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Archive for the ‘Whales and Dolphins’ Category

Silverknowes Beach on the Firth of Forth

Posted by Jody on September 10, 2013

Today’s Featured Guest Writer is “imagineer.”

Silverknowes is one of the many beaches on the Firth of Forth and is just north of Edinburgh in Scotland. Sunny days at Silverknowes are to be treasured so I took a short trip to enjoy the fantastic views.

Cramond

Cramond

The is a view from the Cramond end of the beach and shows one of the many islands in the River Forth. This one can be accessed when the tide is out but people are frequently caught out by the speed of the returning tide and have to be rescued. In the distance is Fife, the other side of the Firth of Forth. The river is used by all sorts of ships, from cruise liners to submarines. It was a very industrialised river but today sea life is recovering and the legacy of industrial pollution is in the past.

Whale Rescue

Whale Rescue

The beach can be busy but today was a very unusual day because there was a whale rescue in progress and a crowd gathered to watch. There are all sorts of animals and birds that live in and pass through the Forth. The beach starts at Cramond where the River Almond meets the Forth. There are lots of walks from the Cramond end and it has a café for refreshments when you return. The beach is approximately one mile long but there are other paths that can be taken into Edinburgh if you want to venture farther.

Dog Play

Dog Play

Dogs love to play in the water even though they go home covered in sand and salt water. I think the dogs enjoy the beach even more than the people. I took a few pictures of this pair as they were such fun to watch and put them on my blog:  “Happiness Is Dog Shaped.”

Holding On

Holding On

The rescue party stood for hours in the cold water helping the whale breathe. At least the rescuers could see the beautiful scenery all around. The beach extends to the island when the tide is out, but when you reach the island the water becomes very deep.

Night

Night

I’ve included this shot to show how the same location looks at night time.

***
~Please visit Featured Guest Writer “imagineer” at imaginations /caught by the eye of mankind.~

A note from our treasure hunters:

We simply love to share when it comes to beaches, treasure hunting, beachcombing crafts, and beachy tips. How about you? Do you have a favorite beach you’d like to share with us? Maybe you have some great tips for beach picnics, seaside safety, or seashore activities. Please check out our Submission Guidelines for info on jumping into the fun at Beach Treasures and Treasure Beaches.  You may be our next Featured Guest Writer!

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Posted in Beaches of Great Britain and Ireland, Featured Guest Writer, Whales and Dolphins | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Have you heard the one about… Floating Gold?

Posted by Jody on February 4, 2013

Ambergris (photo by Peter Kaminski from Wikimedia Commons)

Ambergris (photo by Peter Kaminski from Wikimedia Commons)

We’ve made some wonderful acquaintances here at Beach Treasures and Treasure Beaches. Recently, one of our favorite blogging friends, Wingclipped, at The Coastal Path shared a link with us that was quite intriguing! It seems that a Mr. Ken Wilman and his curious canine companion Madge were walking along a Lancashire beach in the North of England one day when they happened across a very smelly beach treasure on the sand. After a bit of google searching, Mr. Wilman discovered that their rock-like “floating gold” might be worth over $136,000 USD!

Wingclipped sent along this video link (which sadly refuses to be dis-embedded from the Sky News website, and therefore can not be directly posted here.  Go ahead and click the link below to see the video!).

http://news.sky.com/story/1045585/whale-vomit-worth-100000-found-on-dog-walk

FYI: What Ken and Madge actually found is a lump of ambergris. According to Merriam-Webster.com ambergris is “a waxy substance found floating in or on the shores of tropical waters, believed to originate in the intestines of the sperm whale, and used in perfumery as a fixative.”

Score one (a really big one) for beachcombers everywhere!

