Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Maui Spin Zone

June 2008
I have spent literally hundreds of hours over the years with spinner dolphins here on Maui, usually from a small inflatable boat as I parallel the group traveling along the coast.

But it is here, in the water, that I can really come to appreciate the social structure and dynamics of the entire pod.

Swimming out to deeper water from the shore along the west side of Maui will often yield these brief glimpses into spinner dolphin life.

As with so many marine animals the best approach is often to allow the animals themselves to approach you. After all, you are not going to out swim a dolphin! Hanging motionless invites a closer inspection. It really is a case of being there and allowing the choice to be made by the dolphins.

Often times I simply hang out in deep waters and enjoy the blues, but when a pod comes near it really makes my day! Here a mom keeps her calf snuggled close against her body in the "echelon" position.

I can't think of a better way to simply hang out on Maui!

Visit www.wildlifeimages.net for more dolphin photos.

Sweet Greens and Blues of Maui

June 2008
Green Sea Turtles in clear blue water here on Maui. In my dreams I am often floating suspended in warm, salty water, surrounded by these ancient animals. Scientist believe marine turtles to have been here on our planet for about 450 million years.

Such a privilege to hang suspended in late afternoon light, a little tune by James Taylor lightly playing in the back of my mind...
Sweet greens and blues
Are the colors I choose
Won't you let me go down in my dreams?
Just like CT, green sea turtles must return to the surface to breath air...

Reflected light off a beautiful carapace on the sea's surface.

Hovering motionless invites a curious pass, just what odd creatures we "youngsters" (evolutionarily speaking) must seem to a green sea turtle!

Here is evidence that the seemingly slow and stately lifestyle of turtles isn't always so carefree...every now and then a shark comes by and jolts a turtle back into reality!
Visit www.wildlifeimages.net to see more of my marine photography.

I'd like to be...

June 2008
What a pleasant find! An adult day (or Cyanea octopus) changing color and texture in the marine preserve at Honolua Bay on the northwest side of Maui. The Hawaiian name for this octopus is he‘e.
This is the same octopus as above, only now going for its "textured" look! Day octopus are unusual because they are active during daylight hours (diurnal) and extremely adept at camouflage.
This octopus grew so comfortable with us that it actually seemed curious about CT's waving blond hair!
Octopus exhibit rapid growth, an early age at first maturity, and a short lifespan – living approximately one year and dying after spawning. Octopuses are the most intelligent invertebrates, with mental capabilities comparable to that of the average house cat.
Maze and problem-solving experiments show that they have both short- and long-term memory, although their short lifespans limit the amount they can ultimately learn.
I'd like to be
under the sea
In an octopuses garden
in the shade!
He's let us in
knows just where we've been
in his little hideaway
beneath the waves.
We could be so happy you and me
no one there to tell us what to do
I'd like to be
under the sea
in an octopuses garden
with you!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Goodbye to the good ship Polaris

May 2008
The one constant in life is inevitable change, and here in the Galapagos there is no exception to that rule. After a life time of plying the ocean's of the world, and then spending the last ten years here in the Galapagos exclusively, the Lindblad expedition ship Polaris will retire in April of 2009.
What better legacy than the tens of thousands of people from around the world that the good ship Polaris has introduced to the "Enchanted Isles?" Under her tenure literally millions of dollars have been raised in conservation efforts for the protection and preservation of the Galapagos. She will be sorely missed from these waters.
But of course the closing of one chapter is always the opening of a new one. Lindblad Expeditions will reposition the National Geographic Endeavour to the Galapagos to replace the Polaris in May of 2009. I will have the pleasure and privilege to sail on the very first two voyages in the Galapagos on board the NG Endeavour, both expeditions will be photo expeditions and I would love to join you there. Please check out the details at www.expeditions.com. See you in 2009!

Galapagos underwater Ballet

May 2008
With so many animals to chose from in this "target rich" photographic dream world it would be hard for me to pick one animal that is my favorite photographic subject, but I would have to say it is hard to beat the pure energy and curiosity exhibited by Galapagos sea lions!
Endlessly curious about snorkeling photographers and the absolute epitome of speed and grace underwater I often feel I am at the ballet rather than a remote island archipelago hundreds of miles off the coast of Ecuador.
So come and join the fun, you can be part of the choreography and swim with stars, just as Juan Carlos is doing here!
We must seem so ungainly and sluggish in the world of sea lions, but they delight in our presence anyway (and where else are you going to find that combination?)
Yep, for pure unbridled energy and curiosity it has to be Galapagos sea lions!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Taking flight in the Galapagos

May 2008
A juvenile great frigatebird so close you can almost touch it in flight!
Juvenile great frigatebirds vying for fish on the wing on north Seymour Island.
Pink flamingo grace and beauty reflected in afternoon light.
Pink patterns on a blue canvas.
Waved albatross having an animated discussion about current events on Espanola Island.
Adult waved albatross exhibit a very intricate behavioral activity when courting potential mates. This species of albatross is endemic to the Galapagos Islands.

Faces of the Galapagos

May 2008
With so many different types of animals in the Galapagos to choose from, it is often hard to decide just which subject warrants your attention. Now on my fifth voyage here in the islands I am still fascinated by the many "faces" of this enchanted place - like this nestled blue-footed booby.
A messy but content giant tortoise at lunch time!
I recently purchased a Canon G9 point-and-shoot camera and have to say that it is an absolute blast to find macro subjects like this small spider and pose it so that it looks HUGE (and scary!)
The ubiquitous and very curious lava lizard is to be seen everywhere here.
A Sally lightfoot crab make for a dramatic splash of color on the dark volcanic shoreline.
The whimsical "face" of the endemic giant apuntia cactus, found only here in the Galapagos.
National Geographic collection editor Steve St. John at sunrise from the Zodiac.
Pink flamingos posing in late afternoon light.
So come to the Galapagos and satisfy your own curiosity. I will again be leading photo expeditions here in May of 2009. For more details go to www.expeditions.com

Furry critters in the Galapagos!

May 2008
With such a plethora of critters running, swimming, and soaring in the Galapagos it is so very nice to find some "lazy" but VERY cute Galapagos sea lions hauled out and sleeping on the sugar sand beach at Gardner Bay on Espanola Island.
In the late spring moms and pups find each other after mom returns from a foraging trip out to sea.
Lindblad photo team member Jennifer Davidson practicing her sea lion yoga!
With seemingly not a care in the world and plenty of time to bask in the sun these sea lions show us the meaning of "siesta"!
Not as mellow as a Galapagos sea lion this Galapagos fur seal is a much more feisty critter!
IN fact when you put two males in close proximity to each other a boisterous mock battle may ensue!
Looking more like Sumo wrestlers these fur seals push and shove, throwing their body weight into the contest as they try to establish just who is top seal on the lava hill!
Please visit www.wildlifeimages.net to see more of my photography.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Galapagos below the surface

May 2008
A green sea turtle glides over the reef off the west side of Isabella Island.
The strangely shaped oceanic sunfish (Mola mola) in deep waters off the NW side of Isabella Island.
Here a pair of mola molas glide by my underwater housing.
While they look so comical above water, the true grace and purpose of penguins become obvious underwater. Here is the only penguin species in the northern hemisphere!
Trying to follow this Galapagos penguin as it zips through this school of bait fish is almost impossible with my large and heavy camera housing!
White-tipped reef shark patrolling the reef.
Snorkeling with a curious white-tipped reef shark.
I just absolutely LOVE these Galapagos sea lions! I promise they will get their own section here on my blog soon. Here's to putting your foot in its mouth!