ʀᴀʟᴘʜ ᴘᴀᴄᴇ
ʀᴀʟᴘʜ ᴘᴀᴄᴇ
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ʀᴀʟᴘʜ ᴘᴀᴄᴇ's Posts

A blue whale, the largest animal to ever live, off the coast of Monterey, CA. How did these giants get so… giant? Well, they weren’t always this big. In fact, the first whale, Pakicetus, was a secondary marine mammal (meaning they left the sea and later returned) some 50 million years ago and was only 6 feet in length. Now thats a bit short of the giant blue whale that can reach roughly 100 feet. From 50-40 million years ago, whales traded their fore legs for flippers. A huge diversity of whales came in the next 35 million years and whales now had baleen to filter feed and not just teeth. These baleen whales were easy prey for larger sharks that roamed the oceans at the time. It wasn’t until some 3 million years ago, that an ice age threw the whales a bone by changing sea temps and currents. There was now an influx of plankton and krill, a baleen whales all-you-can-eat buffet. They grew larger and thus could travel even further to find more food that would in turn make them even larger. Hence the massive migrations of the whales. But, this may spark the question, will they ever stop growing? Some scientists say yes. When a 109 ft blue whale opens its mouth to feed, the volume of water is enough to fill a large living room. It can take roughly 10 seconds to close their mouth. Scientists estimate that once a whale is 110 ft, it may take too long for the whale to close it’s mouth and the prey is able to escape. So, it seems they may have reached a maximum length or the largest animals that will ever exist. Yay for evolution, yay for science.
A green sea turtle resting in her mighty kingdom off La Jolla, CA. An uptown girl indeed. Enjoy your Friday... the 13th!
300 lb bluefin tuna off the coast of Baja Mexico. Nothing short of spectacular.
First light on an angry sea. Mendocino coast.
Happy holidays you fine humans. May your dreams come true.
A baby humpback whale comes in for a closer look while working with @whaletrustmaui in the AuAu Channel. NMFS permit # 19225
I always kinda find it funny as mammals that enter the ocean for just a brief moment we are so picky about our big moment. But, the marine mammals that make a living out there don’t care. Big swells and raging winter oceans don’t keep the grumbling bellies at bay. So there I was in less than optimal photo conditions and this lil lass popped into say hi. Making an otherwise forgettable quite enjoyable. Shout out to @backscattervideophoto for getting me sorted with the new camera setup.
Happy new year y’all! Live the dream, never grow up and always trust your cape. Image taken under NMFS permit # 19225 with @whaletrustmaui
Seems like the whole world is a bit upside down right now with missiles flying, Oz burning and countless other political nightmares. Keep your heads up and do some good. The world needs it.
Excited to be making our annual migration back to Maui to join our @whaletrustmaui family. Looking forward to the science, the stories and getting another brief glimpse into the lives of humpback whales. NMFS permit # 19225.
Last bit of kelp diving for a while. When this place is on, it’s better than anywhere else in the world. Short window of good water between the swells but there was no shortage of fish, blue water, or spicey exits in the pounding beach break. Lil frame grab from some video I shot and looking forward to sitting down to look at some images.
Pacific sea nettles and blue rockfish clog the waters of a bull kelp forest. Nettles are there to eat plankton, small fishes and crustaceans that inhabit the kelp. The blue rockfish are there to eat the nettles. All part of the amazing kelp forest ecology. The kelp ecosystem has been severely thrown out of balance due to a changing ocean. Great to be on the trail for @nature_org.
A mother nestles her calf in the shallows of the AuAu channel. Image taken with @whaletrustmaui under NMFS permit # 19225
A shortfin mako shark hooked off the coast of S. California last year. Makos were recently listed as Appendix II by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This listing makes the international trade of makos harder which could help some populations that have been greatly affected by exporting fins to foreign markets for shark fin soup but has no affect on domestic markets or artisanal fleets.
A juvenile green turtle cruises a shallow reef off of San Diego, CA. Green turtles are once again regulars in SoCal after decades of binational conservation efforts in Mexico and the United States. Happy to be on the turtle trail again and look forward to sharing some work in the coming months.
Cheers to another lap with this fun having, adventure chasing, baby wranglin’ wild child. Making the hard look easy and the dirty seem graceful. Easily the greatest adventure of my life. Photos: @loveisabigdeal
At high noon, the sun’s rays are no match for the super red tide that consumes the top 20 ft of the water column. Blocking almost all available light and producing an eerie orangish water hue it was quite the experience swimming around with swarms of these 10 ft alien-like nettles. The bay is absolutely fantastic at the moment.
