A Great Ocean Tank of Fish

Aboard Seanachai, Life Captured, Photo Challenges
Boy looking at fish in Great Ocean Tank of SC Aquarium

Nick imagines what it would be like to visit the deepest oceans, filled with exotic fish.

In 1983 Charleston SC Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. visited the Shedd Aquarium near Chicago, and an idea was born. He made a deal to purchase a contaminated strip of land on the Charleston waterfront, secured Superfund money from the federal government to help clean up the area and built the South Carolina Aquarium. It’s a stunning piece of architecture when viewed from the Charleston Harbor as we often do, Aboard Seanachai.

Nick, pictured above, has great plans to explore the deepest ocean reefs and discover exotic undersea creatures. For him, a visit to the SC Aquarium is a trip to wonderland.   This photo is my contribution for Travel with Intent’s Blog, One Word Sunday Challenge “Fish

Completed in 2000, there’s much to see at the SC Aquarium, which was designed to showcase plants and animals found in each of five regions of the state.

But the centerpiece is the Great Ocean Tank. Forty-two feet below the surface at its deepest point, it’s the deepest public aquarium in North America. The 18-inch thick windows are acrylic—strong enough to keep back the pressure of 365,000 gallons of water, without distorting the images of the fish. A multi-layered filtration system “turns over the water” in only 90 minutes.

It showcases three distinct areas of the Atlantic Ocean, the deep/open ocean, the shallow rocky reef and the deep rocky reef. About 550 animals of 40 different species swim in the tank. The only animal in the tank that’s not a fish is Caretta, a 30-year-old loggerhead sea turtle.

Caretta, loggerhead turtle in the Great Ocean Tank at the SC Aquarium

Caretta, a loggerhead turtle and the only “non fish” in the Great Ocean Tank

SC Aquarium Charleston, SC

View of SC Aquarium from Charleston Harbor – as seen “Aboard Seanachai”

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The Lookout’s View

Aboard Seanachai, Life Captured, Photo Challenges

Here’s my entry for Nancy Merrill’s Photo A Week Challenge “Look Up”

As we prepare for the Spring sailing season, I’ve had some time to look through some older images.  This one is from October 2016 when my husband and I made a weekend cruise aboard our Catalina 22, Seanachai.   Part of the passage took us through Wappoo Creek and I experienced the opening of the Burnet R. Maybank drawbridge from a new perspective.  We posted a YouTube video of the first leg of the trip, including the opening of the bridge.

Burnet R. Maybank bascule bridge opens

Burnet R. Maybank bascule bridge opens for boat traffic.                   35mm, f6.3, 1/250

At it’s center, the bridge has a clearance of 33 feet.  The masthead to the waterline of our boat is just over 29 feet.  Technically, we could motor under the bridge, and we did–about three months later–as captured in the photo below.  The captain’s steady hand guided us under the center of the bridge, while I looked up.

Sailboat masthead clearing under bridge

Masthead clearance less than 3 feet under a closed Brunet R. Maybank bascule bridge! 55mm, f 6.3, 1/1000

Snowflakes in the Spanish Moss

Latest Pix, Life Captured, Photo Challenges
Snowfall among Southern oak trees, Spanish moss

55mm, f 7.1, 1/200, iso 2000

At the start of 2018, the Southeast coastal area experienced a rare snowfall, turning our landscape into a peculiar panorama where snowflakes in the Spanish moss looked like thick icicles dripping from from the branches of our great oaks.  This photo is my first contribution for Becca’s Sunday Trees challenge.

Fortunately for the tropical Spanish moss, our snow event was short lived.  After six days all traces of ice and snow melted away and we enjoyed the balmy 55º typical of our January highs.

Neither lichen nor moss, Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is one of the signature plants of the Antebellum South, (although it may be found from Virginia to Argentina).  It’s an epiphyte, meaning that it uses trees for support.  It absorbs nutrients and water through its leaves from the air and rainfall.  You see it most often along the coastal areas, because it needs high humidity and mild winter temperatures to survive.

