Blog Entry May 31, 2013
Going away this weekend so gotta keep it short, but some really awesome news. My footage of George the Alligator’s sneak attack on another gator is being featured on the nationally syndicated newsmagazine show “Right This Minute” all weekend long! Pretty cool, eh? If you’re in the South Florida area it will air this Saturday night at 11:30 p.m. on WPLG Channel 10. Follow the link below to watch it online:
Blog Entry|May 27, 2013
I observed quite a bit of activity at Loxahatchee this weekend and the above photo was taken there this past weekend. It’s ironic that when I’m set up for video I see a lot of action and things that would make awesome shots and when I’m in photo mode I see things that would make great video. It’s a tough choice sometimes but when I’m there to film I have to stick to my plan. Although I will sometimes grab the camera if there’s enough time and fire off a few exposures.
I can’t complain about it though because I did film some amazing behavior of George performing his signature sneak attack scare tactic on another alligator on Saturday. When another alligator gets to close he submerges and basically scares the living crap out of the unsuspecting gator by emerging right next to the other gator. Now George could have easily taken out the other alligator in this video but he didn’t, he just wants to show he’s the boss which he did quite effectively. Check out the video below and I’ll see you back here Wednesday for the travel blog. I promise this time! For real.
If you watch until the end you can see it unfold in slow motion and get an idea of how he scares but doesn’t actually hurt the other gator. Also be sure to turn off the site music using the music player controls on the sidebar. BTW I just couldn’t resist using the “Jaws”theme…
A twelve foot alligator named George executes a surprise attack on another gator getting too close to his territory. I’ve seen him do this a few times and he never hurts the other gator. He just likes to show who’s the boss…
Blog Entry|May 18, 2013
Before I get started I wanted to share a little personal info with you. When I was between the ages of two and four my father was stationed in Iran. He was an officer and we had to travel frequently and although I don’t remember much of these years, I do have some memories of the house and garden. I found some old slides which I converted and I find it amusing to note that I had a blow-up alligator in the pool with me LOL.
Never underestimate the importance of flossing:
Spending the weekend in the swamps filming Birth of a Predator came with it’s rewards…and also a price. On the good side I did manage to get some footage of alligators bellowing, and not just ANY alligator bellowing, but none other than George! Mating season is in full swing out in the Everglades and I’ve been trying to get out every morning to film this really cool behavior. The months of April and May are mating season for alligators so I only have a couple more weeks to get more bellowing even though I probably have enough at this point for the film. Then it’s time to start looking for alligator nests! On the downside I have about ten really bad horsefly bites on my hands from hanging out in the wet areas and boy do they hurt! All in a day’s work I guess…
I also found a mother alligator at Loxahatchee (which is the area I got most of the bites from) with some babies from last year. She’s keeping in a pretty safe spot which may account for the large numbers of babies that are still surviving. Baby alligators are vulnerable to many things including large birds. turtles, and even other alligators. So a secluded spot was a smart choice for this mother.
Almost forgot to mention that my friend Bill Gozansky has a brand new nature and photography app on iTunes, it’s a great resource for any beginning to intermediate photographer. Stay tuned for The Bucket List Travel Blog on Wednesday right here in the Grotto and again on Friday where I’ll be posting a video which explains why I don’t like filming in public wildlife reserves If you haven’t already, check out “Hunt for the Supertwister” which is still playing in the screening room. See you on Wednesday for the travel blog and another unique destination!
I’ll leave you with a video of George performing for the cameras, have a great rest of the weekend!
Blog Entry|April 24, 2013
When I do my travel blog here on Wednesdays, many of the places I write about seem to be out of the way exotic destinations so for today’s travel blog I’ve decided to bring it a little closer to home. Today’s destination is Mexico. Yup. Right in our own backyard! Very easy to get to and even easier to afford. Of course I live in Florida which is fairly close to Mexico and only a short flight away but even still…it’s much closer than most of my features here.
Mexico is one of the most popular tourist destinations on earth. While much of the tourist trade is centered around the beaches, Mexico has so much more to offer. For starters there is Chichen Itza which is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Closer to Mexico City is Teotihuacan which is home to several large pyramids and Coba is another fascinating destination which is a Mayan city near and around two lagoons. Of course if you want the more glamorous and fun side of Mexico that is there for you too
As a wildlife photographer one of the more interesting facts about Mexico is that it is the home to millions of Monarch Butterflies which migrate between November and March each year. It’s important to note that the numbers have been decreasing at an alarming rate so go out and buy milkweed plants and attract those Monarch Butterflies!
Mexico is also a very diverse country and don’t let it’s “fun” and “touristy” attractions fool you, this is a land of great cultural, historical, and artistic heritage which to me is just as fascinating as is it’s glittering beaches and fancy hotels.
I write quite a bit about exotic destinations here every week but Mexico is certainly one of the easiest to get to and also very affordable. Personally, I would prefer the more ancient sites like the pyramids or some of the archeological sites rather than the more common tourist destinations…although those would be fun too.
Check out this short feature on Mexico and I’ll see you back here again on Saturday for a brand new blog update..see you then.
You can turn off the site music using the music player controls on the sidebar.
Blog Entry|April 22, 2013
Well it’s Earth Day today and instead of doing my usual blog, which I had already written, I’m posting a few thoughts about the alligator attack at Loxahatchee which thankfully didn’t involve George.
I have a few thoughts about the unfortunate incident that happened at Loxahatchee last Friday when a small child was attacked by an eight foot alligator near the canoe launch. As a Florida native and a wildlife photographer and filmmaker, I have spent most of my life in and around the Florida Everglades. Starting from a very young age alligators have been as much a part of my life as anything else and I’ve also spent a great deal of time at the Loxahatchee refuge where this took place. After talking with some law enforcement officials at the refuge I’ve come to a few conclusions.
Before I start let me just say that it is not my intention to attack this father, I truly am glad that things turned out okay for him and especially for his son. For starters let’s take a look at what happened. A six year old boy was out with his father ready to go canoeing and as the father was signing them up the child wandered off near a dock and fell into the water. An alligator clamped down on the child’s arm and it took the father and another bystander to free the boy from the alligator’s jaws. Luckily the boy escaped with only minor injuries and as is the routine when these things happen, the alligator was destroyed.
One of the things that bothers me about this story is the fact that various news agencies are lauding this father as a hero. That’s debatable. What he is, is lucky. The true hero in this scenario is the good Samaritan who risked his own hide to help out and luckily this story has a happy ending. Except for the alligator who did nothing wrong, he was doing what alligators do and paid with his life.
I spend at least three to four days a week out at the Loxahatchee refuge where this happened and it constantly amazes me when I see time and time again ignorant parents who let their children wander off and get close to the water. I’ll give you just one example of many. I was out last week at Loxahatchee and overheard an older man asking the woman who runs the canoe rentals what the “risks” were for taking his small grandchildren out for a canoe trip. In the meantime the two children, who didn’t look to be more than five or six years old, were playing at the water’s edge and happily splashing around as their parents were talking to another couple about thirty feet from where the children were playing and completely oblivious to the fact that their small children were unwittingly presenting themselves as bait. Can anybody else see the problem with this scenario? Or is it just me? And this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this sort of thing.
Let’s get a few things straight. First of all these are not theme park alligators, they are real living and breathing predators who have been around since the dawn of time. Alligators are driven purely by instinct. The usual prey of an alligator consists of fish, turtles, birds, and small mammals. Guess what? Your child is a small mammal. An adult is less at risk of an alligator attacking because of our size. It’s happened, yes, but it is not a common occurrence. Alligators are by nature afraid of people (unless they’ve been fed but that’s another gripe for another time). Small children on the other hand are easy prey and any parent with an ounce of common sense will not let their child go close to the water or wander off in a strange environment. That’s probably a good rule to follow no matter where you are with your child.
When you are out with your children in a place like the Everglades you need to be extra vigilant and use at least a minimum of common sense. If you can’t do that then you have no business being out in that kind of environment with your child because you’re risking your child’s life, your own life, and anybody who has to step in and help if God forbid something happens. Watch your kids! The Arthur Marshall Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge is completely blameless in this situation. The blame in this situation falls completely on the shoulders of the parent who could have very easily lost his son the other day. I hope he learned his lesson and let this serve as an example to other parents that not keeping tabs on your kids can have dire consequences.
-Mark Andrew Thomas
Blog Entry|April 17, 2013
Today’s travel destination takes us to the Great Barrier Reef located off Queensland, Australia. I have to say scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef is definitely something I’d love to do despite the fact that it seems every Great White Shark attack happens there…well not really but there have been several. Anyway, I digress.
The Great Barrier Reef is not only the world’s largest coral reef but also one of the seven wonders of the world. Larger than the Great Wall of China, it’s the only living on earth visible from space. The Great Barrier Reef stretches over 1800 miles and runs parallel to the coast. The Great Barrier Reef is also a breeding ground for humpback whales that migrate from the Antarctic and is also the home of giant sea turtles.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most diverse and expansive ocean habitats and home to millions of lifeforms. 1800 species of fish, 125 types of shark (yikes), 4,000 species of mollusks, and more than 350 types of coral not to mention 10,000 types of sponges.
Check out this video about thew Great Barrier Reef from National Geographic (and remember to turn off the site music using the player on the sidebar):
That’s it for today…see you Friday for the next update!
Blog Entry|April 13, 2013
It seems like I’ve been apologizing quite a bit lately for not updating this blog on schedule so here we go again. Sorry it’s been so long since the last update but it’s been a crazy few weeks what with settling my mother into an assisted living facility, planning more filming for Birth of a Predator, and trying to get the bills paid and figure out how NOT to go broke! So on with the update…
In the last blog post I wrote about how otters were high on my list off “yet to get” and I finally got the chance to photograph a river otter over the course of several days. Quite a challenge to film and even more of a challenge to photograph. Constantly on the move, this particular otter was fishing up a storm in the gator hole and passed me by several times before I finally was able to get some decent shots.
Bobcats are back again and in a big way, it’s almost a guarantee that if you spend any time at GC that you’ll see either a river otter or bobcat…or both which was the case one day last week. Young bobcats are chased off by the mother once they reach a certain age so have to take advantage of the opportunity while it lasts. Bobcat sightings rise whenever there’s a litter of kittens and drop off dramatically when there’s not. If the mother doesn’t have any more then that’s the end of “bobcat days” as she is sighted very infrequently from what I’ve been told. EDIT: Unfortunately a few days ago the mother bobcat was killed by an alligator so what this means to future generations of bobcats remains to be seen. There is at least one female from the earlier batch of kittens that still hangs around so perhaps she will become the dominant female.
Got some exciting news to share with you, I received an email from Discovery networks about using some footage I have of the full moon rising for a show called “Alien Encounters”. Most likely it will be used for a brief cutaway but would be really awesome if it ended up in the opening credits for every episode!
To make up for my absence I have two new videos to share with you, one is a video of George on the move while he was chasing fish and damn! He sure knows how to make an entrance! Remember to to turn off the music using the music player controls on the top of the sidebar to the right. Check it out:
The next video is an interesting scenario as a Great Blue Heron, an iguana, and the mother alligator from last year have a minor run in…
Anyway, that’s about it for now and now that I’m back on schedule be sure to check out Wednesday’s blog for a brand new exciting travel destination!
Have a look at the screening room for a video from Storm Chasers…really cool stuff and would love to tag along someday!
Blog Entry|February 22, 2013
For those of you who know me at all, you know wildlife and landscape photography will always be my first love along with filming the wonders of nature. I love them both equally. However those people will also know that I love trying new things and experimenting with different styles. Take the above photo for example…..haha, get it? Anyway, it’s an example of HDR photography which is something I’ve been playing around with in addition to my usual subjects.
What is HDR? Well, I’m going to give you the same advice my father used to give me when I asked a question. Look it up. Seriously…it’ll do you good Kidding (sort of ) It stands for High Dynamic Range and it is becoming very popular, in fact it’s been popular for awhile now. HDR images can vary ranging from gorgeous vibrant images to those with a surreal painterly look.
HDR images are several different exposures of the same subject combined into one and then processed using special software such as Photomatix, etc. Whenever you see a photo that looks almost TOO real and the detail and color are very sharp, chances are you’re looking at an HDR photo.
HDR is fun but wildlife and nature will always be my first love. So when you see different kinds of photos here just indulge me LOL. That’s about it for now, out for another round of photos tomorrow morning and Birth of a Predator starting up again in two weeks. Have a great weekend!
Blog Entry|February 14, 2013
Today’s destination is Nepal. Nepal is a sovereign state located in South Asia. Perhaps it’s best known feature is the highest point on earth…..Mount Everest which rises 20,000 feet above sea level.
The capital of Nepal is Kathandu which is the region we’ll focus on today. The Kathmandu valley is comprised of three ancient cities: Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur. Legend has it that the valley was was once a primordial lake ringed by verdant mountains. In this pristine lake lived giant serpents until one fine day, saint Manjushree, the Bodhisatva, raised a mighty sword and in one fell swoop, cut open the side of a mountain at a place now known as Chobar. The voluminous waters of the lake gushed out, leaving behind a fertile valley capable of supporting large urban settlements over the millennia. The Gopala and Kirati dynasties were the earliest rulers here followed by the Licchavi (300-879 A.D.), under whom flourished trade and crafts*
Blog Entry|February 8, 2013
Welcome to another edition of the Friday blog! I apologize for neglecting Wednesday’s travel blog, I had a busy week! It will be back next week…promise! So last week I told you that I always love capturing photos of wildlife that I’ve never seen before, last week was the Great Horned Owl. This time last year it was the bobcats. Now there are river otters being sighted every morning at Green Cay. Next to bobcats, river otters are pretty high up on my most wanted list so hopefully soon I’ll be able to check them off the list. I hope they don’t eat the baby alligators in the gator hole which is where they’ve been sighted.
Currently I’m gearing up for another round of filming for “Birth of a Predator”. I’ll be finalizing plans next week for a visit to North Florida to shoot some more scenes and possibly some underwater footage as well. With mating season around the corner I may be able toget some cool courtship footage to add to what I already have. If I can, I may do another summer of nest filming but we’ll have to wait and see how things go with my mother.
That’s about it for now, make sure you check out the video in the screening room. “Secrets of Egypt” which I’m holding over for another week because it’s really cool and I’m really lazy this week
Have a great weekend and see you next week…
Blog Entry|February 1, 2013
It’s always a thrill when I get the chance to photograph new wildlife that I haven’t seen before, last year was the bobcats and this past week I photographed a Great Horned Owl at Loxahatchee. There’s a nesting pair in a tree not too far away from the road and although the female is hard to see, the male is usually sitting in plain view on one of the upper branches. Should provide some great photo ops over the next month or so. Now if I could only get a really cool pic of river otters. They’re next on my list…