Monthly Archives

June 2007

Photos of Common Dolphins

California, Photo of the Day, San Diego

Common dolphin, Delphinus delphis, San Diego, California

Common dolphin.
Image ID: 00071
Species: Common dolphin, Delphinus delphis
Location: San Diego, California, USA

These common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) are gathered just under the surface of the water in front of my boat. We’ll motor slowly, leaning over the bow, trying to get a good picture of them without it looking like it was taken through a shower door. Its pretty hard to get one where the surface disappears entirely — if the water is glassed off then the sky is usually overcast and makes the shot hazy, and if the sky is clear blue then there is usually wind which chops up the surface. This is about the best I’ve done at this sort of shot — so far.

Photo of a Black Bear in a Tree

Black Bear, Minnesota, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

Black bear in a tree.  Black bears are expert tree climbers and will ascend trees if they sense danger or the approach of larger bears, to seek a place to rest, or to get a view of their surroundings, Ursus americanus, Orr, Minnesota

Black bear in a tree. Black bears are expert tree climbers and will ascend trees if they sense danger or the approach of larger bears, to seek a place to rest, or to get a view of their surroundings.
Image ID: 18792
Species: American black bear, Ursus americanus
Location: Orr, Minnesota, USA

Despite it’s cinnamon coloration, this is a American black bear (Ursus americanus). As can be seen, it is a natural climber. It will hustle up a tree if it feels threatened by the approach of a larger bear, or if it is seeking a quiet place to rest, or if it wants to get a better look at its surroundings.

Black Bear Photo

Black Bear, Minnesota, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

Black bear walking in a grassy meadow.  Black bears can live 25 years or more, and range in color from deepest black to chocolate and cinnamon brown.  Adult males typically weigh up to 600 pounds.  Adult females weight up to 400 pounds and reach sexual maturity at 3 or 4 years of age.  Adults stand about 3' tall at the shoulder, Ursus americanus, Orr, Minnesota

Black bear walking in a grassy meadow. Black bears can live 25 years or more, and range in color from deepest black to chocolate and cinnamon brown. Adult males typically weigh up to 600 pounds. Adult females weight up to 400 pounds and reach sexual maturity at 3 or 4 years of age. Adults stand about 3′ tall at the shoulder.
Image ID: 18806
Species: American black bear, Ursus americanus
Location: Orr, Minnesota, USA

A mature American black bear (Ursus americanus) from my little outing to Minnesota late last month.

Del Mar Cobblestones

California, Photo of the Day, San Diego

We used to live a few miles from Torrey Pines and Del Mar, and walked on the beach there fairly often. As they erode, the cliffs above the sand supply the beach with cobblestones. Depending on the season and recent surf energy, the beach ranges from nearly stone-free to being so covered with cobblestones as to nearly hide the sand below entirely. Here is a typical sunset along the long, beautiful stretch of beach from Del Mar south to Torrey Pines, with cobblestones.

Sunset, cobblestones, surf and sand, Torrey Pines State Beach, Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California

Sunset, cobblestones, surf and sand, Torrey Pines State Beach.
Image ID: 05518
Location: Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, California, USA

Photo of a Yellowtail School

Photo of the Day

My daughter’s favorite fish is yellowtail (Seriola lalandi). We grill it on the bbq, in foil, with olive oil and garlic. Its pretty good that way! While out searching for kelp paddies offshore of San Diego, we would often find yellowtail in the summer, schooling around the paddies. These predatory members of the jack family terrorize the bait schools that seek protection under kelp paddies. Yellowtail are a favorite target of freediving spearfishermen, and the spearos on Skip‘s annual Guadalupe Island trips often shot enormous toads, huge yellowtail that on three occasions broke the world record for largest North Pacific yellowtail taken spearfishing.

