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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Wondering about winter

I've been reading Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan, so I've been thinking about waves a lot. 

Tonight I dove back into "the archives" and randomly chose a few wave photos to share, all taken along the Sonoma Coast.

Who knows what this winter will bring?  :)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Picasso en la playa?

The waves painted a Picasso on Salmon Creek Beach!

Photographed 27 July 2015 

Sunday, July 26, 2015


The raven chicks are getting close to fledging now.  This photo was taken on 20 July 2015 when the four nestlings were ~5 weeks old.  Perhaps they'll start to fly this week or next?  

(To track their progress, review previous posts on 26 June 2015 and 8 July 2015.)

P.S.  Two of the Bottlenose Dolphins I posted about on 13 July 2015 have been identified!  Check out the new information in the addendum here.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Junior sailor

After abundant Velella observations this spring, there's been a lull in sightings recently.  Today we spotted 8-10 Velella on Salmon Creek Beach.  They ranged in size from ~12-25 mm long.  

The wind is predicted to be even stronger tomorrow, so perhaps a few more will wash ashore on local beaches.

P.S.  Have you heard they've been catching Dorado, or Mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) off Fort Bragg?  Amazing!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Island of activity

I haven't shown a picture of Bodega Rock in a while.  This picture was taken from the southern end of Bodega Head on 18 July 2015.  There was lots of sea lion and cormorant activity.  You might be able to spot some pelicans, too.  I wished I had had my audio recorder, as I could hear a Wandering Tattler over there!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer wave

Off Bodega Head, 20 July 2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Working on wings to fly

A few days ago, Kate and her crew noticed an intriguing animal in their plankton sample.

We could tell that it was snail veliger (larva), but we weren't certain about the species.

In between broad wings, it had a very pretty shell:

A tapering foot was visible below:

The veliger had large velar lobes and the lobes were edged with bright orange polka dots.  With active bundles of cilia, it was using the velar lobes to swim.  (This is best viewed in the video at the end of this post.)

As mentioned, we weren't familiar with this snail, so we started sending pictures around for help.  No one responded right away, so Eric decided to keep it in the lab for a few days. 

A couple of days later, the veliger had undergone metamorphosis into a juvenile snail!  This made it much easier to identify.

Note that the ciliated velar lobes are gone; the orange and gold speckles have expanded; and there are two siphons the anterior one (to the left) is formed by a flap near the front end, and the back one (to the right) is formed by the folding of the wings.  (In this case, the wings are extensions of the foot.)  Water is pulled into the front siphon, passes over the gill, and then is expelled out the back siphon.

As the snail glided along and explored its environment, we occasionally caught a glimpse of its two dark eyes:

Pacific Stomach Wings (Gastropteron pacificum) are capable of crawling and swimming.

Eric was fortunate to have filmed this snail when it was still a larva (swimming with its velar lobes) and after it metamorphosed into a juvenile.

Check out his video below!  (Click on the title of the video to see a high resolution version.)

Many thanks to Kate and her team for sharing this wonderful find from the plankton off Bodega Head!
P.S.  If any gastropod enthusiasts out there are wondering Pacific Stomach Wings are cephalaspideans, related to headshield slugs and bubble snails.