Monday, April 18, 2011

Never turn your back on the ocean

Never turn your back on the ocean - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

A black-bellied plover, in the middle of transitioning to its summer plumage, along the edge of the water at Pillar Point Harbor.

Updated caption: As many of you have guessed, I intentionally left out the story of this picture to see what reactions it would get. The story is that yes, that is a real shark in the background. It was about a 2-3 foot long leopard shark, which is one of the most common sharks in the coastal areas of CA. It's a sleek, long-bodied shark with a beautiful spotted pattern that will often come into intertidal areas during high tides to feed. Unfortunately, this particular shark was not doing well. It was clearly very near the end of its life, and was getting rolled with the waves at the edge of the shoreline. I normally wouldn't photograph an animal in that condition, but when the plover I was following stopped in front of it I couldn't help but fire off a few shots of this unique composition. On our walk out of the harbor, we saw another related intertidal predator, which was in much better shape -- a bat ray was feeding on the newly covered sediments. It was really fun to watch its two fins break the surface as it flapped its "wings" and cruised along in the shallow water.


  1. more caramel, less chocolate on this one! :)

  2. That is not what it appears to be in the background, is it? What a great capture if so.

  3. If the the beauty and brutality of nature was ever captured in one picture, this is it!

  4. Nice image Pat. What is that thing that looks like a shark fin in the background?

  5. Oh my, Pat.... what a great shot. The delicateness of this bird and looming danger of the shark.

  6. I was admiring the color on the black bellied when I noticed the background. It looks so close to shore! We don't often see the winter feathers on the black bellies here in central Florida.

  7. Incredible capture! Beautiful feathers on the Black-bellied plover. I'm wondering what kind of shark is looming behind the plover ...

  8. Genious Pat

    There has to be a caption for this image....

    "I guess a swim can wait a while...."

  9. Thanks, texwisgirl! Indeed, this one is not quite as dramatic -- it's either a female (which aren't as showy) or has not yet finished the molt.

    Thanks, Sinbad -- as I've added in the updated caption, it is in fact a shark fin.

    Thanks, Springman. Very true!

    Thanks, Lari!

    Thanks, Jim! The thing that looks like a shark fin is indeed a shark fin.

    Thanks, Carol!

    Thanks, Dina! It's a treat to get to see them go through the change here before heading north!

    Thanks, Julie!

    Thanks, Dave! and lol to your great caption -- that's awesome!

    Thanks, John! Right you are!