My new blog AND photo ordering site!

If you haven’t read my previous post – I’ve started a new blog and I am very excited!

Visit J.C. Photography to follow my photography attempts.

To order my photos that you may have seen on this blog – and ones you can find on my new blog, please visit my gallery at D. Simon Jackson Photography.

If you see an image on this blog, and do not see it on the website, please let me know, and I will add it!

All profits from my images go to the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition, which helps to save the endangered spirit bear on the British Columbian coast.

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Photo: Sheepish or shy?

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I can’t tell if this grizzly in Kananaskis, Alberta looks like she is sheepish or if she is shy. I’m sure she is just hungry. She was such an entertaining bear to watch last summer.

Read my background in wildlife photography practice, as well!

Top 5: Wilderness Escapes in Toronto

This past weekend, I was feeling very restless and decided that I needed a good dose of fresh air, in the form of FRESH air (not the busy street smoggy stinky downtown Toronto air).

My fiancee was also feeling this same restlesness, but also, his finger was itching to try out a few new ‘gagdets’ he purchased for his Nikon D800. He is the ultimate wildlife photographer, so he busily searched for places near to us where I could take my meds consisting of fresh, nature filled air (umm, I am not sure what that is…), and he could satisfy his trigger finger (FOR HIS CAMERA).

We discovered Leslie Spit, which was exactly 15 minutes away from my condo. I could not believe it. There we were, standing in nature, yet able to see the city skyline right behind us. It was perfect.

The investigation is going to continue as I list the top 5 ‘wilderness’ escapes in and around the city of Toronto.

5. Lynde Shores Conservation Area – Probably about a 45 minute drive to find this nature retreat, but worth it to hike around a swampy scene filled with deer, birds and beaver!

4. Colonel Sam Smith Park – Can’t wait to check out this park. Probably a 25 minute drive from my condo, I could be there, exploring the trails along the Toronto waterfront. It would especially be neat to find the beaver and snakes to photograph.

3. High Park – This park is surrounded by the Gardiner Expressway to the south, Bloor Street to the north, and subdivisions on either side. I completed a 5K race here a few years ago, and marvelled at all the green around me, while dragging my feet up and down some tough hills.

2. Rouge Park – I haven’t been here yet, but I have heard so many wonderful things about this area, that it could quite possibly beat out Leslie Spit for the #1 spot.

Right next to the Toronto Zoo, it boasts many birds, deer, plant and reptiles, some that are endangered and rare. Can’t wait to go!

1. Leslie Spit/Tommy Thompson Park – it had to be #1, since I have been here. It’s home to  countless species of birds, mink, beaver, fox, coyote and owl – oh and muscrat, which we ran into accidentally on our hike.

This semi-man-made spit became quite a wonderful ‘accidental’ wilderness right in the heart of Toronto.

Further Reading:

Toronto Wildlife: Where to Find Wildlife and Birds in Toronto

Photo: Le Moose

Moose on the Loose – Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

I miss those days in the summer, when I had the time to settle in by a big bull moose and take pictures of him for 2 hours.

Oh well, something to look forward to next summer!

Top 5: Otter Photos

I’ve been lucky in Yellowstone these past 2 summers, watching groups of otters doing their thing – and the shows have apparently been quite a rare thing to witness according to others.

Here are my top 5 photos of les otters from the past two summers:

Number 5

Golden light, watching these cute little dudes sleep on a fallen log over one of the most beautiful lakes I have seen (Trout Lake, Yellowstone National Park).

Number 4

Mama, eating her trout and fighting off her 2 pups. What a task. PS – some noisy tourist disrupted their flow, that’s what they are looking at!

Number 3

How waterproof does their fur look? Nice.

Number 2

Nice whiff of a fresh trout being eaten. Yum – she sure enjoyed it!

Number 1

I have a whole sequence of this – including his/her brother/sister coming to join. Unfortunately, my lens was set at manuel, and resulted in somewhat blurry photos. Ahh…there is always next year, I hope!

Fly like an Eagle (for real this time)

My last photo featuring a bird had the same title, except it was not actually an eagle. Here you go – let’s try this again.

Taken in Glacier National Park, Montana.

Photo: I’m taller than you!

What?! Who’s there?

Curious grizzly bear in Kananaskis, Alberta.

Read about my wildlife photography practices.

Photo: Moose on the Loose

In Grand Teton National Park, when I was there this summer, there were 2 very good looking bull moose that hung out in a swampy area right beside the main road in the park.

I spent hours upon hours there watching them and taking a billion photos at every angle possible. Here’s one of them in the process of standing up to go in search of some tasty tree leaves to munch on.

Photo: You Otter Like This!

Sorry for the title.

These otters (there were four of them) were so entertaining this summer at Trout Lake in Yellowstone National Park. More story to come – I am hoping to have my boyfriend ‘guest blog’ for these lil guys. He was so impressed and inspired by them.

Please also vote for the featured scene for the header of my blog! I’ll tally the votes next Monday.

