Tuesday, April 1, 2014

This place we call home . . .

by Kim

"There is hope if people will begin to awaken that spiritual part of themselves,
that heartfelt knowledge that we are caretakers of this planet."
- Brook Medicine Eagle -

Yes, by land, air and by sea . . . we are all caretakers of this place called Earth, you and me. A place that provides us the necessary elements for life.

I suppose besides the other one thousand and one reasons I love my camera, one of the biggest is the ability it gives me to share my passion with others about this beautiful world we live in. 

Ever since I can remember I have loved nature. I played with crawdads in the creek in our backyard and would watch the ants march up and down the peony bushes. I loved planting flowers with my mom in the garden and nurturing the maple trees that I started from the little helicopter seeds.

And the thing is, as much as I would love to travel to Africa, or to the Rainforest, or the Galapagos Islands (oh the list is long) to see exotic animals and to see them in their natural habitat in all their glory, there are just as many interesting things right where we are. Plants, animals, insects, amphibians, birds, etc. that live and co-habitat in the same spaces that we do. 

One of my favorite places is the beach and there is no shortage of things to explore there. And one of the many things that I adore is watching these little gems, called coquina clams migrating up and down the beach with the tide. They are a bivalve mollusk that hangs out in the tidal zones of sandy beaches and when the waves come in and they are exposed they are sometimes carried back by the retreating waves and as the water starts to settle they quickly bury themselves just under the speed of light! They are even able to tell us how healthy our environment is. 

They are an extremely important part of a healthy beach eco-system, and when the sand and water are clean, they will multiply. As filter feeders they are considered an indicator species and are an important link in the food webs. They feed on small particles of algae and are in turn fed upon by fish and shorebirds.

Look closely and you can see their siphons. One is for inhaling food and the other for exhaling waste, and in some you can even see their foot or large muscle that they use to bury themselves with.

"People protect what they love." - Jacques Cousteau

And another favorite of mine....the seaweed. Most of the time it's not met with the same enthusiasm that I have for it and more often than not I hear, "but it's smelly." But, 9 times out of 10 when I'm shaking the seaweed someone will come up and ask me what I'm doing. That's when I get to smile and tell them that almost 100 species of marine life lives in that seaweed (I think I even heard you say wow). In fact, most of the things that do live in it can be found no where else, but exclusive to this seaweed.

The photo below is one of my favorites from my time at the beach. I was trying to capture these little shorebirds but didn't realize that I had also captured this father and son that I had met while at the beach that day. He was one of those people who had asked me why I was shaking the seaweed. He was visiting, and on vacation and was unhappy about all that said seaweed. But when I explained that there were little sea creatures that lived in it, and that it was why the seagulls were so crazy about it, he had a different take on it. Once I was finally able to shake out a couple of sargassum shrimp, he excitedly called over to his son to come check it out. And the next thing I know they were shaking seaweed, and another older gentleman came over to see what was going on. A little later the father found me down the beach a little ways to show me something he had found, and wanted to show me all the other people who were now shaking the seaweed and thanked me for his renewed perspective. It made my heart happy! 

Starting from the top left and going clockwise: The first picture is my record catch of hermit crabs (I might be slightly popular with the younger crowd when at the beach), and of course they are always put back in the ocean where I found them. The next one is an angler fish know as the sargassum frog fish found in the sargassum seaweed. They don't typically make it when the seaweed washes up on the beach, so I have to go out into the water with my kids net inspecting the seaweed (the photo directly below that is also the frog fish). They have appendages that you can only see when they are in the water. Bottom left is an olive shell, and then a sargassum shrimp. There are also sargassum seahorse that live in the seaweed, but I haven't caught any of those yet!

And oh my, who can forget the dolphin, the epitome of grace in the water.

And one of my favorite shorebirds, the brown pelican. It's almost as if I can see their souls in those eyes.

From experience I have found that people warm up to things they may fear when they have some knowledge and understanding . . . which may lead to interest and caring about it . . . which just may lead to loving it.

And . . . people protect what they love!