~ Sending along very special thanks to Wingclipped for sharing such a fun beachcombing story. You too can follow the family travels and antics of Wingclipped, his lovely wife, and their energetic twins as they explore the coast of Britain on foot at his blog The Coastal Path. His most recent entry is entitled “40d – Entering Dungeness” (Britain’s only desert and “Europe’s largest stretch of shingle landscape”). This week’s post comes complete with a heartwarming twist!

~~~

Posted in Beach Treasures - Beachcombing, Beaches of Great Britain and Ireland, Monday Miscellaneous, Whales and Dolphins | Tagged: , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Best Beaches Near Brisbane

Posted by Jody on November 13, 2012

Jody:

What a wonderful list! The Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, islands and park lands, whales and dolphins! What’s not to love about the Best Beaches Near Brisbane?

Thank you so much for sharing!

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Originally posted on Brisbane & Beyond:

Now that the temperatures are rising in Brisbane, we’ll all be thinking about a visit to the beach to cool down. We’re a bit lucky in Brisbane because we have the Gold Coast beaches stretching to the south and the Sunshine Coast to the north, plus the islands of Moreton Bay. With so many beautiful beaches within an hour or two’s drive, it can be difficult to decide where to go.  Here are a couple of our family favourites.

Bulcock Beach – Caloundra

Bulcock Beach – Caloundra

This beach is sheltered from the surf and is great for little kids. There can be a strong tidal flow so you need to be in the water with young children. We like to use the flow for a free ride along the beach. You jump out, run up the beach and do it again. There are picnic tables and cafes nearby.

Kings…

View original 594 more words

Posted in A Treasure of a Beach (Best Beaches), Beaches of Australia and New Zealand, Tallies & Tips, Whales and Dolphins | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Whale Spotting… Maybe ;-)

Posted by Jody on November 7, 2012

Oregon’s Newest State Park: Depoe Bay Whale Center

To go whale spotting you don’t need a bunch of fancy schmancy equipment. What you do need is all of the Type B personality you can possibly muster and perhaps a good set of binoculars. Looking for whales from the coastline is not for the high-strung. It’s an activity where you get to kick back, relax, scan the horizon, cross your fingers and hope that the whales show up and reveal themselves.

Greg and I have spotted whales on many occasions, and every time we see just one of these massive creatures, it’s a great big thrill for us! We recently returned from another vacation where we did, indeed, spot these impressive marine mammals just off shore. This time it was from the rugged and rocky Central Oregon Coast, near the town of Depoe Bay.

Depoe Bay, home of “The World’s Smallest Navigable Harbor,” is also famous for its resident gray whale population. Amazingly, gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) call Depoe Bay home for ten months out of the year (March-December). Known as the “Whale Watching Capital of the Oregon Coast,” this friendly little city is also home to Oregon’s newest state park, aptly named the Whale Watching Center. The park center is housed in a building  located on Highway 101, directly on Depoe Bay.

One sure fire sign that whales are in the area is the sighting of what is known as “The Blow.” I can tell you from personal experience that this can be a very tricky sighting. If you are the only one in your scouting party to spot such maneuvers on the surface of the deep blue sea, your son-in-law just might ask you if you’ve been in the sun too long! (Yes, that really happened.) Hang in there! It really is a matter of training one’s eyes to see the difference between spouting water and a white cap.

Looking for gray whales in Depoe Bay, Oregon.

According to the Whale Watching Center brochure: Gray whales usually surface every 45 seconds as they swim, but will often stay under for 3 to 5 minutes when they are eating. If they have been down for 5 minutes they usually blow 5 times when they surface to replenish their oxygen supply. If they are frightened they can stay down for 30 minutes, hiding on the bottom or traveling great distances. Sometimes they dive and reappear 1/4 mile away. The blow or spout shoots nearly 12 feet high expelling 400 liters of air in a single blast.

Whale spotting at Depoe Bay, Oregon.

Other surface antics to watch for include:

The Breach
