LBAH Informational Articles

Rwanda-Tanzania 2011

In February we went to the southern Serengeti to watch the wildebeests calve. It is quite a spectacle, especially when tens of thousands of female wildebeest calve within a two week period of time. We decided to stop off and visit the gorillas in Rwanda on the way to the Serengeti, and ended our trip with the Hadzabe in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. These fascinating people were on the cover of National Geographic last year. It was such a good trip that I would like to repeat it in the near future.

This page has links to 3 aspects of this trip:

  1. Rwanda with the mountain gorillas
  2. The Serengeti with the wildebeests and the predators
  3. Two days spent with the Hadzabe while they were hunting

All of the pictures on this page are low res for rapid downloading. If you are interested in the high resolution version let me know.

Click on any of the 3 pictures below to see many more and learn some details of these animals and our trip. These pages also have links to several short and basic videos to give you a better idea of what we saw and heard. 

A  silverback gorilla in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Click on him to see our trip and lots of gorilla pictures

Gorillas

Sunset over Lake Ndutu in the southern Serengeti

Click on this photo to see the animals of the Serengeti, especially the big cats

Serengeti

A Hadzabe hunter near Lake Eyasi

Click here to see more of him and his buddies in action

Hadzabe

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Hadzabe 2011

People like the Hadzabe fascinate me, and when the guides on my 2009 safari told me they could set up this trip I jumped on the opportunity. Our guides told us that less than 1,000 tourists have been brought to see the Hadzabe in their daily routine. Our experience with them was genuine for the most part. Without the touristy part it would be difficult to see them so you have to accept this as a small part of the experience. Our group of 4, with our guide Firoz and an interpreter and Hadzabe guide named Hasani, spent part of 2 days with the Hadza as they went about their business. The culmination of our time with them was watching them hunt, which is showcased on this page.

His ancestors go back over 10,000 years, so you are in essence looking into the eyes of a caveman. It is hard to believe they even exist in this modern world. I wonder what he is thinking as he stares at me taking his photo.

The Hadzabe (also known as the Hadza) were on the cover of the December 2009 issue of National Geographic. I learned about them over 10 years earlier when my acquaintance James Stephenson literally lived with them for a year and wrote a book called “The Language of the Land: Living Among the Hadzabe in Africa”. I read the book before I went and also after I returned. Many of the places and descriptions of their behavior we were able to observe on our trip. It was fun to come back after the trip and read about something we actually observed!

This web page has a few of the pictures I took of our experience with the Hadzabe in February of 2011 when they went hunting. There is a 4 minute basic video at the end that is not to be missed because it complements the pictures. The National Geographic article and book referenced above will give you details about their unique lifestyle. To summarize- they live for the day and are exquisitely in tune with nature.

This map from the National Geographic article shows their territory near the Ngorongoro Crater. The dotted red lines show their range in the 1950’s, the solid red lines show their current reduced range. We saw them in the Mangola region. Agriculture and the pastoral lifestyle have encroached on their land, chasing their game away and shrinking their hunting grounds. Their population is down to 500 so their future as a society is at grave risk.

They use a click language like the bushmen of the Kalahari. This audio file is a Hadza speaking in his native tongue for a few seconds, with our guide Hazani interpreting it at the end. Listen carefully for the occasional click. Hasani will teach you how to speak like this if you visit them. Click here to download and watch the movie

We started early and met them as they were getting ready for their hunt. This Hadza is showing off a civet skin upon our arrival.

They are spiritual, surreal, and metaphysical all rolled into one mindset. Today they are rejoicing at the gift Hasani brought them- marijuana. Check out the baboon skins the two taller Hadza towards the left are wearing.

They use an ancient stone pipe and share their treat with everyone, including us if we wanted
to partake.
They inhale deeply and cough up a storm. This potent version of marijuana puts
them in a different mindset as you will see from the following pictures and especially the video.

This Hadza (the same person that is staring at us at the beginning of this page) was the star of
the show, and even though he ranked below the older man above with the headdress, it was
his hunting skills that were the most impressive. He enjoyed his morning smoke also.

