Underwater Forests of Anacapa Island” on Thursday, Feb. 19.

A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by the lecture at 7 p.m. The cost is free. To register, click here or call 805.8404 x115.

The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is located at 113 Harbor Way.

The Exhibit Sponsor is Mimi Michaelis. Additional supporters include Don Barthelmess and Carol Kallman and Ed and Mary Stetson. Artist Reception Sponsors are Silvio Di Loreto, the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, MacFarlane, Faletti & Co. LLP, TV-SB and Deep Sea Winery.

Klug’s lecture will be a photographic journey that encompasses more than 20 years of diving the underwater reefs and kelp forests of Anacapa Island. From the Santa Barbara Harbor breakwater, on a clear day, you can see the tiny peaks of Anacapa Island on the horizon, dwarfed by its neighbor Santa Cruz Island. Anacapa Island is only a little over 30 miles from Santa Barbara Harbor, perhaps two hours away, or even less in a fast boat. It is an island that is rich in its heritage of famous shipwrecks including the Winfield Scott, airplane wrecks, such as the well-known P-38 avenger, and is iconic lighthouse and rock arch.

Less known are the kelp forests and underwater reefs that surround the island. Anacapa is somewhat unique in the life that surrounds it, largely due to its location. As the most southern of the “northern” Channel Islands, Anacapa feels the benefits of cool waters from the central coast currents and the warm waters that drift up from the southern islands including Catalina, Santa Barbara, and San Clemente. It’s placement along the coastline allows the island waters to see seasonal fluctuations of temperature from the high 40s to the low 70s. This variation in temperature brings a wide variety of marine life to Anacapa Island and allows visitors to have some amazing encounters with underwater wildlife. California’s Channel Islands have long been referred to as the “Galapagos Islands of the U.S.” Nowhere is this better represented than on the reefs that surround Anacapa Island.

As the seasons pass over the reefs of Anacapa Island, the island’s life changes. In summer months, baitfish like jack mackerel arrive in large numbers, providing food to the seals and sea lions that call the island home year round. The resident garibaldi and sheephead grow up on the reef, transitioning from their tiny juvenile phases to larger adults. Giant Black Sea Bass, enormous fish that can weigh 500 pounds, are seen during the warm summer months.

The lecture will introduce guests to the different types of reefs at Anacapa Island. We will visit the shale ledges, the sand flats, and the majestic kelp forests.

“We will see snapshots of the life on these reefs and explore some of the beautiful, colorful, and playful animals that divers and snorkelers might encounter,” Klug said. “We’ll even discuss some of the challenges facing underwater photographers and equipment used to capture images. My perspective is that of a diver, rather than a hiker, so the island’s above water heritage, though interesting, will not be the main topic. The underwater images I intend to share will show often overlooked beauty that is found in our own back yard. My intent is to expose Anacapa’s underwater beauty those who haven’t seen it before. In some cases, I even hope to invite those who might not have realized just what was out there, to visit and explore Anacapa’s underwater forests.”

Klug’s first dives on Anacapa Island were as a teenager. In 1986, he traveled to Anacapa as part of a 3 day diving excursion aboard the dive boat Conception out of Santa Barbara Harbor. On that trip, at Anacapa Island, he caught his first lobster in the surf grass east of Cat Rock at a dive site he would later learn to call one of his favorite all-time dives. That adventure became lodged in his memory and since then, he has made diving Anacapa Island part of his everyday life earning him the nickname “Diver” Doug. In the early 1990s, Klug began a transition from an underwater hunter to an underwater photographer, taking and underwater camera to Anacapa Island to capture the images.

— Dennis Schuett is the marketing coordinator for the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum.