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Friday, January 19, 2018

On the western horizon

Western horizon near sunset, 19 January 2018

Thursday, January 18, 2018


I kept checking the wave heights last night and they remained at ~10 feet.  But when I checked again when I woke up today, I was impressed.  Early this morning the wave heights shot up to ~24 feet!  Click here to review the wave height graph from the offshore buoy.

There was light rain this morning, but I took a few pictures for the record:

These were very big waves.  It's hard to judge the heights of breaking waves, especially when it's stormy.  But I have a few photos with gulls for scale.  [Click on the images for larger versions.]  In the first photo below, there are two gulls the one in the center (between waves) is the easiest to see:

And here's another where you can use the gull to estimate the height of the wave faceBased on known measurements, the gull's wing span is ~58 inches, or ~4.8 feet.  You can then use the gull to estimate the height of the wave:

It depends on where you measure, but my estimate for this wave face came out to ~435 inches, or ~36 feet (~11 meters)!  That might be a bit high, but it gives you a feel for how big these waves were.

Although there's a lot of winter left, this was likely one of the biggest wave events of the season.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sea serpents

Well, I had a tough time making a decision about what to post tonight.  I promised an answer to a mystery photo from last night, so I'll address that first.  But I took a few nice wave photos today, so I'll include those, too, as a bonus!

First, the mystery close-up from last night:

Someone guessed trout, and that was an excellent guess!  

This is a small fish that washed up on Salmon Creek Beach.  Below is the entire fishit was only ~7 cm (~2.75 inches) long.

I'm not 100% sure which species this is.  The eel-like shape is distinctive, as is a basically continuous fin (dorsal/anal/ventral) running around the body, and note the "overhanging snout."  My best guess is a juvenile Spotted Cusk-eel (Chilara taylori).  They live in burrows on sandy bottoms, so the habitat off of Salmon Creek Beach is appropriate.  If you're familiar with this species and can confirm or correct the identification, please do!  [P.S.  Cusk-eels are in the family Ophidiidae.  "Ophis" means "snake" and refers to the eel-like or snake-like appearance.]

I think you know that I can't resist big waves.  So here are a few shots from 17 January 2018.  Pick your favorite!

"Sea Dragon"

"Sea Serpent"

"Sea Elephant"

"Lotus Flower"

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Geometric mystery

A bit of a mystery close-up for you:

I'll reveal more tomorrow night (at least as much as I can figure out!).  Maybe someone out there will be able to help?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Roaring in

The offshore buoy reported a 12-foot west swell today, but some of the sets seemed even larger.  I took a few photos and couldn't choose just one to share, so here are several different views of the waves off Bodega Head today, 15 January 2018:

Eric's always recommending that I include something in the photo for scale.  It's not always easy, but here are three examplesthe first with a cormorant, the second with a gull, and the third with a seal.  [Click on the images for larger versions.]

Here's one of the more dramatic shots of the morning.  Whenever I see a wave exploding against the shoreline like this, I have trouble understanding how anything living on the rocks (e.g., seaweeds, invertebrates) survives.  Amazing!

 To wrap up — a wave just starting to break:

Should be an interesting week for watching waves.  Stay safe!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Building swell

Breaking wave on 13 January 2018.  It sounds like the largest swell this coming week will arrive on Thursday.  The National Weather Service is calling for a 16-19 foot west swell on 18 January 2018!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

High on the rocks

Well, I finally found a few minutes to look for the Rock Sandpiper (Calidris ptilocnemis) that's been seen near the southern end of Bodega Head.  Below are a couple of photos for the record, taken on 13 January 2018:

Here's the Rock Sandpiper (lower bird) with a Surfbird for comparison:

And one more, this time with a Surfbird (left), a Black Turnstone (right), and the Rock Sandpiper (bottom):

Today I almost would have called it a "Seaweed Sandpiper."  Although rock was the base material, the sandpiper spent most of its time feeding very intensively among the seaweeds (primarily Pyropia sp., formerly Porphyra sp.) high on the rocks.  I couldn't see what the sandpiper was eating, but perhaps it was finding amphipods?

P.S.  If you're interested in seeing this bird, it's been pretty easy to observe from the main whale watching area at the outer parking lot on Bodega Head.  Check the large sea stacks just offshore from the whale watching area (e.g., when you're at the whale watching area, look down and a bit to the north).