Pic o’ the Week: Glowing Waves Below the Milky Way, Big Sur, California

After a head-on car collision left him struggling to walk, photographer George Krieger found that strolling the nearby coast and snapping photos was a good form of therapy. He calls it his “Passion Therapy.” And it placed him on California’s Big Sur coastline recently while a natural phenomenon was producing glowing waves in the Pacific Ocean as the Milky Way glowed in the sky above. This stunning photo is one of many he snapped that evening. You can see them here and purchase prints.
 big sur-Krieger2a LARGE
George shares his story about the magic of this picture – and it’s worth reading all the way through:
“One night after visiting my dad in the hospital, I went out to shoot some long exposures along the Big Sur coastline.  I did this to relax and escape from a hectic week for an hour or two. When I arrived at Bixby Creek Bridge, it looked like the waves were being lit up by headlights from cars.  But there were no car lights on the water.  There were a couple of others there taking pictures too, and we chatted and figured that it was some kind of bioluminescence.  The effect was magical and looked like someone had blue dive lights underwater in certain areas. As the waves would roll in, areas of ocean would light up baby blue and then fade away. I took pictures for a little over an hour, until my batteries were exhausted.  When posting the images I asked Mark Siddall of the AMNH in NYC about the phenomena. We figured out due to weather, sea surface, and wind conditions, that this must be a dinoflagellate phytoplankton bloom. Steve Haddock from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute said  “It is almost certainly a dinoflagellate bloom. We are also seeing relative high bioluminescence with our instruments here in Monterey Bay.” when interviewed by a local news station.

There is much more behind this image than just the trip I took that night to Bixby Creek Bridge, in Big Sur. The image is a perfect example of how mesmerizing and beautiful this area is when you see it through the creative eye/lens combination.  It is that beauty and uniqueness that has kept this area conserved from urban sprawl and that also has been my immersive focus for my physical therapy after a head on collision.  Thirteen years ago they said I would never walk again, after surviving a head on collision with a construction crane.  I found out that if I did more physical therapy I could do better than doctors predicted. After working my way out of a wheelchair, and then being told I would still never walk without a brace, I started using photography as an immersive distraction to walking on sand and uneven surfaces.  This allowed my physical therapy to become “Pasion Therapy,” and that changed the game completely.  The more I focus on the beauty of our coast here in Monterey County, the more physical torture/therapy I can inflict upon my body. This immersive distraction therapy has allowed me to burn my brace at Burning Man, climb to small mountain peaks and to even run and jump.  I get all this from spending a few hours a week taking pictures near the coast.  If I did not do this I would never have seen the glowing waves or gotten the shot if I had seen them. “

These snaps are so popular that George is selling prints here. And you can follow him on Twitter @GeorgeKrieger  and here on Facebook.

Pic o’ the week: coral garden, Pacific Ocean

It looks like a painting, but it’s a breathtaking photo of the ocean’s deepwater vibrant life.

“Several different vibrantly colored animals can be seen in this image, taken at approximately 2,240 meters (7,350 feet), including an Anthomastus mushroom coral (center), precious pink coral (right), bamboo coral (left), and feather stars (crinoids). Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Mountains in the Deep: Exploring the Central Pacific Basin.” ~NOAA 

Mountains in the Deep: Exploring the Central Pacific Basin

You have one day left to join NOAA’s Okeanos crew while they explore the deep ocean – and because of the wonders of modern tech, you can join in from the comfort of your home or office. Here’s the livestream:

NOAA’s research vessel, Okeanos, has been livestreaming its dives daily, as it explores and maps the Pacific Ocean’s Central Pacific Basin. Why here? Because, NOAA says, the Central Pacific Basin encompasses some of the most remote areas on Earth and is poorly mapped.

From NOAA:

“This expedition is part of the three-year Campaign to Address the Pacific monument Science, Technology, and Ocean NEeds (CAPSTONE), a foundational science initiative to collect deepwater baseline information to support science and management decisions in and around U.S. marine protected areas in the central and western Pacific. CAPSTONE serves as an opportunity for NOAA to highlight the uniqueness and importance of these national symbols of ocean conservation.”

