Marine Mammals in The Right Blue

New Zealand Fur Seal (Arctocephalus forsteri)Marine mammals are warm-blooded animals that either live all or most of their lives in the sea, or make their living in the sea. Marine mammals we have had the pleasure to observe up close, and in some cases to dive with, include several species of Cetaceans -- i.e., whales, dolphins and porpoises -- and some Pinnipeds, such as seals.

Here is a directory of articles about marine mammals on The Right Blue:

Sunbathing at Kaikoura - Dec. 10, 2007

Male Fur Seals at Taiaroa Head - December 17, 2007

Tales of Whales: Humpbacks in Hawaii - January 20, 2008

Tales of Whales: Vocal Visitations - January 21, 2008

Tales of Whales: Close Encounters with Humpbacks in Hawaii - January 24, 2008

Humpback whales returning to Hawaii for the winter season - October 31, 2009

Dolphins -- the most intelligent animals in the sea - January 18, 2010

PHOTOS - Cetaceans:

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), photo by Lou Herman - Pacific: Hawaii

PHOTOS - Pinnipeds:

New Zealand Fur Seal (Arctocephalus forsteri), female, basking on the rocks - Pacific: New Zealand

New Zealand Fur Seal (Arctocephalus forsteri), 3 photos, male, swimming on the surface near shore - Pacific: New Zealand


Dolphin Bubble Rings - Dolphins at Orlando's Sea World

Allya, a captive Beluga whale that blows bubble-rings - whales at a Japanese aquarium

Friendly Humpback Whales - whale-watching with the Oceanic Society near the Farallon Islands

Sipadan Turtle Cave: The Video

The story I wrote last month about The Cave Where Turtles Die, at Pulau Sipadan, has turned out to be the most popular story ever published on The Right Blue. I guess it just captured people's imagination.

Now a reader has alerted us to a video of the Sipadan Turtle Cave, produced and posted to YouTube by Dutch diver Paul Vermeulen. It looks to us as though the diver only visited the first chamber of the cave -- or at least that is all he filmed. Watch for shots of the entrance to the cave, shot from inside. Spooky!

(If the video does not play or display properly above, click here to view it on YouTube.)

WW #43 - Scenes from The Right Blue's first year

Not-Quite-Wordless, Special Tuesday/Wednesday Edition

This is Part 2 of our year-end blog birthday review here on The Right Blue. Last week we displayed some of our favorite underwater photos of creatures that live in the sea. This week we are featuring some of our favorite underwater scenery shots from the past year. All of these have appeared as illustrations to our articles over the past year, but have not appeared before as Wordless Wednesday images.

We know that some Wordless Wednesday visitors only come to see the images, not the articles, but just in case you'd like to read the stories, too, we're including a link to the article where each photo first appeared. We hope you enjoy these photos -- all of which are Bobbie's original work.

Please leave a comment to tell us which one you like the best.
(Hover over a photo to read the caption.)

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Sea Birds in The Right Blue

Little Blue PenguinThe young girl in the photo at right is watching a Little Blue Penguin (Eudyptula minor). The little bird, which had been injured, now lives in a managed colony of rescued penguins at the Antarctic Center, Christchurch, New Zealand. We visited the Antarctic Center in December of 2007.

We sometimes forget that sea birds are classified as marine life, and that they play important roles in marine ecosystems. We don't have too many photos and stories about sea birds on The Right Blue, but here they are:

New Zealand's Little Blue Penguins - December 8, 2007

Taiaroa Head on the Otago Peninsula - December 13, 2007


Little Blue Penguins (Eudyptula minor) - Oamaru, New Zealand

White-faced Heron (Ardea novaehollandiae) - Kaikoura, New Zealand

Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi) - Taiaroa Head, New Zealand

Sea Turtles in The Right Blue

Green Sea TurtleWe have noticed that our readers really seem to like stories and photos of sea turtles. In fact, the story called The Cave Where Turtles Die, which we published in June of 2008, has received more traffic than any other single story on The Right Blue since the blog's inception! (Fortunately, most of our turtle stories are not so grim as that one was.)

