Tag Archives: Dolphin

One and Two and One, Two, Three

Here are a few photos from a scouting trip to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last Thursday.  I wanted to see how it was doing in the wake of Hurricane Irma and my shutter finger was itchy.  Some things didn’t fare too well:

Wreck at Markers 1 and 2Wreck at Markers 1 and 2 – on the northwest side of the Max Brewer Causeway 

I drove over on SR 46 from Winter Springs and the road was clear the entire way.  Although the water’s very high in some locations (especially near the St. Johns River), it doesn’t reach the road.

I made these next three images standing in the same spot near the Bairs Cove boat ramp on Haulover Canal.  It’s amazing how reliable a place this is to see wildlife.  I almost always find at least these three species when I go there and I was glad to see them still around after the storm.

One PelicanOne Pelican

Two ManateesTwo Manatees

Three DolphinsThree Dolphins

They’ve finished the Haulover Canal Bridge repairs so it’s open now.  I need to go back there and kayak again.  It is going to cool off soon I hope!

There were a few shore birds along the causeway.  I couldn’t check out the wildlife in two of my favorite areas (Blackpoint and Gator Creek) since they’re closed due to hurricane damage.  I don’t know when they’ll reopen – you can find out the current status at this webpage:  https://www.fws.gov/nwrs/threecolumn.aspx?id=2147578811

For everyone that ended up on this page after searching for math answers or song intros, I’m sorry about the title.  I know it’s bad for Search Engine Optimization, but I couldn’t resist.  I only wish I’d found a group of four somethings to photograph too.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go make some photos!

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Hawaii Five-Oh (Top 5 Photos from Hawaii)

Editors note:  Today we have another post from our roving correspondent MaryKate. This time from the middle of the Pacific Ocean – enjoy!

Back in May, I (willingly) kidnapped my youngest cousin Annie and took her to one of my bucket-list destinations and remaining states to visit: Hawaii!  We were there for 5 days and 4 nights, so we stayed on Oahu the entire time (vs. island hopping) – which was a different and enjoyable experience for me since I’m usually on the go!  We shared amazing outdoor experiences like snorkeling with wildlife, reflecting at somber memorials like Pearl Harbor, and discovering captivating views while exploring the island on the drive of a lifetime.

Lāʻie Point State WaysideLāʻie Point State Wayside

The most memorable experience was snorkeling off of Waianae.  There are many tour companies that will take you out to snorkel with wildlife like sea turtles and dolphins.  If you’ve read any of my past blog posts, you know I have a passion for wildlife, especially dolphins and whales.  While we visited at the wrong time of the year to see humpback whales, I was really excited to see that companies take tourists out to swim in the wild with dolphins (vs. swimming with dolphins in captivity).

Spinner DolphinHawaiian Spinner Dolphin

We snorkeled with five Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins, green sea turtles, and even a baby hammerhead shark.  The tour company was respectful about keeping our distance, being quiet and still, and not harassing the wildlife.  It was surreal to put your mask under water and watch the spinner dolphins majestically glide by you and dive through the ocean.

Green Sea TurtleGreen Turtle

However, while in Hawaii, I found the book The Lives of Hawaii’s Dolphins and Whales by Robin W. Baird, and was saddened to read that “because spinners do all of their feeding at night and all of their resting during the day…exposure to vessel traffic and swimmers may disrupt their resting patterns or cause them to leave the relative safety of their traditional resting areas.  A recent study off Kona showed that spinner dolphins were exposed to humans, boaters, and/or swimmers within 100 yards of them about 82 percent of their time during the day.”   Because of this, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is considering new regulations “to prohibit swimming with and approaching a Hawaiian spinner dolphin within 50 yards.”  Swimming with these amazing creatures in the wild is far better than doing so in captivity, but I will probably cherish the memories I have from this one experience and instead watch them from the shore in the future – even if the rules don’t change.

Spinner DolphinHawaiian Spinner Dolphin

If you make it to Oahu, definitely follow my brother Mike’s advice to rent a car and drive the island.  We got a better feel for the place by seeing so much more of it.  From Waikiki, we drove north up the middle of the island (stopping at the obligatory tourist stop: Dole Plantation), then to the north shore for some shave ice, lunch at the famous Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, scenic views, and a tour at the Kualoa Ranch where movies like Jurassic Park and TV shows like Lost were filmed (can’t you just imagine a T-Rex popping out of the shot below?).  The drive and the views are the destination, so take your time and enjoy the ride!

Kualoa RanchKualoa Ranch – Home of Jurassic Park (if it’s a good photo you’re raptor, come here!)

Editors note 2:  
Thanks so much MK – it was wonderful to read about your trip.  Hawaii is still on my bucket list!
 Also readers, if you’re going to visit, you might want to take a look at the Hawaii category on my on-line friend Jeff Stamer’s blog.  He’s been to there several times and has some amazing photos and tips. 

You can click on any of these photos to see a much higher res version on Flickr.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go be amazed by wildlife and make some photos!

