Happy Birthday, Valkkai!

Someone very special is turning one year old today! Happy happy birthday to Valkkai the dolphin from Gasparilla Sound! It’s hard for me to believe that he’should already a year old. It seems like just yesterday we were idling the … Continue reading

Dolphins While Night Fishing on South Little Gasparilla Island

The waves lap gently against the shore as I stand on the southeast beach of Little Gasparilla Island, about where Placida Harbor wraps around the west side of Bird Key and meets Gasparilla Pass. Camera and strap slung over my shoulder, I wait for the two fishermen to catch something. They have rigged up the rod-and-reels with smelly chunks of mullet and ladyfish. They sit on the shore between me and the boat anchored close by the still under construction massive beach house, poles in hands, waiting for something to take the bait.

I walk around the beach, hoping that they’ll catch something. The moon shines bright over the Gulf of Mexico, which is barely visible over the sea oats that stand between us and the northwest beach of Little Gasparilla. Suddenly, a great splashing sound makes me spin around. The fishermen are standing up now, and a large, dark shape is thrashing around in the shallow water. “Did you catch something?” I shout as I run toward them, hand on my camera’s power button. When I reach them, they say, “No, we didn’t catch anything.” “Then what was that in the shallow water?” I ask. My question is answered by the familiar sound of a dolphin blowing air out of it’s blowhole, not far from shore. Some people on the beach are asking, “What was that?” “A dolphin,” I answer. I never would have known to have my camera ready for that, so I did not capture any photos. Months later, I decide to paint a picture of what I might have captured that night.

The dolphin was probably either Zephyr or Longnotch, but there’s no way to tell. The dolphin in the painting is Zephyr, as he was a calf at the time, and the dark shape in the shallow water appeared to be a little smaller than a regular adult dolphin.

That kicked off several hours of dolphins appearing and disappearing in the darkness. I would hear them breathe, and sometimes I could barely make out the shape of a dolphin arching its back in the dark water.

I now stand right by the water, close to where the boat is anchored. My camera is out, ready to take a picture. Suddenly, Zephyr surfaces so close to shore that I can barely believe my eyes! I press the shutter button, and the camera flashes, but I only capture Zephyr’s dorsal fin – the rest of his body was “whitewashed” by the powerful flash.

To this day, I still am on a mission to capture a fair photo of a dolphin at night. It’s an extremely tricky task, as it can be hard to tell where the dolphins are surfacing. Also, dolphins are quick, so you usually need a fast shutter speed to capture them, but this makes the photos too dark to see anything. I’ll be trying again soon, as we’ll be heading back down to the harbor quite soon for some more field work.

Happy Birthday Month, Kaytar!

🎉Someone very special in Placida, Florida is celebrating his/her second birthday this month! It’s Kaytar, once a playful little calf, now a two-year-old dolphin! 🎉 Although we don’t know the exact date of Kaytar’s birth, we suspect that he/she was born … Continue reading

Picture of the Week + Friday Fun Fact

Today’s picture of the week shows what kind of incredible things computers can do these days. When I visited Crystal River on Florida’s big bend back in 2013, we stayed in a hotel on King’s Bay. One morning I photographed the sunrise on the bay. Just recently I uploaded my Crystal River photos to Google Photos, and amazingly, Google Photos took these two photos

and stitched them together to make this:

Can you believe it? The panorama image is so seamless! It’s simply incredible!

So, here’s a nice panorama of King’s Bay at sunrise.

Speaking of Crystal River, this Friday’s fun fact is: Did you that Crystal River is both freshwater and saltwater? With many springs flowing out of Kings Bay, the upper part of Crystal River is freshwater and the lower part is saltwater. Because of this, a mix of both freshwater and saltwater aquatic animals can be found all through the river.

Happy Orca Awareness Month!

Happy Orca Awareness Month everyone! June is Orca Awareness Month! Let’s start off this month with a little bit of Orca Q&A!

Are Orcas seen in Florida? Although it isn’the very often, Orcas are sometimes seen off the coast of Florida. A pod of them was once seen off the Gulf Coast of Florida, and one person has claimed to have seen Orcas right off the beach in Jacksonville.

How big do they get? Orcas range in size from 19 to over 20 feet long

What do Orcas eat? Orcas mainly eat a wide variety of fish, squid, and even other whales and dolphins

Is it true that Orcas are dolphins? Yes, Orcas are in the dolphin family. They are the largest of all dolphins