Friday, September 22, 2006

Whale Watching

So, Its tough getting one of these out everyday. I'm not sure how some people do it. Anyways, I've got these cool (at least they were fun to take) pictures of whales from our whale watch trip out of boothbay harbor. I'm somewhat interested to hear what others say about these trips. We saw a couple extremely cool things, starting out with Minke Whales, an excellent experience with a finback whale, and I managed to get some great shots of harbor seals and gray seals.

So here it is. The first whale of the day. This is a Minke whale, a very small (for a whale, it is under 20 feet), and they were really common. Here is a shot I took from Megan's camera that isn't zoomed in very much. It is pretty cool that I got some of the classic Maine coast in the background. The camera makes the shore seem closer than it actually was, but, we weren't that far from land. The Minke Whales we saw on the day would come up for air about 3-4 mintues, take very deep breaths at the surface, and finally dive deep into the gold algae filled waters in search of fish. After about 3 minutes, the whales returned to the surface, our captain spotted the returner from the depths, and put the boat in full gear to get his patrons closer to the gentle giants.

After seeing many Minke whales, this was getting old. Finally we made a mad dash out to deeper water. After crusing along a bit, finally, our naturist guide yelled out. "Right there, on the horizon, a finback whale spout." The naturalist husband, our afforementioned captain again engaged the boat sending all watchers to the rail, holding on for dear life. We finally reached the gigantic beast. In the picture below, notice the speck on the left side of the whale. That is it's dorsal fin, and the whale's body is still coming up and out of the water. This picture wasn't zoomed in, and when I captured the image, I was somewhat dissapointed. However, seeing the boat's support beam in the foreground really gives you an impression just how big these guys are.

Zooming in with Megan's new 12x image stabilized lens allowed me to get incredible close up shots, even though the animal was moving, and the boat itself was moving. What a giant blowhole!

After having some very close encounters with the solitary finback, our captain turned around the Harbor Princess for calmer waters. On our way back, the naturalist point out harbor and gray seals basking on the rocks on one of the most remote islands off the boothbay harbor coast. Notice the seal in the top left of the picture with a large wound. Ouch!

Overall, this trip was really great! It far exceeded my expectations. I really could do that once a week. Oh I'm back in Ohio and racoons are pretty much the only mammal I see on a weekly basis! Happy naturalizing,


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Back from Maine

Well, I'm married and Megan and I are back from Maine. This summer, dragonflies have caught my attention. I'll never forget my dad catching one of these guys when I was a little kid back in Munroe Falls. I'm by no means being original here by posting pictures of dragonflies, but boy, are these things cool! All of these pictures were taken in between wedding preparations at Little Pond in Otisfield, Maine.

First we have a damselfly. I'm guessing this is one of the bluets, but I need to check to be sure. He landed on some dead peat at the edge of Little Pond, an area roughed up a bit by Megan's dogs. They just open some areas a bit, and hopefully they'll create openings for other intersting plant species. Notice how striking this guy is. Can you see why so many people are becoming interested in damsels?

Next is a spreadwing damselfly. Unlike most other damselflies, they do not completely fold their wings above there bodies. They are "spread". Here is one of the spreadwings captured in the balsam fir-birch woods just 50 feet away from the sphagnum mat that circles little pond. Notice how long and slender this creature's abdomen is.

Here is a meadowhawk. This is a dragonfly with several different representatives. Some are bright red. Notice the orangish coloration of this individual.

Finally, a slaty skimmer. This identification was fairly easy here, as there is simply not other dragonfly that looks like this! What a beautiful specimen!