Monthly Archives

December 2007

Photo of a Giant Kelp Forest with Clean Blue Water

Photo of the Day

I used to do an awful lot of diving at San Clemente Island, primarily to spend my time hovering in the middle of the water column amidst a thick forest of kelp. San Clemente Island combines the most magnificent kelp forests (Macrocystis pyrifera) in the world with pretty clean water. The clean water is the key for good photography. Kelp forests flourish in temperate water which is often loaded with plankton, nutrients and other bio-miscellanea, good things for fostering life but a detriment to making photographs. I found that San Clemente Island had consistently cleaner, bluer water than any other kelp forest location I ever dove, including the Channel Islands further north. I would spend many weekends diving from the Boat Horizon at San Clemente Island, shooting wide photos while swimming through the kelp, looking for the perfect kelp forest photograph. Contrary to the saying Perfect is the enemy of Good, I never did find that perfect kelp forest photo but I did manage to make quite a few pretty good ones in the process.

Kelp forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Kelp forest.
Image ID: 02409
Species: Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA

Brown Pelican Aloft

California, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

See our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

This California brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus) is rising off the ocean to land on nearby sea cliffs after a morning foraging for food, primarily small fish that it takes by diving.

Brown pelican with wings spread during flight. The large wings of an adult brown pelican can reach over 7 feet from end to end, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican with wings spread during flight. The large wings of an adult brown pelican can reach over 7 feet from end to end.
Image ID: 19926
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Photo of a Brown Pelican Preening

California, Pelicans, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

See our Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

This is California brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus). It is seen here preening, pulling preen oil from its uropygial gland onto its beak, which it will spread onto its feathers to help keep them water resistant and clean.

A brown pelican preening, reaching with its beak to the uropygial gland (preen gland) near the base of its tail.  Preen oil from the uropygial gland is spread by the pelican's beak and back of its head to all other feathers on the pelican, helping to keep them water resistant and dry, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

A brown pelican preening, reaching with its beak to the uropygial gland (preen gland) near the base of its tail. Preen oil from the uropygial gland is spread by the pelican’s beak and back of its head to all other feathers on the pelican, helping to keep them water resistant and dry.
Image ID: 19946
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Photo of Macrocystis Kelp Fronds

Photo of the Day

These kelp fronds are at the tip of a stalk of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) which is anchored to the ocean bottom and grows up toward the ocean surface. New growth such as this occurs at the tip of the stalk. Gas filled pneumatocysts provide bouyancy to the kelp plant, lifting it off the bottom and into the water column where it provides a home to many sea creatures. A veritable undersea forest.

Kelp frond showing pneumatocysts (air bladders), Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Kelp frond showing pneumatocysts (air bladders).
Image ID: 03410
Species: Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA

Photo of an Underwater Photographer in a Kelp Forest

Photo of the Day

Here is a snap of my good friend Mike Johnson swimming through a forest of kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) at San Clemente Island. Most underwater photographers like to spend their time diving alone, pursuing their own particular subjects and angles and not wanting to be bothered with keeping track of a buddy. Mike and I are no exceptions and would rarely see one another underwater. Once in a blue moon we do modeling duty, each allowing the other to get a few frames with a diver in it, but it wouldn’t last long and within minutes we would scatter in opposite directions and set about trying to find our own stuff to photograph.

Diver amidst kelp forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, San Clemente Island

Diver amidst kelp forest.
Image ID: 03420
Species: Giant kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera
Location: San Clemente Island, California, USA

Photo of Elk Flehmen Response

Elk, National Parks, Wildlife, Wyoming, Yellowstone

This bull elk (Cervus candensis) had a fine harem of females along the Madison River. He was bugling often and loudly, raising his head and lowering his antler rack behind him as he did so. Note how the bull’s upper lip is curled back. This is an example of the flehmen response (from German flehmen, meaning to “curl the upper lip”). The flehmen response is a particular type of curling of the upper lip in ungulates, felids, and many other mammals, which facilitates the transfer of pheromones and other scents into the vomeronasal organ, also called Jacobson’s Organ. In the flehmen response, animals draw back their lips , particularly the upper lip which curls towards the nostrils. The action, which is used when examining scents left by other animals, helps to expose the vomeronasal organ and draws scent molecules back toward it. This behavior allows animals to detect scents, for example from urine, of other members of their species or clues to the presence of prey. The flehmen response also allows the animals to determine, among other things, the presence or absence of estrus, the physiological state of the animal, and how long ago the animal passed by.

Male elk bugling during the fall rut. Large male elk are known as bulls. Male elk have large antlers which are shed each year. Male elk engage in competitive mating behaviors during the rut, including posturing, antler wrestling and bugling, a loud series of screams which is intended to establish dominance over other males and attract females, Cervus canadensis, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Male elk bugling during the fall rut. Large male elk are known as bulls. Male elk have large antlers which are shed each year. Male elk engage in competitive mating behaviors during the rut, including posturing, antler wrestling and bugling, a loud series of screams which is intended to establish dominance over other males and attract females.
Image ID: 19708
Species: Elk, Cervus canadensis
Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Big Ugly Wednesday

Surf

The surf is big today, just as expected. Its big, and continuing to build with projected peak later today, but … it’s NOT CLEAN. I mean that literally (lagoons are still flushing their biohazards from the rain runoff of last weekend) and figuratively (the swell is not groomed right for picturesque surf). Oh well. Maybe it will clean up tomorrow and go glass? Here is what I am hoping for, from the “big wednesday” swell of two years ago:

Salt Creek surf, pretty big day, winter, morning, Laguna Niguel, California

Salt Creek surf, pretty big day, winter, morning.
Image ID: 14852
Location: Salt Creek, Laguna Niguel, California, USA

Tidelines Calendar 2008

Uncategorized

This year’s edition of the Tidelines calendar is especially nice because one of our photos appears on the cover (duh). Can you guess where it was shot? Hint: it rhymes with “ledge” and lots of bones are broken there. Order your Tidelines calendar now so you too can time all your ocean functions to take maximum advantage of the tide. By the way, a big swell arrives tomorrow, if you have a Tidelines calendar on your wall you’ll know when to go.

Photo of a Humpback Whale Peduncle Throw

Hawaii, Humpback Whale, Photo of the Day, Wildlife

Another example of a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) peforming a peduncle throw. In this case, rather than flicking the fluke sideways, the whale has lifted its fluke and peduncle vertically, slinging water in all directions. Notice the rake marks on the underside of the whales fluke, which are almost certainly caused by attacks by orca (killer whales).

North Pacific humpback whale, peduncle throw, Megaptera novaeangliae, Maui

North Pacific humpback whale, peduncle throw.
Image ID: 00443
Species: Humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae
Location: Maui, Hawaii, USA

This photograph was taken during Hawaii Whale Research Foundation research activities conducted under provisions of NOAA / NMFS and State of Hawaii scientific research permits.