A couple years ago in
Water Ways, I described how I used to spend a great deal of
time recording and mixing sounds. As a child, I was fascinated with
sound effects, and I’ve always loved music.
A website called Go Mix It allows
you to create sound compositions and add photos like this one.
/ Go Mix It photo library
At the time I wrote the blog entry, I had been playing around
with a website called Nature
Sounds for Me.
I encouraged everyone to create their own sound compositions,
and provided some examples of what others had done, including
I recently discovered what seems to be a related website that
allows you to add photos to the mix. The site is Go Mix It. (Notice how the web domain is
used in both links.) The site contains most of the same nature
sounds, but includes a “photo panel” for choosing pictures to watch
while the sounds are playing.
I think it would be better if I could toss my own photos onto
the screen. I can’t find a way to do that, but there are many
photos to choose from in the library, which can be searched by
topic and added to the sound compositions.
Take a look at the site, and feel free to share your
compositions in the comments section. A couple I threw together
quickly are called Majestic Forest and Wild Ocean.
I find myself returning again and again to videos that surprise
me with scientific phenomena, such as a droplet of water bouncing
at least three times before it gets absorbed into a glass of
Using videos to reveal something visually exciting is a thousand
times more rewarding than watching a science teacher explain the
properties of matter. I wish that teachers would have had some
amazing videos available when I was growing up. But considering
today’s technology, maybe teachers find it more challenging to
surprise their students.
Anyway, check out the first video on this page, which shows a
couple of goofy guys fascinated with the idea that water can
bounce. The value of this video lies in the fact that these two
“Slo Mo Guys,” Gavin Free and Daniel Gruchy, seem to be having a
good time exploring this feat of nature.
That first video is fun and all, but is it enough? If you’re
like me, you want a little more. You know that this relates to the
surface tension of water, something the goofy guys never seem to
mention. So I found another video, which has even better
photography — plus a mathematician able to explain what’s going on.
Check out the second video by Molecular Frontiers, a
nonprofit group of scientists dedicated to spreading an
appreciation of science. Maybe they’re a bit more professional than
the Slo Mo Guys.
Finally, getting farther afield from where I started, a company
called Ultratech has created two amazing videos about its
super-hydrophobic product called Ultra-Ever Dry. It shows how
treated products cannot get wet or dirty. See Ultra-Ever Dry 1,
Nov. 12, 2012, and
Ultra-Ever Dry 2, Jan. 31, 2014.
Ultra-Ever Dry is a product based on nanotechnology, and the
formulation is mostly proprietary. As amazing and useful as
nanotech products can be, I should point out that some concerns
have been raised about potential long-term effects on the
environment if they were to come into common use.
The Slo Mo guys, featured in the opening video, have also played
around with a super-hydrophobic surface, as well as tiny particles
of metal in a liquid. Believe it or not, they were invited into
General Electric’s Global Research Lab in New York, where they felt
free enough to bring along their playfulness for a
video they made there.
These two guys also got invited to use a more advanced camera to
watch what happens when they shoot a gun underwater. In the
video of the bullet launch, the prime segments come between
2:20 and 3:30 and between 5:25 and 6:32.
I’m posting this “Amusing Monday” entry two days early, because
today is officially World Water
Day, as declared by the United Nations.
Photo by Murli Menon.
Copyright World Water Day, used with permission
I guess the timing is not that important. After all, I don’t
expect anyone to go out and march in a World Water Day parade, or
fire off water pistols in celebration, or even drink water in
excess and then sleep in the next morning. But if you are inclined
to celebrate, you may as well celebrate the essential value of
It’s been awhile since I brought you some puzzles, so I thought
I’d mention a couple good jigsaw puzzle sites and offer a few
Yellow tang and clown fish puzzle.
(Click to solve.)
TheJigsawPuzzles.com site contains nearly 300 jigsaw puzzles of
underwater scenes, including the one on this page. In addition,
there are at least two dozen other categories to choose from.
You pick a scene and watch it crumble into 100 or more pieces.
Online jigsaws often have special features, such as a quick sort of
the edges. If you want a little more control, such as the ability
to use your own picture in forming the puzzle, check out Jigsaw Planet and click on
Three funny little animated puzzles can be accessed for free on
Good. I was surprised to find that the site asks you to pay for
the fourth puzzle, given all the free puzzles on the web.
Finally, there’s a bartender game, “The
Right Mix,” in which you mix drinks, one at a time, then shake
and serve. The best part is the bartender’s reaction after he
tastes the concoction. Unfortunately, the exercise does not improve
one’s skill as a bartender.
John Buchanan of Squamish, British Columbia, was in the right
place at the right time when a group of transient killer whales
mixed it up with hundreds of fleeing white-sided dolphins.
