Of Turbans and Alien Writing

Posted in Under the Sea on October 24th, 2010 by MadDog
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It’s high time that I got back to being a little silly. I miss it. I’ve been far to serious lately. It’s easy to point out to people who are having problems that they might feel better if they would lighten up a little. It’s a bit harder to take the advice if the roles are reversed. Anyway, I know that I need to get some whimsy back into my thinking. Maybe it will leave less room for the too serious stuff to rumbling around in my skull.

Although another Saturday has now passed, these shots are from Planet Rock a week ago yesterday. I haven’t gotten around to looking at the shots at Magic Passage from yesterday’s dive.

The water was very greenish from the layer of brackish water washed out into Astrolabe Bay from the Golgol River. In this “dark reef” style image, I left the green uncorrected, so that you can see what it looked like to me:

It’s a colour that most people don’t expect to see in a marine underwater image. The greenish glow of the light also subdues many of the warmer colours and gives the reef a sickly look.

I’m always raving about spirals in the undersea environment and in nature in general. It seems to be a very useful growth pattern:

Here you can see the very prominent spiral shape in this rapidly growing hard coral. This is an exceptionally nice crop. The image was taken from about five metres shooting straight down. The area you see is about six metres wide.

I enjoy shooting gimpy starfish. It is amazing how many starfish are missing legs, or even more:

Most species of starfish can easily regenerate a severed leg. In fact, if the severed leg is spat out by a fish, as is often the case, the leg will grow new legs and create an entrie new starfish from only the leg. You can see an example of that here.

Getting back to spirals for a moment, Here is an empty house. The critter who lived in it has expired:

I think that it is very likely that a hermit crab which has outgrown it’s apartment will move into this more spacious accommodation soon.

We see the spiral again in this Cat’s Eye Turban Shell (Turbo petholatus). This poor creature was the victim of break and enter. There are a variety of marine creatures which possess the capability of breaking open tough shells such as this to get to the tasty meal inside:

If you try to break a Turban Shell, you can appreciate the power it takes to do so. They are very hard. It would take a few hammer blows to do this kind of damage.

The Turbans are marine snails, so it’s not surprising that the shells look exactly like land snails. However, the marine environment requires heavy-duty protection against predators. To block the most obvious route of entry, the snail produces a door or operculum,  to protect itself.

Opercula are very common in marine snails. The are less often found in species of freshwater snails and only a few land snails have them. The shot above shows some Cat’s Eye Turban Shells and the associated opercula. You can see where the name “Cat’s Eye” came from. The spiral shape is present not only in the shell, but also the opercula. As you can see, there are many different colours and surface textures. These are from my collection.

Okay, I suppose that you are wondering when the silliness would make its entrance into the scene. Well, I am forever on the look-out for aliens. I confess that I have never seen one, but that means nothing. Perhaps they do not wish to be seen.  However, to the astute and careful, dare I say enthusiastic observer, evidence of them is everywhere. One simply has to have the proper perspective.You may care to scoff. Do so if you wish. Nevertheless, I’ll use the favourite argument of UFOlogists, quacks, conspiracy theorists, Discovery Channel pseudo-science and all others who wish to convince others of their ideas despite the lack of genuine evidence. No reputable authority has yet proven that this is not alien writing.

Therefore, it must be true, eh?

By the way, it says, “Live long and prosper.” In Vulcan it would be, “Dif-tor heh smusma”.

UPDATE: Reader Pvaldes points out that if you tilt your head very hard to the left so it is nearly horizontal and examine the Alien Writing image you will be able to read the message. It clearly says, “Hi” (or maybe “Hy”). You can read his remarks in the comments section.

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Living Without a Sense of Smell and Shells Up-Close

Posted in Mixed Nuts on March 20th, 2010 by MadDog
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Occasionally, I have something to say, hoping someone else might be interested in it, but I have no images that fit with my proclamation. Sometimes it’s the other way around. I have some images that might amuse you, but, for the life of me, I can’t think of anything remotely interesting to say about them. Just describing them is boring. Besides, if the images don’t more or less speak for themselves, then they are probably not very interesting.

Today is one of those occasions. I’ve completely lost my sense of smell and I’d like to comment about that and I shot some close-up images of a few of our shells and found the images interesting. The two have nothing to do with one another. We’ll call it an exercise in multi-tasking.

Here’s your first task:That’s a close-up of an Eye-Spot Cowrie.

As any fool knows, we have five senses: hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching. Which is the least important? Well, for big-brained mammals who have developed a sophisticated technology, most would probably agree that the sense of smell is the one we could most easily do without. I certainly agree. The loss of any of the other four are greater levels of catastrophe, though some people have no taste and seem to get by without it. (smirk)That was another Eye-Spot Cowrie. I see Smiley Faces there.

Due to this intractable sinus infection, a double whammy of a Streptococcus  and some weird Bacillus.  Dr. Mackerel (A. K. A. Tinpis ) has put me on twice a day 400mg of Norfloxacin. I looked it up and the scary bit is this: The licensed uses for norfloxacin are quite limited as norfloxacin is to be considered a drug of last resort when all other antibiotics have failed.  In other words, if this doesn’t knock it down, I’ve got a real problem.

