Dynamic Landscapes

Dynamic landscapes under the sea

whisper their siren call to me.

My spirit is gently coaxed away

on a briny breeze where kelp trees sway.

The King's Forest

The King’s Forest

I marvel, in awe of the majesty!

If I could but capture the grandeur I see!

And I am rewarded as if from on high,

by the image imprinted in my mind’s eye.

Alone with the sea

Alone with the sea




I’m Blue for You

Of all the creatures in the oceans, it seems like the “blue” ones are the most threatening in our imaginations.  Blue sharks, for example, spark a bit of fear just by their name.  Blue whales conjure up childhood memories of stories of being swallowed and later spit back out in some foreign land.  Some of the most beautiful, and dangerous animals in the ocean are blue.  Beautiful by nature, and dangerous by reputation is the blue-ringed octopus.

Blue Ringed octopus

Blue Ringed octopus

When I arrived in the Philippines, I was given an orientation on some of the underwater hand-signals for various creatures and critters.  One of these signals was placing your fingers in an “okay” sign and tapping it up your arm three times.  This signals that there is a blue-ringed octopus nearby.  When my guide first gave me this signal, I had forgotten its significance and I brushed him off because I was focusing my camera on a very large frog fish.  My guide very patiently waited for me, then gave me the signal again for the blue-ringed octopus.  I wasn’t sure what he was showing me, so I followed him to where a small group of divers were excitedly gesturing.  As soon as I saw it, it dawned on me that I had missed an important sign from my guide.  I sheepishly gave him the okay sign, then began to snap away happily on my camera.

Blue Ringed Octopus

Blue Ringed Octopus

The blue ringed octopus has a reputation for being the most venomous critter in the ocean.  Although this octopus is smaller than the palm of my hand, it produces a lethal toxin called Tetrodotoxin that can kill a person in a matter of minutes.  As menacing as that may sound, there have only been three recorded deaths in the last 100 years attributed to a blue ringed octopus bite.  It is considered the Holy Grail of under water photo subjects by some divers.  Most of the time it appears tan, or golden in color, but when it is alarmed it’s blue rings become prominent.  It was a treat to see this creature with it’s undulating rings as it postured itself against my presence.

Click below to watch an interesting and informative video on the blue ringed octopus.

Watch Video

Shark Bait!

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go chummin’ for sharks.  Now a few months ago, I distinctly remember thinking that I would never have a need to do this.  Yet, here I was, sitting on a dive boat, anxiously awaiting that first dorsal fin to break the surface of the water.  “Awaiting” is the key word here.  With water temperatures up several degrees from normal, the sharks were in no hurry to make their presence known.

So, the way this works is, you fill a couple of buckets full of “shark bait” (which is this gross smelling cube of frozen fishy parts) that you purchase for the express purpose of attracting sharks to your boat.  Who would do that, right?  These are placed in the water and anchored behind the boat with a rope.  The buckets are full of small holes, which let the frozen cube slowly melt and waft into the water.  The boat simply bobs around on top the deep blue sea, while you wait for the sharks to appear.

This was around ten in the morning.  Then we waited.  And waited.  Soon it was lunchtime, so we ate some sandwiches.  Then we waited some more.  After lunch, we decided to try to find some cooler water and set off a few miles to the north where we repeated the morning process with the chum buckets.

Blue Shark

Blue Shark

Around 3:30 in the afternoon, the captain called out  “I see a baby blue!”  Woo Hoo!  The shark photo shoot was on!  We hurriedly got in the water–Again, who would do that, right?–And swam toward the bait buckets.  I was looking to the left and to the right, down below and straight ahead, and still I couldn’t see the blue shark.  And then, this little skinny fish emerged out of the blue water and swam right toward me.  That’s it?!  That’s what has had my nerves on end all day?  Suddenly, all apprehension was gone and my camera began to get it’s work-out.  This little guy was only about two feet long and basically all puppy-dog eyes.  I thought he was cute, and sort-of . . . helpless.

Blue shark

Blue shark

After playing around in the water with the shark for a while, we headed back to the boat and waited for big-brother to show up.  Unfortunately, he didn’t smell the invitation, and after a few more hours of waiting, we decided to head back.  At least I can say I have photographed sharks in open water.  Something I recently feared is now crossed off my list of things to overcome.  I look forward to the next time, but still have to admit that I was relieved to be spoon-fed on the little guy.  But next time?  I’ll be ready!

The “Eyes” have it!

I have often heard that the eyes are the window to the soul.  We view the world around us through our eyes, and we express our innermost feelings through our eyes.  Couples fall in love by gazing into each other’s eyes.  Truly, the eyes are one of the most important aspects of our persona, because so much more than vision is conveyed through the eyes.

In the under water world, eyes are very important.  Some fish have large markings that look like eyes to make them look like a predator.  Some have camouflaged eyes so that their prey don’t know they are looking.  Some eyes are very tiny, and some are hugely out of proportion to their bodies.

There are many songs that have been written about eyes. Poet-Songwriters have described all kinds of situations, feelings, and circumstances by singing about eyes.   I thought it might be fun to view the underwater world through some of these song titles:

First up:  “Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue” by Crystal Gayle

Hermit Crab

Hermit Crab

Fun Fact:  Hermit crabs have very expressive eyes and they come in all colors, including polka-dot!
Hermit Crab

Hermit Crab

Lyin’ Eyes” by the Eagles

The Stargazer buries itself in the sand, with only it's eyes exposed.

The Stargazer buries itself in the sand, with only it’s eyes exposed.

These bottom dwelling fish have lyin’ eyes.  They are hard to see, and don’t really convey the danger “lyin” in wait under the sand.
This flounder's eyes look like the sand around which it has buried itself while waiting for it's prey.

This flounder’s eyes look like the sand around which it has buried itself while”lying” in wait for it’s prey.

Can’t Take My Eyes off of You”  by Franke Valle

Conch Eye

Conch Eye

I Only Have Eyes for You” by The Flamingos

Anemone Fish Eggs with eyes developed

Anemone Fish Eggs with eyes developed

 Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

Scorpion Fish affectionately called a "Lion fish"

Scorpion Fish affectionately called a “Lion fish”

Behind Blue Eyes”  by The Who

Frogfish with lure.

Frogfish with lure

Eyes without a Face” by Billy Idol

This fish is a deceiver.  It looks like it has one huge eye, so that larger fish think it is bigger and more menacing than it is.

This fish is a deceiver. It looks like it has one huge eye, so that larger fish think it is bigger and more menacing than it is.

And last but not least:

Cotton-Eyed Joeby Rednex

Cotton-eyed Mantis Shrimp

“Cotton-eyed”  Mantis Shrimp

Click Here for Interesting Facts and Video

The Mantis Shrimp have the most interesting eyes.  They move independently and are sometimes cross-eyed.  This one is a Peacock Mantis

The Mantis Shrimp have the most interesting eyes. They move independently and are sometimes cross-eyed. This one is a Peacock Mantis