Category

Wildlife

Ring-Billed Gull, Larus Delawarensis, La Jolla

Birds

Once in a while I will photograph seagulls. I really should spend more time on them, since they can at times be beautiful in the right light and when in good condition. Unfortunately, gulls often they look like crap, and when I see them out on the water I invariably think “sky rat”. I only photograph the ones I see in La Jolla, so along with the Heermann’s Gull I posted about a few days ago, I also like the Ring-billed gull (Larus delawarensis). Hopefully in a few months I’ll have more images of this gull to add to my collection. Cheers, and thanks for looking.

Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis, La Jolla, California

Ring-billed gull.
Image ID: 18304
Species: Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis, La Jolla, California

Ring-billed gull
Image ID: 30355
Species: Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Ring-billed gull, adult non-breeding, in flight, Larus delawarensis, La Jolla, California

Ring-billed gull, adult non-breeding, in flight.
Image ID: 28990
Species: Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermann’s Gull, Larus heermanni

Birds

The Heermann’s Gull (Larus heermanni), photographed when I am out and about in La Jolla and North County. Lately I have been trying to frame seabirds against blue water, or have the ocean horizon in the image to anchor the composition and help tie the animal with the ocean. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Heermanns gull in flight, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermanns gull in flight
Image ID: 30348
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Flock of Heermanns gulls in flight in front of a big wave, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Flock of Heermanns gulls in flight in front of a big wave
Image ID: 30359
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermanns gull, presunrise purple-pink glow in the distant sky, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermanns gull, presunrise purple-pink glow in the distant sky.
Image ID: 23656
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermann's gull, immature, in flight, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermann’s gull, immature, in flight.
Image ID: 28991
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermanns gull, moon setting, sunrise, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermanns gull, moon setting, sunrise.
Image ID: 18272
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermanns gull in flight, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermanns gull in flight.
Image ID: 18273
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Heermanns gull in flight, Larus heermanni, La Jolla, California

Heermanns gull in flight
Image ID: 30312
Species: Heermann's gull, Larus heermanni
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Blue Whale Full Body Photo

Blue Whale, Icons, Underwater Life, Underwater Photography

Blue Whale Full Body Photo

For more, see Blue Whale Photos, Balaenoptera musculus

I made my first underwater photo of a blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) about 18 years ago, and over the intervening years I have struggled to make a perfect image of an entire blue whale, rostrum to fluke, one with which I am entirely satisfied. This image of an adult blue whale underwater, which I made while out on the water off San Diego with friend and fellow photographer Mike Johnson, is a good example.

Blue whale 80-feet long, full body photograph of an enormous blue whale showing rostrom head to fluke tail, taken at close range with very wide lens, Balaenoptera musculus, San Diego, California

Blue whale 80-feet long, full body photograph of an enormous blue whale showing rostrom head to fluke tail, taken at close range with very wide lens.
Image ID: 27967
Species: Blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus
Location: San Diego, California, USA

