Cloud street.

I have somehow lost the photograph I wrote this about, so this image will have to do...

I have never really had a soft spot for clouds but these last three years, since living in the north west, my appreciation for these masses of water drops suspended in the atmosphere has grown. So intricate, so many layers and ever changing. The colours so varied some appear to have not previously existed. Such incredible forms for what is merely water vapour condensing in the sky into crystals so tiny they can stay suspended in the atmosphere. That's until enough water molecules condense together for gravity to take hold and force it downward in the atmosphere as a drop of rain. But clouds or rain, I don't mind, both a treat up here.

Posted on February 22, 2017 .

Wallowing.

Whale shark season is almost here and it won't be long until these giant spotty wallowers will be cruising up and down the Ningaloo. Despite the thousands of teeth inside of their huuuge mouths, these teeth play no part in them feeding and they instead feed via filter feeding and expelling water through the gills 💦 Whalesharks are thought to reach maturity at around 30 years and live for 70 to 100 years. There is still a little mystery surrounding their reproduction, but it is known that whaleshark are ovoviviparous, meaning that they do have eggs but these eggs stay inside of the mother until the pups are fully developed. The eggs will then hatch inside of the mother and the pups keep receiving nutrients until they are fully formed and ready to be given birth to. This means that whale sharks do not give birth to all pups at once, but rather give birth to a steady stream of pups over a prolonged period of time. Wild.

Posted on February 22, 2017 .

Friday's front.

Almost every evening for the past two weeks we have had the most incredible tropical fronts. Climbing and expanding, tendrils reaching skyward, multiplying out of nothing, exponential growth. Cumulus versus cumulus, seemingly trying to outdo one another. All of this the encore for a high energy lightning show that doesn’t seem to tire. Continuous flickering, a slow motion strobe, a grandma disco in the sky. Forks reaching as far as they dare, splitting the sky, lighting the night. Forked reflections parting the ocean with each strike.

Rather than a flash, flicker and tease from the opposite side of the gulf, the front decided to pay us a visit tonight. 
And into the still sticky afternoon it strolled. So many shades of grey, layer upon layer, all out to consume the piercing blue of our late afternoon sky. Low white tendrils of fluffy cloud reaching ground ward, stirring the red dust and egging it skyward. Luscious layers, a giant cake of cloud spinning and rolling and encasing the sky. The eerie stillness suddenly whipped away as the fresh cold front licked the skin. Trees bent and leaves blew, dust to the eyes, shade sails alive. Birds caught unaware mid flight. Clouds of red dust spinning and spiralling above the town. The light fading fast as the front caught the sun. The rush of the wind, the rumble high above, all eyes up hoping for rain. Then the flashes begun. Sheets, forks and chains, it was all there. Slicing the sky, competing with the fading light. Begging for attention as chains of light linked from horizon to horizon. So bright the stars of the show were imprinted on the eyes.

But after all of this do you think we got rain? About three drops of the bloody stuff. Photo by the talented local behind the lens Scott Thomson.

Posted on February 22, 2017 .

Mamma turtle tracks

A track from yesterday morning's meander ... I think she's a Hawksbill but could possibly be a Flatback. Either one is great news as Hawksbill turtles are listed as critically endangered and Flatbacks we don't get to see very often around here! The most common turtles we see here are the Green sea turtle (whose tracks look like a single tractor wheel track as she moves both front flippers in unison when pulling herself up the beach) and Loggerheads turtles (whose tracks look similar to the one above with right and left flippers moving alternately but without the tail drag and much larger). Hawksbill turtles are endangered not because of being hunted for their flesh (which is actually poisonous to humans) but because of being hunted for their shell, which is the classic turtle shell pattern. When you see combs, sunnies or jewellery that are genuine turtle shell, they have most likely been made from the shell of a Hawksbill turtle. By most estimates there are approximately only 20,000 female Hawksbills left in the world! So it is really special that we still have them visiting the Ningaloo and further north along the coast to nest every year.

Posted on February 22, 2017 .

This moody ocean of ours.

I had never seen a glass off extend so far out to sea and then disappear so quickly. In a matter of minutes the mirror of the sky was gone, the haze on the horizon had sent a ripple across the surface, tainting the glass and sweeping specks of white in from the south west. White caps were on the way. The glassy ankle high waves that were peeling along the shore had turned to waist high onshore slop with spray that stung the eyes. The turquoise water that held turtles and striped fish flitting around the shallows had been replaced by a turbid dark abyss and white foam being flung shore ward. The eerie stillness was gone, the gentle air now a strong salty sea breeze that filled the nostrils, stole my hat and left a sticky damp on the skin. How quickly things can change for this moody ocean of ours, certainly one to respect... 

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Posted on January 31, 2017 .

W I N N E R D A M P I E R A R T A W A R D S

• 1 S T • P R I Z E • D A M P I E R • A R T • A W A R D S • 'Home is where the heart is' category.... Couldn't be more stoked. Thanks Dampier Community Association for such a great event! Exhibition now over, this hermit crab is on the loose 75cm x 75cm • Framed• $485 plus freight. email hello@eleanorkillenart.com for details.

Posted on November 11, 2015 .

Squid

Masters of camouflage, Squid have special cells just under their skin surface which enable them to blend into their surroundings. One group of these special cells are called ‘Chromatophores’. At the centre of each chromatophore is an elastic sac full of pigment (brown, black, orange, red or yellow). The pigment sac is surrounded by muscles and nerves that expand (contraction) or contract (relaxed) the sac, allowing the skin to display a different colour.

Posted on October 21, 2015 .

Manta ray

Despite being up to 7m in width, manta rays are completely harmless to humans with a non-functioning tail spine and 300 useless little teeth. Rather than preying on unassuming snorkellers, mantas are filter feeders with their standard diet consisting of crustaceans, plankton and small fis.

Posted on October 21, 2015 .

Octopus

Octopus are part of the cephalapod family. They are quite special in the way that they reproduce.  Male octopus have what's called a hectocotylus which is one of his arms that is modified to be able to store and then release spermatophores (octopus swimmers) which go on to fertilise the female's eggs. Males generally form a new hectocotylus in each new season.

Posted on September 7, 2015 .

Green turtle hatchling

Green turtles are quite interesting in that their diet changes as they grow from juvenile to adult. Juveniles are omnivores and feed on invertebrates like crabs, jellyfish and sponges whereas adults are herbivores and feed on sea grasses and algae. This change in diet and move from offshore to inshore waters to find food can sometimes stress out the turtle and result in the early death of it. In the north west of Australia we often find green turtles of 4-5 years age washed up on the shores because of this reason.   

Posted on September 7, 2015 .