The ultimate in whale sightings is a breach—when a whale launches as much as 3/4 of its body out of the water in a spectacular show of power and grace.

The Spyhop
Whales have the largest brain of any animal on earth. They are very intelligent and curious, often seen “spyhopping,” or lifting their heads above the surface of the water.

The Dive
A deep dive, also known as sounding or fluking, happens when a whale lifts its tail flukes out of the water.

The Whale Watching Center is staffed with plenty of friendly volunteers and park employees. Along with an educational experience, the family friendly visitor center provides real-time information on areas where whales are currently being spotted and where they’ve been seen in most recent days.  The helpful reports provided here led us just north to Boiler Bay State Park, where we enjoyed our clearest whale sightings of the day. Yay!

If you’re heading to the Oregon Coast for a whale watching expedition, be sure to check out the Whale Watching Center brochure. The pamphlet includes much more information on whale behavior along with a map of the 24 best whale watching spots from Crescent City, California to Ilwaco, Washington.

More interesting reading: Fun Whale Facts

“The World’s Smallest Harbor” in Depoe Bay, Oregon

A few other whale watching locations:

Cabrillo National Monument (San Diego, California)

Wineglass Bay (Freycinet Peninsula of Tasmania)

Point Reyes National Seashore (Marin County, California)

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Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Pacific Coast Beaches, Whales and Dolphins | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Bottlenose Dolphins: The Players Have Arrived… Early!

Posted by Jody on March 28, 2012

Even though my family will head for the beach any time of year, it’s no surprise that many beach lovers prefer to wait until the weather heats up.

This year, due to the unseasonably warm weather, a number of marine species, including bottlenose dolphins, have returned to the Atlantic coast of Delaware early. According to the article, “Warm winter weather means dolphins come early” at DelmarvaNow.com, “The early arrival of dolphins is one of the most significant marine developments in the area, especially considering just how early they have come. The first sightings took place in early February, Thurman said, and by mid-March, they were being widely spotted.

Bottlenose Dolphin (Photo:PD-USgov-FWS)

NOAA’s Bottlenose Dolphin webpage tells us: “The bottlenose dolphin is one of the most well known species of marine mammals. They have a robust body and a short, thick beak. Their coloration ranges from light gray to black with lighter coloration on the belly. Inshore and offshore individuals vary in color and size. Inshore animals are smaller and lighter in color, while offshore animals are larger, darker in coloration and have smaller flippers.”  Ranging in length from 6.0 to 12.5 ft, adult bottlenose dolphins can weigh from 300 to 1400 lbs, with the males typically being slightly larger than the females. These entertaining marine mammals can live more than 50 years. Commonly seen in groups of 2 to 15, they can actually be found in offshore herds of several hundred. Now, that’s a sight to behold!

Bottlenose Dolphin Worldwide Range in Blue (Map:The Emirr/Wikimedia Commons)

Mom and Greg watching the dolphins, Captiva Island, Florida

Here are just a few fun facts about bottlenose dolphins from the National Marine Mammal Laboratory:

Bottlenose dolphins are the most studied cetacean in the wild because they live near coasts, and in captivity because they adapt well to oceanariums.

Bottlenose dolphins often ride the bow waves of moving vessels, have been reported riding pressure waves of big whales, and body surfing in nearshore waves.

There are stories about wild dolphins aiding or interacting with humans.  A bottlenose dolphin that was named Percy resided off the coast of Cornwall, England.  He followed local fishing boats, played with their crab pots, and even allowed strangers to hang onto his dorsal fin as he pulled them through the water.

Our family has been lucky enough to watch dolphins in the wild many, many times while we’ve been on beach vacations.  Whether seen from the beach, pier, jetty, or boat, it’s always a thrill to view these ever popular coastal critters. While simply strolling on the sand, we’ve seen bottlenose dolphins close to the shore at Venice Beach, California and along the beaches of Sanibel Island, Florida. Often observed playing in the bow waves of boats, they can really ham it up for the tourists.  On a commercial boat ride from Captiva Island, Florida we were told to really whoop it up and make noise (this would encourage the dolphins to perform). We did, and true to form, they put on a show – racing and gliding, weaving and jumping in and out of the water for us all to enjoy. I’m still not certain who the real spectators were ~and who the real jesters were!