John said it appeared that the orcas had formed a line to herd
the dolphins into shallow water in Departure Bay near Nanaimo.
“The only way they could escape was going through the orcas,” he
told me. “I was wondering if they would swim right into the ferry.
The ferry may have made the escape a little narrower for them.”
John happened to be on the ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West
Vancouver to Departure Bay on Vancouver Island when the wild
encounter occurred on Monday.
“I was just traveling on the ferry to meet someone at Nanaimo,”
said Buchanan, who is active in the environmental groups, including
Squamish Stream Keepers. “I always have my camera close by.
“We were just coming into Departure Bay. Someone spotted the
orcas, then the water just exploded with all these dolphins in the
bay. The orcas had them pinned in.
“I bet there was all kinds of action going on under the water,”
he said. “It was spectacular, especially when one orca was breaking
in one direction and another was breaking in the other
John recorded that exciting shot of a double breach on his
camera, which you can see toward the end of the video.
Later, he was informed by a biologist at Vancouver Aquarium that
breaching is often how the whales celebrate a kill. Although he
noticed a lot of chasing at the time, he never spotted any dead or
dying dolphins nor was any blood in the water.
John posted the video on YouTube on Monday, the same day he
recorded the dramatic encounter. As of this morning, the number of
views was approaching 100,000.
CBC News posted the video on its
webpage, and John has been approached by people who would like
to purchase the footage, but he plans to keep it available for
“I’ll never see anything like that again,” he said.
At my suggestion, John sent photos to Ken Balcomb and Dave
Ellifrit of the Center for Whale Research. Ken reported that the
orcas included T-100s. According to the book “Transients” by John
Ford and Graeme Ellis, they are a group of killer whales seen
mainly in Southeast Alaska.
I always look forward to the annual photo gallery created by
Capt. Jim Maya from his favorite photos of the year. Jim owns the
whale-watching company, Maya’s Westside Whale
Watch Charters, which operates out of Snug Harbor on San Juan
Island, so he gets to see a lot of things.
Here’s Jim’s message for the year:
“Each year about this time I go through my images from the year
and try to pick out favorites. Sometimes it had to do with the
emotion of day and the memory or the company on the boat. Other
times, special lighting, composition, and other elements. I still
haven’t gotten the shot of a breaching Orca with a salmon in its
mouth, with an eagle after the salmon, in front of a lighthouse and
a mountain and a rainbow. No, I don’t even own Photoshop!”
I’ve selected eight of my favorites from the 18 that Capt. Jim
sent me. For a full gallery of photos, go to Maya’s Photo
Transient orcas travel along the
north side of Stuart Island. Look for a deer in the upper right
A transient from the group passing
by Stuart Island.
Transients pass in front of San Juan
Island and Mount Baker.
Transients feed on a sea lion in
Haro Strait, San Juan Islands.
Lime Kiln Lighthouse on San Juan
Southern Resident orcas, San Juan
A humpback stayed with Maya’s boat
for an hour. The group named the whale “Wendy.”
Humpback whale fluke seen in the
sunset, Haro Strait.
China’s Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival got
under way yesterday with an ice-swimming competition in sub-zero
weather in this northern Chinese city.
The annual festival is said to be the world’s largest winter
festival, now in its 30th year and attracting hundreds of thousands
of visitors from throughout the world. Surprisingly, I had never
heard much about it until this year, when I’ve stumbled upon
several news reports and lots of cool photos. The video below is
from The Telegraph, based in London.
Highlights of the festival include massive ice sculptures, some
lighted by LED bulbs, some by lasers and others by traditional
Chinese ice lanterns. Although sculptures can be seen throughout
the city, the largest ones are on display in two exhibit areas: Sun
Island, across the Songhua River, and Ice and Snow World, a
Disney-like area with full-size buildings constructed from blocks
of ice cut out of the frozen river.
This year’s ice structures include replicas of New York City’s
Empire State Building, Rome’s Colosseum and Reykjavik’s
Hallgrimskirkja Church, along with the Great Wall of China,
according to a story by Mark Johanson in
International Business Times, which includes colorful photos
Interest in Harbin as a winter destination grew during the 1970s
and early ’80s, when tourists began flocking to the city from all
over China to see the locally produced ice lanterns and sculptures
and to participate in winter sports, according to the Ice
Festival Harbin website. After approval by the municipal and
provincial governments, the festival was officially launched in
1985 and approved to begin on Jan. 5 of each year.
Paul Souders of Seattle won the Grand Prize in the latest
National Wildlife Federation photo contest. His entry was an
amazing shot of a polar bear peering up at him from beneath the
water in Hudson Bay.
