Monthly Archives

March 2005

Waterspout Photo — Tornado Over Water

Bahamas, Weather

We were recently in the Bahamas, enjoying a week of diving with sharks. We were treated to tornado watching as a bonus. The weather was windier and cooler than I was used to, not having been to the Bahamas in winter before. One morning we awoke at anchor at Great Isaac Island surrounded by brooding skies and lots of towering clouds. Some sort of front (a cold front?) was passing by taking the clouds along with it, and there was a distinct edge to the cell of weather, with clear skies meeting a ridge of clouds. As the morning passed we watched at least 10 waterspouts form along the edge of the weather cell. Waterspouts are simply tornados that form over water. Instead of tossing farm animals and mobile homes about as tornados do, waterspouts just grab the ocean and pull it upward in a great column. You don’t want to be part of the ocean that is grabbed.

The mature vortex of a ocean waterspout, seen against cumulus clouds in the background. Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water, Great Isaac Island

The mature vortex of a ocean waterspout, seen against cumulus clouds in the background. Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water.
Image ID: 10846
Location: Great Isaac Island, Bahamas

First a funnel would form in the sky: a vortex created when two conflicting winds shear at each other. The vortex might not be vertical initially, but eventually it would orient vertically and the funnel would begin to extend downward. Gradually the vortex would touch the ocean surface, causing a visible disturbance on the water and drawing water vapor upward into the vortex until the entire vortex was visible from water to sky. Most of the waterspouts were too distant to photograph well, but a couple passed by within range of 200mm and 400mm lenses (thanks Ken for loaning me the big lens). In one of the waterspouts, the vortex structure was clearly apparent in which a thick wall outer surrounded a inner cylinder. It was great, sort of like what the tornado chasers in Kansas and Nebraska see except that we had the advantage of watching them just off the stern while eating breakfast in the comfort of Jim Abernethy’s MV Shearwater, waiting for our sharks to arrive. It was a remarkable morning.

A mature waterspout, seen extending from clouds above to the ocean surface. A significant disturbance on the ocean is clearly visible, the waterspout has reached is maximum intensity. Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water, Great Isaac Island

A mature waterspout, seen extending from clouds above to the ocean surface. A significant disturbance on the ocean is clearly visible, the waterspout has reached is maximum intensity. Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water.
Image ID: 10851
Location: Great Isaac Island, Bahamas

Two simultaneous waterspouts. Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water, Great Isaac Island

Two simultaneous waterspouts. Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water.
Image ID: 10854
Location: Great Isaac Island, Bahamas

Keywords: waterspout photo, tornado photo, vortex, waterspout pict

Caribbean Reef Shark Photo

Sharks, Underwater Life

These Caribbean reef sharks (Carcharhinus perezi) were photographed a few weeks ago in the northern Bahamas:

Caribbean reef shark, ampullae of Lorenzini visible on snout, Carcharhinus perezi

Caribbean reef shark, ampullae of Lorenzini visible on snout.
Image ID: 10550
Species: Caribbean reef shark, Carcharhinus perezi
Location: Bahamas

Caribbean reef shark, Carcharhinus perezi

Caribbean reef shark.
Image ID: 10549
Species: Caribbean reef shark, Carcharhinus perezi
Location: Bahamas

Caribbean reef shark swims over a coral reef, Carcharhinus perezi

Caribbean reef shark swims over a coral reef.
Image ID: 10552
Species: Caribbean reef shark, Carcharhinus perezi
Location: Bahamas

Caribbean reef shark, Carcharhinus perezi

Caribbean reef shark.
Image ID: 10555
Species: Caribbean reef shark, Carcharhinus perezi
Location: Bahamas

Nikon D100, 12-24mm f/4 lens, submersible housing, two Sea and Sea YS90 strobes, bait.

Keywords: Caribbean reef shark photo, Carcharhinus perezi, underwater phot

Photo of Hermissenda Crassicornis Nudibranch

California, Invertebrate, Monterey, Underwater Life

This photo of a Hermissenda crassicornis, also known as an “Opalescent nudibranch”, was shot in the early 90’s near Carmel on the Monterey Peninsula. We rented a house in the town of Carmel for a week. Anticipating foggy skies and cold murky water, we did not expect to do much diving. However, surprised with sunny weather and clearer-than-normal water, we made a number boat dives and a few beach dives not far from the house, resulting in a nice variety of invertebrate images including some nudibranchs. This is one of those images.

Nudibranch on calcareous coralline algae, Hermissenda crassicornis, Monterey, California

Nudibranch on calcareous coralline algae.
Image ID: 01064
Species: Opalescent nudibranch, Hermissenda crassicornis
Location: Monterey, California, USA

The Sea Slug Forum has a great fact sheet page on this species. Also, the SlugSite has an excellent species description of Hermissenda crassicornis.

