Category

Southern Ocean

Seven of my Favorite Images #challengeonnaturephotography

Alaska, Antarctica, Bald Eagle, California, Fiji, Hawaii, Mexico, Ocean Sunfish, Penguin, Surf, Underwater Photography

In December a Facebook “challenge” was making the rounds named #challengeonnaturephotography. One of my favorite underwater photographers, Allison Vitsky Sallmon, nominated me to give it a try, and these are the seven images I plucked from my files to share. Each bears a special place in my personal history of travel, diving and photography, even if they don’t cut any new ground photographically. If you want to connect you can find me on Facebook and Instagram. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Ocean sunfish recruiting fish near drift kelp to clean parasites, open ocean, Baja California, Mola mola

Ocean sunfish recruiting fish near drift kelp to clean parasites, open ocean, Baja California.
Image ID: 03267
Species: Ocean sunfish, Mola mola

Sunrise breaking wave, dawn surf, The Wedge, Newport Beach, California

Sunrise breaking wave, dawn surf.
Image ID: 27978
Location: The Wedge, Newport Beach, California, USA

Dendronephthya soft corals and schooling Anthias fishes, feeding on plankton in strong ocean currents over a pristine coral reef. Fiji is known as the soft coral capitlal of the world, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias, Gau Island, Lomaiviti Archipelago

Dendronephthya soft corals and schooling Anthias fishes, feeding on plankton in strong ocean currents over a pristine coral reef. Fiji is known as the soft coral capitlal of the world.
Image ID: 31378
Species: Dendronephthya Soft Coral, Anthias, Dendronephthya, Pseudanthias
Location: Gau Island, Lomaiviti Archipelago, Fiji

Bald eagle spreads its wings to land amid a large group of bald eagles, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Haliaeetus leucocephalus washingtoniensis, Kachemak Bay, Homer, Alaska

Bald eagle spreads its wings to land amid a large group of bald eagles.
Image ID: 22669
Species: Bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Haliaeetus leucocephalus washingtoniensis
Location: Kachemak Bay, Homer, Alaska, USA

A curious Adelie penguin, standing at the edge of an iceberg, looks over the photographer, Pygoscelis adeliae, Paulet Island

A curious Adelie penguin, standing at the edge of an iceberg, looks over the photographer.
Image ID: 25015
Species: Adelie Penguin, Pygoscelis adeliae
Location: Paulet Island, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Aerial photo of gray whale calf and mother. This baby gray whale was born during the southern migration, far to the north of the Mexican lagoons of Baja California where most gray whale births take place, Eschrichtius robustus, San Clemente

Aerial photo of gray whale calf and mother. This baby gray whale was born during the southern migration, far to the north of the Mexican lagoons of Baja California where most gray whale births take place.
Image ID: 29029
Species: Gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus
Location: San Clemente, California, USA

Humpback whale (male) singing, Megaptera novaeangliae, Maui

Humpback whale (male) singing.
Image ID: 02813
Species: Humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae
Location: Maui, Hawaii, USA

Stock Photo Gallery: Antarctica Photos

Antarctica, Galleries, Southern Ocean

Antarctica Pictures and Stock Photos of the Antarctic Peninsula

I have assembled my favorite Antarctica Photos into a stock photography gallery. The Antarctic Peninsula is perhaps the single most photogenic place I have ever been. The photographs nearly take themselves and every direction one turns holds a scenic view. Some of Antarctica holds a stark beauty, while other regions are so chock full of life it is unbelievable. I cannot wait to return to the Southern Ocean and sea Antarctica again.

Click the image below to see a selection of my favorite Antarctica photos. Thanks for looking!

Pack ice, a combination of sea ice and pieces of icebergs, Weddell Sea

Pack ice, a combination of sea ice and pieces of icebergs, Weddell Sea.

Stock Photo Gallery: Icebergs

Antarctica, Galleries, Southern Ocean

Stock photos of Icebergs

One of my goals in January 2010 when I traveled to the Southern Ocean and Antarctica was to make a series of good iceberg photos. I think I succeeded! It was wonderful cruising around the Antarctic Peninsula and witnessing the variety of shapes, sizes and hues of the thousands of icebergs that we saw there. We also saw impressive icebergs in the South Orkney Islands (Coronation Island) as well as a few around South Georgia Island. Click the image below to see my Gallery of Iceberg Photos. Thanks for looking!

