The Sunrise Canoe

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on April 20th, 2010 by MadDog
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The weather in the mornings is very mixed up now. Most mornings are still grey and lifeless. The change of seasons from wet to dry is going to be very welcome. This morning a big storm over the Huon Peninsula was battling the rising sun for control of the sky. It was fun to watch the fracas from a distance:On calm mornings the water of the harbour makes a beautiful reflecting pond.

I heard a little commotion to my left. Usually all that I hear in the morning is the sound of fish jumping. My neighbours were getting into their canoe to paddle over to town:I asked them if they would make a little detour so that I could get a shot of them back lit by the rising sun.

At the risk of boring you, I’ll insert a little photographic note here. If you look at the two images you can see that the colours have been massaged differently. One of the pleasures of modern-day digital photography is that, if you don’t like what your camera (or nature, for that matter) gave you, you can easily change it. If you don’t like red roses, make them yellow or even blue. For the first shot, I liked the overall warmth of the tones more or less as they came from the camera, with only a huge gob of saturation to punch them up. However, when I got to the canoe shot, it just didn’t sing to me. The artificial addition of the blue to the water gave me just what I was after – creating a vignette around the canoe.

Okay, now let’s get wet. I have a mix of the unusual and the common today.

Though this is a common enough critter, many people have never seen one. That is unless you are a regular visitor here, in which case you may be yawning now. It is a kind of Sea Squirt (Polycarpa aurata):

Aside from the ridiculous colours and peculiar shape, it does indeed squirt. If you get too close to it, it puffs water out and closes its two openings. Here you can see them all puckered up, locking out anything that might come inside for a nibble of its innards.

I’ve also shown Solitary Corals (Fungia fungites)  here many times. This one had a particularly outrageous purple edge:I devoted a few precious minutes to Googling, but I can’t find the cause of the purple discolouration. It is not species related, since it occurs randomly in individuals. Of two lying side-by-side, one may have purple and the other white or brown edges.

You’ve also seen the famous Sailor’s Eyeball (Valonia ventricosa)  here before:It is basically a huge single-cell green algae. It is sometimes refered to as a seaweed. When I Googled the taxonomic name I was amazed at the amount of scientific interest in this golf-ball sized cell. Here’s an example:

The degradation of microfibrils from Valonia ventricosa  by cellulase has been studied. As a result of enzymatic attack the elementary fibrils making up the microfibrils tended to separate and the ends of the microfibrils became oblique or pointed. The terminal planes made angles of 60 … 66°, 33°, or 20 … 25° with the microfibril axis. These planes are assumed to correspond to the 41 , 43 and 45 planes of the cellulose lattice and it is suggested that they are planes along which it is progressively more difficult for hydrolysis to proceed. On the basis of these considerations a suggestion has been proposed to explain the form of erosion cavities formed by soft-rot fungi described by previous workers in wood fibres and tracheids.

Please, if you understand that, would you explain it to me? I get the gist of it, but details make my head go funny.

Moving on to something more connectable to our familiar world we have three Clark’s Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii)  playing tag:This is one of the rare shots in which I was able to capture the amazing blue glow that is often seen in the white bars. It is a very weird thing to observe. I think that it is not true pigmentation, but rather some strange sort of refraction, similar to the colours of some butterfly wings and bird feathers.

On the other hand, they are simply very , very pretty.

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