Thursday, December 22, 2011

More Than Sharks

There are so many animals, so many forms of life to see here at shark bay.  Every day we see dolphins, turtles and rays of many kinds.  These lives so abound here that it is easy forget that many of them are endangered.  Shark Bay is a certified World Heritage site in a class of elite and extraordinary places.  Other such sites include Yellowstone National Park, The Pyramids of Egypt, The Great Barrier Reef, The Galapagos Islands, The Grand Canyon, Machu Picchu and 930 more.  Of these 936 sites only 128 make the cut due to their unique and supreme natural characteristics.  Shark Bay is one of these and after only a single visit it is quite easy to see why.

The sea explodes with life and it is all we can do to keep our cameras at the ready. 

The many sea snakes are curious creatures and always want a close up view of whatever you might be doing.  

(Chris Mull)

Rays, often invisible under a thin layer of sand , can be found anywhere and everywhere.  Some are a foot across, some are 6 feet across and all of them glide through the water with barely a flick of their wings.  They are grace incarnate under the waves.

Feeding Ray (Tyler Roberts)

At first washed out with light refraction, I tweaked the contrast to reveal this ray. (Tyler Roberts)

Six feet wide. (Tyler Roberts)

Cow Tail Ray taken through my sunglasses as a makeshift polarized lens. (Tyler Roberts)

The dolphins... too much to say about them for this post alone.  I will have to fill another with my musings on the dolphins of Shark Bay.

(Adriana Weil)

Urchins, Sea stars, Snails and Bivalves.  They move slowly or little at all but inhabit every nook and cranny.  They may not have the charisma of a turtle or a dolphin but they still spark that sense of wonder.  They still glow with a luminosity all their own.

Heart Urchin, aka "Coconut Urchin".  Another unfriendly creature to brush yours hands against. (Adriana Weil)

Cowry atop a Pen Shell (Adriana Weil)

Pen Shells are sharp as hell. DO NOT step on them. (Adriana Weil)

Snowy Volute (Adriana Weil)

Snowy Volute on the move (Tyler Roberts)

The crabs and crustaceans will fight to bitter end, pound for pound the most ferocious animals we have encountered yet.  

Awfully hard to make out the face. (Adriana Weil)

(Adriana Weil)

(Adriana Weil)

Kirk and his Blue Swimmer Crabs. (Adriana Weil)

Blue Swimmer Crab ready for action. (Adriana Weil)

Beautiful sea stars blanket the sea floor. A spectrum of colors from one to the next.

(Adriana Weil)

(Tyler Roberts)

(Adriana Weil)

(Adriana Weil)

I found the big one eating the little one. Sea stars will push their stomach out of their body's to envelope and digest their prey.  A part of the stomach of the large one is still visible just in the center of it. (Adriana Weil)

Spiny Sea Star (Adriana Weil)

Had I all the space and time in the world to show you what I have seen, it would still fall short the real thing...

Even algae can surprise you with the shape it takes. (Adriana Weil)

Cat Eye Shark (Chris Mull)

Do you see him? (Adriana Weil)

It is astounding, the emotion you can feel from a turtles eye. (Adriana Weil)

Pied Cormorants and Australian Pelican (Fanny Vessaz)

Sharks of Australia (Fanny Vessaz)

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