Tabular iceberg, Antarctic Peninsula, near Paulet Island, sunset

Tabular iceberg, Antarctic Peninsula, near Paulet Island, sunset.

Stock Photo Gallery: Penguins!

Antarctica, Falklands, Galleries, Penguin, South Georgia Island, Southern Ocean

Stock photography of Penguins

I’m gradually revisiting my website galleries and improving them, removing images of lesser quality (unfortunately a lot of those!) and updating existing galleries with new material. If you enjoy penguins please take a look at my collection of Penguin Photos. With one exception**, all of these penguin photos were taken on a single long trip I made to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island and the Antarctic Peninsula (see my lengthy PDF trip journal if you want the deets, or you can view the same info as a series of blog posts). I was thrilled, nearly everyday of my trip to the Southern Ocean, to see penguins in the wild, sometimes in vast numbers, and I cannot wait to return to those places again. Within a few months of returning, one of the images was selected as the cover and inside spread in Nature’s Best, which was a real treat as I had not had an image published in that great magazine in some years. Thanks for looking!

Stock Photos of Penguins

King penguin colony. Over 100,000 pairs of king penguins nest at Salisbury Plain, laying eggs in December and February, then alternating roles between foraging for food and caring for the egg or chick.

** The exception is the Galapagos Penguin underwater photo which was made in, you guessed it, the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.

Surfing Penguins

Falklands, Penguin, Southern Ocean

Last year I got to cross off one of my bucket list items: surfing penguins. I was fortunate to see surfing gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua) on New Island in the Falkland Islands. After hiking around some of New Island for most of the afternoon, visiting a couple of penguin and cormorant rookeries, I found myself at sunset on a gorgeous, long flat sand beach. The light was warm and gold, there was no wind and it was warm enough to wear just a light sweatshirt. All the others on the M/V Polar Star had left to return to the ship and I had the beach to myself, with penguins coming ashore from their foraging excursions in small groups. The gentoo penguins would ride the waves in at top speed, skizzing** across the shallow water and quickly flipping upright to land on their feet. Quickly they would shuffle across the beach and walk up onto the adjacent hills to find their nests and settle in for the evening.

Gentoo penguin coming ashore, after foraging at sea, walking through ocean water as it wades onto a sand beach.  Adult gentoo penguins grow to be 30" and 19lb in size.  They feed on fish and crustaceans.  Gentoo penguins reside in colonies well inland from the ocean, often formed of a circular collection of stones gathered by the penguins, Pygoscelis papua, New Island

Gentoo penguin coming ashore, after foraging at sea, walking through ocean water as it wades onto a sand beach. Adult gentoo penguins grow to be 30″ and 19lb in size. They feed on fish and crustaceans. Gentoo penguins reside in colonies well inland from the ocean, often formed of a circular collection of stones gathered by the penguins.
Image ID: 23830
Species: Gentoo penguin, Pygoscelis papua
Location: New Island, Falkland Islands, United Kingdom

**another invented word, my third this year. Skizzing is like “skimming” only much better.

Standing Around Looking Cool

Antarctica, Penguin, Southern Ocean

These Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) in Antarctica seem unable to make up their minds which way to go. In fact, they are on a mission, walking from their nests on Paulet Island to the edge of the water, to swim out to sea and forage. I had earlier laid my camera down on the snow alongside the path there were following, and when the penguins strolled up I triggered the camera a few times from 50′ away with a $10 radio trigger I bought on Ebay. The seemed curious about the clicking sound coming from the strange and shiny black box laying on the snow, and stood around looking at it for a while. I made a few fun photos that way, including this one.

A group of Adelie penguins, on packed snow, Pygoscelis adeliae, Paulet Island

A group of Adelie penguins, on packed snow.
Image ID: 25021
Species: Adelie Penguin, Pygoscelis adeliae
Location: Paulet Island, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Tabular Iceberg Photos

Antarctica, Southern Ocean

Photos of Tabular Icebergs in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean

Some of the most impressive sights I beheld during my trip along the Antarctic Peninsula were enormous tabular icebergs. Tabular icebergs are sheets of ice, sometimes many miles long, that detach from Antarctica and travel with currents about the Southern Ocean. Tabular icebergs are characteristically flat in appearance, although their sides can be quite sheer and/or serrated. Like all icebergs, about 90% of the mass of a free-floating tabular iceberg is underwater. Tabular icebergs do run aground of course, in which case they can be canted at severe inclinations as they are pounded and broken apart by wave energy and other loose bergs.