The loss of the ability to smell is called anosmia. Like no-nose-ia, ha-ha, very funny. Most people suffer it for a few days during a bad cold. When it goes on for weeks, it’s not much fun.That was an abalone shell.

I’m losing weight, because I have little interest in eating. Food is just salty or sweet or sour, or some jumbled-up combination. Bananas taste incredibly sweet, but have no banana essence. I can sense a little burning sensation in my nose from the alcohol in a beer, but all of the nuances of a nice brew are absent. As for my daily, non-inhaled cigar, forget it. Without the sense of smell a cigar is just a bad trip.If you look closely at the image above, you can make out the reflection of the front of my camera and fragments of the word “Canon”.

According to most of what I have read, my sense of smell will gradually come back, to some degree, when the infection is killed off and things start to heal. I’m looking forward to being able to smell a rotten egg, if you get my drift.The one above reminds me of a certain kind of oriental style painting featuring mountains. I don’t know what it’s called.

My biggest complaint might sound silly to some. I miss smelling women. Maybe I should explain that. My wife, Eunice, is one very smart cookie. She learned a long time ago that people in general react more positively to someone, especially women, who smell nice. She goes for subtle – just a touch of fragrance.In her boudoir,  she has about a dozen top-drawer perfumes. We’ve worked over the years to pare the list down to a manageable number. I have my favourites and she has hers. I got into her stash the other day and lifted the caps of several of them. Nothing! What a shock. I felt very sad.I asked myself what it would be like if I could never get that back.

I know, it seems like whining over spilt milk. Some people can’t see or hear, for pity’s sake! That makes my problem seem silly.Nevertheless, it is annoying. If I can’t whine here, where can I whine?

I’m going to take my drugs like a good little boy and limit myself to one tasteless beer a day. I’ve been off cigars for almost a month now, because smoking one is just a waste of a decent cigar.And, I’m going to hope that this high-calibre antibiotic of last choice knocks the infection down.

Here is a little change of pace to finish up:That is the “shell”, actually more like a skeleton, of a sea urchin. It is much more fragile than an egg shell.

While I’m taking my drugs and being careful I’m going to be longing for the day when I can smell my wife again and go off to that dreamy place for a few seconds.

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Bite Me Red Fish

Posted in Under the Sea on December 3rd, 2009 by MadDog
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Sometimes it’s more difficult to think of what to title a post than it is to write it. Yesterday’s The Big Blue Finger is a case in point. Today’s title is even more illustrative. I have a bunch of stuff to show you. It has no theme. What can I call it. I’m getting tired of trying to incorporate the word ‘miscellanea’ into a title. There’s only so many ways to do it. So, Bite Me Red Fish. As you shall see, the red fish doesn’t bite and the bite marks have nothing to do with the red fish.

Okay, okay, I’m obviously rambling now. Let us proceed to an image that I should have deleted, but it’s the only picture that I have of a Solor Boxfish (Ostracion solorensis):Solor Boxfish - Ostracion solorensisIt’s a shame it’s such a bad picture. It is very difficult to get close to them. This one was scurrying frantically to get out of sight when I saw it, so I just pointed the camera and snapped, not even knowing if I had focus or even if the fish was in the picture at all. When I got home and opened the image in Photoshop, I could see that I got a lot of smear from the very blurred image caught on the sensor while the shutter was open and one nice, sharp image of the fish when the flash went off, both on the same exposure. This is a problem that I can’t fix on the Canon G10, I think. There’s no way to make the shutter speed faster than 1/60 second when you have the flash turned on. So, you get a partially blurred image with a crisp flash capture over the top of it, so to speak.

Well, I’m sure that that explanation put a lot of people to sleep. How about some poo?Sea Cucumber FecesYou can now state proudly to your friends and neighbors that you know exactly what Sea Cucumber poo looks like. A surprising amount of it comes out of them. I guess it’s not so surprising when you consider that most of what they ingest is plain sand. You have to suck a lot of sand for a bit of nourishment.

I should call this one Death Takes Us All:Empty Bivalve ShellThis beautiful little bivalve has met its doom recently. There hasn’t even been time for much sediment to fill its empty shell. This shell is about 4cm long.

Now for the bite bit. Hard coral is . . . well, uh . . . hard!  You will know for certain the first time you bang your head on it. If you’re a photographer, it will happen sooner or later. However the marks you see here were not made by my pointy, pointy head:Parrotfish Bite Marks on CoralNo, those marks are the result of normal parrotfish feeding habits. This coral is not as hard as cement, but pretty nearly so. Therefore, you can imagine how hard the teeth of a parrotfish must be. In this case it was a rather large one. The bite marks here are about six or seven cm long. Thank heavens that parrotfish are not inclined to include humans on their menu.

So much for the bite. How about the red fish? Well, in that contest, the Scarlet Soldierfish (Myripristis pralinia)  has little competition:Scarlet Soldierfish - Myripristis praliniaI don’t know what is the origin of the common name, Soldierfish. They all have pretty much the same general form, including the big, big eyes for most of them.

It is interesting to me that, although I usually complain that using flash makes everything look redder than it does in nature, I have to say that it didn’t hurt the representation of this species. The overall shot is warmer that I would prefer, but the fish itself really is that red.

And, it doesn’t appear to be inclined to bite me.

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