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

Friday, July 20, 2018

Together again

Al reminded me to share this photo of the Moon and Venus.  [Click on the image for a larger version.]  Photographed from Cotati on 15 July 2018.

P.S.  Thanks, Al!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Ocean eyes

Sometimes I'm a little hesitant about posting photos when I'm uncertain of the identity of the species.  At the same time, it's hard to resist when something is so beautiful!  And maybe someday someone will be able to help with the identification.

This is another sculpin from the low intertidal zone.  The entire fish is shown below:

I'm also including a close-up of the area surrounding the eye.  You can click on the image for a larger version. It's fascinating to look at the details of the color patterns!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Handed down

I was thinking about Cadet and Wini Hand this past weekend.  (Cadet was the founding director of the Bodega Marine Laboratory.)  And then something fun happened.  We were in the field on Sunday morning (15 July 2018) when Eric noticed a small sea anemone that he didn't recognize:

The anemone was only ~7 mm across.  It had lots of tentacles, and the tentacles were narrow and tapered to a point.  We could also see that the tentacles were banded with white.

From the side you could see the translucent orange column:

We spent some time researching the identity of this little anemone and it turned out to be Metridium exile, a species that Cadet Hand described in 1955!

Here's a close-up of the oral disc and tentacles (below).  Note this species often has 96 tentacles!

A few facts about Metridium exile:

- It's distributed from British Columbia to Carmel, California.

- It's usually found on the outer coast (in contrast to its more common relative, Metridium senile, that's found in bays).

- It's smallthe largest specimens are ~12 mm in diameter.

- It reproduces asexually via longitudinal fission.  (In the field, we saw a cluster of several small individuals that were presumably clone mates.)

We had a hard time finding photographs of Metridium exile, so here's another beautiful image that Eric took:

Thanks, Cadet, for noticing and describing this wonderful local sea anemone! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


Sometimes you hear about mammalian scavengers feeding on marine mammal carcasses washed ashore, but I hadn't seen it myself until this past weekend.  

Joe stopped by to mention that he had just seen a coyote feeding on a seal.  Luckily, I had my large zoom lens on my camera at the time.  

I managed a few distant photographs, so here's one for the record:

Coyote (Canis latrans) feeding on a Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina) carcass, 15 July 2018

P.S.  Many thanks to Joe for the wildlife alert! 

ADDENDUM (18 July 2018): KB asked if the coyote was hit by any waves.  Since you asked, the answer is:


Although the coyote didn't seem to mind slightly wet feet:

Monday, July 16, 2018

Retro mystery -- Part 2

Okay, here's a partial answer to last night's mystery photo.  I'm going to reveal the identity of this animal quickly, so if you want another chance to guess, here's the close-up image:

And now here's the entire animal:

This is an intertidal sculpin photographed in the low intertidal zone on 15 July 2018.  (The fish is resting on a bed of sea squirts.)  Sadly, I'm not sure which species of sculpin it is, so if you are familiar with it, please let me know.  Thanks!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Retro mystery

A close-up mystery photo.  Can you guess what type of animal this is?

What an amazing pattern!  What beautiful colors!  

I'll reveal more about it tomorrow night.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Summer meander?

It's been foggy and a bit humid lately, but I was still surprised to see this little salamander approaching our front steps this morning:

It was early (~5 a.m.), so perhaps it was wrapping up a nighttime excursion?

I think this is a juvenile Arboreal Salamander (Aneides lugubris), but it's paler than most of the individuals I've seen, so let me know if you think it's something different.