Hammer Time.

Almost shark week… ūüôā

The ocean on the south shore of Long Island really starts lighting up with life this time of year.   Along with tropical fish and startles, we also get some sharks that are better known to more southern waters.   The most common shark I have seen in the last few years is the Hammerhead.  They seem to like the surface.  I’m not sure of the species, but I would guess scalloped hammerhead.  (Hit the comments if you can identify!)  They are definitely feeding on the bunker (first pic).  These sharks are amazing to watch.  They are extremely maneuverable, and slice and dice through the ball up bait.  

Its been found that unusually structured vertebrae are what allow this tight maneuvering.  That crazy head Рthe Cephalofoil Рhelps with lift and turning, however its main function is more of a sensory organ.  All sharks have electroreceptors called ampullae of Lorenzini that help detect prey.   By spreading these out over the wider area of the cephalofoil, it acts like a radio antenna, allowing the shark to sweep broader areas for prey.

While we wait for this south wind to calm, here are some older pics from last year, this week.  

 

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I suspect  little photoshop on that last one, but look at that water.  Thats real!   Hit the comments for any questions or um..  comments!    Enjoy!

Bottlenose Dolphin, South Shore, Long Island.

FINS to the left! Pics at the end!

The Fourth of July brought with it, not only fireworks and celebration, but also a very flat, mellow ocean.   The north wind and a lack of swell made for smooth lake-like conditions.   

I love these conditions for running the boat out there because the surface is relatively smooth in shape and texture.  No whitecaps to distract the eye.  It essentially becomes a backdrop from which your eyes can pick out anomalies Рsmall disturbances emerging out of the overall pattern.

All too often, these visual stand-outs turn out to be helium balloons.  (Please, folks, think about curbing the balloon use, or at least don’t let them go fly away.  They land on the ocean, and I can fill garbage bag picking them up.  They kill.)  

The next common thing you will see are seagulls.   Kind of boring, but worth a second glance.  I have found sea turtles that I initially thought were birds.

Now if you keep your eyes scanning, there is a good chance that you will see some wonderful things Р dolphin, shark, turtle, an occasional humpback or fin whale.  Keep looking for the anomaly in the pattern.  You eyes will learn to see what you are looking for._DSC5364-2

On the Fourth, I spotted a few pods of migratory, bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus.    They were actively corralling and feeding on atlantic menhaden, also known as bunker.  (See video of a bunker school below.)  Many babies were in the mix. There seemed to be two separate pods of 15 to 30 individuals.  I was between 1/2 mile and 2 miles off, between Robert Moses and Kismet.  

 

I often see dolphin very close to shore.  On these calm days, consider bring binoculars to the beach with you.  You might get a nice surprise!

Photo tips:  You really need a telephoto lens with some reach.  You cannot get too close to these guys.  Its not safe, legal, or effective.  If you get too close, they dive deep and split.   I try to maneuver to within no more than 50 yards, and then stay parallel to the direction they are heading and get a bit ahead of them. Turn off engine, and let them swim towards you, on a line that still maintains your distance.

I‚Äôm shooting with a relatively cheap Tamron 150-600mm zoom lens. ¬† At 600mm, I really want some wide depth of field, so I keep my F-stop at 8 or higher. ¬†Shutter speed needs to be fast –¬†subject is moving at a distance, so I try not to go below 1/1000th of a second. ¬†For me, this works well in aperture priority mode. ¬†If I can‚Äôt keep the shutter speed up at F8, ¬†I raise the ISO just enough to get that fast shutter. ¬† I use back button focus, because its faster for me, and you need to be fast for when a dolphin pops up. ¬†It also allows me to pre-focus on where I think they will be, and then just snap the shutter.¬†

I can’t really say enough about keeping your eyes on the water, and observing the surface.   On the way in, at a slow cruising speed, I saw a small disturbance that I though might be a turtle.   Turns out it was the dorsal fin of a triggerfish.  I stopped and he swam under the cover of the shadow of the boat!

 

Enjoy, and keep those eyes open!  Here are a few shots from the Fourth of July, as well as a few from previous trips!

 

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Continue reading “Bottlenose Dolphin, South Shore, Long Island.”

