•June 6, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Jellyfish are the ultimate survivors. These alien looking creatures are the oldest mutli-organ animal and have been around for more than 500 million years. Swarms of jellyfish throughout the world have been a matter of concern over the past decade with the fear of jellyfish displacing fish throughout the world. A recent UN report even pointed to surging jellyfish populations due to overfishing in the Mediterranean and Black Sea as being possibly one of the reasons behind depleted fish stocks in that area. Jellyfish have several predators including sea turtles, sharks, swordfish and tuna. Without these top predators in place jellyfish can increase rapidly.
So should we be preparing for an unfolding jellyfish apocalypse throughout our oceans? Some new research is suggesting that these jellyfish blooms are actually just a consequence of repetitive variations. Obviously, there are divided opinions on this matter but during our recent trip to Palawan in the Philippines we witnessed first hand massive swarms of jellyfish. Over a matter of a week we observed at least 7 different types of jellyfish and it was always fascinating to observe and film these creatures. Turtles are one of the main predators for jellyfish and we were even fortunate enough to observe a green sea turtle devouring a jellyfish.
One thing is for sure, if an apocalypse if coming you will want to have an army of turtles on your side.
•March 27, 2013 • Leave a Comment
On a small beach in a San Diego neighbourhood, cute, round, blubber balls have taken over a once popular children’s swimming beach. Harbour seals now come to shore at the Children’s Pool beach, in La Jolla. The seals rest on the beach and during the pupping season (February through April) give birth and train their young here. This beach has become a hot spot for the general public to see the seals up close due to its location and accessibility.
However, controversy intensely surrounds this popular beach and its relatively new residents. Some locals want the seals dispersed though and for the beach to be solely for public use. Other people have been known to harass and even physically harm these animals.
Just the other week this beach even made national news as a newly installed web camera caught 2 girls clearly disrupting the seals in La Jolla. The video which was recorded at night and filmed during the pupping season caught these women harassing, sitting on and even kicking the seals.
On the positive side, a local group known as ‘La Jolla Friends of the Seals’ have made made efforts to protect and educate the public about the seals. A year round rope and web cameras have been recently installed to monitor the beach and seal activity 24/7. You can check out the seal cam at http://www.wanconservancy.org/seal_media2.htm
The harbour seals come to the beach for a sanctuary and a resting place, but in some cases, fail to find it. Fortunately for us animal lovers, Children’s Pool beach is a great place to sit back and watch nature at it’s best with the seals, pelicans, and the occasional dolphins and grey whales in the distance. And it’s free!
•March 4, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Having been known for taking perfectly round chunks out of everything from submarines, humans, whales, and sharks, apparently there’s nothing these feisty little creatures, known as cookiecutter sharks, won’t take a gouge out of.
On two recent trips we came across several instances of these crazy critters. In Hawaii it was very common to see spinner dolphins with cookiecutter bites. As well in Baja California, Mexico around the islands of Guadeloupe and Cedros we saw a few elephant seals with similarly big chunks taken out them. Both Hawaii and the island of Guadeloupe are considered hotspots for these sharks. Even a great white shark was photographed around Guadeloupe with a cookiecutter bite in 2010. Talk about ballsy!
These small and weird looking creatures dwell in the deeper parts of the ocean during the day and come closer to the surface at night. During the 70′s & 80′s, US submarines were even bitten by these sharks forcing several subs to return to base for repairs. In 2009, a man had a chunk taken out of his calf while attempting to swim from the Big Island of Hawaii to Maui at night. Once they get ahold of their prey, they attach themselves to it with their ‘suction cup’ like lips and bite in, spinning their bodies around and swallowing the piece of flesh before detaching themselves. Gross, I know.
•January 22, 2013 • Leave a Comment
While snorkelling on the North Shore of Ohau in Hawaii, we came across a green sea turtle amputee. This turtle was missing a front flipper and is locally known as Tripod.
It is assumed that the turtle lost his flipper due to an entanglement in fishing lines. As monofilament fishing lines can be extremely difficult to spot while in the water, many marine animals run the risk of becoming entangled. This can lead to amputation, suffocation, starvation and drowning.
Luckily for Tripod, he seemed relatively content and happy munching away on marine algae. The struggle of not having a flipper for a creature that relies greatly on the use of it was sad to see though.
Sample footage was shot with Red Epic at 120fps.
•December 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment
Here’s some sample slow-motion footage of Great White Sharks. Filmed at 120 frames per second in Guadeloupe, Mexico.
•November 24, 2012 • Leave a Comment
In 2010 it was reported that a lone female Humpback Whale had travelled a minimum of 9,800 kilometres from breeding areas in Brazil to the African island of Madagascar. Researchers believe this trip to be the longest mammal migration (excluding humans) ever documented .
Humpback whales have unique scarring and varied black and white patterns on their flukes and pectoral fins, which make individual whales identifiable. This incredible journey was discovered through photo identification of the Humpback’s tail fluke in both Brazil and Madagascar.
￼Humpback Whale fluke. Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Canada
Whales typically travel on a north to south axis and there are 3 separate populations of Humpbacks. The North Atlantic Humpback Whale often visits the cool Eastern Canadian waters during the summer to feed. These whales can migrate over 5,000 km from their breeding and mating grounds in the Caribbean.
These Northern Atlantic Humpback whales can be seen in great numbers off the most easterly point of North America. Along the Newfoundland coast from June to July these whales arrive to principally feed off Capelin. The spawning capelin come close to shore during these months and millions of these fish provide bounty for Humpbacks and Minkes. Lucky sightings of Humpbacks close to shore are not uncommon at this time of the year. It is also a tradition when the capelin roll on the beach for people to scoop them up with buckets or whatever is available. I have been fortunate enough to have had some incredible encounters with these majestic animals in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and even the St. Lawrence in Canada.
Humpback feeding close to shore. Cape Spear, Newfoundland. Canada.
Researchers have undertaken vast photo-identification projects around the globe in which humpback whales can be traced and documented by photos.
The North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalogue is run by Allied Whale (College of the Atlantic’s marine mammal research group). http://www.coa.edu/allied-whale-microsite.htm
The Bermuda, Humpback Whale Project, tracks these North Atlantic Humpbacks as they pass Bermuda during their migration trip north during the spring. Andrew Stevenson has been running this project since 2007. http://www.whalesbermuda.com
•October 10, 2012 • Leave a Comment
This summer I made it a mission to try find the prehistoric looking Snapping Turtle in my home town of Toronto. It took a few weekends hitting up different spots but in the end was able to get some underwater shots.
These prehistoric freshwater turtles have tons of character and are known for their aggresive demeanour outside of water. In water they are fairly placid though and I was able to capture a rare mating shot of these turtles, as can be seen above. Female Snapping Turtles can even store sperm for several years and use as necessary!! They do have a delayed sexual maturity though with reproduction generally starting at 20 years.
These turtles are listed as a species of special concern in Canada and in the province of Ontario. Sadly though they can still be hunted and their numbers are on decline here. There are some organized movements here to try and stop the hunt with a petition even being submitted this year to the Ontario Legislature. Not much headway has been made yet but there are active groups like “Friends of the Snapping Turtle”, the ‘David Suzuki Foundation’ and the ‘Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre’ that are trying to make a difference.