Readers’ wildlife photos

August 15, 2019 • 7:45 am

It’s been too long since we’ve had some photos by Stephen Barnard from Idaho, but he came through with this nice batch (and an explanation). His captions are indented.

I haven’t been doing much photography, for a variety of reasons, one of which is that I’ve been doing a lot of fishing.

This is my  pet fish, a  large, active, aggressive rainbow trout that dominates a deep pool. It’s a peculiar fish in that the right side of its head is dark compared to the rest of the body, which is unusually blonde. It’s striking. My theory, which is mine, is that it’s a genetic mosaic.


Pet fish taking a Trico spinner, a tiny mayfly that has died and fallen to the water. The fish gorge on these insects that hatch in multitudes.


Taking photos of fish is a problem. They’re usually the boring and repetitious “grip and grin” type photos. I typically fish alone and that makes it even more difficult. Hitch in the background likes to watch.


Instead, I’ve been photographing trout underwater at the time of release.


Some birds. These are barn swallows (Hirundo rustica). They build several nests every year under the eaves of my house and raise multiple broods. Kind of messy, but amusing. They keep the mosquitoes under control. The broods occupy the nests from time to time well after fledging, and I’ve noticed that they will eject newly hatched chicks to their deaths.


A black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) showing off his gorget.


A rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) spoiling for a fight.


The rare and endangered great-horned rufous hummingbird (Bubo rufus).


Deets (Canis lupus familiaris)


Spot the fish!

July 5, 2019 • 8:30 am

Here’s a small (about 1.5 cm) camouflaged fish that I spotted in a lava tide pool along the beach south of Captain Cook. Can you spot it? It may be “pretty easy,” but the camouflage, I thought, was remarkable. If you spot it and can identify the species, let me know (but please don’t reveal the location) in the comments below.

Photo by Nilou. Reveal will go up at noon Chicago time.

Hawaii: A trip to the Waikiki Aquarium (and lunch)

June 26, 2019 • 1:45 pm

Two days ago we went to the Waikiki Aquarium, which had mixed reviews on the Internet for being small. But I found it fascinating. And yes, it’s not a Sea World with trained mammals (ecch!), but it specializes in tropical reef fish, and that it does very well. It also has a great series of jellyfish tanks.

Here are pictures of some of the inhabitants. Since it was dark, the shutter speed was slow and some of the snaps are out of focus. So be it.

The Aquarium specializes in raising corals (which it must for a realistic coral-reef display), and outside it has an exhibit about how it raises and grows these cnidarians (they’re related to jellyfish). Here are some of the lovely corals on exhibit. I know only a few of their names.

Hammer coral:

Bubble coral:

Unknown (to me) coral:

Octopus coral (also called Frogspawn coral):

Leaf coral, also called “potato-chip” coral (Agaracia agaricites, I think):

There was a lone Nautilus in a tank—the first I’d ever seen. I took a video. What a magnificent animal! It floated in one corner and waved its tentacles, so I didn’t see it swim. The family Nautilidae comprises six species, and I don’t know which one this is.

Here’s a great mimic, a Leaf scorpionfish (Taeniaotus triacanthus). Wikipedia reports on its mode of crypsis:

The leaf scorpionfish resembles a dead leaf lying in the water. To enhance this camouflage, it even makes gentle sideways movements in its pelvic area which make it resemble a drifting inert object. It is an ambush predator, waiting until suitable prey, a small fish or shrimp, approaches. Then it slowly moves with its pectoral fins close to the victim. When the leaf scorpionfish is close enough, the prey is sucked in by a sudden opening of its mouth. It eats small crustaceans, fishes, and larvae.

Here’s a video (not mine) showing its rocking, leaflike movements. You can get to the video by clicking on the blue box below:

I think this is a banded coral shrimp (Stenopus hispidus), which Wikipedia describes as a “shrimplike decapod crustacean”. Is it a shrimp? I don’t know, for a quick trawl of the Internet seems to show that “shrimp” is a grab-bag name that may not be monophyletic.

It’s hard to photograph the many tanks containing diverse fish and corals, for the fish are always moving and the shutter speed is about 1/30 of a second. Here’s what they look like, though, and what I hope to see when I snorkel on the Big Island next week.

Is this Nemo? Nemo is a “false anemonefish”, but this is likely Amphiprion percula, the orange clownfish and a true anemonefish, which gains protection, as shown here, by hiding amidst the tentacles of stinging anemones.

Devil scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis diabolus), front, and green lionfish (Pterois sphex), rear:

Look this thing! No wonder it’s called the devil scorpionfish!