Tabular iceberg, Antarctic Peninsula, near Paulet Island, sunset

Tabular iceberg, Antarctic Peninsula, near Paulet Island, sunset.
Image ID: 24778
Location: Paulet Island, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Tabular iceberg in the Antarctic Sound

Tabular iceberg in the Antarctic Sound.
Image ID: 24783
Location: Antarctic Sound, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Tabular iceberg in the Antarctic Sound

Tabular iceberg in the Antarctic Sound.
Image ID: 24784
Location: Antarctic Sound, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica

Antarctic Fur Seal Photos, Arctocephalus gazella

Fur Seal, South Georgia Island, Southern Ocean

Antarctic Fur Seal Photos, Arctocephalus gazella

I love photographing fur seals. (I love diving among them even more, but that is not always possible.) Fur seals are one of the “eared seals”, similar to the gregarious sea lions familiar to my friends on the West Coast. In my opinion, however, fur seals are more elegant and appealing in their behavior and appearance than sea lions. On my trip to South Georgia Island last year, I was looking forward to seeing Antarctic Fur Seals (Arctocephalus gazella). We saw plenty of them. Our timing (early January) coincided with the peak of their presence on the island and with their mating and courtship behavior. At this time, the fur seals are gathered ashore in huge numbers on beaches and rocky shorelines. At some of the landings we considered, the beaches were so crowded with fur seals we could not safely go ashore. During the breeding season, the fur seals’ hormones are raging, which causes adult male fur seals to become quite territorial. The bulls (males) have assembled small harems of females, attempting to mate with each one. The bull fur seals guard access to their females closely, defending the harem against interlopers. For many weeks the bulls remain ashore, guarding their harem, without going to sea for forage for food. They lose weight, and they are often seriously injured in bite-laden conflicts with other males. The fur seal bulls are easily agitated and will take a run at, and even try to nip, a passing human, so it was important for us to keep our eyes on the fur seals and make sure we did not encroach on their space. Even those unfortunate males who were too small or too old to win or maintain a harem were testy, probably as a result of their elevated hormones coupled with no way for them to release that pent up procreative energy. Making my way along a large sand beach near fur seals on the beach was not difficult, but there were times when I was walking through waist-high tussock grass that I would encounter a fur seal unexpectedly. That was exciting. I love these animals.

Antarctic fur seal, Arctocephalus gazella, Hercules Bay

Antarctic fur seal.
Image ID: 24392
Species: Antarctic Fur Seal, Arctocephalus gazella
Location: Hercules Bay, South Georgia Island

Antarctic fur seal colony, on a sand beach alongside Right Whale Bay, with the mountains of South Georgia Island in the background, sunset, Arctocephalus gazella

Antarctic fur seal colony, on a sand beach alongside Right Whale Bay, with the mountains of South Georgia Island in the background, sunset.
Image ID: 24315
Species: Antarctic Fur Seal, Arctocephalus gazella
Location: Right Whale Bay, South Georgia Island

Antarctic fur seals, adult male bull and female, illustrating extreme sexual dimorphism common among pinnipeds (seals, sea lions and fur seals), Arctocephalus gazella, Right Whale Bay

Antarctic fur seals, adult male bull and female, illustrating extreme sexual dimorphism common among pinnipeds (seals, sea lions and fur seals).
Image ID: 24324
Species: Antarctic Fur Seal, Arctocephalus gazella
Location: Right Whale Bay, South Georgia Island

An antarctic fur seal pup plays in the water, Arctocephalus gazella, Fortuna Bay

An antarctic fur seal pup plays in the water.
Image ID: 24605
Species: Antarctic Fur Seal, Arctocephalus gazella
Location: Fortuna Bay, South Georgia Island

