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

Sunday, March 26, 2017

An ode to Stumpy

If you've spent a lot of time some place, you'll appreciate the feeling of recognizing certain features of the landscape.  It's easy to start checking in on them — to say hello, and to watch them change over time.

And so we present an ode to "Stumpy" a large driftwood stump that washed ashore on Salmon Creek Beach in 2012.  During our surveys there, Eric and I noted Stumpy's location and position, and I took random photographs during the past five years.

Below you'll find a selection of photographs in chronological order.  Note that the position and orientation of the stump changed a lot over the years, and sometimes it was quite buried in the sand.







Stumpy headed back out to sea around 20 February 2017.  Who knows where Stumpy will end up, but if you happen to see our friend, say a big "Hello!" for us.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Break from the past

I've been trying to catch up with some photo organization, so here's a wave from the archives (November 2014).

Thursday, March 23, 2017


The local ravens have been sampling a diversity of food items:

Scavenging a seabird:

Dodging the waves while digging for mole crabs:

Assessing a large seed:

Sharing a fish: 

What have you seen them eating?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Digging it

A few years ago, I introduced the Long-armed Brittle Star (Amphiodia occidentalis).  

You can review the earlier post here, but I'm excited to share even better footage of this amazing brittle star in action.

Take a look!

This video is shown in actual time.  Note the extremely long, flexible arms of the brittle star; the impressive digging behavior (the sand grains appear to be "boiling"); and close-ups of the tube feet flicking upwards.  The tube feet are visible on the under sides of the arms (below the spines) watch for them especially during the interval at 30-35 seconds.

[If you can't see the video clip below, click on the title of the post above to go directly to the web site.]

I hope you dig this video as much as we did!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Rose-painted Semele (Semele rubropicta), photographed in Bodega Bay on 21 March 2017.  It was ~3 cm (a little over an inch) long.

Note the small circular holeevidence that this clam was drilled by a predator.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring showers

Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus) just after taking a bath.  They've been singing very loudly around our house recently.

Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Little ship at sea

A little ship at sea...recently discovered on a fishing float washed up on a local beach.

Perhaps some of you have found similar floats?

It's always interesting to wonder about the origins and journeys of objects that wash up on the beach.  

In this case, the Chinese characters reveal some clues.  Thanks to Evelyne, here's a translation of the characters surrounding the ship:

➤ The top two characters (on either side of the ship's sail):
浙 江 = Zhejiang Province, a province on the central eastern coast of China, south of the Yangtze River  

The bottom two characters on the left:

溫 州 = Wenzhou City

And the bottom two characters on the right:

蟠 凤 = Pan Feng Village  (separately these two characters also mean "coiled phoenix" and are part of an idiom used in a poem by one of the most famous Chinese poets, Li Bai)

It's likely that this float was made in this Chinese village.  But where did the float begin its journey in the ocean?  We're not sure, but there is another clue.  Did you notice the white, lacy animal growing in patches on the float?

See photos above, and here's an extreme close-up:

This is the skeleton of a bryozoan, and thanks to Jim we know that it's Jellyella eburnea, a species associated with warmer water.  So although we don't know the entire route of the float and the little ship, it likely spent some time in warmer water (possibly to our south).

P.S.  Many thanks to Evelyne, Jim, Megan, and Miho for their assistance with this story!