Valentine

(don’t settle for illusions)

‚ÄúLove is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.‚ÄĚ – Marianne Wilson
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egrets, ¬†I’ve had a few…
This is for the those of us who do not enjoy today.  Love is by far, the greatest thing.  All things comes with a flip side.  The flip side of love is not hate; It is loss and hurt and fear.  Its disconnection and a feeling of falling into a void without a net.  Gut-wrenching, heart-scarring, soul-sucking, insomnia-dulled, angst-fueled, existential ache.  If you’ve been through this, (and who hasn’t?), its not easily forgotten, if even subconsciously.  You probably put up defensive barriers, maybe even walls of barb-wire.  We all do it.

What is this empty void of hurt we feel we fall into? ¬†Its just fear. ¬†Fears you were born with, fears you learned, fears that are built into our species. ¬†But you are still you, you are still there, not in a void. ¬†One of the best things you can do is have compassion for yourself. Some of these fears are the cause of…

Continue reading “Valentine”

Empty My Cache

(If I was a pirate…)

During the Carboniferous Period, 290 million years ago, the Earth’s churning mantle and other forces of nature forced a large mass of igneous molten rock into the more ancient metamorphic rock already in existence. The result was the granite bedrock underlying much of the lakes region of south-western Maine. As the molten rock cooled, crystals of quartz and feldspar and slivers of reflective dark and light mica formed, giving the granite its colors of whites, light pinks, light tans. Varying fluid pressures allowed for variable grain size of the crystalline structure. Higher pressure and slower cooling time allowed the individual crystals to develop larger in size. There are also dark colored rocks, the result of Mesozoic Era (225 to 65 million tears ago) intrusions of a new and different composition of igneous molten rock. These dikes can be seen as the narrow bands of basaltic black, cutting through the light granite. Some of these rocks and formations are quite beautiful, but they are only foundation upon which the glacial ice sheets carved their art.

The last ice sheet retreated in melt over 13,000 years ago. Glaciers are immensely powerful rivers of ice. They flow downwards at an exceedingly slow pace, but the weight and pressures created by the flow over the landscape is enough to carve out and pulverize the existing granite bedrock. This was this process that carved out an area that is today, roughly 47.5 square miles wide, reaching down to a depth of around 325 feet.

Sebago Lake is large enough to now serve as the public water supply for the city of Portland and surrounding areas. It also serves as Vacation Land, due to its beauty. Surrounded by the evergreens of the Maine woods, the shoreline of the lake consists of coarse sandy beaches, granite outcrops, boulders, cliffs, and marshlands. The fresh air smells of pine, and the water of the lake is possessed by magical properties of which you can drink. In summer, surface temperatures are pleasant for swimming. Dive to 100ft and you will feel yourself pass through five to seven distinct thermoclines. Your bubbles will sound oddly crystalline. It is cold. The clarity of the water and the geological artwork allow you to endure shivering.

522092_10150854859692275_1097173206_nDown there is this boulder, the size of a huge house. It is cracked open in the middle – a split of three to four feet. Within this split opening are lodged many smaller boulders that didn’t quite make it to the bottom. Fun swim-throughs. But what most people miss, hidden in the deep bottom shadows – is the Cave. Its at the base of this split rock. You enter a small dark chamber which leads to a small opening. You’ll need to take your tank off and feed it through, then follow. Your flashlight now reveals another small chamber that has a small drop-off ledge on the far side. Be very careful not to stir up any silt. A dive partner can place his arm into the opening to remain in contact with your fins. However, if you wish to explore a little more, you must break contact. You go alone. Proceed to the small drop-off ledge on the far side of the chamber. With full arm extension, you can almost reach the bottom of the drop-off. Breath. Reach. Move slowly. Feel around. There you will find a pillowcase. Breath. Be gentle. The contents of the pillowcase were hermetically sealed in a long fire-side night’s worth of candle wax, almost ten years ago.¬†I have forgotten the brands and vintages, but I recommend the White with a Maine seafood dinner. The Red will work, chilled on a cool fireside night under the planetarium of stars. But don’t wait too much time after the dive to celebrate with shots of some good, smooth, aged, tequila. You won’t need any rocks.

Cheers…