A jellyfish (species unknown):

Two videos of the jellyfish tanks in the aquarium. I’ve mislabeled these videos as from the “Honolulu Aquarium,” but they’re really from the Waikiki Aquarium:

A little girl and her relative look at each other:

And a post-activity lunch (yesterday) at Gina’s Bar-B-Que near Waikiki:

Gina’s is a kind of Korean plate-lunch place. For about $12 you get a Korean-style meat (like kalbi shortribs), three scoops of rice, and a choice of four Korean-style side dishes, including kimchi and picked daikon. Here are your selections:

My plate: Gina’s #1 special, with kalbi, barbecued beef, barbecued chicken, three scoops of rice, and daikon, a green (watercress), noodles, and, to be Hawaiian, macaroni salad. This was terrific, as the many five-star reviews attest: the quality of the meat and its flavoring was superb, and the sides were great as well. They have a huge cooler of ice water to wash it down.

I vote this one of the three best plate lunches of Oahu, along with the Waiahole Poi Factory and the Highway Inn (Waipahu branch only). As with all the good places, Ginas is an unprepossessing place that you’d overlook if you just judged by the storefront.


Readers’ wildlife photos

April 12, 2019 • 7:30 am

Stephen Barnard is back with some general photos from Idaho. His IDs (such as they are!) are indented.

The American Mink (Neovison vison). It’s a sneaky, vicious little bastard. 🙂

Some recent photos from Aubrey Spring Ranch: Sandhill Cranes, Red-winged Blackbird, cow Moose with twin calves, Green-winged Teal, Brown Trout, and Downy Woodpecker.
The scientific binomials are left as an exercise for the reader. 🙂


Readers’ wildlife photos

March 23, 2019 • 7:45 am

I suspect this will be the last installment here for about two weeks, but if you’ve sent in photos, never fear: I have them all here in Chicago. Today’s contribution is from Joe Dickinson, whose notes are indented:

Not technically “wildlife”, nevertheless here are some photos from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The first two are jellyfish.  I’m afraid I don’t know even the common names let alone the scientific binomials.

This handsome fellow (or gal) is an African penguin (Spheniscus demersus).

Here is a moray eel, perhaps Gymnothorax reticularis, being serviced by cleaner shrimp, probably Lysmata amboinensis.

These are clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris?) with an unknown species of anemone.

These next two are sort of out of their element in an aquarium.  Nevertheless, here they are.  The first is a common chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater) and the other is a desert tortoise (probably Gopherus agassizii )


These are aptly named garden eels (genus Heteroconger).

This stone scorpionfish I could only ID down to family (Scorpaenidae).

The lookdown (Selene vomer) also is very aptly named.

Readers’ wildlife photos

March 14, 2019 • 7:30 am

Reader Carl Sufit has contributed some additional underwater shots; his commentary is indented.

A few more from Cayman Brac.  I have loads of images to go through from past few trips to Bonaire (going public is a good incentive to actually do so), and can consider sending some after I’ve done so. Many phyla and families barely mentioned so far.

Arrow crab Stenorhynchus seticornis and Sponge brittle star Ophiothrix suensonii (a few arms tucked under the crab) on a tubulate sponge Agelas tubulata:
Great Barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda):

Another pretty trigger fish, the Black Durgon, Melichtgys niger, which can appear as a fairly drab black but has iridescent colors when illuminated:

Your basic Southern Stingray (Dasyatis americana), ready to bury itself in the sand, along with some sort of jack (Bar Jack? Caranx ruber):

And, not as wild as ZeFrank’s Bobbit worms, (I think his video also showed some other common marine annelids), the “social” feather duster wormBispira brunnea:  (the purple is the base/stalk of a Sea Fan (coral) Gorgonia ventalina:

I don’t see the “social” species  nearly as often as the the Split Crown Feather Dusters Anamobaea orstedii.  (This image is from a different trip, with another annelid, Christmas tree worm (Spriobrnachus giganteus) in the background.  I’ll send better images of those in the future.

Readers’ wildlife photos

March 8, 2019 • 7:45 am

We’ll have a short RWP today as I’m busy and putting these together takes a bit of time. But the photos are unusual. The first is from reader Bonnie Luntzel:

Not sure if these count for wildlife pictures (as the salmon are deceased) but I found these to be rather lovely and thought I would share.
They are Chum Salmon [Oncorhynchus keta] found on the banks of a creek in the South Puget Sound area of Washington State. The last of the run was in January, and these pictures are from February 28th.
And reader Kristen Wells got a surprise at her window:
The attached picture is of a Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) that was sitting on the ledge outside of my window at work. It’s probably too hard to see in the picture but he (?) had a pigeon in his talons. He spent a few minutes on the ledge and then flew off with his dinner.

