Monthly Archives

August 2006

Whisper Bear

Alaska, Brown Bear, Katmai, Wildlife

Psst, hey buddy, the salmon fishing sucks here and I’m starving. On three I say we bust a move and take out that white-meat photographer over there…

Brown bear (grizzly bear), Ursus arctos, Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska

Brown bear (grizzly bear).
Image ID: 17158
Species: Brown bear, Ursus arctos
Location: Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA

See also:

Photos of brown bears catching salmon
Photos of brown bears eating salmon
Photos of brown bears fighting
Photos of brown bear cubs
Grizzly bear photos
Brown bear photos

Photo of Grizzly Bears Fighting

Alaska, Brown Bear, Katmai

The brown bear on the right, which we nicknamed Scarface for his battered head bearing many previous scars, got hammered hard by the boar on the left. Scarface was not having any luck catching salmon and tried to steal a fish from the one on the left. Big mistake. The bright gash on Scarface, below the left ear, was freshened just seconds before this shot. It was quite a battle, much of it obscured by flying water which killed most of the photo opportunities. It was sad to see the humbled Scarface afterward as he moved to the side but remained on the scene for a while, licking his wounds literally. Life is not easy for these animals.

Two mature brown bears fight to establish hierarchy and fishing rights, Ursus arctos, Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska

Two mature brown bears fight to establish hierarchy and fishing rights.
Image ID: 17036
Species: Brown bear, Ursus arctos
Location: Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA

Two mature brown bears fight to establish hierarchy and fishing rights, Ursus arctos, Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska

Two mature brown bears fight to establish hierarchy and fishing rights.
Image ID: 17112
Species: Brown bear, Ursus arctos
Location: Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA

I did not fully appreciate the good fortune of seeing the brawl at the time it happened, I guess it is special to see such a brutal fight between grizzlies at such close range. German Stefan Meyers, a wildlife photographer with years of experience with bears who was next to me rattling off frames with his D2x, said afterward that it was a “lifetime op”.

See also:

Photos of brown bears catching salmon
Photos of brown bears eating salmon
Photos of brown bears fighting
Photos of brown bear cubs
Grizzly bear photos
Brown bear photos

Photo of Brown Bear Catching Salmon

Alaska, Brown Bear, Katmai, National Parks, Wildlife

This Alaskan Brown Bear (or grizzly bear, Ursus arctos) was quite skilled at catching salmon jumping up falls. He had honed his technique and was expert at energy conservation, barely moving until the moment he would suddenly snag a salmon in midair, then barely moving again as he ate it. While he was at the falls, no other bears challenged him for his prime fishing spot.

Brown bear catches a silver salmon at Brooks Falls, Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska

Brown bear catches a silver salmon at Brooks Falls.
Image ID: 16949
Location: Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA

The term “brown bear” is commonly used to refer to the members of Ursus arctos found in coastal areas where salmon is the primary food source. Brown bears found inland and in northern habitats are often called “grizzlies“.

See also:

Photos of brown bears catching salmon
Photos of brown bears eating salmon
Photos of brown bears fighting
Photos of brown bear cubs
Grizzly bear photos
Brown bear photos

Guadalupe Island White Shark ID Project

Great White Shark, Guadalupe Island, Mexico, Sharks, Wildlife

I had an interesting conversation with Nicole Nasby Lucas of the Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research yesterday. Ms. Lucas and PIER co-founder Michael Domeier PhD have been conducting a capture/recapture study on great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) at Guadalupe Island, Mexico, building a database of identification photos and video of white sharks that inhabit the island. To date PIER has 73 individual sharks in their database, and the count increases each season. PIER also places a small number of satellite tags on Guadalupe white sharks to learn where they are going once they leave the island. Interestingly, some of the sharks tagged at Guadalupe Island swim all the way to the Hawaiian islands, including two of the sharks tagged during the most recent season. By observing the white sharks in this way, the PIER researchers are able to collect evidence about how the sharks utilize the island habitat and their migrations to and from the island.

I have had the good fortune of naming five of the PIER sharks by virtue of being the first photographer to capture each of them on film. The three females are named after my two daughters and my mother (you don’t think I am stupid enough to name one after my wife do you?). The two males are named after the notorious bachelors on Sex in the City: Big and The Russian.

In this case Ms. Lucas was able to link the right side and left side photographs by finding a common element between them: a notched tip on the left side ventral fin. Here she is, Guadalupe Island great white shark #57, “Leslie”:

For more information about PIER’s white shark research at Guadalupe Island, how the identification process works and what scientific publications have resulted from the study, visit the PIER website and see the online catalog.

Keywords: great white shark photos, Carcharodon carcharias photos, Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research

Torpedo Ray Photo

Channel Islands, Fish, Underwater Life

In this photo a California torpedo ray (Torpedo californica), or electric ray, is hovering amid the kelp forest while my diving partner Brad Silva is filming it with his bright torchlights and video camera. Santa Rosa Island, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, California.