Today, I have the pleasure of announcing our new monthly theme . . . Earth Day. And although Earth Day is officially on April 22, 2014, we invite you to join us all month long as we celebrate this incredible place we call home. Let's be intentionally mindful this month about educating and encouraging our children as well as each other about what it means to preserve, conserve, and enhance our beautiful mother earth.

Share your images with us in our Flickr pool that show us what earth day means to you along with a brief description and inspire us all to love the diversity!

Love, Kim


Viv@Thoughts from the Desktop said...

Lovely theme I'm looking forward to seeing all the wonderful photographs.

Dotti said...

This is the perfect introduction to our April theme. Thank you, Kim! I think it's going to be a challenging one for our lenses but it's going to be fun and perhaps even educational. What more could we ask for? Oh, yeah ... beautiful photos to go along with it. I think we're up to the task, don't you? Even though most of us don't have the advantage of living near the shore, there are plenty of 'earth day' things around us everywhere ... if we just look.

Sherri B. said...

Kim, your posts are always informative, fascinating, and gorgeous! Thank you so much...it's always such a pleasure to read and see through your nature-loving spirit and lens.

terriporter said...

Wow, I feel like I've just been to the beach and learned a lot in the process! Your photos are always wonderful and really illustrate your love of the ocean and all it contains. As Dotti said, we don't all have the advantage of living near the shore, but I'm sure each of us has something they love about where they live and can teach us all something about that. As much as I love the ocean, I love the desert as well and have made it a point to learn as much about it as I can. I hope to see everyone sharing photos and facts about the part of this planet where they live. Thank you, Kim, for a wonderful and as always informative post!

Anonymous said...

Lovely post, Kim! You are so right about finding beauty and joy right in our own backyard! Probably why I still love "The Wizard of Oz" after all these years! The beauty you capture, when some question "why" is so heartfelt and lifts my spirits everyday! Thanks for sharing!

Honey from the Bee said...

Beautiful post, Kim. It is true- we fear what we don't understand or haven't experienced. That is if we haven't learned that all of those new experiences are filled with lessons to help us grow whether through joy or sadness. I love that olive shell - the colors are incredible!

Cathy said...

You beach treasures are so different than ours out here in the PNW. Lovely post, great photos.

Snap said...

Gorgeous post, Kim. I love brown pelicans, too. Makes me want to live on the Island again! ;)

Katie said...

such an educational post, kim. that first photo stopped me dead in my tracks. gorgeous photos!

Sarah Huizenga said...

Beautiful images and so true that we have so much appreciate right in our own backyard.

kelly said...

my goodness...gorgeous photos kim. and so many fascinating details about the eco-system of your beach. a perfect way to kick of the month. now i'm inspired to go check out a little bit more about the river not far from my house.

Gail Dixon said...

Lovely post, Kim. Thank you for directing me here. The pelican shot is sensational! I can never get good ones of the brown pelican.

Roxi H said...

Beautiful as always..... Love the clams close up, who knew they had siphons? And that is a LOT of seaweed. You are right, knowledge is powerful. The more we understand, the more it becomes a part of us. I can't get enough pelicans...

Michelle B said...

Wow! 100 species live in the seaweed! Your images are absolutely beautiful, but that fact knocked me over. :) I was one of those people who tiptoed over seaweed and stayed as far away from it as possible. Next time I am at a beach I will do some 'seaweed shaking' and let you know what I find.
I truly enjoyed your post and look forward to seeing the images on Flickr.

Unknown said...

Love this post Kim! Wonderful images and wonderful theme for April!!

Liz said...

What a wonderful post, Kim! You are so true about perspectives changing when more knowledge or insight is gained.
For me, my whole perspective on nature changed when I bought a camera 2.5 years ago and was able to capture nature from so many different perspectives. :)

Sue said...

What magical photos. I felt that I was right down at the seas edge with you! Magic.
As for seaweed, I love to eat it. However I think I will give it a shake first!

Linda/patchwork said...

Love your photos.
From a past post of yours, I learned about the life in seaweed.
Nature is amazing.

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