The three seabirds

The three seabirds – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Not all seabirds are what we imagine. When I hear “seabird” I think of a large pointy-winged hunter gliding over the ocean, waiting to dive for its prey just below the surface of the water. Or, I think of a huge colony of squabbling seagulls on the sand fighting over their food. In this photo however, are a trio of fairly timid and quiet seabirds that are often overlooked for a photo. I think that the red-brown feathers and bright orange legs are a perfect match for this crystal clear, aqua blue water.

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Dance of the Pelicans – Scene 1

Dance of the Pelicans 1 – Photograph by Laura Lecce

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.

Jamaican shore crab

Jamaican shore crab - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Jamaican shore crab – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Today we start the week off with this smiley shore crab from Jamaica. This crab made me realize just how many different creatures are decorated with white spots and lines (one of which is the whale shark, click here for post). People tend not to pay too much attention to crabs unless they can eat them, they are however fascinating to watch. These shore crabs may look like they have thin spindly legs, but they are fantastic at holding on even when the rocks are getting pummeled with waves. They eat just about anything and everything including any animals that are sick or dead, but they also eat worms, barnacles, clams, mussels, snails and algae. Their biggest fear are sea gulls especially when the crabs are malting (because their new shell is still a bit soft), which explains why they are so quick to scurry to safety under a rock ledge if you startle them. Thankfully this one was quite willing to pose for my photos.

Psychedelic Clams

Psychedelic Clam - Photograph by Laura Lecce
Psychedelic Clam – Photograph by Laura Lecce

This gorgeous and very large clam was photographed while swimming off a beach on Fitzroy Island, Australia. This beautiful island is situated just off the coast of Queensland about a 45 minute boat ride from Cairns. It is surrounded by coral reef that is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, where you can see many different corals, clams, fish and even turtles. Clams are incredibly fascinating creatures especially in regards to their life cycle and reproductive habits. They are born male and remain so for the first few years of life and produce sperm to reproduce. Once mature they also develop ovaries and produce eggs making them hermaphrodites. To maintain genetic diversity, clams living in the same area will spawn at the same time. Clam spawning, along with many corals takes place when sea temperatures rise and the moon is at the correct phase. Once spawning has begun they simultaneously release reproductive pheromones telling other nearby clams to spawn. First they release sperm which gets moved away by the current (hopefully to meet another clams eggs), and then they release eggs (to hopefully meet another clams sperm). After fertilization takes place the baby clam passes through a mobile larval stage (which sadly many do not survive), before finally settling on a permanent home and growing into the beautiful, colorful clams that we see amongst the corals.

For other underwater posts, please click here.

The ones with hair

The Ones with Hair - Photograph by Laura Lecce
The Ones with Hair – Photograph by Laura Lecce

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.