This photograph illustrates the snake-like proportions of an adult blue whale as well as the curve of the upper lip bone (the largest single bone in the animal kingdom), the thin ridge on top of the rostrum that leads to the splash guard in front of the whale’s blowhole, and the curious skin mottling that characterizes the species. But technically this image has some problems, the sort that drive underwater photographers nuts. I do not exaggerate when I say trying to photograph an 80′ or longer animal underwater in typical California water conditions is a real challenge! The water is often cloudy or hazy, as can be seen in this image by a “glow” or “halo” that surrounds some of the brighter parts of the subject, particularly around the dorsal ridge and caudal area of the whale which are close to the surface and thus reflecting a great deal of light. With film this haloing was at once less objectionable but nearly impossible to deal with in post processing. With today’s digital tools, the computer operator can attempt to suppress the haloing somewhat but at the risk of adding too much artificiality to the image. So my decision is that it remains. Above water our eyes and lenses are accustomed to seeing things clearly in the range of miles. Underwater, our range of vision is crippled tremendously, measured in just feet. This begs the question: How does one photograph a subject whose dimensions are greater than the distance one can even see? For whales, water visibility must be excellent, 60′ or better, or else much of the leviathan is depicted without detail. In this image, note the whitewater at top left: it is the point where the blue whale left the ocean surface and began its underwater glide but, at about 120′ away, it is rendered with no detail at all. The leading 1/3 of the whale is sufficiently near the camera that it is rendered with plenty of detail, but is not so close that it is distorted by the fisheye lens I was using. The open ocean, miles from shore, is normally the best place to find clear and blue water. Recently, though, the ocean off our coast has been a veritable soup of zooplankton. Abundant salps, sea nettles, filamentous and particulate-like critters float about in an explosion of spineless life. This occasional summer phenomenon is very cool to experience, and in the past I have even stopped to photograph these small weightless water-filled wonders. But on the day I shot this photo, such things are effectively obstacles to photographing much grander subjects. The only way to deal with the situation is to shoot as many photos as possible hoping that, upon review later, one is lucky to have some frames in which the jellies do not obscure the whale. Of the 10 frames I shot while the animal passed by me, rolling on its side to look at us with one eye as it did so, this was the only frame that did not have zooplanktons screwing it up. I experimented with using a silver color conversion on this photo to better accentuate the sunlit whale against the dark, bottomless void of ocean below, and I thought this rendition looked pretty appealing. I do not get out on the ocean much anymore. In fact this may be the only photo of a blue whale I take all year! So I consider myself lucky to have seen it and be able to share the experience with you. Thanks for looking, and cheers!

Photographing the Head Throw of the California Brown Pelican in La Jolla

Pelicans

I photograph brown California brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis). A lot. I love them, they are at once both graceful and awkward. They surf. They dive. They eat fish. They live along the coast of California. All things I like to do too! Here are some of my favorite images, showing how beautiful these birds can be: California brown pelican photos.

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy.
Image ID: 30304
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

There is one peculiar behavior that pelicans exhibit that is quite challenging to photograph: the “head throw“. Also known as a “bill throw”, it occurs when a pelican throws its head up and back, way way back! The head throw is thought to be a way for the pelican to stretch the skin of its gular pouch — its throat — in order to maintain its flexibility and health. The California race of brown pelican exhibits striking mating coloration in winter, including a colorful red and green throat, yellow head and breast patch, and a bright white or deep chestnut brown hind neck. When a California brown pelican tosses its head back into a bill throw, the rich olive and red colors of its throat are really on display. This year I decided to focus my photography on a couple aspects of these birds that I had not yet photographed to my satisfaction in the past, one of which was the head throw. (The other is surf, which I will share in a few days.) I had plenty of head throw photos before, including some very nice ones, but I wanted to make some new really top notch ones, real keepers. I now have dozens of head throw sequences captured by my camera this season (thank you Canon) but only a few that I feel are really perfect, framed well with super light, rich color and sharp as a tack.

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy.
Image ID: 28347
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy.
Image ID: 30174
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

One key to photographing this behavior is to know where and when to find pelicans — that’s no secret. Another is to have ideal conditions. I live in the San Diego area so I can simply look outside to make sure the skies are clear — yielding perfect light for about an hour after sunrise — before investing the time to go shoot. Lastly, the pelicans need to be in the right mood — not bothered by people, dogs or big waves — and preening, drying and warming themselves in the sun. It is when they are relaxed and preening that they will do head throws. Once the pelican has lain down it is unlikely to do any more bill throws.

Brown pelican stretches its neck, to keep its throat pouch limber.  The characteristic winter mating plumage of the California race of brown pelican is shown, with deep red gular throat, yellow head and dark brown hindneck, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Brown pelican stretches its neck, to keep its throat pouch limber. The characteristic winter mating plumage of the California race of brown pelican is shown, with deep red gular throat, yellow head and dark brown hindneck.
Image ID: 23648
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican head throw.  During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican head throw. During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch.
Image ID: 18044
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