Famous Wild Dolphin “Beggar” Killed After Illegal Feedings and Pettings

This is disgusting – why are people such idiots?!
By Brian Clark Howard of National Geographic News in Ocean Views on October 4, 2012

Boaters feed Beggar the dolphin illegally in this photo taken by the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program.

Boaters feed Beggar the dolphin illegally in this photo taken by the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program. Photo taken under NMFS Scientific Research Permit No. 15543.

 

(Updated 10-5-12 at 11:48 am with info on stingray barbs.)

This week, ocean advocates were stunned when a Florida woman was caught riding a manatee. Fortunately, that animal was unharmed, but another Florida marine mammal was not so lucky (it might be time to alert Drew Curtis’ Florida feed on Fark). Late last month, a wild bottlenose dolphin named Beggar was found dead in Sarasota.

Beggar, who was about 20 years old, has long been one of the most famous and most studied of wild dolphins around the world. Scientists have logged many hours observing him, and have published papers. YouTube is full of videos of Beggar made by boaters. This was made easy because, unfortunately, Beggar had developed a taste for human food, thanks to lots of folks who fed him illegally. (Bottlenose dolphins usually live between 30 and 50 years.)

It is illegal to feed or approach wild dolphins under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act, and violators can get up to $100,000 in fines and up to one year in jail per violation. But enforcement is a challenge, given the huge size of coastal areas and the limited budgets of government agencies. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has prosecuted three dolphin harassment cases in Florida in recent months, but studies suggest many more go unreported.

According to Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Beggar spent much of his time right off-shore, where he was frequently approached by boaters. Many petted him and tossed him food, often junk food like hot dogs or even beer.

As a result, Beggar mostly stopped foraging on his own, and he started hanging out in one small area, instead of roaming more broadly. He also essentially stopped socializing with other dolphins.

“By feeding Beggar, people changed his behavior and put him at an increased risk from boat strikes. It also appeared that other dolphins learned similar ‘begging’ behavior by watching him interact with humans,” the aquarium said in a statement.

Aquarium technicians performed a necropsy on Beggar’s body. Although they were unable to determine a definitive cause of death, they concluded that his altered behaviors were most likely to blame for his demise. They found evidence of past injuries from boat strikes, including old puncture wounds and broken ribs and vertebrae. He was dehydrated, possibly from eating an unnatural diet. He also had fishing tackle in his stomach, as well as squid beaks–but according to the scientists squid aren’t normally consumed by dolphins in that area, suggesting he was tossed some “sushi.” Beggar also had two stingray barbs embedded in his flesh, which may have contributed to his problems.

 

Picture of Beggar the dolphin

Beggar the dolphin in happier days. Photo taken by Sarasota Dolphin Research Program under NMFS Scientific Research Permit No. 15543.

 

History of Harassment

In order to better understand how people are interacting with wild dolphins, and putting them at risk, Katie McHugh of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program conducted a study on Beggar in 2011 (the program is a partnership between Mote and the Chicago Zoological Society). In 100 hours of observation, McHugh saw:

  • 3,600 interactions between Beggar and humans — up to 70 per hour;
  • 169 attempts to feed him 520 different food items — from shrimp and squid to beer, hot dogs, and fruit;
  • 121 attempts to touch him — resulting in nine bites to people.

McHugh concluded that “Beggar was not a healthy dolphin.” She also noted, perhaps unsurprisingly, that when NOAA law enforcement officers were nearby, people left Beggar alone.

Stacey Horstman, a dolphin coordinator with NOAA Fisheries, said in a statement late last month,”Beggar was a local icon and tourist attraction for over two decades, and the results of this necropsy are a reminder of how people’s actions are harmful to wild dolphins. There is a common misconception that feeding, touching, and swiming with dolphins is not harmful and that they don’t get hit by boats. We are concered about how frequently the public and anglers continue to feed wild dolphins, as Beggar is just one of many wild dolphins in the southeast U.S. that have been fed by people and learned to associate people with food.  Responsibly viewing wild dolphins is crucial to their survival and we are asking the public for help so dolphin populations stay healthy and wild for generations to come.”

 

Picture of hooks and line taken out of Beggar the dolphin

Hooks and line removed from Beggar’s stomach during a necropsy. Photo: Mote Marine Laboratory

 

What You Can Do

If you feel bad for Beggar, there are some things you can do. Check out these tips on how to view wild dolphins safely, without putting them at risk. If you see someone feeding or harassing a wild marine animal (or trying to ride it), tell NOAA authorities immediately (check this page for your nearest division office).

Finally, do not feed wild dolphins. It may provide a quick thrill, but you are putting the animals at risk, and you could easily get bitten.

 

Brian Clark Howard covers the environment for National Geographic. He previously served as an editor for TheDailyGreen.com and E/The Environmental Magazine, and has written for Popular Science, TheAtlantic.com, FastCompany.com, PopularMechanics.com, Yahoo!, MSN, and elsewhere. He is the co-author of six books, including Geothermal HVACGreen LightingBuild Your Own Small Wind Power System, and Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater.

Read another example of a group of idiots:

Bison Fury