Pic o’ The Week: Bioluminescent anemone lights up the oceans’ watery depths

NOAA Ocean Explorer: Bioluminescence and Vision on the Deep Seafloor 2015

In the watery nooks and crannies of the oceans, in the deepest, darkest trenches and even in the shallower water, bioluminescence lights up numerous saltwater creatures. Researchers around the world are studying the mechanisms and secrets of bioluminescence in the oceans.And in this holiday season, when the days in the northern hemisphere get short and darkness prevails, we turn to the lights of bioluminescence to add light to our days.

This hormathiid anemone was photographed in light and in darkness by NOAA’s Ocean Explorer.

“On the right is the light emitted from the same animal. The emitted light is blue and comes from a mucous secretion. The animal is not actually red, but we briefly shine a red LED on it to show where it is.”

Image courtesy of Sönke Johnsen and Katie Thomas.

Pic o’ the week – ‘sea toad’

A sea toad hanging out, waiting for its next meal to swim by.
A sea toad hanging out, waiting for its next meal to swim by.

NOAA’s exploration vessel Okeanos Explorer recently ventured around the Wake Atoll Unit of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Researchers spotted and sampled deep sea life, from anemones to corals to seastars. And they came across this cherubic-seeming fish, hanging out …..

To conduct their deep-water research, researchers use telepresence technology to transmit data in real-time to a shore-based team of scientists who actively participate in the expedition.

This toad fish was found while researchers were exploring the depths of the Kwajalein Atoll, which is one of the world’s largest atolls. The lagoon inside the atoll covers over 800 square miles.

“As far as we know there’s only one species across the Pacific that looks like this. This is a sea toad or coffin fish. It’s in the same order as the anglerfishes and frog fishes…” comments a NOAA researcher on an expedition video — view it here.

And here’s a very entertaining video of this fish, narrated well by the Okeanos researchers – worth watching!

Photo and video courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Deepwater Wonders of Wake.

Pic o’ the Week – wave! by Clark Little

And because the folks at Reshareworthy couldn’t resist either, check out their gallery of Clark Little wave pics here.

Pic o’ the week: Pelican Almost Becomes Whale Snack

What happens when a pelican gets in the middle of a humpback whale’s lunch?

humpback whales feeding
photo by Kate Cummings, Blue Ocean Whale Watch

 

Journalist Manon Verchot recounts the tale in Audubon magazine,

“A hungry pelican was happily feasting on anchovies when the water beneath began to move. Strong baleen jaws clamped down hard—a humpback whale snatched up the seabird.

“It was evident that the pelican was not happy,” says Kate Cummings, the naturalist and co-owner of Blue Ocean Whale Watch who witnessed the event …..”

“….. Luckily, humpback whales don’t eat large creatures, so they have no incentive to swallow. Sensitive organs in the mouths of whales like humpbacks may allow the whale to differentiate between desired prey and unwelcome visitors.

Cummings has seen incidents like this before. Once, a whale trapped a Pink Footed Shearwater and a cormorant in one gulp. “I also saw a sea lion jumping out of a whale’s mouth,” she says. Each time, the trapped creatures got away when the whale realized what it had grabbed.

In this case, the pelican escaped. Cummings thinks the whale must have sensed it was there because it didn’t fully close its mouth. Before submerging, the whale opened back up and the pelican flew away, seemingly unharmed.”

Pic ‘o the week: Sea turtle street art

A sea turtle bursts out out of a drainage pipe above a man and his dog in Buenos Aires…
Artist Martin Ron says of his creation:

“The turtle is a beautiful animal and has a lot of colours and textures. It’s really interesting to paint. It’s not an animal that is seen a lot and it seemed ideal to take it out of its normal context and put on it on the walls of Barracas.”

buenos-aires-graffiti-tour-martin-ron-buenosairesstreetart.com_

 

“Each person can feel free to interpret it how they like. Perhaps my intention was to personify the imagination or the spiritual part of the person in the form of a turtle and a hole in the wall from which his imagination flies out,” said Ron.

