Carla Brennan's Blog

Reflections and Photos from The Big Trip and Beyond . .

Deep Sea Diving on Land: The Monterey Bay Aquarium

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For one week a year the (pricey) Monterey Bay Aquarium is open for free for locals. Chris and I went last Saturday and braved the long serpentine line to get our glimpse of creatures seldom seen.

The photography conditions in the aquarium go from bad to worse but I persevered and ended up with a few memorable shots included here. It is dark in most exhibits since below the ocean’s surface light diminishes rapidly. I had to crank up my ISO to its max. And there is, of course, glass between you and the salt water. Lots of it. It results in blurring, glaring, reflections and distortion. And one must also wade through the crowds to first get close to the glass. The ratio of usable photographs to far-too-crappy photographs was at new low. Yet a few images, with help from Photoshop, convey the startling beauty and mystery of the aquarium inhabitants. I am still sorting through the images.

Enjoy.

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/

Please do not reproduce any photographs without permission. Prints are available for purchase for some photographs. If you are interested, contact Carla at: brennan.carla@gmail.com. You can also find Carla’s photographs, paintings and jewelry on her Etsy site (Stones and Bones): https://www.etsy.com/shop/stonesandbones

This gallery contains 34 photos

This Week’s Vitamin Sea Report

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This week’s Vitamin Sea report.

Davenport Landing Beach, Davenport, CA. November 12, 2017.
This is a beach I don’t usually go to. Not for any good reason. Maybe because there is a little development on the cove: a few buildings, an abalone farm. And it’s a small beach, although with the tide out you can walk for quite a ways under the cliffs.

But I had the impulse to stop there yesterday. The loop road off Highway 1 was packed with parked cars which seemed odd. The other beach parking areas I passed were not full. Reaching the sand, I discovered there was a surf contest in progress. Surfers, surf kayakers and surf stand-up paddleboarders ran in and out of the water; horns blasted signaling the beginnings and endings of events.

The weather was sublime: cloudless, windless and warm. The waves were shapely and shimmering from the low afternoon sun. I stayed past sunset, to witness the joyful activity and the natural beauty.

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Sea Star, Plover and Anemones

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November 5, 2017

Out for my weekly dose of Vitamin Sea, I wandered the beaches of Scott’s Creek along Highway 1 just north of Davenport, CA. This has become one of my favorite stops because it offers a variety of beach habitats and is easy to get to from my car. (To access many of the beaches along 1 you must climb down steep eroded cliff paths to reach the water. This becomes even more dicey when you are carrying heavy photographic equipment.)

There is fresh water (Scotts Creek), a broad beach, high cliffs, lots of tidal pools and decent beachcombing.

When I arrived there yesterday about noon, the water was as high as I have seen it; a full moon tide. The usual tide pools were under waves. So I meandered the water line taking in the chilly sunny day, looking for whatever presented itself.

AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER
One lone shore bird (the rest of the birds I saw were gulls) danced at the water’s edge hunting small tasty crustaceans. I wasn’t sure what it was as many of the shore birds look similar (to me anyway.) But later I identified it as an American Golden-Plover in its non-breeding plumage (the longer wingtips distinguish it from the Pacific Golden-Plover). This lonely bird was on its 12,000 mile migration to South America from summering in the Arctic, stopping along the California coast for food. These Plovers have one of the longest migratory routes in the world.

NORTHERN HARRIER
A female Northern Harrier caught the sea winds at the top of the cliffs perfectly, allowing it to hover, without flapping, in one place as it looked for a meal. Later I saw it carrying a rodent in its talons. (It was a bit too far to get a really good photo.)

CALIFORNIA GULL AND OCHRE SEA STAR (STARFISH)
This gull found a prize and eventually consumed it. I was glad to see the sea star since the Pacific coast population of Ochre Sea Stars has been decimated in recent years from “starfish wasting disease” thought to be made worse by higher water temperatures. I used to frequently see large orange, purple and brown sea stars in the tide pools but I haven’t spotted one in years. This gull lowered the current sea star population by one but at least this sea star looked healthy.

