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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today is an extra special Friday… the one year anniversary of my blog!!! I want to thank everyone (all of my followers) for your support which has made blogging the wonderful experience it has been so far. Today I am breaking Friday tradition, and instead I want to share with you an alternate photo of one of my earliest posts. The original photo below (click here for original post) was of a peaceful Western Australian seascape with well behaved, black and white cormorants. Todays photo above was taken just moments before that one, the cormorants squabbling over a territorial dispute involving expensive waterfront real estate. Together these photos are the perfect metaphor for how quickly life can change in a mere moment, and that no matter how ugly a current situation is, the calm will eventually arrive.
Early on in my blog I also had a post on my battle with anxiety, especially bad when I travel on airplanes (click here for post). I am proud to say that two days ago I was courageous enough to fly alone for the first time in about 10 years. It wasn’t a great experience with definite moments of panic, but I calmed myself down and I made it. I did it by myself and I can be very proud of that! So here is to the incredible changes that one minute, one hour, or one year of time can bring to someone’s life. Happy Weekend Everyone!!!
This past trip to Mexico we made sure we went when the whale sharks are known to migrate to the warmer waters of the Mexican-Caribbean Sea, usually mid May to September. This photograph was taken by our guide from Ocean Tours, of my husband next to one of these gentle and giant whale sharks. Unfortunately I didn’t make it into many photos because every time I jumped into the water, I was immediately transfixed by the majestic creature in front of me, that I would forget to channel my inner Olympic swimmer to keep up with them! The bus-sized whale sharks were slowly cruising through the water, sucking up plankton without a care in sight, and even with their slow motions easily outswam us. I really enjoyed going on this tour because it felt like Mexican authorities really care about these mysterious beauties. There are many rules and regulations in place to make sure that people are not infringing on the whale sharks natural behaviors, feeding and migratory habits. They limit the season length, the number of boats, and allow only two people with a guide in the water with the shark at any time. They really want to make this a sustainable attraction, and I feel that many countries could use this as a great example that nature should be prioritized over fast monetary gain. Although I am not in any way a comfortable boat person, and after a while was “feeding the fishes” rather than swimming with them, I would recommend this fantastic experience to anyone.
Please click here to see my other underwater posts.
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.