Here is a directory of articles about sea turtles in The Right Blue:

Here is a directory of sea turtle photos in The Right Blue:

Sea turtle videos on The Right Blue:

Wreck Diving in The Right Blue

wreck divingSome of the most popular stories on The Right Blue have been those about our wreck diving adventures. Those stories and photos not only got good response when we first published them, they have continued to draw a lot of search traffic ever since. (In fact, our series on the wreck of the Salem Express, first published in September of 2007, still gets traffic nearly every single day!)

As a part of our review of The Right Blue's first year, we thought we'd assemble links to all of the wreck diving photos and stories on one page, as a permanent archive. Later, when we publish new wreck diving stories, we'll add them to the list on this page.

Here is a directory of wreck diving stories and photos in The Right Blue, arranged alphabetically by the name of the wreck:

WW #42 - The Right Blue's 1st Birthday Review

Not-Quite-Wordless, Special Tuesday/Wednesday Edition

The Right Blue celebrates its first birthday on July 15, 2008. To mark the occasion, we thought we'd post some of our favorite underwater photos this week and next, as a review. All of these have appeared as illustrations to our articles over the past year, but have not appeared before as Wordless Wednesday images.

We know that some Wordless Wednesday visitors only come to see the images, not the articles, but just in case you'd like to read the stories, too, we're including a link to the article where each photo first appeared. We hope you enjoy these photos -- all of which are Bobbie's original work.

Please leave a comment to tell us which one you like the best.

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The Right Blue's First Birthday

Bispira brunneaThe Right Blue has a birthday coming up this week. Launched on July 15, 2007, The Right Blue is now one year old. To celebrate the blog's first year, we thought it would be fun to present a review of some highlights of the past 12 months, which we will do during the coming week.

By the way, we chose the photo at right for this birthday post because we thought it looked festive -- like a party favor. [Click on the photo to enlarge.]

Bobbie shot this macro photo of Social Feather Dusters (Bispira brunnea) off West Caicos, in the Turks and Caicos Islands. In case you are wondering about these creatures, they are annelid worms. They live inside those calcareous tubes, which they secrete, and they feed by extending those fluffy 'feather duster' parts to catch particles. You can see that some of the worms have retracted their 'feathers' into their tubes. (They're going to miss the birthday party!)

So then, back to the year-end review. Some of our regular readers have been with us since The Right Blue began, but we know we have acquired many new readers along the way, too. Some of those newer readers may not know much of the background about who we are, and how The Right Blue came to be. As a review, here are a few links to articles that will serve to explain some things about us, and about the project that came to be called The Right Blue:

About 'The Right Blue' - July 15, 2007

Prologue: How 'The Right Blue' project came about - July 16, 2007

Prologue: Our training as divers - July 20, 2007

Prologue: The supporting cast - August 1, 2007

Learning underwater photography -- The easy parts - August 5, 2007

Since you've asked: Answers to readers' questions - November 1, 2007

More to follow - including a collection of some of our favorite photos from The Right Blue, which we will post for Wordless Wednesday, this week and next.

Sipadan Island - Being there, Part 3

by B. N. Sullivan

Malaysian fishermenThis is the third in a multi-article series about Pulau Sipadan, a magical dive destination off the coast of Borneo. If you have read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, you know that the accommodations at the 'resorts' on Pulau Sipadan in 1993 were rather spartan. One thing that was not lacking, however, was excellent food.

There are trade-offs inherent in traveling to remote locations such as Pulau Sipadan to dive. The more remote the destination, the more likely it is that the underwater environment will be relatively unspoiled. At the same time, less developed destinations are likely to entail certain privations. In the previous articles, for example, I described the lodging and bathing facilities at Sipadan Island, which were rather spare.

Facilities for traveling divers usually offer all-inclusive packages -- lodging, diving, and meals. In fact, at more remote spots like Pulau Sipadan, there is no other option. There are no off-site restaurants or snack bars. It's a case of eat whatever they provide, or don't eat at all.

