If you're interested in using any of these photographs, please contact me. Send an e-mail to naturalhistoryphotos(at)gmail.com. Thanks!

Thursday, March 23, 2017


The local ravens have been sampling a diversity of food items:

Scavenging a seabird:

Dodging the waves while digging for mole crabs:

Assessing a large seed:

Sharing a fish: 

What have you seen them eating?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Digging it

A few years ago, I introduced the Long-armed Brittle Star (Amphiodia occidentalis).  

You can review the earlier post here, but I'm excited to share even better footage of this amazing brittle star in action.

Take a look!

This video is shown in actual time.  Note the extremely long, flexible arms of the brittle star; the impressive digging behavior (the sand grains appear to be "boiling"); and close-ups of the tube feet flicking upwards.  The tube feet are visible on the under sides of the arms (below the spines) watch for them especially during the interval at 30-35 seconds.

[If you can't see the video clip below, click on the title of the post above to go directly to the web site.]

I hope you dig this video as much as we did!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Rose-painted Semele (Semele rubropicta), photographed in Bodega Bay on 21 March 2017.  It was ~3 cm (a little over an inch) long.

Note the small circular holeevidence that this clam was drilled by a predator.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring showers

Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus) just after taking a bath.  They've been singing very loudly around our house recently.

Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Little ship at sea

A little ship at sea...recently discovered on a fishing float washed up on a local beach.

Perhaps some of you have found similar floats?

It's always interesting to wonder about the origins and journeys of objects that wash up on the beach.  

In this case, the Chinese characters reveal some clues.  Thanks to Evelyne, here's a translation of the characters surrounding the ship:

➤ The top two characters (on either side of the ship's sail):
浙 江 = Zhejiang Province, a province on the central eastern coast of China, south of the Yangtze River  

The bottom two characters on the left:

溫 州 = Wenzhou City

And the bottom two characters on the right:

蟠 凤 = Pan Feng Village  (separately these two characters also mean "coiled phoenix" and are part of an idiom used in a poem by one of the most famous Chinese poets, Li Bai)

It's likely that this float was made in this Chinese village.  But where did the float begin its journey in the ocean?  We're not sure, but there is another clue.  Did you notice the white, lacy animal growing in patches on the float?

See photos above, and here's an extreme close-up:

This is the skeleton of a bryozoan, and thanks to Jim we know that it's Jellyella eburnea, a species associated with warmer water.  So although we don't know the entire route of the float and the little ship, it likely spent some time in warmer water (possibly to our south).

P.S.  Many thanks to Evelyne, Jim, Megan, and Miho for their assistance with this story!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Fun in the surf

We were treated to some nice views of dolphins and whales off Salmon Creek Beach today (18 March 2017).

Two record shots of Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).  They're a bit distant, but it's worth documenting their continued presence in this area:

And we were excited to see a Gray Whale cow-calf pair surprisingly close to shore within ~100 meters of the beach!  The calf seemed to be having fun in the surf.  Here it is, upside down, showing its belly and pectoral fins out to either side:

The next view was the underside of the calf's flukes in a wave, headed out to sea:

And here's one more — just the tip of the Gray Whale's flukes carving through the water like a shark fin:

At one point, the dolphins were very close to the whales and it was interesting to think about what kinds of interactions they might have had.

Here's hoping for more marine mammal sightings this spring!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Young clover

  Happy St. Patrick's Day!