Stories about the image and current happenings
Watching the circle of life complete itself is a privilege I get every year when the salmon return to the rivers to spawn.
As the summer draws to an end and the fall rains start I get pretty excited. The inundation of new water filling the seasonally low rivers is a signal that the salmon look for. Having been out at sea as far away as the Gulf of Alaska for several years the returning salmon have but one goal- make it to their natal river to spawn. This event is one of the greatest animal migrations and goes largely unseen. By methods not fully understood, each salmon navigates its way back to the same watershed, and in fact to the very same tributary, that it came from. By sensing magnetic fields and detecting smells in the water, and maybe other senses we don't know about, they are able to arrive back to the same area where their parents laid the egg that they came from, and at precisely the right time for repeating the cycle themselves. The immense drive to overcome all obstacles, from their foraging at sea, migrating up potentially hundreds of kilometers of river, and then finding a mate, culminates in one final act. Spawning. Like some other species of animals all five Pacific Salmon species die within a short period of time after spawning. In fact from the moment the salmon enter the river system they stop eating, their immune system shuts down, and all energy goes to completing the cycle of life. They are literally dying to give life....
I have lived in Canada for the last 26 years. I have always wanted to explore the Maritime Provinces of Eastern Canada
and only this August I got to go there for the first time. With a wedding on Cape Breton Island and family to visit in Prince Edward Island we got to see a fair bit of two of the Provinces. New Brunswick will have to wait till another time. After landing in Halifax we picked up our rental van and headed off to the first stop of many in what would become an epic adventure. We ended up in the Atlantic Superstore parking lot and equipped our van to be our mobile base and accomodations. After a few more stops we were off. As I always like to take the road less travelled we headed up the eastern shore of Nova Scotia and took the long route to Cape Breton Island. With dense fog enshrouding the bays we wound our way in and out of wonderfully remote fishing villages and other communities in the seemingly middle of nowhere. It was hard to discern what exactly people did who lived in some of these out of the way places. What wasn't hard to see was what a lot did on Sundays. It seemed here that there were a lot of churches. We liked to joke that for every five houses that made up a village there was a church. And we cant have been far off.
Every year the tadpoles in Cedar Lake fascinate me.
In July I spent many days happily swimming around the margins of this amazing place, weaving in and out of the Water Lilies and Water-Shield Plants. The number of tadpoles seemed higher than I had ever seen before and I was literally mobbed by them on several occasions.
I had some great photographic opportunities this year but I also filmed quite a bit of video footage. Being able to show these little Western Toad tadpoles swimming in their formations in video format was apparently quite enjoyed. One of the first videos I did was simply holding the camera down and trying to follow along behind a particular tadpole. This perspective put the viewer right into the midst of the schooling behavior and made for a popular video. I posted it on social media and it immediately went crazy with thousands of shares and half a million views on Facebook alone.
I call this image "Sea of Change" for several reasons.....
FIRST- I took this image in 2013 near Browns Bay, just north of Campbell River, and I never actually noticed it in my folder of images until just now. It has sat on a hard drive for five years. In that time the oceans around here have changed. First we had the Seastar die off (an unfortunate event called seastar wasting syndrome) causing a trophic cascade which led to urchins increasing un-abated in areas of the coast. This in turn led to a decrease in Bull Kelp and other varieties. With warmer water temperatures (and maybe other factors) the shallows became quite barren in places. Kelp is an important part of the ecosystem in that it offers shelter and food for multitudes of creatures. Without it there is just nowhere for many critters to live.
Since the time I started underwater photography I have been fascinated by seeing the reflection of objects underwater on the surface.
Whenever I am in shallow water I look for subjects that create cool reflections that ripple and morph into fantastical shapes when frozen still on camera. Leaves, sticks, water plants, and even fish have all been captured in this way. So it was just a matter of time before I made a decision to showcase this phenomenon in some particular way.
Every now and then a photographer takes an image that helps define them in their profession.
Sometimes it is years down the path of their career. For me it happened relatively early as I was diving into my underwater photography journey.
In the summer of 2012 I had only been shooting underwater for a few months and had been exploring the local swamps and rivers around Campbell River, as well as the ocean. On the memorable day of July 28th, I was “diving” in the swamp margin of Cedar Lake just north of Campbell River. This one-two meter deep area of the lake is filled with Yellow Water Lily and Water-shield plants, as well as lots of logs and tree trunks. For an hour or so I was swimming around happily shooting abstract images of the reflections of the lily leaves in the underneath surface of the water. Not many people I know have ever thought to go swamp diving as we now call it. But all aspects of the underwater world fascinate me so why not explore in this aquatic habitat as well.