Pacific torpedo ray in kelp forest, filming lights, Torpedo californica, Macrocystis pyrifera, Santa Rosa Island

Pacific torpedo ray in kelp forest, filming lights.
Image ID: 01009
Species: Pacific torpedo ray, Torpedo californica, Macrocystis pyrifera
Location: Santa Rosa Island, California, USA

Here are all of my Torpedo Ray Photos

Galapagos Photos

Galapagos Diaries, Sharks, Underwater Life

I have posted 575 new images shot on my latest Galapagos Islands diving trip, a 15-day run on the liveaboard M/V Sky Dancer. We had phenomenal encounters with schools of hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini), literally by the hundreds and thousands on nearly all dives at Wolf and Darwin, not to mention good luck with Galapagos sharks (Carcharhinus galapagensis), Galapagos penguins (Spheniscus mendiculus) and brief looks at marine iguanas underwater. Diving in the central islands was OK, not great, although we did have good fish displays at Cousins and clean water and sunlight at Gordon Rocks.

Scalloped hammerhead shark swims over a reef in the Galapagos Islands.  The hammerheads eyes and other sensor organs are placed far apart on its wide head to give the shark greater ability to sense the location of prey, Sphyrna lewini, Wolf Island

Scalloped hammerhead shark swims over a reef in the Galapagos Islands. The hammerheads eyes and other sensor organs are placed far apart on its wide head to give the shark greater ability to sense the location of prey.
Image ID: 16246
Species: Scalloped hammerhead shark, Sphyrna lewini
Location: Wolf Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos shark, Carcharhinus galapagensis, Wolf Island

Galapagos shark.
Image ID: 16239
Species: Galapagos shark, Carcharhinus galapagensis
Location: Wolf Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Hammerhead sharks, schooling, black and white / grainy, Sphyrna lewini, Darwin Island

Hammerhead sharks, schooling, black and white / grainy.
Image ID: 16254
Species: Scalloped hammerhead shark, Sphyrna lewini
Location: Darwin Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos photos (July 2006)
Galapagos photos (all trips: 1996, 1998, 2006)

Newport Photos from an August Swell

Surf

A nice swell just hit southern California. I have some photos posted. For afternoon in-water shots see August 4th #1 and August 4th #2, and for beach shots see August 5th #1 and August 5th #2. Sorry, but some of the beach shots on August 5th are backlit, I asked the sun to move around to a different position but it would not oblige.

Surfer nearly collides with stray board, #3 of a 6 frame sequence, Newport Beach

Surfer nearly collides with stray board, #3 of a 6 frame sequence, Newport Beach.
Image ID: 16835
Location: Newport Beach, California, USA

Wave breaking, tube, Newport Beach

Wave breaking, tube, Newport Beach.
Image ID: 16802
Location: Newport Beach, California, USA

Newport Today

Surf

My wife and I took the kids up to NB for an afternoon in the sun. I had a good time in the water and got a better workout than I do in my usual pool swim, but after 3 hours of watching Dad trying to figure out how to photograph the waves without getting pummeled my kids were pretty bored so we took them to El Ranchito for dinner.

Wave breaking, tube, Newport Beach

Wave breaking, tube, Newport Beach.
Image ID: 16803
Location: Newport Beach, California, USA

Wave, The Wedge, Newport Beach, California

Wave.
Image ID: 16819
Location: The Wedge, Newport Beach, California, USA

Photo of a Galapagos Tortoise

Galapagos Diaries

The Galapagos tortoise, Geochelone spp., an endemic species of the Galapagos islands, is thought to have arrived in the Galapagos archipelago on rafts of debris. As it became distributed throughout the islands, it evolved into 14 distinct species of which 11 are still in existence and are endangered. In some species of Galapagos tortoise the shell is distinctly shaped (e.g., saddle-backed, domed) depending on whether the food sources require a head-raised or head-lowered posture during feeding. Galapagos tortoises can weigh up to 600 lbs with a shell five feet across, and live up to 150 years. For many years, sailors visiting the Galapagos islands would collect Galapagos tortoises and store them aboard ship, since the tortoises could live for months without food or water and would constitute a good source of meat for long voyages. It is thought that perhaps 200,000 tortoises perished this way.

Galapagos tortoise, Santa Cruz Island species, highlands of Santa Cruz island, Geochelone nigra

Galapagos tortoise, Santa Cruz Island species, highlands of Santa Cruz island.
Image ID: 16480
Species: Galapagos tortoise, Geochelone nigra
Location: Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos tortoise, Santa Cruz Island species, highlands of Santa Cruz island, Geochelone nigra

Galapagos tortoise, Santa Cruz Island species, highlands of Santa Cruz island.
Image ID: 16481
Species: Galapagos tortoise, Geochelone nigra
Location: Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos tortoise, Santa Cruz Island species, highlands of Santa Cruz island, Geochelone nigra

Galapagos tortoise, Santa Cruz Island species, highlands of Santa Cruz island.
Image ID: 16484
Species: Galapagos tortoise, Geochelone nigra
Location: Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

These free-ranging, wild Galapagos tortoises were photographed in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island (Indefatigable).

Keywords: Galapagos Islands, Galapagos tortoise, Geochelone spp., endemic, endangered / threatened.