tisdag 28 juni 2011

Atlantic white-sided dolphins - Kvitskjeving

Perhaps the most colourful dolphin species of the world can be found along the Norwegian coast. With it`s strong colouration in white, yellow and black, Atlantic White-sided Dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus) look like they belong in tropical waters, but are in fact endemic to the cool and temperate waters of the North Atlantic.

Yesterday, I encountered a relatively large group of these beautiful dolphins playing and jumping in Andfjorden in Nordland. Not only is this dolpin species one of the most colourful, but also one of the more acrobatic. Reaching almost 3 m in length, the leaps and jumps are truely spectacular.

Together with the White-beaked Dolphin (kvitnos), the Atlantic White-sided Dolphin (kvitskjeving) are commonly referred to as "springer" in Norway, but a closer look will reveal relatively large differences between the two species.

Atlantic White-sided Dolphins


Breaching Atlantic white-sided Dolphin


Atlantic White-sided Dolphin breaking the water surface¨

Not often is it possible to see the underside of a marine mammal,
but with playful dolphins like this one most things are possible

torsdag 16 juni 2011

Basking Shark - Brugde

Today at work, I spotted an enormous basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) feeding in the waters off Stø in Vesterålen.

The basking shark is the second largest fish in the entire world (only the whale-shark is bigger). The specimen outside Stø measured approximately 9 meters and was thus a fully grown adult shark close to the maximum length of the species. It was slowly swimming around with it`s mouth wide open, filtering the sea water for plankton. In spite of being such a large shark, basking sharks (like the baleen whales), filter-feed on plankton making the basking shark a harmless and "gentle giant" of the oceans.

Norwegian waters is the northernmost outpost for basking sharks, which is usually found in more warm-temperate waters. Once fairly abundant, basking sharks are now a rare sight in Norway due to over-exploitation (mainly for the liver and the fins which were sold for shark-fin soup). Today, the biggest threat for the sharks is ship strikes.

Below are some pictures of this strange and amazing shark, some of will be used for photo-identification in co-operation with The Shark Trust: http://www.baskingsharks.org/content.asp?did=26584 who is working for the protection of basking sharks and other sharks.

Basking shark close to the surface. The upper part of the mouth, the dorsal fin and the
caudal (tail) fin can be seen above the water surface. This individual was between 9-10 m long.


A local fishing boat passing the shark

Dorsal fin of the shark

Close-up view of the dorsal fin, which will be used to identify the shark in co-operation
with The Shark Trust: http://www.baskingsharks.org/content.asp?did=26584

Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus) in the evening light

fredag 3 juni 2011

Midnight Sun Eclipse

At midnight between 1-2 June a rare eclipse of the Sun could be seen above the Arctic circle. In the evening, the weather looked bad, but the skies cleared up miraculously just in time for the start of the eclipse.

At the point of greatest eclipse (58% eclipsed), the Sun looked like a big smile in the sky. Some pictures from Kvaløya outside Troms below:

Beginning of the eclipse

 During the point of greatest eclipse, the Sun was setting behind the mountains and for a while it almost looked like a second moon was eclipsing the sun from below..

Strange-shaped sun at midnight