Check out Ron Martin on his Twitter feed and his Facebook page.

Pic ‘o the Week: surfing whales

As photographer J.T. Gray stood on a Hawaiian beach snapping photos of surfers on Oahu’s North Shore, a pod of humpback whales, who had been lurking nearby, unexpectedly joined in the surfing fun. In his words:

“The whales were kinda hanging out about 75-100 yards off the beach at Ehukai then swam outside the lineup at Pipeline and caught the second wave of the set. It was amazing to witness. I am blessed to have been able to capture it.”

copyright J.T. Gray
copyright J.T. Gray

 

Check out his beautiful photos here on Smugmug and here on Instagram.

Oriana Kalama, founder of Hawaii’s Ocean Defenders, shares these thoughts about these surfing humpbacks:

“In my 25 years of whale watching I have never heard or witnessed humpback whales surfing. We see them very very close to our shores with their calfs. We observe the adult whales teach the young many behaviors. Tail slapping, spy hopping, breaching.. but to me its the first time I heard of whales teaching the youth how to catch a wave. Perhaps they were just enjoying the natural propulsion of the currents as they form waves, perhaps they have been surfing secretly all their lives, who knows. Dolphins are known to surf, and I recently heard of gray whales surfing in the coats of California so why wouldn’t the humpback whales of Hawaii surf too?  After all they are most natives of Hawaii and surfing is in the blood.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pic o’ the week: Bioluminescent Beach

Will Ho is among those lucky enough to witness a beach aglow in nature’s own neon. While honeymooning in the Maldives, he saw this beach glittering with … yes, ostracod crustaceans.

Photo copyright Will Ho
By the Dusit Thani resort, Mudhdhoo, Baa Atoll, Maldives. Photo copyright Will Ho.

These entrancing photos have spread across the web, with one scientific misunderstanding. This is not bioluminescent phytoplankton, biology professor Jim Morin of Cornell’s Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, has clarified, but instead is an instance of an amazing mortality event of crustaceans in the Indian Ocean:

“These are tiny crustaceans. They produce these mass mortalities commonly in the Maldives. The species in question is almost certainly Cypridina [=Pyrocypris] dentata, a widespread cypridinid ostracod in the Indian Ocean [and perhaps all the way to the Chinese coast, where they are known as “blue tears”]. There are numerous reports from the Indian coast, especially the west side, and up into the Arabian Sea, in addition to the Laccadives and the Maldives. However, because luminescent bays in the Caribbean and crashing blue waves everywhere in the world are well known, and are usually caused by luminescence from dinoflagellates [which ARE a kind of phytoplankton], there is much confusion about the cause of these “starlit beaches.” But they are clearly NOT dinoflagellates; they are ostracod crustaceans that secrete cypridinid luciferin and luciferase from glands on their upper lips so that the luminescence is external [not intracellular as in dinos]. Furthermore the luminescence is discrete as fairly large spots, not diffuse as with light from millions of dinos. Ostracod light can last many seconds, even minutes, which is not what happens with dinos.”

George Percy noted on Flickr that he remembers these from his childhood in India:

“I am from India … and I used to see them all the time at night on the Marina Beach in Chennai. My friends and I used to scoop them up and hold it in our hands for about 10 seconds and they will lose their luminescence.”

Pic ‘o the week: sky on a whale’s back

As the autumn days become shorter and colder in the Northern Hemisphere, the ocean’s creatures prepare for winter.

In the deep waters off the Central California coast, enormous schools of anchovies are drawing hundreds of humpback whales, along with blue whales, dolphins, seals, and other predators.

Here, blue sky and wispy clouds reflect off a humpback whale’s glistening back. This whale, enjoying an anchovy feast in Monterey Bay, was one of about a dozen that photographer Kate Cummings saw on a recent trip out to sea.

Oct6_63Image courtesy & copyright Kate Cummings of Blue Ocean Whale Watch.