Posts tagged “Pacific Ocean

Whale tails and more

 Misty breach - © Christopher Martin-0103(click on an image to open a higher resolution version)

When we were in Cabo San Lucas the first week of December, Bobbi and I both went out on whale watching trips.  Whales found Bobbi less than a mile out of the Cabo San Lucas Marina while I had a longer travel along the Pacific coastline before sighting one active Humpback.  We both had long encounters with these magnificent animals.  Our children had enjoyed the dolphin swim the day before but were not excited about the whale watching.  So one parent went out while the other patrolled the kids at the pool and beach.

Fin spray - © Christopher Martin-0169While we went on separate excursions, we went with the same operator and were both similarly impressed.  Whale Watch Cabo runs their tours on Panga boats, low to the water and great sight lines for everyone on board.  Every tour they run is led by a marine biologist and a local captain. It was nice to hear more information about whales and other local ocean wildlife during the trip.

Coast diver - 2013 © Christopher Martin

We enjoyed a close look of the Sea Lion colony and the groups of birds around Land’s End.  Then headed out onto the open ocean up the coastline of western Baja.  On my tour, we found an energetic whale and it was incredible to watch three separate breaches and numerous airborne tails.  Bobbi and I both had great times and thank Janneke and Peter, the owners of Whale Watch Cabo, for making our trips very memorable.

Humpback's maw - 2013 © Christopher Martin


Whale Tail

Whale Tail - 2013 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII + 70-200mm f/4 lens: 1/4000 of a second at f/11 on ISO 400

Water sprays off a whale’s tail as it begins a dive in the Pacific Ocean west of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.  This Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) was very active with some great tail lifts and breaches before settling into a steady swim just under the surface which we used as our queue to part company.  It is amazing just to see them and for it share some of its out of the water action was very fun to watch.


Last light at La Jolla

La Jolla coastline at sunset - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The colours came in nicely when the sun fell under the clouds before hiding behind the ocean horizon.  The shoreline around La Jolla looked like someone had splashed paint across the wet rocks, swirling water as well as the dark clouds hanging above.  This was a few minutes after the previous image I shared from the same sunset – interesting how the colours changed over that short period of time.


Dive bombers: Pelicans fishing in Laguna

A pelican's dive - 2013 © Christopher Martin

While in California last week, every morning flights of Brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) would glide over the water off of Aliso Beach in Laguna.  A few of these would peel off and spiral up into the sky and then widen their circles while watching the water from high above.  The last time I photographed Brown pelicans was in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico a couple of years ago.  I did not have the opportunity to watch those pelicans fish in the ocean so Laguna with its dive-bombing birds was a lot of fun for me.

Flying forward - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Fish finding - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Dive prep - 2013 © Christopher Martin

When a target was found they would point directly down and plunge towards the ocean.

Diving for fish - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Most of these dives resulted in the bird completely disappearing underwater for a second or two.  More often than not a fish was caught between the chopsticks of the bird’s beak.

Resurfacing - 2013 © Christopher Martin

The seals were drawn to the same schools of fish so there were some neat moments with them close to a bird either going for a fish close-by or maybe even thieving one from the pelican.

Pelican flight and seal leap - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I love watching these pelicans glide over the water.  Often, they will skim a few inches above the surface for several hundred yards between wing beats.  They will fly alone, in pairs or larger flocks all following the same path.

Ground effects - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Ocean peloton - 2013 © Christopher Martin

They are great fliers which is most obvious during the exciting dives as they pin wheel and then dive.  When they launch out of the water, the power and skill flying that they command are on display as well.

First flap out of the water - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Into the air - 2013 © Christopher Martin

2013 © Christopher Martin

I could spend a lot of time photographing these birds.  They are graceful gliders, spectacular divers and great fishers.  They present great opportunities for the photographer – including a little hide-and-seek!

Hide-and-seek - 2013 © Christopher Martin


Californian wave forms

Wave flow - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I woke to a grey morning on the Pacific earlier this week.  As the sun rose, its light diffused across the dull silver clouds and carried on to the waves rolling in.  In these images I stretched some of these waves out with longer exposures (1/30 to 1/2 seconds) and swung the camera around a bit just to play with the idea a bit more.

Wave form 2013 © Christopher Martin-1787

Rip curl -  2013 © Christopher Martin-1798

Amid the abstract work, a few seals skimmed by.  One of these glided inside a wave as it rolled into shore – which was fantastic to watch.  I hope to share images from those encounters as well as a few with Brown pelicans from the same morning soon.

Seal wave - 2013 © Christopher Martin-2534


La Jolla Sunset

La Jolla Sunset - 2013 © Christopher Martin

We are on the coast of Southern California for a short vacation.  Legoland is the destination today for the family and my building-obsessed son.  Last night, I was out exploring the beach cities north of San Diego and we photographed the sunset on the coastline in La Jolla.  The light was beautiful and the rocky coastline provided a wonderful landscape to work with.  There are surfers, pelicans and seals all waiting to be photographed, I’m excited to find a few more opportunities.