Paul Souders’ winning
During the summer of 2012, Souders gathered together 500 pounds
of gear, including a Zodiac boat and outboard motor, as he explains
in his blog. He hauled the equipment 1,800 miles from his home in
Seattle to the end of the road in Thompson, Manitoba, Canada. Then
he continued on by train another 600 miles to Churchill, Manitoba,
all so he could take his time on the water, aiming to get the best
Souders spent days in the Zodiac, waiting and watching before
this female bear presented herself — and then he continued to wait
to make her comfortable with him.
“Maybe that’s why this image feels so much like a gift,” Souders
writes. “Having come so far and worked so hard to find this one
special bear, tolerant of my presence, curious but not
He first thought his best shot was the moment the bear raised
her head out of the water. Later, when he looked at his images, he
realized he had an even better one. The bear had been watching him
from underwater as he waited, and that was winning shot.
Souders and his bear photo also won a top prize in the Wildlife
Photographer of the Year contest, co-sponsored by the Natural
History Museum of London and BBC Worldwide. The category was
“Animals in their Environment.” See all the winning photos on the
website of the
Natural History Museum. Details of that competition, which will
take new entries for 2014 starting today, can be found on the
As for the National Wildlife Federation contest, that
competition is now in its 43rd year. Associated with “National
Wildlife” magazine, the contest received some 43,000 entries during
2013. The slide show below shows the top winners. You may also wish
to read the
stories behind the photos.
Frank Sanders is an experienced hunting and fishing guide, yet
he screamed with excitement when he reeled in his fishing line to
find a killer whale at the other end.
The video, posted two weeks ago by Frank’s deckhand Charlie
Barberini, has been viewed more than 800,000 times on YouTube. That
doesn’t count the number of times people watched the original
post and videos copied from the original.
The video has raised numerous questions, such as why Frank is
showing his ring to the camera and looking for someone named Jason.
I was able to reach Frank in Hawaii, where he was on a fishing
trip, and he filled in some of the blanks.
Frank, Charlie and others were fishing for halibut near
Ninilchik in Cook Inlet in Southern Alaska. They had seen a couple
killer whales go by a few times but not close to the boat. I think
Frank told me the orcas were eating sockeye salmon that were in the
area. Suddenly, out of the depths, a killer whale appeared
following the fish on his line.
You need only to see and hear the video to know how much
excitement that generated.
Frank told me the orca did not appear to want the fish. It was
playing with the fishermen in the boat, grabbing the fish, pulling
the line out about 200 yards, then bringing it back. The whale
circled the boat a few times, he said, tangling fishing lines
played out from other poles. This went on for at least 10 minutes
before the whale went on his way.
The whale, of course, had the strength to bite the fish through
and take it away or snap the line any time he chose, Frank said.
But it didn’t.
About his ring, Frank explained that he travels a lot for his
business, Alaska Trophy Hunters. In fact, he is away from his wife
about as much as he is with her, so he sends her hunting and
fishing pictures from all over Alaska and displays his ring for
As for Jason, I didn’t get the full story, but I heard enough to
understand that this, too, was an inside message. Jason is Frank’s
best friend and the best man at his wedding. Jason was in a
four-wheeler accident and suffered a severe brain injury. He was in
a coma for a month but then was getting better. Jason set up a
personal website on “Caring Bridge” to share information back and
forth with his friends and family. Frank wanted Jason to understand
that he was thinking about him during this adventure and was
showing him a special bracelet they shared. Unfortunately, Jason
suffered a stroke and may not pull through. (Update, June 24,
11 a.m.: I just received word from Frank this morning that Jason
passed away yesterday.)
After the video was posted, Frank reportedly told reporter Lydia
Warren of London’s
“Fishing gets kind of repetitive after 18 years, but this is one
of the most exciting things that has happened to me.”
“The real show came at the end of the day when we got to Edmonds
and started to see a bright orange Noctiluca bloom. It was huge! It
persisted all the way to South East Passage. It was the most
extensive bloom I have ever seen. Every direction you looked, there
it was. It’s as if Puget Sound was on fire!
“The size of this bloom made me wonder … Why is it happening in
the Main Basin and not in South Sound? Why is it happening again?
Why don’t we know more about its appearance and ferocious appetite
for phytoplankton? Could it be that our imprint on Puget Sound is
artfully surfacing to remind us of our daily connection to the
Sound? Could these large blooms be a clue of a shift in the food
The report provides all kinds of good information, which I will
review more carefully when I get the chance. General observations
include red-brown blooms in Port Townsend Bay, Discovery Bay and
Bellingham Bay. Large mats of accumulated plankton were seen in
Samish Bay. Clusters of jellyfish were spotted in Budd, Totten and
Eld Inlets, all in South Puget Sound.
EOPS provides aerial observations of sea surface conditions
between landings, when water is sampled for a variety of
conditions. Weather and general oceanographic conditions also are
reported after each flight.