This was one of my most challenging and yet rewarding photography experiences. I was sitting on a wharf, while the sun was setting in the late afternoon, watching pelicans in small groups dive bomb over and over again for food. I had to photograph a moving target, in frame and in focus, and hopefully come away with some incredible poses of these pelicans in flight. This is my favorite photo, I hope you enjoy seeing these incredible birds as much as I enjoyed taking their pictures.
Once while sitting on a Western Australian beach, I was very amused by the appearance of a few seagulls which looked like they were wearing a black toupee. It was also funny because they were having as bad a hair day as I was and were looking quite frazzled (WA is well known for becoming increasingly windy in the afternoon). It turns out that the ones with hair are not seagulls, they are a different kind of bird called a crested tern. Obviously both gulls and terns are quite happy to have each other as company. Also, if this photo is at all representative of these populations… seagulls are lazier and prefer to sit down.
This photo not only marks one of the highlights I experienced on a recent trip to Mexico, but a highlight of my life. The beach we stayed on was incredibly beautiful with endless white sand and calm turquoise water. Just outside our room was an enclosed area with numerous little signs posts in the ground, much like a cemetery (see photo below). Curiously I went to investigate, and to my delight I realized these signs marked mounds of recently laid turtle eggs. Each sign had NIDO written on it (meaning nest in Spanish) with the number of eggs buried (usually 100 or more), and the date they were laid. I was instantly appreciative of the care the resorts have put into this endeavor, when it would certainly have been easier to ignore that they have encroached on a turtle nesting beach. Each night the resort security was seen patrolling the beach, and staff would then relocate any newly laid eggs to these protected areas to stop them getting destroyed by beach goers. As I was reading each of the signs, I realized that literally thousands of baby sea turtles were incubating in the sand in front of me. I quickly Googled how long it takes for baby turtles to hatch and at what time of day, learning that it takes about 8-10 weeks and they hatch at night. As they were mostly laid in August, I knew my chances were slim, but a few had July dates, so I was still hopeful of a newborn turtle sighting.
Each night after dark I checked for baby turtles, and was disappointed that they all remained buried. Then, one day at noon when I looked out the window, I glimpsed a tiny movement in the turtle enclosure and ran out to find two little blue babies scurrying around in the sand! Worried that the midday sun would quickly cook them, I sent my husband to notify the resort staff while I guarded my babies. The resort staff came running with their “turtle tub” and let us pick them up to put them in (see photo below). They also tracked the little prints in the sand to identify which nest they were born from and started digging to uncover any more which had hatched, but not yet escaped the sand and found 5 more. I asked if they would take them to the water to release them, and they explained to me that if they did, the birds would quickly eat them, so they keep them safe until nightfall. That night as we were walking along the beach, each of the resorts came to the water with their babies in a tub. One of them contained hundreds of teeny, tiny turtles born that day. We were each handed two turtles to place gently on the sand and watch as they scurried into the ocean waves. I will admit that I cried as I did this, completely overwhelmed at the experience, and of knowing that I helped these little cuties safely reach the water. Simultaneously, my heart was also breaking with the realization that many will not make it far, and instead become prey to the monsters lurking in the dark waters. I was also in absolute awe of mother nature, knowing that one day the few girls that make it to maturity, possess in their tiny brains the GPS coordinates of this same beach, which they will revisit (in 20-50 years) to lay their very own eggs.
To visit my other turtle post, click here.
This past weekend I went to Mexico and had some amazing experiences that I will share with you next week. However, of all of my photographs, this one was quite unexpectedly the most beautiful (and I never thought I would say that about a giant grasshopper!). This almighty insect which visited my balcony was an incredible lime green color with striking blue eyes. It happily sat still while I took my time getting the photo just right. Later that same night as I was walking along the beach, I spotted a few more (even bigger ones!) which I almost stepped on in the dark. One of them was in the direct path of a crowd of people coming down the beach and in need of rescuing. I decided to carefully nudge the insect onto the book I was holding so that I could safely relocate it (mind you, the book was no bigger than the bug itself). However, rather than happily complying with my request, it instead took a flying leap onto my knee, and although I am not at all afraid of insects, this was still a most unpleasant surprise! After a successful second attempt, I moved the big guy out of harms way, and I’m sure he will make a very large and tasty breakfast for some bird in the morning.
I can say that I have been a truly lucky human being to have had the opportunity to swim with sea turtles on quite a few occasions. This turtle was photographed while snorkeling at a beach on Fitzroy Island, a beautiful tropical paradise near Cairns (in Queensland, Australia). A lazy afternoon, just myself, my husband and several turtles… and we watched as they went about their daily munching on sea grasses. To swim with these beautiful reptiles makes you appreciate how graceful they are at moving under the water, and they are quite content to have you swimming nearby. You’d think that for an animal which has outlived the dinosaurs, they should be happy, but instead they always look sad. Actually many of them are now listed on the endangered species list, which also makes me incredibly sad. I especially get upset when people think that rather than just observing wildlife, they interfere with it. I have seen this happen to turtles in Hawaii, where divers or snorkelers will grab onto them. This is NOT ok, and more respect should be given to these ancient and incredible creatures.