Bottlenose Dolphins, Captiva Island, Florida

We’d love to hear about your encounters and adventures with bottlenose dolphins.  Please feel free to leave us a comment or share a guest post. We’d also appreciate it if you would share us with your friends and like us on Facebook at One Shell of a Find!  Thank you!

Posted in Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Whales and Dolphins | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Doggie Heaven! Muir Beach, California

Posted by Jody on January 30, 2012

Muir Beach, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California (©Jody Diehl)

Muir Beach is just a quick and very curvy drive north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. This beach is Doggie Heaven, and it’s one gorgeous setting. Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Beach currently allows “voice control” dog  walking.  Granted, dogs don’t really walk here!  They run!  Back and forth, and then back again across this lovely  stretch of sand.

Muir Beach, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California

I would venture to say that the day we visited Muir Beach, there were more dogs on the beach than people.  We counted maybe eight dogs and one really brave surfer.  The water here is not suited for swimming and there are no lifeguards stationed at Muir Beach. According to Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, “Swimming is not recommended along most of the parks’ ocean coastline. Pacific currents are dangerous and the water is very cold. Even at beaches and in secluded coves, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for incoming tides and rogue waves. Drownings occur every year.” Sunbathing is a popular pastime, though. I’ve heard tell that clothing-optional sunbathers prefer the northernmost end of Muir Beach. (Sorry, no photo.)

As for Muir Beach Overlook, just up the road, ParkConservancy.org reports, “Muir Beach Overlook is one of the many spots along the parks’ coast where whale lovers can watch these giant marine mammals swim by during their winter migrations. The Gulf of the Farallones sweeps between the overlook and the Farallon Islands, an ocean region full of dolphins, porpoises, seals, and whales. These sea creatures are under federal protection in the form of the 948-square-nautical-mile Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.”

If you’ll be bringing Rover to the beach, you might also want to check out Cesar’s Tips for Your Dog’s Day at the Beach.

*If you enjoyed this article, please share us with your friends.  We’d appreciate it if you would “Like” us on Facebook, too!* Have a great day at the beach!

Posted in Northern California Beaches, Whales and Dolphins | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Whale Watching (or not), Point Reyes Lighthouse, California

Posted by Jody on January 9, 2012

WooooooHoooooo! It’s whale watching season on the Pacific Coast of the United States.

Greg and I were fortunate to spend a few days at Point Reyes National Seashore this past weekend. Point Reyes is just an hour’s scenic drive north of the Bay Area. Unfortunately, on this visit we did not spot any Pacific gray whales. Friday’s seas around the Point Reyes Peninsula were quite choppy and on Saturday, there were only sixteen whale sightings logged by the Park Service. Oh well, better luck next time!

Point Reyes Lighthouse, California (© Jody Diehl)

The Point Reyes Lighthouse, located on the western-most point of the Point Reyes Headlands, is an excellent vantage point from which to catch glimpses of the Pacific gray whales during Northern California’s whale migration season, which runs from mid to late December into early May.  According to the National Park Service: “Jutting 16 kilometers (10 miles) into the Pacific Ocean, the headlands of the Point Reyes Peninsula offer one of the finest spots to view the gray whale. The Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary provides a 32-kilometer (20-mile) wide ‘highway’ along which the whales cruise; sometimes they travel in the close lane (nearer to shore), and sometimes they travel in the far lane (farther out to sea). The areas around Chimney Rock and the Lighthouse offer some of the best whale watching spots in the park.” (more…)