Now that he is properly ****faced he is ready to go hunting

Hasani is explaining the 3 different types of arrows they use:
1. The smaller one on the right for small game
2. The middle one for large game
3. The leftmost one with poison for dangerous game

The poison is made from a local cactus

Their bows and arrows are important tools, so time is spent inspecting for flaws before any hunt

It was a wet morning and their arrows were slightly warped due to the moisture. They straightened them by warming them up and using their teeth.

They also performed other repairs on their bows and arrows

A few more bites and its time to test the arrows. Notice how he holds his bow between his legs? We saw this again when they were hunting.

Time to go hunting. The dogs tag along, and get fed if the hunt is successful, but they do not aid the Hadza in the hunt

They are supremely in tune with their environment and will drink water we would not think of even bathing in. They can go long periods without drinking at all.

The intense look of a Hadza on the hunt for game. He uses all of his well developed senses to
detect game that we would not see or smell or hear. He heard a vervet monkey far ahead in
a tree and initiated a plan with the others to trap it in the tree.

After a short hike they spotted the monkey in a baobab tree. Instead of sneaking up on it
they made lots of noise to intimidate the monkey. This way it would go to the top of the tree it was already in, instead of fleeing to other trees.

The hapless monkey is doomed as they surround the tree and pelt it with their arrows

The bow string is made from animal tendon and is extremely taught

The doomed monkey with an arrow in its back foot. This is a great photo by Dominic at an elusive target.

Even though one arrow found its mark, the monkey is small, elusive, high in the tree, and well
hidden by the leaves. The main hunter in the group climbed the baobab tree for a better shot.

He pounds wooden spikes as footholds

It was strenuous work and he took a short break when he got 25 feet up Another hunter climbs to hand him his arrows and also assist him in shooting the monkey. I tried to remember not to stand below them for this shot when they passed the arrows, especially since one of the arrows is poisonous.

So, what do the others on the ground do while these two are shooting at the monkey from the
tree? They get stoned again of course!

That must have been some good stuff! He had poison arrows in his hand so I kept my distance.

Even in this altered state of mind he keeps a wary eye on the monkey

The remainder of this page contains graphic pictures of a monkey being cooked and eaten that are not suitable for all viewers Eventually the hunters in the tree hit the monkey with 2 more arrows, one in the abdomen and one in the flank. The monkey fell to the ground a short time later and one of the Hadza jubilantly holds it up for all to see.

The Hadza cook their meal on the spot so they start a fire with sticks using only friction.

The monkey is skinned with a knife from the head Hadza

The partially skinned monkey is just tossed on the fire for about 20 minutes, being turned several times

No part goes to waste. The intestines are given to the dogs. I tried a small piece from the cheek. And yes, it tastes the way it is supposed to- like chicken!

Everyone shares in the feast. It is amazing how such a little monkey can feed this group, with
leftovers to bring back home. They eat very little, and coupled with their extremely active lifestyle, stay lean and strong.

The elderly member of the group gets the brain at the end. It is obvious he savors every bite.

This is what cooked monkey brain looks like up close

What remains is wrapped in leaves and brought back to their primitive camp

This 4 minute basic video shows the above pictures in action.

Our group of Hadzabe observers!

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Yellowstone NP Photo Tour

Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, provides an outstanding opportunity to learn about wildlife and digital photography in one of the most wildlife rich and scenic places in the continental United States. Travel time and costs are reasonable for the opportunity to spend time in such a unique and wildlife rich area.

Our Team

Gary lives just outside Yellowstone for part of the year and knows the area well, along with the local photographers and guides. He takes care of all the details- all you have to do is enjoy yourself.

Gary is in his element when in Yellowstone

Pointing out wildlife on a ridge

Working with a newcomer to photography

In addition to Gary we hire local guides that have lived in Yellowstone since childhood. Our primary guide is Nathan Varley. His father worked as a park ranger in Yellowstone for his entire career, so Nathan knows a thing or two about Yellowstone.