A challenge is anticipating when a head throw will occur, since they seem to be almost random for folks unfamiliar with pelicans. With lots of practice and 25 years spent watching this colony every winter, I’ve become fairly good at knowing when a bird is about to throw its head back, and can frame up the act and capture it reasonably well about 50% of the time. (Hey, even a blind squirrel sometimes find a nut!) It might help to think about the cat, that vile, irritable, nasty and vomit-inclined species of vermin. Cat owners usually have a sense when little precious is about to gack up a hairball or barf its last fetid, colorless meal. The creature stops licking itself, or tearing up the couch, or whatever it happens to be doing, and instead tips its head out at an odd angle, jerks its neck once or twice like something is wrong and perhaps a strange death-rattle sound eminates from its belly. Then, a few moments later – WHAM! — the cat does its thing all over your floor. It is similar with brown pelicans, only they are not so nasty. Often before one does a head throw, it will cock its head and neck at a odd angle, clap its beak once or twice, maybe even invert its throat (like sticking out its tongue) before it grows still. It may open its beak slightly as it pauses. Then, quickly, it raises its bill straight up and back, mouth open, then closing the mouth as it lowers it beak again. 2 seconds later, its over. But fortunately, a pelican that has just done a head throw is fairly likely to do it again in a few moments, so be ready to get it the second time if you miss it the first time.

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy.
Image ID: 30297
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican head throw.  During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican head throw. During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch.
Image ID: 20284
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

A tip for photographers: don’t have too much lens! I like the Canon 200-400 (with built in extender) on a full frame body for all pelican photography in La Jolla these days. I see serious out-of-town bird photographers with 600 or 800mm, perhaps even on a crop body. Good luck with that. Perhaps the 800mm photographer is looking for head portraits – not that there’s anything wrong with that. But if you want full body flight and head throw shots in La Jolla, I recommend 300mm as a starting point, and sometimes will shoot a bit wider if there are lots of pelicans right up close to where I like to shoot from. With a 600 or 800, it may be hard to fit the entire bird when it is stretched out to its fullest during a head throw along with enough negative space, and there is a good chance you will clip the head or feet unless you are way way back. (I’ve even seen a few guys this year return to their cars to get a second setup because the 500mm they were using was too much for flight and head throws.) Yes, once you realize you have just clipped the feet during the head throw that you spent $4000 and travelled from the east coast to shoot, you could take several photos immediately afterward of the feet, rocks, etc and Franken-blend a composite using techniques learned in your last workshop. But natural history photographers can’t be cheaters in that way (just ask Nat Geo) and just see what happens when you submit that image to a major contest or a decent publication A rough rule of thumb I have when waiting for a head throw is to expect the composition to be about twice as tall as the bird is when it is relaxed and sitting.

California brown pelican, throwing head back to stretch its throat, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California brown pelican, throwing head back to stretch its throat.
Image ID: 26287
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy. Note the winter mating plumage, olive and red throat, yellow head, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy. Note the winter mating plumage, olive and red throat, yellow head.
Image ID: 30341
Species: Brown pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

If you like these, please see more California brown pelican photos or a little PDF e-guide about this choice spot. Cheers and thanks for looking!

California Brown Pelicans, La Jolla, December 2014

Pelicans

A PDF guide to photographing these pelicans: Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla. If you like these photos, you can also see lots more blog posts from past sessions photographing California brown pelicans in La Jolla. Or, I’ve got a gallery of some keepers on my website, but most of the good ones from the last couple years I have not even gotten around to captioning and putting the web yet: California Brown Pelican photo gallery.