Keywords: nudibranch photo, sea slug, Hermissenda crassicornis, underwater, photograph, Monterey, California, Carmel.

Boobie Photos

Birds, Galapagos Diaries, Seabird

For some reason many visitors to this web site have been searching for boobie photos. We simply do not understand the intense interest in photos of boobies, or in boobies in general. Boobies are just a bunch of seabirds and not even particularly rare. The blue boobies seem to elicit the most interest — visitors seem amazed that they come in a deep blue color, naturally with no cosmetic alteration necessary. (They also come in brown and red, and some even have masks!) In spite of all the boobie traffic, however, nobody buys the boobie photographs, they just furtively look and move on. We have yet to license one of our boobies to anyone, until today when we finally sold a boobie photo, a fine art print in fact. So we are no longer amateur boobie photographers. We can honestly say that we proudly photograph boobies all over the world, professionally. You know the look: beautiful boobies, endless white sand beaches and glamorous island settings. Big ones, small ones, perky ones, drab ones, bodacious ones. We’ve been thinking of starting up a specialty website, www.firstclassboobies.com or www.worldsbestboobies.com.

Blue-footed booby, courtship display, Sula nebouxii, North Seymour Island

Blue-footed booby, courtship display.
Image ID: 01791
Species: Blue-footed booby, Sula nebouxii
Location: North Seymour Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Blue-footed booby, courtship display, Punta Suarez, Sula nebouxii, Hood Island

Blue-footed booby, courtship display, Punta Suarez.
Image ID: 01797
Species: Blue-footed booby, Sula nebouxii
Location: Hood Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Blue-footed booby, Punta Suarez, Sula nebouxii, Hood Island

Blue-footed booby, Punta Suarez.
Image ID: 01801
Species: Blue-footed booby, Sula nebouxii
Location: Hood Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Blue-footed booby with chick, Sula nebouxii, North Seymour Island

Blue-footed booby with chick.
Image ID: 01808
Species: Blue-footed booby, Sula nebouxii
Location: North Seymour Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Keywords: boobies, boobie photos, boobie pictures, boobie photographs

Arabian Gulf or Persian Gulf?

Photo of the Day

It appears my humble website has caught the eye of people who are concerned with the historical and modern naming of the Persian Gulf, also known as the Arabian Gulf. Certain political interests would like to see the body of water bordering Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain referred to only as the “Persian Gulf”. However, National Geographic has updated their atlas to include “Arabian Gulf” as an valid alternate name. Apparently this development is threatening to Iranian interests. One group of interested individuals appears to be searching the web for references to “Arabian Gulf” and then contacting the authors of any offending pages to request that the term “Arabian Gulf” be corrected to “Persian Gulf”. I am one of those offending authors, by virtue of some entries in my photographic database that use the term “Arabian Gulf” as the source for some mollusk specimens.

The following three emails from arrived in my inbox last night in what seems to be a concerted effort to politely clear up my confusion on the matter of the naming of the “Persian Gulf”. I’ll try to correct the database soon, changing the reference to Arabian Gulf to Persian Gulf.

Dear Sir/Madam,
I noted that you have used the wrong term of “Arabian Gulf”  instead of the historical and internationally recognized term of the Persian Gulf in your Web site;
http://www.oceanlight.com/lightbox.php?lr=Arabian_Gulf

I would like to point out that according to all historical/geographical documents, also United Nations’ directives, the name of this waterway which separates Iran (Persia) from Arabian Peninsula is the PERSIAN GULF :

UN Links :
http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/map/profile/westasia.pdf
http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/map/profile/iran.pdf
http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/maplib/docs/escwa.pdf

PERSIAN GULF is also the only term used by the U.S. Department
of State:
http://www.state.gov/p/nea/ci/c2422.htm
or http://www.state.gov/p/nea/ci/c2404.htm

You can visit this page for some maps & documents and see even Arab scholars until 1960s used “Al-Khalij Al-Farsi” (Arabic name of the “Persian Gulf”);
http://www.persiangulfonline.org/maps.htm

“Arabian Gulf” in fact is the ancient name of the present-day “Red Sea” (located between Arabia and Africa).

Please imagine  that all nations start to rename the historical and legal names of seas and oceans: African people try to change the name of Indian Ocean to African Ocean, American people rename Gulf of Mexico to Gulf of America or Pakistani people try to use Pakistani Sea instead of the Arabian Sea !….

Also please be aware that Persian (Iranian) people never tried to use “Gulf of Iran”/”Gulf of Persia” instead of “Gulf of Oman” and never tried to chnage the name of “Arabian Sea” into “Persian Sea”.

