Kelp Greenlings Bring Forth New Life
Kelp Greenling Eggs in Puget Sound
The Greenling family (Hexagrammidae) in Puget Sound is made up of primarily five animals. The Lingcod is the largest and most recognizable, but also included are the Painted, Rock, White Spotted and Kelp Greenling (Hexagrammos decagrammus).
Both female and male are beautiful and colorful. The female (image to left) has yellow dorsal, pectoral and tail fins. Her color pattern is freckled with yellow spots on her silver body. The male is darker with fewer and larger blueish spots, usually on the front half of his body.
I love to observe and photograph Kelp Greenlings. They are flighty and skittish, which makes it difficult to get within six feet. For a photographer six feet may as well be sixty feet in Puget Sound. Much of the time we have a great abundance of backscatter (floating particulate matter) in the water column.
In learning about these animals, it seems the male will typically entice one or more females to lay her eggs in a protected area. Usually an empty barnacle shell or something similar. Then he'll fertilize and guard the eggs. Like other species of fish, such as Sculpins for instance, the male will guard the eggs during development.
I've been monitoring a patch of eggs on some recent dives. On each visit to the egg mass, I am visited by the agitated male. His behavior is to demonstrate to me that he is protecting his eggs. Although he never attacked me, it was clear I was in his territory. With regard to the eggs mass, I could clearly view different colored patches of eggs, probably from at least one other female Greenling.
The first image I shot below (far left) was early in the incubation period. Only a few of the larvae have begun to develop eyes. Just one month later I witnessed substantial development. The larvae now have very clearly defined eyes. Many have developed spots on their bodies. It almost looks as though you can differentiate the males from the females. All of these macro shots were taken with my Canon 5D Mark III. I only shoot with Canon glass, and these were shot with my 100 mm lens. The forth shot was taken using my Nauticam 'Super Macro' Converter. With this +12 diopter it's very easy to see the advanced development i'm referring too.
I am hoping our northwest winter weather will allow me the opportunity to revisit these eggs to witness and photograph the birth of a few hundred new Kelp Greenlings.
'Made In Puget Sound' Productions is giving back on #GivingTuesday
I have been an avid scuba diver for more than five years and have made some amazing contacts in the diving and photography community. In early 2014, I started 'Puget Sound Photography Underwater'. It has been a fun and rewarding experience. I'm looking forward to 2015 and where this journey will take me and my business. Since starting my business, I have researched the best ways to support local organizations that are doing important work in and for the community and the environment. For three years #GivingTuesday has been the global response to all the crazy frenzy that happens every year to kick off the holiday season. I am very pleased that I've been successful enough to give back to not one, not two, but three great organizations.
"The Whale Museum, located in beautiful Friday Harbor, Washington, was opened to the public in 1979 as the first museum in the country devoted to a species living in the wild." Besides educational and naturalist programs, and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, The Whale Museum is successful at promoting the stewardship of the Salish Sea and our endangered local Southern Resident Orca population. I am proud to promote the fine work of the individuals associated with the Museum. Puget Sound Photography Underwater is proud to donate to Jenny Atkinson, Executive Director at the Museum, a 16"x20" 'Giclée Print on Metal'. The photo is of a 'Decorated Warbonnet' that was shot in Puget Sound.. These animals are somewhat rare and rather difficult to find and photograph. This image was part of my first prints and is one of my personal favorites.
Almost four years ago I began as a volunteer interpreter in the Life on the Edge exhibit at the Seattle Aquarium. Just about every Monday morning for the past few years when asked "How are you today?" I respond "Well it's Monday morning and we're at the Seattle Aquarium, whats better than that?". The Aquarium provides volunteers a wonderful and well rounded education of the Puget Sound, its tributaries, animals, plants and much, much more. I highly recommend to anyone with some time, give some of that time to the Aquarium. The staff, biologists, and curators are all incredibly supportive of the many hundreds of volunteers that give so much of their time to this great organization. For the last couple years, I've been a volunteer with the 'Cold Water Life Sciences' team. This provides me with up close and personal exposure to the display animals that I dive with and photograph in the wild every week. I enjoy learning from and working with the many great Marine Biologists there. This year I have produced a beautiful 15 month Calendar, five of which I am proud to donate to Bob Davidson, President and CEO of the Seattle Aquarium.
Reef.org has been doing very important work for years attempting to conserve marine ecosystems. Janna Nichols is the regional representative who has also helped educate me on local Rockfish and other species. I've donated five of my beautiful 2015 'Made In Puget Sound' 15 month Calendars to Reef.org.
A few weeks ago I also donated some of my beautiful 'Ready to Hang Fine Art' to the Western Society of Naturalists. You can read more about this group in a blog below.
I hope you have a chance to give in your own way on #GivingTuesday or on any day.
Drew Collins professional underwater photographer and environmentalist living and diving primarily in the beautiful Emerald green waters of Puget Sound near Seattle, Washington.