Dolphins at play in the waves

Exhalation - © Christopher Martin-4239

When I was on a catamaran sailing along the Na Pali Coast we had a close encounter with a small pod of dolphins where they swam alongside for several minutes. I loved watching the deceptive power in their movements. The cat was under full sail and the dolphins seemed to expend little effort to speed past the bow and slip in and out of the waves.

Slipstream - © Christopher Martin-4275

Nosing under - © Christopher Martin-4273

Splash - © Christopher Martin-4274

Dolphin mirage - © Christopher Martin-4277

On the return trip to the harbour, close to the first visit, a couple more dolphins (different I think as they seemed to be gray coloured versus the blue bodies of the first ones – although that could be a change in the light) came by and this time had a couple of humpback whales with them. The dolphins get very excited when the whales return for the winter and the two species are often found playing together and generally hanging out together until the whales head off around the globe again. The whales did not make any spectacular breaches but I felt no disappointment as just seeing them in their waters was magical.

Dolphin pair - © Christopher Martin-4668

Humpback ridge - © Christopher Martin-4651


Hawaiian surfer: riding off Ke’e Beach

Surfing at Ke'e - © Christopher Martin-5634

(please click on each image to open a higher resolution version)

Ke’e Beach is further up the coast on the north shore.  The waves were big and came in haphazard sets with some breaks sending waves slamming into other ones.  I did not expect to see anyone surfing there but on one of the days we spent on the beach, watching the coastline and keeping an eye out for seals, I saw one fellow sitting on a surfboard watching the waves.  He watched for quite a while and then headed out, presumably having found the right spot and the right way to get out to it.

Into the cauldron - © Christopher Martin-5554

I kept an eye on his progress and when he started catching waves it was awesome.  He knew what he was doing and it was great to watch him navigate through the chaos, pick a wave and then grab a good ride.


Hawaiian bodyboarders: riding off Nukoli’i Beach

Wave riding - © Christopher Martin-1115

(please click on each image to open a higher resolution version)

Nukoli’i Beach seems to be an unpredictable surfing location in the winter.  The waves moving west were great the first few days on this eastern beach that we were in Kaua’i at the beginning of December.  However after one huge storm that raged across the island, they remained choppy and were not frequented by any surfers or bodyboarders for the rest of our stay.  Those first few days I did get out twice to photograph some of the bodyboarders.  The waves were breaking pretty far out but a long lens helped to make a few images.

Carvin' - © Christopher Martin-0902

Down the line - © Christopher Martin-1118

Tunneling - © Christopher Martin-1051-2

Ocean spray - © Christopher Martin-1033

Workin' a small one - © Christopher Martin-0913

Boogie boarder - © Christopher Martin-0814

This trip to Hawai’i I spent my time in the ocean photographing underwater and that squeezed out any time that I might have gone bodyboarding or surfing.  I’ll make up for that on the next visit.  It was really fun to watch these guys ripping along the waves.  I can’t wait to join in!

Flying off the back - © Christopher Martin-0670-3


Underwater at Ke’e

There is a nice spot to snorkel just off of Ke’e Beach on Kaua’i’s north shore.  The fish school in decent numbers and there is often a chance of seeing sea turtles.  Before returning to Canada we went up to Ke’e for one last afternoon on the beach and an evening photographing the sunset down the Na Pali.

The water was choppy from high surf coming over the reef which usually breaks down the waves.  This made swimming with the kids a more involved process than normal and shortened any snorkelling.  I still went out and photographed along the calm side of the coral reef for sometime close to an hour.

Fish with coral reflected

The fish were more scarce on the day, maybe due to the turbulence, but it was still pretty busy down below.  I had fun photographing individual fish within their environment.

From down below, even looking up was beautiful.

The sky from under the surface


Seascapes with Na Pali’s waves

North shore waves off of Ke'e - © Christopher Martin-5900-3

I love the ocean, I suppose many people do.  I grew up on Kootenay Lake in southeastern British Columbia and there could be rough water but nothing like on the ocean.  Whenever I am on a coast, I enjoy watching the waves.  In December, the waves off of Ke’e Beach at the northern edge of Kaua’i’s Na Pali coast are tall and heavy.  They can be spectacular to watch.

Pastel Landscapes - © Christopher Martin-5859-3good

The last day that we went to Ke’e, the waves were not disappointing.

Biting the sun - © Christopher Martin-5848-4

With the sun falling low, a few waves even tried to take a bite.  It was a good day.

Biting the sun


Egret against an evening wave

Evening flight

This Cattle Egret flew along the coastline where I was photographing the waves crashing into the sun.  Once it was past me, soaring away from the setting sun, the soft pinks and blues in the water and its waves made a nice backdrop.