©2017, MK Rosack and Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Kayaking at Haulover Canal

If you search the web for “Haulover Canal” you’ll get many hits on fishing and kayaking there.  I haven’t tried the fishing, so I can’t really comment on that, but I see people (and dolphins!) fishing there all the time so it’s probably pretty good.  I have kayaked there many times and it’s a wonderful place to paddle and to photograph too.

Haulover Canal is in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and it’s part of the Intracoastal Waterway.  It connects Mosquito Lagoon with the Indian River.  You can launch your Kayak at the Bairs Cove boat ramp on the south side of the canal, but we use a better spot on the north-west end of the canal.  Heading north along the Courtenay Parkway, take the first left after the bridge and follow the dirt road to the end where there’s a sandy bottom put in.  There’s a fee to launch from Bairs Cove, but not from the north side.

From the put in, you can paddle west and circle around Mullet Head Island where there are usually quite a few birds. We’ve seen Redish Egrets, Great Egrets, Tri-colored and Great Blue Herons, Pelicans, Cormorants, etc. there. It is a protected nesting area, though – so you’re not allowed to get too close.

Handsome Pelican
Handsome Pelican:  From my kayak, near Mullet Head Island (Olympus EM5)

We usually paddle east along the canal and stop back in Bairs Cove, where we’ve seen manatees every time we’ve been.  They’re very docile and sometimes friendly.  You’re not allowed to harass / approach them, but if you sit quietly in your kayak, sometimes they’ll harass you!

Manatee checking out Mary's kayak
Manatee checks out Mary’s kayak (Olympus EM5)

You can paddle further east and go under the bridge to a manatee observation deck along the north shore.  However, I’ve never once seen manatees there.  Do you think the manatees enjoy the joke?

We frequently see Bottlenose Dolphins too and they’re often feeding.  This one was near the launch point and made a fuss chasing fish before swimming off.

Mike & Sara watch a dolphin from their kayak
Mike & Sara watch a dolphin from their kayak (Olympus TG-2)

There are even a few landscape opportunities, although I haven’t made it over for sunrise or sunset yet.  This group of struggling trees caught my eye.

Survivors
Survivors : On the west side of Haulover Canal. (Olympus TG-2)

You’ll need to watch for boat traffic, but since it’s a no wake zone, it’s fairly safe for kayaks.  If you haven’t kayaked before and want to have a little support when you make this trip,  A Day Away Kayak Tours is close by and very helpful.  They’ll take you on a guided tour or rent you a kayak so you can go on your own, too.

All the photos in this post were made on kayak trips using a variety of cameras.  I now have enough experience with our boats that I’m confident in the water and not afraid of tipping, but splashes from paddles and waves are still a worry where camera gear is concerned.  A dose of saltwater is not too healthy for most normal cameras.  So I’ve been using an Olympus TG-2 and a GoPro Hero3 (both waterproof) on these trips.

G0030066Photographing birds near Mullet Head Island (GoPro and EM5)

It’s great not having to worry about water damage, but I do miss some of the higher end photo capabilities (e.g. RAW format, interchangeable and long lenses, etc.). So I’ve taken the higher end gear out once or twice.  In the photo above I really photo-geeked and used the GoPro to make a photo of myself making a photo with the Olympus EM5.

Here’s some additional info on Kayaking at Haulover Canal from a couple other sites:

And you can find out more about Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in these posts.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!  And go for a paddle too!

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Captive wildlife

I went over to Tampa last week with Tom M. and toured both the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary and the Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary.

Not sleeping
Eyes of the tiger – resting in his den and watching visitors at the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Tampa Florida.

Neither place is intended to be a good photo-op (lots of fences and obstructions) – you have to be lucky to get a good image.  The geometry and light in the scene above worked well, but it’s the only animal photo I made that day that I like.

Volunteer caring for residents at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary

Volunteer caring for residents at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary

So why am I writing about these if they’re not good photo ops?  This is supposed to be a blog about photo ops, right?  Well, we met several volunteers at each place and learned a great deal from them about wildlife in captivity.  If you care about wildlife then there are  things about captives that you should know.

Seeing wild animals such as whales in their natural habitat is exciting and inspiring.  Seeing them in captivity, knowing some of the background on how they’re captured, bred, and kept is depressing.  The tiger in the photo above was well cared for and kept in nicer conditions than many others.  Although sometimes big cats can be returned to the wild, this tiger will never be released.  Wouldn’t it be better if they’d never been captured at all? Places like the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary and the Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary are doing their best to care for large, wild animals that can’t be returned to the wild.  But there are so many of these animals that they’ll never be able to keep up.

Are all instances of captive wildlife wrong?  Maybe not.  But many situations are clearly bad and should be against the law.

I know you don’t come to this site for editorials and commentary, but thanks anyway for stopping by and reading this.  And if you care about this subject, you should click on the links in this post to learn more.

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Central Florida Summer Sights

One of the great things about photography is that it gets you up and out there. You may not see anything if you go – but if you don’t go you definitely won’t ever see anything.  Here are a few photos of what I saw around Central Florida this week.

I made this first one about a half hour before dawn along Gator Creek Road in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  The low tide had uncovered these rocks, so I used my ultra wide-angle, rectilinear lens and lowered my tripod to emphasize them.  This is a single exposure, processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.  I also tried out the new Topaz Clarity filter.  It seems to do a good job enhancing contrast without introducing halos.

Quiet morning
Quiet morning

The word “parhelion” comes from the Greek for “beside the sun”.  They’re also called sundogs and are always 22 degrees away from and at the same elevation as the sun.  They’re most visible when the sun is low and the sky is darker – dawn or dusk.  I like to watch for them and I thought it was nice of this kayaker to pose with one for me.  I was lucky that I’d already shifted to my long lens to make bird photos.  I needed the reach for this composition.

Early start
Early start – Kayak fisherman paddling underneath a sundog.

There were several dolphins also fishing in this area.  I could see the fish jumping and the dolphins seemed to catch a lot of them.

Fishing Dolphin
Fishing Dolphin

I stopped by Orlando Wetlands Park briefly and it was very scenic despite the cloud cover.  I liked the pathways the birds made through the vegetation in this scene.

Morning marsh
Morning marsh – A cloudy morning in Orlando Wetlands, just after dawn

This time of year, there’s not as much bird activity as in the spring.  Orlando Wetlands was pretty quiet and so was MINWR.  But there are still some regulars around and it’s nice to watch their antics.

Killdeer nest on the ground.  When a predator gets close, they pretend to have a broken wing and try to draw the predator away from the nest.  I watched this one perform and when it finished it turned around to peek back at me and check if it was working.  It did – I didn’t bother its nest.

Killdeer checks me out
Killdeer checks me out

I don’t know how many times I’ve driven by the remains of this dock on the right side of the causeway leading into MINWR – but I never noticed it before.  When I was leaving the other day, I finally saw it.  It was a quick thing, almost subconscious.  I actually drove on by before I processed what I saw and turned around.  I’m very glad I stopped – it doesn’t look like it will last much longer.  By the  time I made this photo, the light was pretty bright.  I used a neutral density filter to slow down my shutter speed and tried several focal lengths / compositions.  I like this one the best.  A B&W conversion using Nik Silver Effects seemed to fit the scene.  In the future, I need to be more observant.  What else is out there I’ve missed?

Old dock
Old dock

You can click on these photos to see larger versions on Flickr.  And you can see more from Merritt Island in this set on Flickr, and from Orlando Wetlands in this set.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – get up, get out there, be observant, and make some photos!
©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

MINWR – November 10, 2012

Yuck – the time changed again.  Sunrise is an hour earlier than it used to be.  An hour earlier than it’s supposed to be – for normal people anyway.  I guess that’s so crazy, get up too early photographers can make images other people can’t.

I was pretty tired on Friday night and really didn’t feel like getting out of bed, but get up I did (at 0430!) and drove over to meet Kevin M. at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  We ended up at a bend in East Gator Creek road where the low tide had uncovered a tree stump.  Muddy tripod legs in the dark are awesome!

Low tide, before dawn
Low tide, before dawn – Looking east from East Gator Creek Road in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Titusville, Florida

Except for the early sunrise, this is a wonderful time of year to visit MINWR.  There are lots of birds around, including many winter visitors and if you’re lucky you can see other wildlife too.

Dolphin
Sunlight glints off water drops in a dolphin’s breath

After sunrise, we drove through Blackpoint Wildlife Drive and then went by the Visitor Center.  In addition to the Dolphin, we saw a River Otter, White pelicans, Roseate Spoonbills, many Palm Warblers, Ospreys, European Starlings, Willets, Green Wing Teals, Northern Shovelers, Bald Eagles on the nest platform near the rest area, a Grey Catbird, a flock of American Avocets, Terns, Gulls, Great Blue Herons, Reddish Egrets, Ibis, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Tri-colored Herons, Little Blue Herons, Red-winged Blackbirds, many Belted Kingfishers, Wood Storks, Cormorants, Anhingas, Coots, Pie-billed Grebes, Black Vultures, a Ruby Throated Hummingbird at the Visitor Center, and several other species too.  The birds are definitely back!

Palm Warbler
Palm Warbler on matching flowers.

We had good light early, but a lot of clouds moved in later, which made for some nice IR photos.  I had to leave early and get home to help with errands, but Kevin M. had an “all day kitchen pass”, so he stayed and visited several other places at the refuge.  He photographed a Scissor Tailed Flycatcher, that’s been hanging around about 3/4 of a mile from the gravel lot on Shiloh Marsh Rd. as well as a Florida Scrub Jay.

Clouds move in
Clouds move in

All in all, a great day for photography!  You can see larger versions of these photos on Flickr by clicking on them. And I have more photos from MINWR in this set and BPWD in this set.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.