Malibu Creek flows 13.4 miles from its source in the Santa Monica Mountains to the sea. It a true gem in southern California, and portions of its watershed have appeared in numerous TV series and movies. Its lower reaches are also home to steelhead trout, a form of rainbow trout to migrate out to sea like salmon. The creek is impacted by many factors that make life for the steelhead very challenging.Read More
Sea stars belong to a group of marine animals sharing the characteristic of having hard, spiny inclusions in their outer body covering. The knobby sea star (Pisaster giganteus) has a whole array of blunt spines scattered across its upper surface. While usually having a blue ring surrounding each spine and a brown or tan background color, the individual in this photo is more yellow/orange with white rings.Read More
Hydroids are relatives of sea jellies and sea anemones. All possess stinging cells in their tentacles. Hydroids are colonial, with individual polyps connected through a common base through which nourishment is shared.Read More
Captured while exploring the banks of the Missouri River in Omaha, Nebraska on a bright, sunny afternoon, this shadow pattern caught my eye. What is it?Read More
Looking for shapes and shadows on a cold, windy, and sunny March afternoon in Omaha, Nebraska, I came across a bridge whose structure and shadows seemed to come together to make the red umbrella at the end a major focal point.Read More
The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge linking Omaha, Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa across the Missouri River has a sensuously curving deck that caught my eye while exploring Omaha on a recent trip.Read More
Sea cucumbers, relatives of sea stars and sea urchins, come in quite a variety of shapes and sizes. Those common to my neck of the woods are typically a bit larger than a very good-sized banana. But I’ve never seen a monster like the one in today’s photo until I made a dive on Rainbow Reef off Vanua Levu in the Republic of Fiji.Read More
The California blue doris (Felimare californiensis) is a dramatically colored nudibranch found of the coast of North America from Monterey Bay, California to Bahia de La Paz in Baja California Sur, Mexico. It apparently became extinct in the northern part of this range, and was completely gone from California by 1984. It began to reappear in a few isolated places in 2003. Apparently Santa Catalina Island is one of those isolated place, as this was where today’s photo was taken in 2015.
The reason for the local extinction in the northern part of the range is unknown, but it is speculated the disappearance along the mainland coast of southern California, but not at Santa Catalina Island could be due to industrial pollution reducing this nudibranch’s preferred prey, sponges in the genera Stelleta and Haliclona.
This photo was taken with a Canon EF100 mm f/2.8 macro lens on a Canon EOS 5D Mk. III in an Ikelite underwater housing. Lighting was provided by an Ikelite DS161 strobe set to eTTL exposure. The exposure was set to 1/60 sec at f/11 and ISO 200.
Nudibranchs, essentially shell-less snails or slugs of the marine world, are known for their often bright and outlandish colors. The ocellated Phyliddia (Phyliddia ocellata) is no exception to this trend. With a basic background color varying between orange and gold, and various black patches typically surrounding yellow tubercles with white rings, this nudibranch is a real stand-out on the reef.
Like most nudibranchs, the ocellated Phyllidia feeds on sponges and other small encrusting creatures on the reef. The pair of rhinophores perched atop the head end of this slug provide sensory cues used to locate prey and avoid predators. And like most nudibranchs, the bright colors serve as a warning to would-be predators that this creature would be a noxious snack.
Today’s photo was made on a dive in Dolphin Cove on the island of Taveuni in the Republic of Fiji with a Canon EF100 mm f/2.8 macro lens on a Canon EOS 5D Mk. III in an Ikelite underwater housing. Light was provided by an Ikelite DS-161 strobe in eTTL exposure mode. The exposure was set to 1/60 sec. at f/6.7 and ISO 100.
The wind is a constant companion on Santa Rosa Island, the second largest island in Channel Islands National Park off the California coast. The wind is responsible for much of the start beauty of both Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands in the park. The wind sculpts the sand, sea, and soil.Read More
Oops. This wasn't a photograph of sponges, but of sea squirts. They belong to a group of animals more closely related to humans than any of the invertebrates species found on Earth.Read More
Sponges are likely the most ancient form of multicellular life found on Earth, dating back at least 760 million years ago. Loose colonies of cells, sponges filter microscopic plankton from the water for food.Read More
Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park in California was once the bottom of ancient Furnace Creek Lake. Various geological process contributed to the colorful sediments that are now high, dry and heavily eroded.Read More
The sun sets over the Somosomo Strait dividing the Fijian islands of Taveuni and Vanua Levu. Fiji was struck by an enormous cyclone last week, and much damage was done. Having visited in 2015, I hope the people there have survived and suffered minimal loss.Read More
Rolls of hay on the Montana prairie illustrate a basic ecological principle. Natural ecosystems are complex networks of interactions between huge numbers of species. It is all of the species found interacting within an ecosystem that we call biodiversity. A result of these interactions, generally based on flow of food from plants into animals, ecosystems supply important resources and services for all life on Earth.Read More
Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its fantastical sandstone structures and the impact of light reflecting off of the richly colored surfaces to create a breathtaking effect. I was able to capture this alternative view of Thor’s Hammer in the park’s main amphitheater on cool October afternoon under a sky filled with fluffy white clouds.Read More
The Republic of Fiji in the western tropical Pacific is considered to the soft coral capital of the world. Soft corals can inflate their soft bodies to extend the polyps out into the passing currents to capture plankton. Unlike hard corals, soft corals lack the single celled algae that provide a food source and must depend on food caught by the polyps.Read More
An abandoned ranch house stands as a lonely sentinel on the prairie near Winifred, Montana. Temperate grasslands like the Great Plains of North America harbor the richest soil on the planet, and play a major role as reservoirs of atmospheric carbon. Once plowed under or over-grazed, this ability is greatly reduced.Read More
Among the most colorful of fish found off the coast of southern California is the Catalina or blue-banded goby (Lythrypnus dalli). These formidable predators feed primarily on planktonic organisms drifting by in the current. Their normal behavior is to sit motionless on an outcrop and watch for organisms drifting by on the current.Read More
This pet cemetery at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution had the look and feel of a cemetery for human remains. The white picket fence with peeling paint, the border of dark trees, and the white grave markers could have projected a sense of the macabre, but instead felt like a place of remembrance, solemnity, and love.Read More