Posts Tagged ‘sea life’

The Post – An Unlikely Fish Count

January 5, 2011
I often paint fish and undersea creatures. Squids, southern flounder, American shad, krill, just to name a few. I will paint many more. Hence I’m always on the lookout for great pictures. I don’t copy them but use them to inspire me, and to sometimes put together a composite image of a few creatures in a scene of my own making.
Also as a person who paints and loves the ocean and its life, I am always seeking news on its health, problems, successes. A recent topic of interest to me, was the recent (2010) completion of the Census of Marine Life. ( http://www.coml.org) It boggled my mind that someone could do this and I wondered how.
An article on Gizmodo recently appeared, that included a video on this very topic. As the video says, there are places in the ocean so remote they could not be explored, groups of fish so large they could not be counted, animals that travel so far they can’t be followed. If all that is true, how then did they do the Census of Marine Life for 10 years? The answer is revealed in this article and video. And you can find out what “OBIS” stands for. Just amazing work.
For even more info, check out www.coml.org . Also, there are some great books out on the subject.  World Ocean Census (ISBN-13: 978-1-55407-434-1) I picked up the book and it has photographs that are just beautiful. It is the story of the census. There is another I’m waiting to receive done by National Geographic: Citizens of the Sea – Wondrous Creatures from the Census of Marine Life that looks just amazing in the creature photographs it contains. I can’t wait to get it!. …….I can never get enough of the ocean…….

The Post – Under the Pier: Creature Features – Introduction

July 27, 2008

As mentioned previously, one strong theme in my book is the sea life of Narragansett Bay, a deep deep love of mine. Many critters are scattered throughout my book and the only dilemma is that people may not know who they are.

In an effort to solve this problem, I am creating a “visual glossary” of the sea life. I will provide some text from one of the sea life reference books to give some background on this fish, and an illustration. I am trying to decide which medium works best to create this illustration – either an oil painting or a pen & ink drawing with watercolor wash. So in the following entries, I may provide one or the other, or both.

Coming up next – installment number 1 of Under the Pier: Creature Features

The Post – Admiral Byrd was NOT Worshipping Me or The Aquarium Light

February 11, 2008

Over the last 2 days my husband noticed that Admiral Byrd has been spending a LOT of time, meaning almost ALL of his time, up on top of the gravel hill or the decorative cave rock, or the live rock, or just about anywhere else in the tank, waving his claw. He looked so funny up on the cave rock. He seemed to be staring up at the aquarium tank light, waving his claw as if paying homage to a god. We figured either he held the aquarium light or my hand in high esteem.

My husband has joked that he thinks the crabs go inside the live rock so much because it’s actually their holy site. He thinks they’ve cobbled together a crude altar made of gravel and on the altar they’ve fashioned a shrimp pellet image of their deity, the hand that feeds them . . . basically mine. As he put it, imagine that every day a hand comes down out of the sky and places steak or shrimp or pancakes in front of us. That’s what it must be like every time my hand drops algae or shrimp pellets near them.

In any event we weren’t sure why Admiral Byrd decided to spend an entire day paying homage to me or the light. Why all of the sudden? There’s been nothing new going on in the tank otherwise, all three crabs have been actually pretty placid, out and about feeding, and generally happy. Was this some sort of designated crab “Holy Day” that just happens to coincide with Lent?

As it turns out, alas, neither the aquarium light nor my hand are the object of Admiral Byrd’s devotions. Melanie Hamilton is.

From the Fiddler Crab page on the Chesapeake Bay Program’s bay restoration site:

“When looking for a mate, he stands near the edge of the burrow, often alongside a string of other males and their (similarly well-maintained) burrows, while the females, returning from foraging, walk past. The male waves his large fiddler claw until he attracts the attention of an interested female, who then stares at him for a short period.. The male resumes his claw-waving, and if the female remains receptive, the male runs toward her, then runs back to his burrow, and repeats this motion several times until she either moves on or follows him to the burrow. ”

Apparently, mating behaviors take place not just when the female forages, but also when she molts. I happened to notice this pale, upside down body lying under the water filter this morning and immediately my heart hurt. I thought “Oh no! Melanie Hamilton died!” But not so. Looking closer, I saw that it was the pale ghost of Melanie Hamilton. It was that eerie translucent white, like Scarlett O’Hara’s was, though much more petite given that Melanie Hamilton is so dainty. Melanie Hamilton sat right behind it. I would have gotten pictures for this blog but she had tucked herself and her tiny ghost so far under the water filter that I could not get a shot. If only I had fiber optic cable, maybe I could get footage! I have concluded that the fiddler crabs have designated the “under the water filter space” as the “molting place.” All 3 have used it now. I think it has enough stretching room to shrug off the old shell, but is sheltered enough to keep everyone else away while their new shell hardens.

Admiral Byrd of course, was well aware of events in the tank. He was standing just a few inches from the water filter hoping to catch her eye. Alas, while Admiral Byrd is a true romantic and his efforts were truly heroic – I mean he has to be exhausted after almost 24-hours straight claw-waving – Melanie Hamilton is having none of it. She has turned her back on him and remains secluded under the water filter.

But anyway, the mystery is solved. Admiral Byrd doesn’t give a darn about the tank light or the hand that feeds him. He apparently can sense the approach of “molting” and was doing the crab Valentine’s Day equivalent of serenading his lady.

Sorry no pictures, though. I told my husband if he ever decides to spend money on expensive jewelry or clothes for me, I would prefer one of those borescopes like they use for colonoscopies. That would work GREAT in the tank for closeups of everybody! 🙂

Coming up this week:

Now that you’ve gotten to know me a bit – a cross between sea life maniac and soulful – I’ll start to introduce some of the projects I’m working on. I’ll share what I’ve done, what I’m doing and where I see myself going. Children’s writer and illustrator, Uri Shulevitz, described three stages of a writer’s development at a conference about 12 years ago. I’ve kept them as a kind of road map in my development and will use them to describe what I’m doing.

Also to come, a Writer’s bio page of what I’ve already written.

Happy Monday!