May I ask you to kindly use the proper term in that article?
Thanks so much for your attention.


Dear Sir/Madam,

“The Persian Gulf” separates Iran(Persia) from the Arabian Peninsula.Please, use the proper name of this body of water.Unfortunately, you have used the ancient name of the “Red Sea” for the Persian Gulf:

http://www.oceanlight.com/lightbox.php?lr=Arabian_Gulf

I look forward to your positive reaction.


According to all historical, geographical and international documents, such as United Nation’s directives, the body of water between Iran and Arabian Peninsula is only called “Persian Gulf”.

For more information, please visit:

http://www.persiangulfonline.org/maps.htm

Let me remind you that “Arabian Gulf” is the old name of “Red Sea”:

http://www.jpmaps.co.uk/images/24552.jpg

Please only use its real and full name.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Here is yet another one that just arrived. It appears that once a web site has been identified that contains the term “Arabian Gulf”, many individuals associated with the Persion Gulf Task Force send emails to the website’s author to persuade him to change “Arabian Gulf” to “Persian Gulf”.

Dear Distinguished Members,

The reference to the invented term “Arabian Gulf” is historically and legally incorrect. The correct designation for the body of water is the Persian Gulf. The Arabian Gulf is the ancient designation of the present-day Red Sea:
http://www.jpmaps.co.uk/images/24552.jpg

The term “Arabian Gulf” is as arbirary and invalid as re-naming the English Channel as the “French Channel”, the Indian Ocean as “the Pakistan Ocean”, or the Thames River of London as the “Celtic River”. Think of the social, political, economic and historical chaos that would ensue from unwarranted actions, or should I say “arbitrary labeling”?

Iranians certainly do not refer to the Arabian Sea as “The Persian Sea”. This is as historically and legally invalid as using “Arabian Gulf” to refer to the Persian Gulf.

In legal terms, the United Nations has twice recognized the legality of the term “Persian Gulf” (UNAD 311/March 5, 1971 and UNLA 45.8.2 (c) on August 10, 1984). It is significant that all Arab countries have signed the UN documents. For further information consult the following links:
http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/english/htmain.htm
http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/map/profile/westasia.pdf
http://www.un.org/Depts/Cartographic/map/profile/iran.pdf
http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/maplib/docs/escwa.pdf

Note that U.S. Department of State also refers to the correct legal and historically valid term Persian Gulf. For reference please consult:
http://www.state.gov/p/nea/ci/c2422.htm
http://www.state.gov/p/nea/ci/c2404.htm

Arab scholars up to the 1960s have also referred to the body of water as per its correct name “Kahleej-ol-Faris” (Persian Gulf) (see George Hourani’s “Arab Seafaring: In the Indian Ocean in Ancient and Early Medieval Times”, Princeton University Press, 1995). For further information you may consult:
http://www.persiangulfonline.org/maps.htm

As noted above, the “Arabian Gulf” actually referred to the present-day Red Sea in antiquity (see Herodotus). The invention of “Arabian Gulf” with respect to its historically incorrect reference to the Persian Gulf was initiated by Sir Charles Belgrave (advisor to the Emir of Bahrain in 1926) who made the formal proposal to change the name of Persian Gulf in 1937 – the initiative was rejected by the British government at the time. For a popular reference regarding Sir Belgrave’s activities, see TIME Magazine’s August 27, 1956 entitled “The Uncontrollable Genie). Sir Belgrave’s failure did not restrain Mr. Roderic Owen (an employee of British Petroleum in the 1950s) from reviving the project of name change for the Persian Gulf.

The misapplication of terms, such as using the old term for the Red Sea (Arabian Gulf) instead of Persian Gulf, was an ingenious step in creating geopolitical and popular friction between Arabs and Iranians.

The term “Arabian Gulf” is a geopolitical invention devoid of historical context or meaning; it is also illegal (see aforementioned UN actions). 

Note that the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) has removed all references to “Arabian Gulf” and now correctly refers to the body of water as The Persian Gulf. This is the result of a contact made to Russ Germain (Broadcast Language advisor, CBC Radio Canada) almost 3 years ago. On Monday Feb.11, 2002, Mr. Germain recommended that all references to “Arabian Gulf” be removed from CBC broadcasts in favour of the legal and correct term, Persian Gulf. I can forward a transcript of that communication to you upon request.

To quote Russ Germain with regard to the aforementioned letter, the incorrect Belgrave-Owen term “Arabian Gulf” is mainly the result of a “successful public relations campaign undertaken in the name of geopolitical interests”.

It would be appreciated that the geographical error be rectified as soon as possible. Your attention to this matter is most appreciated.