First Order Fresnel Lens / Point Reyes Lighthouse, California (© Jody Diehl)

The Point Reyes Lighthouse, built in 1870, is a wonderful destination, whale sighting or no.  We were lucky enough to be on site for a ranger-led tour of the lantern room where we were treated to look at the original “first order” Fresnel lens.  The National Park Service states, “Point Reyes is the windiest place on the Pacific Coast and the second foggiest place on the North American continent. Weeks of fog, especially during the summer months, frequently reduce visibility to hundreds of feet. The Point Reyes Headlands, which jut 10 miles out to sea, pose a threat to each ship entering or leaving San Francisco Bay. The historic Point Reyes Lighthouse warned mariners of danger for more than a hundred years.

“The windiest place on the Pacific Coast”, indeed!  Be sure to dress for the cold and wind, even if you expect beautiful sunny blue skies! It’s quite a trek to the lighthouse, but it’s well worth the effort.

Year after year I stand here
Holding my steady light,
Sending its ray of comfort
Into the darkest night.
    ~from the poem “The Light” by Hattie Vose Hall

*To learn more about the history of the Point Reyes Lighthouse check out the Point Reyes National Seashore site.*

Posted in Lighthouses, Monday Miscellaneous, Whales and Dolphins | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pacific Gray Whales: 4 Helpful Whale Spotting Tips

Posted by Jody on December 13, 2011

It’s time to dust off those binoculars! Tis the season for whale watching in sunny Southern California. Each year, Pacific Gray Whales can be spotted off the coast of Southern California from December through March.  According to the National Park Service: “Each winter, the Pacific Gray Whales pass by the western overlooks of Cabrillo National Monument.  After spending the summer feeding in the food-rich waters of the Arctic, the Grays swim south along the coast to the bays of Baja California, where they mate and nurse their young. Along the way, they pass Point Loma and Cabrillo National Monument, where you can witness the annual winter journey.”

Cabrillo National Monument (©Jody Diehl)

Cabrillo National Monument lies west of the city of San Diego, on the tip of the Point Loma Peninsula. The park is hosting Whale Watch Weekend on January 7 & 8, 2012. This family friendly event celebrates the diverse marine life of San Diego and features both whale watching and tide pooling.

If you cannot attend the whale watching weekend, no worries, find a  high coastal vantage point and scan the Pacific Ocean about 3/4 mile from the shoreline to the horizon. Just follow these suggestions for what to look for when watching for the Pacific Gray Whales!  These whale spotting tips come from the Cabrillo National Monument website:

1) The Blow or Spout – When warm, moist air exhaled from the whales’ lungs meets the cool air at the ocean surface, it creates the bushy column we call a blow, or spout. A gray whale’s blow is up to 15 feet high, and each blow is visible for about five seconds.  Anticipate that the whale will dive for three to six minutes, then surface for three to five blows in row, 30 to 50 seconds apart, before diving deep for three to six minutes again.

2) The Flukes (Tail) - Before making a long, deep dive, a gray whale often displays its 12-foot wide fan-shaped flukes, or tail. The weight of the tail above the whale’s body helps the whale to dive deep.  The flukes have no bones and connect to the body and tail muscles by banks of tendons.  The gray whale normally swims about five miles per hour, about the speed of a child on a bicycle.

3) The Knuckled Back and Footprint – If the lighting is right, and if the whale is close enough, it is possible to see the back of a gray whale during and after the blow.  It is shiny and black or gray, with a knuckled ridge along the spine. After the whale submerges you may note an elongated, smooth oval of calm water, known as a footprint, where the whale has been.

4) Breach and Splash - Gray whales occasionally hurl themselves out of the water and plunge back in with a tremendous splash.  This is called breaching.  Scientists do not know why gray whales do this, but it is very exciting sight to see.  Sometimes other whales in the area will copy this behavior, so keep your eyes open.

Gray Whale (PD-Scan, Author: Charles Melville Scammon/Wikimedia Commons)