Mysterious and ubiquitous, the plant is a favorite of storytellers throughout the area.  Among the legends is this poem (author unknown):

There an old, old legend, that’s whispered by Southern folks,

About the lacy Spanish moss that garlands the great oaks.

A lovely princess and her love, upon her wedding day,

Were struck down by a savage foe amidst a bitter fray.

United in death they were buried, so the legends go,

‘Neath an oak’s strong friendly arms, protected from their foe.

There, as was the custom, they cut the bride’s long hair with love,

And hung its shining blackness on the spreading oak above.

Untouched, undisturbed it hung there, for all the world to see,

And with the years the locks turned gray and spread from tree to tree.

Carolina Snow Birds

Latest Pix, Life Captured, Photo Challenges
Two small birds in a backyard bird feeder during snowfall

f 6.3, 1/320, Nikon D5100, AF-S Nikkor 55-200 @ 200

We certainly have our share of snowbirds in South Carolina.  But those who thought they’d escape the cold blast of Arctic weather by slipping into Dixie were in for a big surprise January 3.  According to the National Weather Service, the precipitation brought by the 2018 Winter storm “Grayson”  was the heaviest one day snowfall in the city of Charleston since 1989.  Freezing temperatures kept our streets treacherous for six days, cancelled more than 75 flights into and out of the airport, and kept our kids home from school well beyond the holiday break.

These little birds chose the frosty ledge of our backyard bird feeder to rest during the snowfall.  It’s my favorite image captured during the record winter storm.  And it’s my contribution to the One Word Photo Challenge “Weekly Weather Jan. 7: Pick your Own”

 

Floating Oddity

Aboard Seanachai, Latest Pix, Life Captured, Photo Challenges
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“Lady in the Lake”  by Mark Cline                     35mm   f 5.6  1/250

When you embark on a 5-night, 6-day sailing adventure along the Gulf Coast of Florida, you expect to see the sugar sand beaches and blue green water of the Gulf of Mexico.  What you don’t expect to find is the likeness of a 108-foot woman skinny dipping in a marina.  She’s my entry for Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge this week.

In 2012, George Barber, billionaire art patron and owner of the marina, commissioned Mark Cline, a self-taught sculptor, to design this unusual floating lady.  Already well known for the whimsical creations formed in his Enchanted Castle Studios, the Virginia artist built the fiberglass sculpture, inserted giant styrofoam blocks inside her head and knees and  gently splashed her in a pond at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, AL.  Later, she was trucked down the the Alabama gulf coast and placed in the corner of the Barber Marina, where she could greet all the visiting crews.  Mark Cline christened her “Country Girl Skinny Dipping,” but locals call her “Lady in the Lake.”

My husband and I had a chance to see her when we took our Catalina 22 “Seanachai” on the 20th Annual C-22 Northern Gulf Coast Cruise (NGCC).  A YouTube video series highlights our adventures, this episode includes our visit to Barber Marina.

Sailing Vessel "Seanachai" at Barber Marina

Seanachai “The Storyteller” at Barber Marina, Elberta AL May 10, 2017

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A Cultivated Wood

Latest Pix, Life Captured, Photo Challenges
Waterfall at Poinsett State Park

Waterfall at Poinsett State Park                              35mm      f7.1      1/50

This image of a waterfall nestled in the cultivated woods of Poinsett State Park is my entry for Frank Jansen Photography’s Tuesday Photo Challenge-Woods.

According to archaeologists, people have lived in the “high hills” area of South Carolina for at least 10,000 years. The landmasses, water features, flora and fauna preserved in our State Parks are mere inkling of how the country looked for centuries.

Poinsett State Park in Sumter County, SC exists in an area called “the mountains of the Midlands.”  More than 11 miles of hiking trails traverse a mixed terrain that includes 100ft bluffs and black water swampland, where you’ll find a blend of Upstate mountain laurel shrubs, Lowcountry Spanish moss draped over hardwoods and tall stands of Southern yellow pines. You may encounter red-tailed hawk, deer, snakes, turtles and possibly an American alligator.

Evidence shows Native Americans from the Santee, Wateree and Catawba tribes hunted in these woods. In 1753, Matthew Singleton petitioned South Carolina for 300 acres with the understanding he would improve the property by clearing fields, building houses and mills. Remnants of the mill still exist.