Nathan scanning for bighorn sheep on the far ridge

When to Go

You can enjoy Yellowstone in any season. In April the snow is starting to melt, the bears are coming out of their dens, the wolves are still somewhat active, and the huge summer crowds have not appeared yet. Its a good time to see the transition of the long winter to the freshness of spring and the corresponding young animals. We will be there again towards the beginning of April.
In the background of this April shot you can see the Yellowstone arches- the main
entrance to the northern part of the park

This is the other side of the same sign in December

In the fall the elk are bugling and mating, the fall colors are peaking, and the wildlife are in prime condition in preparation for the winter. Bears will still be active until they hibernate in October. We plan on a September elk bugling/mating and fall color trip this year.

Don’t be afraid to go in the winter. Its a magical time, and you will have the park almost to yourself. We will send you a detailed list of clothes and equipment so you are well prepared. This is the best time of year to see the wolves because they are quite active, especially as they hunt elk. The bison are also active foraging in the snow and the elk congregate in herds. We plan on a November or December trip this year also.

As you can see from our vehicle’s thermometer you need your long underwear in the winter!

Weather in Yellowstone can change rapidly in any month. You can go from this…….

….. to this blue sky in a matter of minutes

Even though non-photographers can join us, and have as much fun as everyone, we go to Yellowstone to shoot. We shoot every chance we get, and from every vantage point. Even though we shoot from right inside the vehicle, we like to get out where the action is.

Gary with his 800mm bazooka

Cheryl sizing up the pronghorn

Dominic scratching the hood of our rental car while nailing a bull moose with the 500mm

CP wondering when those otters will appear

Les looking like he works for Nat Geo

And Marv just having fun!

If you get tired and need to nod out for a few minutes during the day thats OK, although we might bust you and put you on the web

The Wildlife

A big reason to visit Yellowstone is to see the wolves. They are truly wild and tend
to stay away from people.

There are 100 wolves in Yellowstone proper. With such a big area it is quite a challenge to find them, so we enlist the help of the people in charge of the Yellowstone Wolf Project. If they can’t find them nobody will!

They use telemetry on the radio collared wolves to locate individuals they know by name

Once found the Wolf Project team keeps an eagle eye on them at all times. They
let us use their spotting scopes and know everything about the wolves in each pack.

Most of the time you will see wolves from a distance, so bring your binoculars for this trip. We tend to give them a wide birth because our presence can interfere with their normal behavior.

This is the alpha female from the Lamar Valley pack at an elk carcass killed just off the road the night
prior. It was taken with the Canon Mark III and 500 mm f/4 lens with the 1.4X TC from 150 yards away.

Sometimes the wolves will cross the road in front of you. When this happens the park service requests you
do not stop your vehicle to take photos like these people. The rest of the wolves in this pack might be
intimidated from feeding at the carcass because of this. This is the same alpha female as above, in the
process of joining the rest of her pack after feeding on the carcass for a short while.

We watched her from a distance as she walked up the hill, looking back at the carcass to see
which magpies or coyotes were feeding on her elk as she leaves to rejoin her pack. It is not
worth the energy expenditure to chase these scavengers away.

Wolves like it very cold, usually well below zero Fahrenheit. Here she is having a roll in the snow
to cool off because its a balmy 20 degrees.

This is the last we saw of her as she joined the rest of the Lamar Valley pack over the hill

There are many other predators besides wolves. The coyotes are large, so don’t mix them up
with the wolves.

They are used to people and will sometimes will walk right past us

Keep an eye on them when they are hunting. They use their keen hearing to find rodents under the snow. They pounce rapidly, so get ready to focus and hit that trigger finger in an instant.

The elk are beautiful in their winter coats (actually, it has mange if you look above its left shoulder. We will be visiting in September to see them during the rutting and mating season.

A perennial favorite are the bison as they move the snow around with their huge heads

When the wind whips up in the winter they become ghostlike

When they reappear they just keep on eating

Please give them wide berth because they are unpredictable, have four wheel
drive in the snow, can easily outrun you, and probably outweigh you by a few pounds

This young bull moose was just outside the park

At lunchtime we take a break and get a hot meal in Cook city

Its a quaint (and tiny) town with loads of hospitality and good food

After lunch we visit Dan Hartman at his cabin/studio to learn about his 30 years of experience shooting Yellowstone wildlife, see some of his phenomenal photos, and even shoot the birds and pine martens he attracts to his feeder.