A pair of breath holding (male/female) humpbacks rest in the waters of the Auau Channel off Maui, HI. Worldwide humpbacks are loved for their acrobatic leaps, their social lunge feeding behaviors, lovely whale songs, and their testosterone driven active groups. But, much of my time observing them, particularly so in Hawaii, the whales are simply conserving energy. Like these breathe holders, who stayed down for nearly 30 minutes. What they are thinking or doing we may never know but my favorite guess yet.... “reciting telepathic love poems” image taken under NMFS permit # 19225 with @whaletrustmaui
Cheers to the legend you are. Cheers to not being an asshole, and cheers to dealing with me when I was one. Cheers to jumping off the garage. Cheers to always trusting your cape. Cheers to being my fucking hero. Cheers to understanding that using the left was as important as the right. To collecting cans and returning arrows when the count was off. To knowing you were only as good you acted, smart as you taught and as good of a father as you did. Cheers to noticing the light as it dappled the river. The grain that pointed inwards. The boards that were backward. ... Cheers to knowing the importance of the mud between your toes, the smell of cutting grass, the touch of the earth, the freedom of dipping in the Hazel. Cheers to the warm slide on a fresh duck egg. Cheers to crafting with your hands. Things that you can feel. Things that are real. To sharing it with the world. Cheers to teaching us. Cheers to not fixing the leg. I always thought we’d have another chance. A few more spins on the lathe, a few more fucks said aloud. Cheers to being able to say fuck with the best of them. Cheers for teaching me. Cheers to driving the open road. Cheers to the fun of throwing a line without a fly. To spoiling long walks while trying to dodge gopher holes. To coffee in bowls, wine in sailor jars, walking to the end of the world and understanding no place is more important than where you are. Cheers to being at your best in a vast field running wide open. Thanks for letting us be part of the ride. I’ll never forget the sunset salt, poor pregame diets, milk for stomach aches, gasoline on ivy and the importance of the gentle caress on the downshift. Thanks to giving me life, the hard head and curiosity of the wild world. To showing me what a big heart feels like and how to wear it on the sleeve. Cheers to not giving a fuck. To sawdust in your hair. Cheers to winning the dirtiest car two weeks in a row. Cheers to giving away the wash. To understanding it was more important to be you, than to fit the mold. Cheers to understanding the value of conversations, connection and being human. Thanks for not understanding technology, I loved the extra calls. **more below**
I spent the better half of this last month working off the coast of California. The state I am fortunate to call home. I worked in the north with scientists and engaged locals who are trying to combat catastrophic kelp loss. Documented leatherback turtles that migrated over 9000 miles to our coast in search of food. Swam with swordfish. Swam with opah. Motored from San Diego to Monterey and fished all between. We spent a lot of time dodging bad weather and rough seas but in that time we saw some amazing things. California’s wildfires and heavy winds have pushed huge amounts of smoke offshore and made for some strange and eerie environments. We got to see a group of unknown orcas take down a fin whale, saw some 40 sperm whales together in a large pod, large bluefin feedings, super pods of thousands of common dolphins, humpbacks lunge feeding, countless other marine mammals and more pyrosomes than anyone would want to see in a lifetime. We even saw an owl, an f’ing saw whet owl 40 miles off the coast with a group of sea gulls. Our backyard here in California is as good as in in the world.
Kelps around the world have been harvested for millennia and were likely a mode of migration (Kelp Migration Theory) for the first Americans some 16,000 years ago. Kelps today are used in a variety of ways including direct consumption but also used heavily for their emulsifying agent, algin which bonds together products such as toothpastes, shampoos, cakes, frozen foods and even pharmaceuticals. To meet the need for kelps many countries have began growing kelp species in large farms but huge quantities of wild kelps are still harvested worldwide. Chile is the largest harvested of wild kelps in the world equating to some 400,000 wet tons each year. The product is often then dried, ground up and shipped to Asia where it is a highly sought after commodity. He kelp industry is proving some much needed 30,000 jobs to workers in rural/coastal Chile but there is concern over regulations. Plants are only suppose to be collected from natural mortality in many areas but that is often not the case. As global demands for kelp increase and kelp populations continue to plummet worldwide there will be a need for a global conversation on how to beat manage species.
Monterey Mola Massacre. Last night I was driving 4 hours south after a full day of work up in Bodega Bay when a friend told me the huge swell was washing dead molas up on the beach. When I got back into town I headed down to scour some beaches. Didn’t take long to find loads of dead molas washed up on the beach brought by the last high tide. In this raft there were 11, dozens more spread out on the beach and many more in the surf. The molas are predated on by sea lions that solely rip their fins off... I know, what cute little furry animals those sea lions are. But bottlenose dolphins do the same to harbor porpoise (porpicide) and otters harass everything and we still think their cute. After the molas have their fins ripped off they sit on the bottom of the ocean and are consumed by everything. Huge surf and high tides brought them to town. Strange night.
Dreaming of warmer waters and bigger animals with the @whaletrustmaui crew on this cool California morning. looking forward to another winter of sunshine and science on Maui. Taken under NMFS permit #13846