Traveling divers tend to be a hungry lot. During stays at dedicated dive resorts, and on live-aboard dive boats, it is not unusual to make five dives every day. All that physical activity can really work up an appetite! God forbid you are stuck at a place that has lousy or insufficient food when there is no alternative place to eat.

Like many other traveling divers, we learned to take along some food items on these trips -- peanut butter, canned tuna, packets of dried soups, etc. It's impossible to haul enough food to live on for ten days, but there were times when we dipped into those supplies to supplement for sparse meals, or when the food offered was, erm, unappetizing. (Don't get me started on some of the weird things we have eaten while ensconced at some of these places!)

Fortunately food was not a problem at Sipadan. In fact, the daily mealtime offerings at Pulau Sipadan Resort (PSR) were nothing short of amazing, especially in light of the fact that every tidbit had to be imported, and the kitchen facilities were as basic as the rest of the accommodations.

A highlight of each day was the dinner buffet, although I should note that it helped if you liked fish and other seafood. Each day, local fishermen paddling open canoes would arrive at the beach to sell their catch. (See photo at the top of this page.) The cooks would go down to the water's edge to bargain with the fishermen, and soon we would see them carrying fresh fish -- often still flapping -- back to the kitchen to prepare for what we all called The Catch of the Day Buffet.

Depending on which kind of fish the cooks bought from the fishermen, we had baked fish, poached fish, fried fish, fish with sauce, fish curry -- you get the idea -- and it was all very good. Along with the fish dish, the buffet always had homemade soup, big bowls of rice and steamed vegetables, and lots of fresh fruit. We never, ever went to bed hungry.

big fishOne day in particular, we all felt like we had hit the jackpot. The fishermen arrived with a very large billfish lashed to the side of their (nearly swamped) canoe. Considering that these fishermen had no tackle except hand lines, it seemed inconceivable that they could have caught such a fish, but they had. That's Jerry posing with the fish in the photo at left. To give you an idea of just how big that fish was, I should mention that Jerry is six feet tall.

I'm sure that such a prize fish must have fetched quite a sum for the fishermen, but the guests and staff at PSR were the real winners. With limited refrigeration (run on a portable generator), it was necessary to eat as much of the fish as we could, as soon as we could. What a feast we all had that evening and the next.

As a main course, we had grilled steaks from that big fish. There was so much of it that everyone was encouraged to have second and third helpings: better to eat it than to let it spoil for lack of refrigerated storage. Some of the choicest flesh of the big fish was sliced up for sashimi.

About two thirds of the divers staying at PSR at the time were Westerners -- mostly Europeans, plus the two of us Americans. The rest were Asian nationalities, as were most of the staff. When one of the cooks brought out a huge, heaping platter of sashimi, Jerry's eyes lit up. One of the British divers, a new arrival on the island, asked, "What the &$%@ is that??"

"Sashimi," Jerry told him. "You know, raw fish." The Brit made an awful face, shuddered, and walked away muttering something about cat food.

None of the other Europeans seemed interested in the sashimi either, but we lined up with all of the Asians to take our turn at the sashimi platter. When we got to the table and held out our plates, the server asked us, "Aren't you guys Americans?" We nodded yes. "Americans like sashimi??" he asked with raised eyebrows -- and then added, "I don't think so."

"We're from Hawaii," Jerry told him, as if that explained everything. Turned out it did.

"Oh, I see," said the server with a knowing grin. "So you're used to Asian food then." He heaped big slabs of the glistening sashimi onto our plates, while another server handed each of us a small bowl of shoyu and wasabi. It was a heavenly treat. We went back for seconds and thirds of that!

It turned out that the poor Brit who apparently found the thought of sashimi so distasteful didn't much like fish to begin with, much less raw fish. The servers noticed that he took none of the fish -- only rice and vegetables and fruit. One of them sprinted back to the kitchen, and returned about 15 minutes later with a plate. On the plate sat a grilled pork chop. He set it down in front of the Englishman, announcing, "Special for you."

For the rest of his stay at Sipadan, the non-fish eating diver was served a pork chop or a sausage every day. How can you quibble with hospitality like that?