Once You Have Spotted a Whale…Remember that they are migrating south, which is to your left as you look west out over the ocean from Cabrillo National Monument.  Once you have spotted a whale, you can expect that it will surface again to the south.  After watching an individual gray whale for a while, you will be able to anticipate its unique rhythm of breaths and dives, and where it will surface next.

Whale watching may take some time and patience, but once you’ve spotted these majestic creatures of the sea you’ll have a whale of a tale to tell!  It really is an exciting experience.  Good luck!

P.S. Please come on back and tell us about your Pacific Gray Whale sightings!

Posted in Southern California Beaches, Tallies & Tips, Whales and Dolphins | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Humpback Whale Watching

Posted by Jody on September 28, 2011

If you are already in Taroona, Binalong Bay or on the beautiful beaches of Wineglass Bay, you’ve come to the right place for humpback whale watching! Lucky you! You’re on the east coast of the Australian island of Tasmania. The island, in the state of Tasmania, lies 150 miles south of the continent of Australia. If you are even farther south, in Hobart, you’d do well to grab your binoculars and set up your own humpback whale watching station at a good vantage point.  Over the next few days Tasmania’s spring whale migration should be closer to shore and farther south as the humpback whales head to Antarctica to feed. So far, it looks like it’s going to be a good season for humpback whale sightings along the coast of Tasmania.

Humpback Whale (Photo by Fritz Geller-Grimm, from Wikimedia Commons)

Humpback Whale (Photo by Fritz Geller-Grimm, from Wikimedia Commons)

According to the news article at The Mercury.com.au: “The migratory route of humpbacks takes them down the eastern flank of Tasmania and mother and calf pairs often venture into sheltered inshore areas for brief rest stops from their long southerly journey.”

Wineglass Bay, Tasmania, Australia (Photo by JJ Harrison, from Wikimedia Commons)

Wineglass Bay, located on the Freycinet Peninsula of Tasmania has it all!  Besides humpback whale watching, Wineglass Bay has white sand beaches, turquoise water and unspoiled, spectacular coastal scenery. According to Discover Tasmania.com: Wineglass Bay, along with Cradle Mountain, is recognised across the world as one of Tasmania’s iconic destinations. But, there is more to this east coast gem than simply capturing your perfect-postcard snap from the lookout. Located in Freycinet National  Park, the region is so naturally stunning and blissfully pure that it’s easy to feel as if you are an early French explorer first setting foot on Wineglass  Bay.”

Judging by the photos I’ve seen… That’s very easy to believe!

Posted in A Treasure of a Beach (Best Beaches), Beach and Coastal Wildlife, Beaches of Australia and New Zealand, Whales and Dolphins | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Blue Whales off of Southern California Beaches

Posted by Jody on September 13, 2011

The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is the largest animal known to man, sometimes weighing in at over 330,000 pounds!  In the Antarctic, the blue whale can can reach lengths of up to 108 feet long!  According to NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service website: “Despite their massive size, blue whales feed almost exclusively on krill, tiny shrimp-like animals about the size of a jelly bean!”

Blue Whale with Calf (Photo by Andreas Tille, from Wikimedia Commons)

“As is true of other baleen whale species, female blue whales are somewhat larger than males. Blue whales are identified by the following characteristics: a long-body and comparatively slender shape; a broad, flat “rostrum” when viewed from above; a proportionately smaller dorsal fin than other baleen whales; and a mottled gray color pattern that appears light blue when seen through the water.” (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Blue whales have been thrilling boaters and kayakers off the coast of Southern California near Redondo Beach this week!  Breaching and spouting away, this is really up close and personal. Check out the short article and awesome video from KABC-TV Los Angeles.

You can read more about these fascinating giants of the sea on the NMFS/NOAA Blue Whale page.  Enjoy!

Please remember to share us with your friends and Like us on Facebook. Thank you!

Posted in Southern California Beaches, Whales and Dolphins | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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