ANEMONES
After a few hours of looking mainly toward my feet, seeking sea treasures, I realized the tide had quickly receded and rocks and tide pools were emerging everywhere. Anemones were waving their many arms in the shallow moving water, ranging in size from tiny to five inches across. I photographed them from above and also tried, for the first time, underwater shots using my new Olympus Tough waterproof camera. Some cool images!

(Treasures I collected: sea glass, pieces of abalone and other shells, smooth stones with piddock clam holes, jade.)

Please do not reproduce any photographs without permission. Prints are available for purchase for some photographs. If you are interested, contact Carla at: brennan.carla@gmail.com. You can also find Carla’s photographs, paintings and jewelry on her Etsy site (Stones and Bones): https://www.etsy.com/shop/stonesandbones

 

This gallery contains 12 photos


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Katydid and Buddha

PHOTOGRAPH OF THE DAY! November 2, 2017

I discovered this insect – what I believe to be a Mexican Bush Katydid (Scudderia mexicana) – walking on one of my outdoor buddhas today. I don’t see katydids very often (they are usually effectively camouflaged as leaves) so it was a pleasure to have it patiently allow me to take its portrait along with the Buddha. (The Buddha is always patient.) The “phallus-like” appendage is actually an ovipositor which means this is a female. They lay their eggs in the fall for a spring hatching.

The day after I posted this, National Geographic had a breaking news story about unique newly identified katydids. How often do you see news flashes on katydids? Like never? Synchronicity? These NG katydids are big, they are mean, they are brightly colored and they are monogamous. To see some strange Madagascar relatives of our local katydid: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/11/animals-insects-madagascar-new-species/

KATYDID-BUDDHA-1

ALBINO REDWOODS

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August 16. 2017

On a walk in Henry Cowell State Park in Felton, CA, yesterday, we came across an albino redwood. They generally do not grow into a large centralized tree but remain small and shrubby. This one was growing next to the bushy sprouts of normal chlorophyll-filled redwood growth, showing off the distinction between them. Albinos are found in only a few spots in the whole of the coastal redwood territory.

Not surprisingly, the albino redwoods were considered important to the indigenous people here and were used in sacred ceremonies.

For more info:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albino_redwood

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Wildflowers of the Sierra Nevada Mountains

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July 6, 2017 – Lake Tahoe, CA

Chris and I had a short break and headed to Tahoe City on the shores of Lake Tahoe for a couple days. This is prime wildflower season in the high altitude of the mountains. Nearby was the Tahoe Rim Trail in the national forest which promised a waterfall and a summit view on Twin Peaks. I, of course, wandered so slowly, taking in the beauty and the many flowers that we didn’t make much progress in terms of distance (no waterfall or summit.) But I brought home yet another “photographic bouquet” of wildflowers.

 

 

 

 

This gallery contains 55 photos

One with Sea and Wind: Kitesurfing

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Waddell State Beach, CA. July 1, 2017

The wind was stiff and pummeled all the senses. It was risky to take a camera into the blowing sand-filled air but I couldn’t resist. The conditions were also perfect for kitesurfing. There were about twenty kitesurfers on the water at any time and an equal number on the beach, resting themselves and their brightly colored wings.

At times the flying kites looked like a dozen crescent moons filling the sky. Some kitesurfers disappeared offshore while others preferred to play in the breaking waves near the beach. Most surfers raced across the water’s surface, but a few took it to the next level, leaving gravity behind and becoming airborne.

Please do not reproduce any photographs without permission. Prints are available for purchase for some photographs. If you are interested, contact Carla at: brennan.carla@gmail.com. You can also find Carla’s photographs, paintings and jewelry on her Etsy site (Stones and Bones): https://www.etsy.com/shop/stonesandbones

This gallery contains 17 photos