Readers’ wildlife photographs

January 22, 2015 • 7:15 am

Posts will likely be thin on the ground today, as just this minute I’ve received the final galleys of The Albatross and must work on them pronto.  Like Maru, I’ll do my best.

Here are some photos by reader Ken Phelps, which include not just organisms but water in all its forms (except steam).  Identifications are welcome for all of the species; Ken’s comments are indented.

Some very small wildflowers I have not been able to identify. Shot on Quadra Island, B.C.. They were in an exposed mossy area, hugging the ground.


 Some very fine dew on a rose:





North America on the left, Europe on the right. The divide in Iceland.

According to this site, Iceland is the only place in the world where one can see the meeting of tectonic plates above sea level.


I didn’t realize that one could see the meeting of the European and North American tectonic plates in Iceland. You can find a bunch of cool pictures of their junction here.

Arthropod and mollusk (you do know that barnacles are arthropods [crustaceans], right?):



Ken likes to photograph ice and water, especially waves:






One of my favorite waves.  A bit of pareidolia in there too. The real thing was about 6″ high, more of a wavelet. Either Fraser or Capilano River water in English Bay, Vancouver, giving it its color.


40 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photographs

  1. One really nice day when visiting Þingvellir in Iceland we were given the opportunity to walk from Europe to America, just few hundred yards down the road. A fantastic experience.

    1. I was finally able to do that this last summer. Iceland is one big playground for a geologist like myself. But, man, it’s sure not cheap!

  2. Are the tectonic plates really “meeting” there? I thought they were moving away from each other along that line.

    1. “Meet” in the sense of “are adjacent.” The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is indeed a spreading center; Iceland and the Azores are the result of magma welling up at the break.

    2. They should have said that Iceland is the only place in the world where you can see a divergent plate boundary above sea level. There are plenty of places where plates meet above sea level. The Himalayas are one such place (convergent boundary). I live in another (transform boundary).

      1. Yeah, precisely. I myself have touched the contact zone between Europe and Africa, up in a valley in the Alps. It’s much sharper there, only a few meters of ground up rock between the two plates – you can almost touch them both at once, with outstretched arms.

      2. I think the reason Iceland is unique is that a hotspot traveled from Canada under Greenland and then spawned Iceland as it passes the Midatlantic ridge. Apparently it has been hypothesized by some to be a prototype to the earliest continents, so that caught my interest when trying to understand when and how continent formation started.

        Last year there was a paper that looked at formation conditions and made a good argument that indeed Iceland was a good analog. But a few months after the response from teams looking at Jack Hill zircons said no way, Iceland formed much too hot. I understand that iceland arc formation is a much better fit, the first protocontinents being a result of mushing arcs together. (Like Japan, perhaps?)

        1. > Like Japan, perhaps?

          That’s my take as well, though I only dipped a toe into the literature. The role of plumes vs. arcs is still debated, I think, but the Tonalite–trondhjemite–granodiorite series, which make up the oldest continental crust, formed at convergent boundaries.

    1. The narrow petal bases suggest something away from Sedum. I don’t know the species, but I’m pretty sure it’s some sp. of Micranthes — a segregate genus out of Saxifraga.

      1. Thanks, I think you’re right! I noticed the difference in the petal base, and couldn’t figure it out. I looked up Micranthes, and this is the closest one I found:
        Tähtirikko (Saxifraga stellaris), Micranthes stellaris, the starry saxifrage or hairy kidney-wort

  3. The western Alps, Himalayas, East African Rift Valley and the San Andreas Fault in California are all places where tectonic places can be seen to meet. There are other examples.

  4. Both ‘rooms could be in the Mycena genus: yellow Mycena strobilinoides and brown Mycena cinerella.

    The flower is most likely some kind of stonecrop as smokedpaprika has pointed out. The basal, double, yellow spots markings are just gorgeous.

    Unbelievably good photos, Ken.

      1. So no one else sees the zombie robot scratching its head? The skulls? The flying fish with an eagle’s beak? How exactly *did* you spend the 70’s anyway?

        1. I’m reminded of Emo Pillips taking a Rorschach test:
          Emo: “It looks like a swirling black vortex of evil and despair that sucks the souls from men!”
          Shrink: “Actually, that’s a picture of my wife; the ink blot is over here.”
          Emo: “Sorry.”
          Shrink: “Not at all, you were pretty close on that one.”

  5. Such an impressive assortment of gorgeous photographs. I especially liked the delicate, solitary mushroom. The continental divide photo also really struck me. As I imagined standing there, it brought to mind a poem I hadn’t thought of for decades: “The world stands out on either side; no wider than the heart is wide. Above the world is stretched the sky; no higher than the soul is high.” And I learned a new word, too: pareidolia. So thanks, Ken, for such a rich start to the morning! (The poem, BTW, is Renascence by Edna St. Vincent Millay.)

    1. …and plunge an ovipositor down your throat to implant the chest-burster?
      Actually barnacles don’t have ovipositors as far as I recall, but in case they try it anyway, don’t forget that males have the longest penises relative to body size of any animal.

  6. The link to the web site about the plate boundary says that the fissures in Iceland have widened about 30 m in the last 3,000 to 5,000 years.
    The faster range of that movement comes to about 10 mm per year. This is, as they say, about as fast as fingernails grow!

  7. Sorry, coming late to the discussion here. Ken Phelps, your flower posted at the top is in all likelihood Micranthes (Saxifraga) ferruginea, Alaska saxifrage. I recommend ‘Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast’ by Pojar and Mackinnon if you are botanizing in the Georgia Strait and surrounding area, a great resource. Thanks to Jerry for posting botanical images and to Ken for the photos!

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