He has a great setup for wildlife photography on the way to Cook city

We will be shooting from the comfort of his cabin at a feeder just a few yards away.

He gets lots of furred and feathered visitors to keep him company. Can you identify these birds?

The Scenery

Even though our emphasis is on wildlife it is impossible not to do landscape photography in such a majestic setting.

We will be staying at the Mammoth Hot Springs hotel inside the park. This is your chance to get some nice photos of this scenic area.

Winterscapes are everywhere

The light can be magical

 

Workshop Details

For our workshops you must bring a digital SLR camera. We cater to all levels of photographers and customize to your needs. Beginners get more hands-on experience, intermediate photographers get advice and access to some of our professional equipment, and advanced photographers get to do their own thing once we get them to the appropriate area and widlife. If you are new to wildlife photography you will have a blast, no matter what level of photographer you are.

Bring or rent a wide angle lens, intermediate zoom, and telephoto. The telephoto should be at least 400mm in length, and will be the lens you use most of the time for wildlife.Typical lenses might include:

18-55mm, 24-70mm, or 24mm-105mm zoom for landscape and general use

50-250mm, 70mm-200mm or 70mm-300mm intermediate zoom for general use, landscape and some close wildlife

400mm or 500mm prime for most wildlife. In place of the intermediate and telephoto lenses you can use a 100mm-400mm zoom.

If wolves are your thing you need that 500mm, preferably with a 1.4X TC also.

If you are going primarily to see wolves, and even though we have seen them on every trip, we cannot guarantee you will see them. We make a tremendous effort to find them by working closely with the Yellowstone Wolf Project team. If they cannot find them nobody will. You can increase your odds of seeing and photographing wolves by going during the winter months.

You take care of your airline reservation if you are flying. Those of us from southern California fly from Long Beach, LAX, or Orange County airports on Delta (around $400), connecting in Salt Lake, and then continuing on to Bozeman. If you are flying you can make any reservation you want, but we request you meet us for the second leg in Salt Lake City so we all arrive in Bozeman together.

The Delta flights we routinely take leave in the later morning and eventually arrive in Bozeman in the late afternoon. We will meet you at the airport, take you to a nice dinner, then provide transportation for the 1 hour 20 minute ride to the park. We should get there by 8-9 PM at the latest so you can get a good nights rest for our early start the next day.

At the end of each day we will help you with editing if you bring a portable computer and use Lightroom. Rumor has it there is a photo contest with a prize.

 

Please be aware that the weather can change at any time, during any season, so you should bring warm clothes no matter what time of year. We will send you detailed information on what to wear and what to bring when you sign up.

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Explorer II

Isn’t she a beauty! 436 feet of luxury accommodations and first class service. Oops, wrong boat-sorry!.

The town of Ushuia in the background

Lets take a mini tour of the inside. I wonder why those chairs are chained to the floor?

Hmmm, these vomit bags were not there when we first boarded the ship. They placed them strategically throughout the ship only after we left port. I changed my mind- I want to go back home!

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The Orangutan Project

In 1991 Dr. P went on a research project studying orangutans in Borneo. If you like rice (for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that is), the jungle, and one of the most fascinating primates on the planet, this trip is for you!

For your camera techies the following photos were taken with a Minolta XG-M camera with either a 24-105 mm zoom lens or a 500 mm mirror lens.

The location has been in several National Geographic magazines, and has been the subject of numerous documentaries.

Orang-utan means “man of the forest”. Please note there is no “G” at the end of orangutan, although most people incorrectly pronounce the word as if there is one.

Borneo is the 3rd largest island in the world and is made up of three countries; Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. Of the three, Indonesia by far makes up the largest segment (the orange area on the map below), and is called Kalimantan. The blue arrow on the map below denotes the location of the research project, called Tanjung Puting National Park. It is in a camp called Camp Leakey, named after the famous anthropologist Lewis Leakey.

Just getting to Borneo is an adventure in itself. From Los angeles you fly to Hawaii, then on to Sydney, and eventually to Jakarta. As you can imagine this takes several days.

To get to Borneo you have to go through Jakarta. It is teeming with people, and makes the LA freeway system look like amateur hour compared to the traffic in Jakarta. This picture was taken at the only time there was any space between us and the other vehicles on the road. The rest of the time it was literally bumper to bumper traffic anywhere you went.

Once in Jakarta you have to fly over the Java sea into Borneo to a town called Pangkalanbun. Here are a few of are group members on the puddle jumper that got us there.

This little town had a well stocked mini supermarket (Surya Kencana)

Guess what item we all craved after two weeks in the jungle- peanut butter. Luckily they had plenty in the store.

Pangkalanbun has a small hospital that houses baby orangutans that have been confiscated by the government from people who held them illegally.

Some of them were sick so Dr. P gave them exams (officially, this is the longest house call the Long Beach Animal Hospital has ever made!).

It is quite an experience to examine a group of inquisitive baby orangutans. Oh sure, its starts off OK, but that is just the calm before the storm…..

First thing you do is call in an assistant, to no avail of course……..

……so the next thing you do is call in another assistant. Lets see, there are 3 of us, and one of him, and you can guess who won!

We use the term “exam” loosely when describing this experience, because when you are finished you are not sure who examined whom!

After Pangkalanbun you start a two day journey upriver to your final destination called Camp Leakey. The boat you take is called a klotok. These men on the boat will be assisting us and running the camp. They are called dayaks, and actually grew up in the forest. As a matter of fact, they are ancestors of the headhunters of Borneo. They are intimately in tune with the jungle and have indispensable knowledge. Camp rules dictated that none of us volunteers were allowed to go into the jungle without them. Some of the most fun on the trip was teaching them American slang.

Dr. P couldn’t resist the view from the top as we puttered our way upstream for several days.

Some of the more fascinating aspects of the trip occur during this 2 day river ride. These are people who spend their lives along the river.

People that live along the river

Watching the jungle pass by and observing the wildlife in the trees and water makes the trip worthwhile all by itself. This is a proboscis monkey

As we got closer to our final destination the jungle became denser, and the water darker, from the decaying vegetation.

As you go deeper into the jungle the vegetation becomes impassable in some areas. On one occasion our boat driver had to dive under the boat to remove palm fronds that became wrapped around the propellor.

Half way through this two day trip you stop and go through the paperwork to get a permit to enter Tanjung Puting National Park. Consistent with Indonesian culture this may take one hour or several days! During this respite you stay at a place called Rimba camp and interact with the local tribes and animals. As you can see its easy to make new friends.

You meet some very interesting people to say the least.

Eventually you arrive at Camp Leakey and begin your work. There is a welcoming committee that meets you at the dock.

The dock into the camp is quite long. In the early years of Camp Leakey there was no dock and you had to walk through the swamp to unload.

Lets take a little tour of our luxury camp. It was pretty thoughtful of Ritz-Carlton to build a tourist hotel in the middle of the jungle for us.

This is our kitchen on the right and the dining room on the left.

As you can see our kitchen is well stocked with all the latest amenities. Guess what they are boiling the water for?

This is the bathroom on the left with our penthouse suites behind it.

We had 3 men and 9 women on our trip. The 3 men stayed downstairs and had plenty of room (and quiet).

The 9 ladies stayed upstairs. This is a picture of when they first arrived.

Same room 5 minutes after they unpacked their bags.

This is a muslim country, so all shoes come of when entering.

This interesting character “hung around” our quarters often. This is a white faced Gibbon. We would wake up to Gibbon’s hooting early in the AM. They looked cute, but we were emphatically warned not to attempt to touch them- they move like lightning and will bite visciously.

Evening meals were a social occasion. There were researchers from around the world studying primates in their native habitat. Of course you know by now what is inside the green bucket in the front of the photo.

