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

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Golden sunset

Golden sunset, 22 July 2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Summer wind

It's been windy lately!  This photo was taken yesterday, 20 July 2017, but it could just as easily be a picture from the spring.

North northwest winds were blowing at ~20 mph (~17 knots) in the afternoon.

Water temperatures have been cool recentlyin the 10-11°C range.  And they've generally been cooler than average during the last few months.  To track the trends, you can look at the Bodega Ocean Observing Node site (click on the tab of interest).

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Furry Crab (Hapalogaster cavicauda) at Salt Point on 14 July 2017.

P.S.  For additional photos and information about this species, check out the post from 21 February 2017.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Lasagna noodles on the beach?

While doing a recent beach survey, I noticed this Feather Boa Kelp (Egregia menziesii) washed ashore:

It looked quite youngrelatively short overall length, with broad blades, and a small holdfast.

When I looked more closely, I was intrigued by the holdfast:  

Can you see that the holdfast is attached to a small pieced of wood?

It might be easier to see this from below:

I wondered about the history of this kelp.  Did it start growing on a piece of wood that was lodged in rocks somewhere and then part of the wood broke off and washed ashore?   Or is it possible the kelp started growing on a small piece of floating driftwood?  Have you noticed Feather Boa Kelp growing on wood before? 

P.S.  I laughed when I read the description of juvenile Feather Boa Kelp on the California Seaweeds eFlora website.  It says they look like lasagna noodles.  A fun description of those broad, ripply blades!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Game of threads

Next up in the spider web series!  Here are some highlights from the past week of trying to photograph the diversity of colors created by silk threads and morning sun.  Feel free to pick your favorite!

   Maybe they will be inspiration for a knitting or weaving project?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Offshore fog

Fog off Bodega Head, 12 July 2017

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Summer foam

Summer foam off Bodega Head on 12 July 2017

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Not much time tonight, but I think you can see why I couldn't resist sharing this photo.  It's one of my favorites of the year!

If you've been following this blog for a while, you might have seen this species before, but it's been several years.  This is Manania gwilliami, a beautiful staurozoan. [Staurozoans are now a separate taxonomic class within the cnidarians.  Sometimes they're informally called stalked jellyfish.]  It was found locally today in the rocky intertidal zone.  We didn't measure it, but estimate it was ~12 mm long.

Here's the entire animal:

This individual had beautiful purple highlights.  Check out this close-up of two tentacle clusters:

When looking at the tentacles, I noticed some whitish pads at the base of some of the tentacles.  Here's one view:

After doing some research, I learned that these are adhesive pads.  It is hypothesized that when the staurozoan releases its pedal disc (the base of the stalk) from the substrate, it sometimes holds on with these pads while it reattaches.  Since I haven't been able to find many pictures of these interesting structures, here's one more image.  Look for the swollen white areas at the bases of the front three tentacles:

I'm sharing these staurozoan photos with you thanks to Hao Hao, one of Eric's summer students at the marine lab.  Her curious eyes spotted it attached to a blade of algae in the intertidal zone.  Thanks, Hao Hao!

P.S.  For an introduction to staurozoans, review the post called "Twinkle, twinkle, little stauro" from 12 November 2012.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Beach walk

Common Raven (Corvus corvax), 12 July 2017 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Slightly upturned


Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa) roosting along the shoreline of Bodega Harbor, 11 July 2017

Monday, July 10, 2017

Among the sailors

Here's one from the archives.  It was taken on Salmon Creek Beach in May 2006:

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) and By-the-wind Sailors (Velella velella)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Color combinations

I've continued to photograph spider web strands in our backyard.  I'm so taken by this phenomenon and the amazing color combinations, it's hard not to take a few photos when the conditions are right.  It's especially nice in the early morning, when the light is interesting and the air is calm (and the spider webs are still).

These are my favorites from the past two days, although it's hard to choose.  See what you think:

The pictures above show highlights on single strands, but sometimes several strands are lit up at once:

And here's one series that shows the same two highlighted areas, just in slightly different positions along the strands:

Whenever I look at these colors, I just shake my head in disbelief.  The diversity and beauty is astounding.

With many thanks to the spiders and the sun, for creating such colorful works of art!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Sandpipers in red

I couldn't resist spending a few more minutes with some Western Sandpipers (Calidris mauri) this morning.  They're so handsome at this time of year!

Photos taken in Bodega Harbor on 8 July 2017 (before the fog rolled in).

Friday, July 7, 2017

Fall migration

Fall migration has begun!  

Western Sandpipers (Calidris mauri) return to Bodega Harbor after nesting on the tundra:

Photographed on 7 July 2017.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Questions about colors

Here are a few more spider web photos taken in our backyard on 6 July 2017...along with a few questions!

First, my favorite color combination from today — in the center strand, check out those bronzy areas with the greens and blues!

Second, while reviewing images I noticed one strand that stood out.  Most of the strands in this web displayed many colored stripes.  But one in the photo below showed broader, more uniform areas and gradients of color, without narrow stripes.  Why did this strand have a different pattern?

And third, most of the colored stripes along the strands seem to be made up of one color (I think, but I could be wrong).  But I noticed a couple today that appeared to be multicolored.  In the image below, see the ring below the arrow that shows a variety of colors. What causes this?

I have lots of questions about the colors created by these spider web strands!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Early evening light

I haven't had much time for pictures lately, but I stepped out into the backyard tonight for another try at spider web silk in the early evening light.  Pretty nice!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Phoronids for the Fourth

Eric and his summer students spotted these wonderful phoronids, Phoronis vancouverensis, at the Spud Point Marina docks yesterday (3 July 2017):

Remember that phoronids are known for their beautiful lophophores, the U-shaped crown of tentacles shown below:

While looking at these phoronids, we noticed some of the lophophores looked a little differentsome had paired white spots in the center of the lophophore:

Here's a closer look (below).  Note that each of the white spots looks like a little bunch of grapes (clusters of smaller rounded blobs).  Do you have a guess about what they are?

The next image is the closest I could get with my camera at the time:

Each of the white clusters is a group of small developing embryos. Phoronis vancouverensis is a brooder!  The embryos will develop within the lophophore for about 2 weeks.  Then the tiny larvae will swim away, spending time in the plankton before returning to the benthos and undergoing metamorphosis into tiny juvenile phoronids.

I felt fortunate to be photographing phoronids on the Fourth of July!  :)

P.S.  For more information about phoronids, review the post from 27 June 2013.