It’s believed someone named Levi built a dam to create a pond on Shank’s Creek in order to cultivate rice.   The 10-acre lake in the park is named “Old Levi Mill Pond” in his memory.

During the 1800s, the area around the property became known as the “Capital of the Lumber Industry” in South Carolina. According to the SC Forestry Commission, such was the production that by the end of World War I, most of SC’s virgin timber was gone.

In 1934, Sumter County purchased 1,000 acres, dedicating it to the public as a recreation and game refuge. Subsequently, the County donated the land to the State of South Carolina.

In an effort to address the unemployment of the Great Depression, and conserve timber resources, President Franklin D. Roosevelt conceived a “New Deal” program called the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC was responsible for the construction of many state and national parks, including 17 State Parks in South Carolina. The CCC employed young men and World War I veterans. The men learned a wide array of skills in addition to their wages.

From 1934 to 1938 the CCC built recreational and support facilities and trails in this Park.   Company 421, one of three CCC companies who helped with construction, named the park after the South Carolina congressman, physician and amateur botanist, Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was also an envoy to Mexico from 1822-23. (That’s where he found the red plant known in Mexico as the Christmas Eve flower. Due to his promotion of the plant in the US, it became known as the poinsettia.)

The CCC companies used coquina, a local rock made of ancient sand and shells to build a 75ft. spillway and the waterfall (pictured above).  A number of the buildings constructed by the CCC are still in use today, including the ranger station.

Poinsett State Park Ranger Station reflected in Old Levi Pond Lake.

Poinsett State Park Ranger Station reflected in Old Levi Pond Lake.                      35mm   f6.3   1/100

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Almost There

Latest Pix, Life Captured, Photo Challenges
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35 mm,  f/ 4.5, 1/200   desaturated colors, add’l filter (81)

This bumblebee is making her way to a cluster of tomato blossoms.  The pollen baskets on the tibia of her hind legs are almost full, but she is going back for another batch. According to bumblebee.org, pollen is loaded at the bottom of the pollen basket, so the pollen that has been pushed towards the top is from flowers the bumblebee visited earliest. Only female bumblebees have pollen baskets (corbicula). A full pollen basket can contain as much as one million pollen grains.

Not quite black and white, this desaturated image is “almost there” too.  I got this effect through Adobe Photoshop Elements Editor by completely dropping the saturation of each color–except yellow, which I reduced by about half, then tinted the entire image with a warming filter (81).

It’s my contribution for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge “Anything that Flies

 

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Tales of the End of Christmas & a Few of My Favorite Things

Life Captured, Special Ocassions

In the Christian liturgical calendar, February 2nd marks the official end of the Christmas season.  While some are looking for a groundhog’s shadow and others are humming “Here Comes Peter Cottontail,” the staunchly traditional among us are still contemplating Silent Night.

Duck, Duck, Quack!

Aboard Seanachai, Life Captured, Photo Challenges
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Mallard Drake on Marina Dock                                                         f/6.3  1/500, ISO 250, 35mm

After a spring daysail aboard Seanachai, we came upon this mallard drake standing at the edge of the marina dock. Camera at the ready, I took a few steps toward him.  Truthfully, I expected he would fly away at any moment. Instead, I was able to get close enough to cast a shadow over him, which toned down the highlights from the setting sun, and revealed the detail in his feathers.  For several minutes he stood his ground, looked me right in the lens, and commenced to recite some sort of duck manifesto while I happily snapped this image–my entry for Cee’s Fun Foto Challege: Duck Duck Goose.

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close enough to cast a shadow!

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Seanachai Sun Screen

Aboard Seanachai, Digital Art Projects

Summertime temps this year have been hovering in the mid- 90s, which makes for an uncomfortable time aboard Seanachai.  One day, we’ll sail with a proper bimini top, until then, we’ve adopted an idea from The $tingy Sailor for a “poor man’s bimini”.