Leucistic juvenile antarctic fur seal, young pup, juvenile, blond.  A leucistic animal is one that has pigmentation levels far below normal and is thus much more lightly colored, Arctocephalus gazella, Fortuna Bay

Leucistic juvenile antarctic fur seal, young pup, juvenile, blond. A leucistic animal is one that has pigmentation levels far below normal and is thus much more lightly colored.
Image ID: 24617
Species: Antarctic Fur Seal, Arctocephalus gazella
Location: Fortuna Bay, South Georgia Island

Antarctic fur seal, adult male bull (right) and female (left) confirm their identities via scent, Arctocephalus gazella, Right Whale Bay

Antarctic fur seal, adult male bull (right) and female (left) confirm their identities via scent.
Image ID: 24325
Species: Antarctic Fur Seal, Arctocephalus gazella
Location: Right Whale Bay, South Georgia Island

The Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella) is found only in Antarctic waters, with 95% of the world population breeding at South Georgia Island. Male Antarctic fur seals are considerably larger than females, growing to 2m (6.5′) in length and weighing up to 450 lbs. Probably due to the stresses they encounter during the breeding season, males live only about 15 years while females live up to 25 years. Antarctic fur seals breed polygynously, meaning that a single bull (large adult male) mates with up to 20 females in a season. The female groups are often referred to as harems, which the bull guards in a aggressively territorial manner. Breeding territories are established on beaches in October and November. Females give birth to their single pups in November and December. Shortly after (7 to 10 days) they give birth, the females will mate and then sustain a gestation that is about a year long. The pups are weaned after about four months. During the six to eight weeks that they are establishing and maintaining their breeding territories, bull Antarctic fur seals fast and lose up to 3.5 lbs each day. Once the breeding season has ended, the fur seals will leave to spend much of the year at sea, foraging for food. Krill is the most common food source for Antarctic fur seals. Krill stocks around South Georgia Island vary from year to year. Below average amounts of krill stresses the Antarctic fur seal population, which can lead to high mortality, especially among juveniles and pups.

Photography Expedition to Antarctica, South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands

Antarctica, Downloads, Falklands, South Georgia Island, Southern Ocean, Wisdom

I’ve finally gathered blog posts and select images into an informal report of my trip to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands in January 2010, which is available along with my other articles, reports and downloads. This trip was so much fun, and so rich in wildlife and photography possibilities, that I am already planning two more trips to southern waters to see more. The blog posts from which this article originates are filed under “Southern Ocean“.

The Drake Passage, Southern Ocean

Southern Ocean

The Drake Passage is rumored to be the nastiest, meanest, toughest ocean crossing in the world. Many who round Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America relate the impressiveness of the Drake’s ocean swells. It is a crossing of the Drake, typically a two-day affair during which the Southern Ocean unrelentingly lashes a ship broadside, that affords one a full sense of how much the ocean can dish out. Or at least that is what I hear. In truth we did not experience much distress while crossing the Drake Passage from Antarctica to Tierra del Fuego. I think the swells topped out at about 5-8m (15-24′) on the second day, with a few that probably got up to 10m or so scattered throughout the day. The wind was a steady 25-35 knots, less than the prediction of a few days earlier had forecast. The real telling fact was that most of the passengers were present in the dining room for all three meals rather than in their bunks groaning and retching.

Icebreaker Polar Star, bow plunging through high seas during crossing of the Drake Passage between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula

Icebreaker Polar Star, bow plunging through high seas during crossing of the Drake Passage between South America and the Antarctic Peninsula.
Image ID: 25949
Location: Drake Passage, Southern Ocean

So, in hindsight we were comfortable, moreso than expected, and we did not really have a crossing of which we could boast. I spent some time on the forward observation deck overlooking the bow, trying to photograph green water coming over a bow that was sunk deep into an oncoming swell. In spite of my efforts I managed just two frames that show any significant water over the rail.

As we gradually crawled north toward Ushuaia and our flights home, I thought about those seafarers of a century or two ago, those who braved the Drake Passage in small wooden boats, relying on sextant and grit to find their way, without any real knowledge of how far they had to go to reach “the other side”. Now those were men.

Next: Photography Expedition to Antarctica, South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands
Previous: Hannah Point, Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands
Trip Index: Cheesemans Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia
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