Thoughts on the Canon 200-400 lens: It’s a little early in December to photograph the pelicans but what the heck. I was able to check the skies at 5am, see that they were clear to the east, and run down to the cliffs to practice my skills with a new lens (see below). Since it is early December I was alone each morning this week; there are none of the crowds or workshops that are often here from Christmas through February. A storm is on the way in from Hawaii, driving a big swell ahead of it that kept the lower rocks wet today, pushing all the birds up to the top area. My guess is that plumage will peak in the first week or two of February, it is still quite early now and only a small fraction of the adults have what I would consider full mating plumage (chestnut brown hindneck, yellow head, deep red and olive throat, etc). The last couple years I have only photographed these birds a few times, having my best luck with a 300mm lens on full frame body. I am now using a Canon 200-400 lens, something I got for safari in Kenya, and now that I have tried it on these birds I can say: it’s the ticket. It is almost as if the Canon 200-400 was invented just for this one location — it’s perfect. Since it is hand-holdable you can dispense with the restrictions and cumbersomeness of a tripod if you wish. All of the following — including the top panorama above which is a stitch of about 20 images, the bottom pano is an iPhone shot — were shot with the Canon 200-400, most handheld, and only a few using the built-in 1.4x teleconverter (which makes the lens a 560mm f/5.6 lens). Note: this lens is sharper and has greater contrast than Nikon’s 200-400; I have owned both and can say this from experience. Both are great but the Canon is the one to get if you can afford it. I select lenses and then get cameras for them (not vica-versa) and this is one lens for which it is worth owning at least one Canon body. I have a 5DIII as dedicated life-support for this one lens. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf.
Image ID: 30169
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean.
Image ID: 30172
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican flying over waves and the surf.
Image ID: 30168
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean.
Image ID: 30171
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy.
Image ID: 30176
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Cormorants in flight, wings blurred by time exposure, Phalacrocorax auritus, La Jolla, California

Cormorants in flight, wings blurred by time exposure
Image ID: 30163
Species: Double-crested cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean.
Image ID: 30165
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Portrait of California brown pelican, with the characteristic winter mating plumage shown: red throat, yellow head, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

Portrait of California brown pelican, with the characteristic winter mating plumage shown: red throat, yellow head.
Image ID: 30167
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean.
Image ID: 30170
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican in flight, over the ocean.
Image ID: 30164
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy.
Image ID: 30174
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Sea cliffs and sea caves at sea level, made of sandstone and eroded by waves and tides, La Jolla, California

Sea cliffs and sea caves at sea level, made of sandstone and eroded by waves and tides
Image ID: 30166
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Sea cliffs and sea caves at sea level, made of sandstone and eroded by waves and tides, La Jolla, California

Sea cliffs and sea caves at sea level, made of sandstone and eroded by waves and tides
Image ID: 30173
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Cormorant in flight, wings blurred by time exposure, Phalacrocorax auritus, La Jolla, California

Cormorant in flight, wings blurred by time exposure
Image ID: 30219
Species: Double-crested cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California Sea Lions at Los Islotes, Baja California, Mexico

Sea Lion, Sea of Cortez, Underwater Life, Underwater Photography

Los Islotes, the small island just off the northern end of Espiritu Santo in the Sea of Cortez, is my favorite place in the world for photographing California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus). These wonderful pinnipeds are very comfortable with the presence of, and famous for the willingness to interact with, divers in the water. Shooting portraits of sea lions is a piece of cake, the photos almost take themselves. Plus the diving tends to be shallow and calm so bottom times of a two hours can be easily had. Here are a few of my picks from my last visit to Los Islotes a few years ago. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

California sea lion underwater, Zalophus californianus, Sea of Cortez

California sea lion underwater.
Image ID: 27418
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico

California sea lion underwater, Zalophus californianus, Sea of Cortez

California sea lion underwater.
Image ID: 27423
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico

California sea lion underwater playing with sea star, Zalophus californianus, Sea of Cortez

California sea lion underwater playing with sea star.
Image ID: 27428
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico

California sea lion underwater, Zalophus californianus, Sea of Cortez

California sea lion underwater.
Image ID: 27420
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico

California sea lion underwater, Zalophus californianus, Sea of Cortez

California sea lion underwater.
Image ID: 27421
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico

Los Islotes is a small island at the northern end of Isla Espiritu Santo, near La Paz in the Sea of Cortez. Espiritu Santo Island and Partida Island are two beautiful desert islands, scalloped with gorgeous white sand beaches. Bird nest on their rugged slopes, and cardon cacti grow in abundance. All three of these islands are part of the Espiritu Santo Biosphere Reserve, named a UNESCO Biosphere due to the area’s biodiversity and beauty. I have had the good fortune to cruise along both shores of Espiritu Santo and Partida but most of my time has been spent at Isla Los Islotes, diving and relaxing. In addition to the sea lions, these waters are full of many Sea of Cortez fishes. However, when I am at Los Islotes I basically ignore all else and just enjoy my time swimming with and photographing los lobos marinos.