The boom tent is easy to install and stows away compactly in the cabin.  We’ve motored with the boom tent installed, but mostly we use it when we’re at the dock.  It makes the cockpit about 10-15 degrees cooler–just what the captain ordered to make the sundowners more enjoyable!

Here’s a video I made detailing how it works.

 

Remembering September – Part 1

Aboard Seanachai
NOAA R/V Joe Ferguson at Ross Marine Dock, Johns Island SC

NOAA R/V Joe Ferguson                                                       f/6.3 1/1000s, ISO 280, 55-200@200mm

September is a month of anniversaries for me in many ways, and in a solemn way, for the United States.

Aboard Seanachai for our wedding anniversary cruise, my husband and I made a two-day trip along the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) from Charleston, SC to the Limehouse Bridge on John’s Island.

I photographed lots of watercraft along the way, but this image of the Research Vessel Joe Ferguson is particularly significant.  She was apparently having some maintenance completed at Ross Marine boatyard on John’s Island when I snapped this picture.  Not the best photo technically, but the story makes it special.

According to the website, the vessel was obtained by Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary in July 2008.  She provides a platform for research, rescue, training and educational operations for researchers connected with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

The boat is named for Joe Ferguson, who was the former director of the National Geographic Society Education and Outreach Program.  Ferguson was killed on             September 11, 2001 when the plane carrying him was hijacked and flown into the Pentagon.  He was traveling with National Geographic Society staffer Anne Judge, and three teacher-student pairs on an educational trip to the Channel Islands of California.  The team was planning to participate in a Sustainable Seas Expedition.  The teacher-student pairs were: teacher James Debeuneure and student Rodney Dickens; teacher Sarah Clark and student Asia Cottom, teacher Hilda Taylor and student Bernard Brown. All of the star students were 11-year old sixth graders.

That I would learn about these outstanding people and their work within days of the anniversary of their deaths makes this September profoundly memorable.

Framed Through the Rigging

Aboard Seanachai, Photo Challenges
Black and white image of a sailboat viewed through the frame of another boat's rigging, Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge over the Cooper River, Charleston, SC

Through the Rigging                                                               f7.1, ISO 100, 1/400s, 35mm

The San Francisco, CA firm Donald MacDonald Architects,  was charged with creating a design for a new bridge across the Cooper River near Charleston, SC.  The goal, they said, was to create a timeless landmark that pays homage to the historic city and compliments the harbor and waterfront park.  Across the landscape, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge “evokes a sail motif over the river.”  It opened to the public in July 2005.

A sailboat framed through the rigging of our C-22 Seanachai, with the landmark bridge behind emphasizes the architect’s theme and is my entry for this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge: Frame

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Fighter plane?

Aboard Seanachai, Latest Pix

Aboard Seanachai on August 22, we were on the Cooper River, passing under the Ravenel Bridge around 5 PM.  Suddenly, we saw this small airplane making several close passes around the bridge and later, over Drum Island.  At first I thought it must be a photographer, but it seemed incredible that the pilot would be making so many passes.  We watched the plane, a Thrush S2R-T34,  make big swooping curves around the iconic bridge, then drop down for a low pass over the trees.  It was not until we were home again and some investigation revealed that the plane was likely spraying for mosquitos in the city and the island.  (The photos clearly show the sprayer attachment.)  Local news reports from a previous treatment noted drivers on the bridge were terrified at the sight of the plane.  According to other reports, the low flying airplanes deliver specially modified chemicals to eliminate mosquitoes in areas of stagnate water. Although it’s the first time I saw it, this kind of delivery system has been used in this area for at least six years.  This fighter plane was merely turning around over the river so as to continue making passes across the land–doing battle with the mosquitoes!

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Every Day Observations: Animals

Life Captured

 

One of the real joys of my photography is documenting everyday observations.  For me, the familiar is exotic.  I’m amazed at the texture in a common toad, the brilliant color in a butterfly or the tender beauty of the egret ascending the marsh.  I look for emotional reactions with some images.   Does this angry squirrel make you want to cover your head?  Who can stifle a yawn while looking at this cat?  I’m tickled by the little pooch who seems to be planning his escape –if only his legs were long enough to pedal the bike.