School of juvenile North Pacific Yellowtail, attracted to nearby drift kelp, open ocean, Seriola lalandi, San Diego, California

School of juvenile North Pacific Yellowtail, attracted to nearby drift kelp, open ocean.
Image ID: 02439
Species: North Pacific Yellowtail, Seriola lalandi
Location: San Diego, California, USA

Guadalupe Cobblestones

Guadalupe Island, Mexico

I’ve spent hundreds of hours in the shallows at Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe). The diving is so special there that I will spend every minute I can in the water, breathing a little as possible and waiting until my tank is drained before surfacing to call for a skiff ride back to the big boat. The long eastern shore of Guadalupe Island is typically protected and calm, and this is where much of our diving is done. Drifting around with the mild surge, I’ll find Guadalupe fur seals, usually solitary males but sometimes juveniles in small groups, sea turtles, the very occasional elephant seal, lots of lobster and, since Guadalupe Island straddles both temperate and tropical ranges for many types of fish, a great mix of species. Sometimes too I’ll just zone out in the protected pocket cove, turning over the cobblestones that line the bottom looking for cowries and other weird stuff.

Boulders cover the ocean floor, worn round and smooth by centuries of wave action, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Boulders cover the ocean floor, worn round and smooth by centuries of wave action.
Image ID: 18511
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Photo of Haleakala Silversword

Hawaii, Photo of the Day

High atop Haleakala volcano on the island of Maui lives the Haleakala Silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense macrocephalum). This remarkable plant lives only in the crater and on the slopes of Haleakala, above 6800′ (2100m). The silversword grows from seed and lives from 15 to 50 years. At the end of its life it forms a dramatic blooming stalk, however since the flowering season is June to September, and my visits to Maui have always coincided with humpback season (January through May) I’ve never been able to photograph the blooming phase. In this photo the outer flanks of Haleakala are seen in the background, dropping away to clouds that cover the west Maui mountains in the distance.

Haleakala silversword plant, endemic to the Haleakala volcano crater area above 6800 foot elevation, Argyroxiphium sandwicense macrocephalum, Maui

Haleakala silversword plant, endemic to the Haleakala volcano crater area above 6800 foot elevation.
Image ID: 18506
Species: Haleakala silversword, Argyroxiphium sandwicense macrocephalum
Location: Maui, Hawaii, USA

Photo of Cortez Chub

Guadalupe Island, Marine Life

Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe) straddles both tropical and temperate fish ranges and offers a unique mix of species to see. It is not uncommon to see Panamic fanged blennies and red-tailed triggerfish alongside blacksmith and garibaldi. Shown here is a small school of Cortez chub (Kyphosus elegans) that was stationed at one end of Church Rock. Dominant male Cortez chub have a striking golden phase that I have only seen a few times at Guadalupe.

Cortez chubb, Kyphosus elegans, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Cortez chubb.
Image ID: 01020
Species: Cortez chubb, Kyphosus elegans
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Vicki’s Secret — Amazing Underwater Cave New To Science

Guadalupe Island, Mexico

Of the few people who actually dive at Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe) (sorry, cage dives don’t count!) only a fraction will dive on the rugged, exposed, weather side of the island. There, not far from the “west anchorage”, lies a secret complex of arches and large underwater caves. The arches we have named Los Arcos del Diablo although the Mexicans at the island probably have another name for them. Rising 40′ or more out of the water, they are formed on the leading edge of a long extinct lava flow that juts out from the island and abruptly drops into the ocean. The underwater terrain below the arches is even more dramatic with at least one large cavern having a 40′ vertical opening and extending several times that laterally into the heart of the lava flow. We named our find El Secreto Del Vicki in honor of a member of our discovery team and the only known distaff diver intrepid enough to brave the white sharks and crazy water of Guadalupe to explore this particular underwater marvel. Here is a shot of Vicki hovering in the entrance to her namesake cave:

El Secreto del Vicki cavern, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

El Secreto del Vicki cavern.
Image ID: 06191
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico