Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Magic from the Great South Channel

Humpback bubble feeding nets, frothy aqua waters, shiny black skins, spouts of rainbows, flying dolphins, breaching whales, swishing tails, and spectacular skies filled my last CRESLI trip out to the Great South Channel. This was my third trip, and it was just as awe inspiring as the trips of years past. It was filled with riveting conversations with fellow naturalists, scientists and writers, shared snacks, and stories of adventures in far away places.
(It's all about the snacks.)
We also exchanged the curiosities of the natural world that we experienced in the past calendar year.
 And, most importantly, we had many laughs with new and old friends.

While taking pictures, I tried to focus on the textures, patterns and the details of whales and pelagic wildlife. Below are the bubbles that are seen as the Humpback whales collectively create a net that concentrates their food. As the sea life comes to the surface, birds swoop in, often sitting on the heads of the whales as they travel with open mouths. 

Below is a Humpback with it's lower jaw billowing and baleen exposed as it comes to the surface of the water to fill its mouth with food. 

Below, one can see a sand eel caught in the baleen of the Humpback. This frothy swirling feeding  mass makes for an exciting symphony of sounds. One of my favorite moments was watching the faces of fellow travelers as the early morning pink skies revealed this magical and mysterious feeding grounds. Sleepy incredulous eyes watched with what I can only express as pure joy, as the whales 
traveled the blue grey slate morning waters. 
There is little to say in moments like this, one can only rest in the knowing that it feels like a sacred experience. Or the places in ourselves where we feel our soulful spaces, knowing that we are part of something greater, and more beautiful.

Observing the water catch the light as the boat traveled at sunset was like watching a gold plated river move under sorbet skies. And as the moon rose, it looked like glitter was being poured over the surface of the ocean. These moments are like optical illusions, filled with exquisite colors, textures and salty goodness. Thank you everyone for sharing this moment with me. 

During moments like these, my imagination goes to a time when botanists and naturalists traveled months or even years along far oceanic routes to new lands to collect and document specimens. Something in my cellular memory speaks to this kind of travel. 

My grandmother Isabelle May who had deep roots in Appalachia, was a botanist and shared many of her travel adventures to far away places during my childhood. Through her letters and conversations, she spread her love of meeting new people, drawing plants and sharing her gifts. 
Her curiosity was contagious and feels very much alive in me, especially when I spoke with fellow naturalists.

 In years past, it felt unlikely that I could ever catch a photograph of one of the common dolphins in the air! They are so fast, most of my dolphin photography is done underwater with more time and contact.
I am thrilled that I was able to capture this dolphin with its' shimmering skin and visible markings, most likely from other dolphins.

The tail of the Humpback whales are especially graceful and beautiful. 

I love how in the photograph below, the early morning light reflected off of the skin of the tail.