California Sea Lions, Coronado Islands, Mexico

Islas Coronado, Mexico, Sea Lion, Underwater Life, Underwater Photography

Some of my favorite diving with California Sea Lions (Zalophus californianus) has taken place at Mexico’s Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado). The Coronados are a small group of undeveloped rocky islands just offshore of Tijuana, Mexico and only about an hour boat ride south of San Diego. Seemingly barren, the islands are in fact loaded with marine life, including the clown princes of the Pacific, sea lions. Here are a few of my better photos of these noble and beautiful creatures. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

California sea lions, Coronado Islands, Zalophus californianus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)

California sea lions, Coronado Islands.
Image ID: 02160
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico

California sea lion, Zalophus californianus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)

California sea lion.
Image ID: 02943
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico

California sea lion, Coronados Islands, Zalophus californianus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)

California sea lion, Coronados Islands.
Image ID: 00956
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico

California sea lion pup starving during 1997-8 El Nino event, Coronado Islands, Zalophus californianus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)

California sea lion pup starving during 1997-8 El Nino event, Coronado Islands.
Image ID: 02417
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico

California sea lion colony, Los Coronado Islands, Zalophus californianus, Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado)

California sea lion colony, Los Coronado Islands.
Image ID: 03077
Species: California sea lion, Zalophus californianus
Location: Coronado Islands (Islas Coronado), Baja California, Mexico

Sea Turtle, Galapagos, Black and White

Galapagos Diaries, Marine Life, Underwater Life, Underwater Photography

I have made a lot of dives in the Galapagos Islands, and one of my favorite creatures to see underwater is the sea turtle. The ungainly-looking animals are actually quite hydrodynamic and can navigate the surge, currents and waves to graze on algae along the reef. These two turtles were encountered at remote Wolf Island (Wenman Island) in the far northern reaches of the Galapagos archipelago. In the first image, a school of ever-present Pacific creole fish surrounds the turtle; its distinctive tail gives away that it is a male. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Sea Turtle, underwater, black and white, Wolf Island

Sea Turtle, underwater, black and white.
Image ID: 16382
Location: Wolf Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Sea Turtle, underwater, black and white, Wolf Island

Sea Turtle, underwater, black and white.
Image ID: 16383
Location: Wolf Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

California Brown Pelicans, Winter Plumage, La Jolla

Pelicans

The plumage of La Jolla’s California brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) has been especially striking this year, it seems there are more really red throats and deep brown necked adult brown pelicans on the bluffs than usual. I also find it interesting how much color variation there is in the bills of these birds, from pink and red to gray to white or sometimes near black. The last two weeks have had exceptional weather with clear dry offshores, which makes for good photography. It really has been like shooting fish in a barrel, the great conditions combined with the latest autofocus gear makes flight photography a breeze. I drove down the coast to admire the waves at sunrise, and stopped for a bit in La Jolla. There was ideal light plus a large swell that arrived yesterday had the water stirred up far below making for slight different texture to the background of portrait and flight photos. These are the images I kept from this morning; all were shot handheld with a 5DIII and 300/2.8, they razor sharp on the eyes and little or no cropping needed. If you like these, please see more California brown pelican photos or a little PDF e-guide about this choice spot. Cheers and thanks for looking!

California brown pelican in flight. The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California brown pelican in flight. The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage.
Image ID: 29086
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California Brown Pelican head throw, stretching its throat to keep it flexible and healthy
Image ID: 29085
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California brown pelican in flight. The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California brown pelican in flight. The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage.
Image ID: 29084
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican portrait, displaying winter breeding plumage with distinctive dark brown nape, yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican portrait, displaying winter breeding plumage with distinctive dark brown nape, yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch
Image ID: 29087
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican portrait, displaying winter breeding plumage with distinctive dark brown nape, yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican portrait, displaying winter breeding plumage with distinctive dark brown nape, yellow head feathers and red gular throat pouch
Image ID: 29088
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

California brown pelican in flight. The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla

California brown pelican in flight. The wingspan of the brown pelican is over 7 feet wide. The California race of the brown pelican holds endangered species status. In winter months, breeding adults assume a dramatic plumage.
Image ID: 29089
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA