Just below the surface

I spent the last 10 days in Canada, most of that on Salt Spring Island, the largest of the Canadian Gulf Islands.  According to the guide books, there are about 225 islands in the group — some are so teeny they are little more than navigation hazards.  Salt Spring boasts a year-round population of about 10,000 and supplements its natural beauty with an amazing array of resident artisans working in wood, clay, and textiles.  (Not to mention the artisanal bakers, cheesemakers, and organic farmers!)

The waters of the Strait of Georgia are teeming with marine life.  It’s not unusual to see orcas frolicking in the distance while you’re on the ferry, or seals joining the hubbub in the harbors.  When the tide goes out, you can see the sand dollar beds, watch the itty-bitty crabs scurry around, or — if you’re really lucky — marvel at the weirdness of a moon snail.  (Just be careful where you stand, or you’ll get squirted by the clams that haven’t yet fallen prey to the moon snails.)  There are numerous starfish, in contrasting coral and purple, and then there are the jellyfish — purply-brown and the size of a dinner plate.

I was wandering around Fulford Harbor at the south end of the island, and saw a couple of these jellyfish swimming just at the surface.  They’re fascinating to watch, changing from perfectly round to an eight-pointed star and back again as they propel themselves from place to place.

I didn’t have my polarizing filter with me when I took this shot, but the jelly was so close to the surface you can actually make out a great deal of detail, and the reflected light creates an abstract effect that’s quite striking.

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~ by Shelly F. Cohen on 24 August 2009.

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