Readers’ wildlife photos (and videos)

March 6, 2019 • 7:30 am

We’re running a bit low on photos, at least sufficiently low that I’m getting nervous. I may have to suspend this feature in a week or so unless we get some good readers’ photos.  If you have ’em, please send ’em. And remember to give the Latin binomial and to try to limit each submission to ten picture. Thanks!

Today we have some nice underwater photos (and videos given in links) from reader Peter Klaver, whose words are indented:

Here are some pictures and links to video from scuba diving trips we had in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba (at times when the Sinai peninsula was less dangerous to go to than it has been for much of the time since then).
Here is a third batch from diving trips in Egypt. We saw bluespotted ribbontail raysTaeniura lymma, on several occasions.

Sometimes they cover themselves with sand a bit.

But we saw them swimming too, like in the video here.
In addition to hard corals, giant clams, Tridacna gigas, grow there too. If you come near them they can sense that and they will sometimes close up, as you can see in the video here. I estimate the one in the picture below was ~30 cm long.

Crocodile fishPapilloculiceps longiceps, blend in well with the bottom.

Box fish (no idea which one this is, or its Latin name) on the other hand stand out clearly.

I think this pufferfish is Arothron stellatus.

Moray eels are a common site but mostly just their heads sticking out of rock openings. But we did see one out and about, see video clip here.

And finally, we did our diving from liveaboard boats. At one point we had dolphins (Delphinus capensis or Delphinus delphis?) playing around our vessel.

Readers’ wildlife photos

February 21, 2019 • 7:30 am

We have fishes, underwater invertebrates, and one birdie today. The underwater photographs come from reader Peter Klaver, whose notes are indented (readers with marine expertise might identify the squid and the last fish).

Here are some photos and links to video clips of underwater wildlife I saw while on a scuba diving trip off the coast of Myanmar. My knowledge of Latin names is not much better than the previous time my scuba diving photos and video appeared here, so hopefully readers can again fill out the gaps and correct mistakes in the species’ Latin names.
We saw quite a few cuttlefish. They were quite big, but it’s not the giant cuttlefish Sepia apama I think, which is exclusive to Australian waters. Would anyone know which kind this is?

We even saw them in bunches together, and there is a short 3.2 MB video clip of these three here.
Lion fish, Pterois volitans, are a common site in almost any tropical reef scuba diving trip:
Moray eels are also a common sight, and they come in many different varieties.
There is a 1.5 MB video clip of the darker kind in the photo below here.

Finally, here is some fish whose name I wouldn’t know in English. You might wonder if the photo is in grayscale, but it is actually in color, see the small striped yellow fish in the right bottom corner. The pattern on the fish is just almost perfectly monochrome.

And for the ornithophiles, reader Garry VanGelderen sent one photo, but with two birds:

Here is a pic of two Red-Bellied woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus). Male is upper one, female the lower one.

Readers’ wildlife photos (and videos)

January 29, 2019 • 7:45 am

Peter Klaver sent us something we don’t see here often: underwater photographs—and there are some videos as well. Peter’s captions and notes are indented.

Included below are 5 full sized scuba diving photos and 5 smaller preview pictures of movie clips. With each preview picture connected to a video, I’ve provided the url of the movie clip to link to on the Delft University server, where I put the website of the holiday Rachel Wilmoth and I had ( ).
From Tofo and Vilanculos in Mozambique we did scuba diving and snorkeling and saw really beautiful underwater wildlife. I do pretty terrible in my knowledge of the Latin names of the animals; hopefully some readers can fill in the gaps and correct my mistakes.
This is a lion fish, Pterois:

Here is a leopard sharkTriakis semifasciata, lying on the bottom:

Here is a fish whose name I don’t know:

This was a large stingray, suborder Myliobatoidei, I guesstimate it spanned well over a meter wide:

And this is a close-up of a grouper, subfamily Epinephelinae, resting on the bottom.

We snorkeled with a whale shark, Rhincodon typus, that was scooping up plankton near the surface (movie here).
I think these are bigeye snappers, Lutjanus lutjanus, but I’m not 100% sure (movie here):
Turtles (Chelonioidea?) were almost a common site in the Two Mile Reef off the coast near Vilanculos (movie here).
I think these are reef sharks (Carcharhinus) but I’m not sure (movie here).
And finally I don’t know what the fish species in this shoal is (movie here).