A typical day started well before sun up. We would follow one of the dayaks into the jungle for a day of looking for wild orangutans. If we were lucky to find one we would follow it all day until nightfall, then go back the next morning before it awoke and continue our observations.

This dayak is leading the way over wooden planks out of the camp. They are a huge help during the rainy season when the water is do deep you cannot see where you are walking.

Orangutans spend almost all of their time in trees, so a large part of our day was spent with our necks in this lovely position

If we found an orangutan we made continual observations.

The jungle is hot and humid, and if we came across an orang we would put up our hammocks and observe in a more comfortable manner.

Ah finally, after all the traveling, we came across the animal that Dr. P wanted to see- a wild orangutan deep in the jungle of Borneo. In this case it is a juvenile male.

Dr. P made friends with Mr. Uil, probably the most knowledgeable man at the camp. He is a dayak that was literally born in the jungle. He married an American woman that came to volunteer at the camp years earlier.

He took Dr. P on a special tour of the jungle one day. We were in the thickest swamp in the area. Note the long sleeves and the gloves.

Mr. Uil picked up some leaves and called in some deer. They are called barking deer because they make a barking sound when alarmed. Amazing things in the jungle…..

I learned about insect eating plants……

……rubber trees……..

….and how to set a trap for a wild pig (just in case we ran out of rice!).

It was an awesome time to be in this jungle with an expert seeing and experiencing the flora and fauna of Borneo that Dr. P read about growing up. Can you guess why Mr. Uil has his socks pulled up over the outside of his pants?

Some of the best photographic opportunities occur around camp when orangutans that have been recently confiscated in Jakarta and Singapore, and released at camp Leakey, return once daily for a free meal of rice and milk. This was an important meal since they did not yet have the knowledge to meet all their nutritional needs on their own. The large males have this knowledge, and it takes time for these females to assimilate this information.

Feeding time was 4 PM, and the females would gather in the trees along the wooden dock in anticipation. You could get within a few feet of them for your photo’s.

When the food came they would quickly come down from the trees.

The feeding frenzy would start soon after…….

……this was the time to move in and start shooting!

Love that little one’s hairdo!

Most of the young ones would run in, stuff their faces, and run out.

Others had a different feeding technique…..

…while others gave us the universal gesture known round the world! I guess she wasn’t as thrilled with our appearance as the other orang’s.

Of course, any time you find females there will be males hanging around in the trees. Lets just say they aren’t there for the food. When several males congregate they sometimes fight. Fortunately the males ignored us.

On occasion one of them would come down from his perch and make an appearance.

When he started moving towards the food all of the other orangutans scrambled out of his way.

He would grab a small handful of rice and leave. He probably wasn’t hungry, just curious about which females were receptive to him.

Some of the smaller creatures found innovative ways to get to the rice!

A typical adult male will weigh 160#, but has the strength of many large men. Their arms are extremely powerful, and as you can see, and their hands are huge. When one of them grabs you it is like being in a vice grip. They could literally drag you into a tree and there is nothing you can do about it.

If one grabbed you it was necessary to bribe your way our of their grasp by giving them gum, or believe it or not, bar soap to chew on. Here is Dr. P paying the toll to get off the bridge.

Yup, they love soap, and will eat it for hours!

Some of the orangutans that hang around camp are very friendly and crave human companionship. Others put on a show, as you will soon see.

Everything you give them goes in their mouths…….

….. and comes out again several times.

Compare this humanoid’s arms and hands to this mature male orang’s. Now you can visualize how powerful they are.

As strong as they are they are intimidated by this small man who is in charge of the camp.

Those are Frosted Flakes in case you were wondering.

Hmmmm, wonder how they learned this one ……

…..and even harder to figure how they learned to play drunk!

We took a day off and went to an area that had been strip mined. You can see how much damage this does to the forest, and is the prime reason orangutans are highly endangered.

The area is totally devoid of trees. In Borneo trees are cut down for timber and mining. Even though we were in a protected area, there is lax enforcement and rampant corruption.

A small shanty town built up around the mine.

These children will spend most of their lives, if not all of their lives, in this environment.

In this mine they are looking for gold.

Notice the poor condition of their teeth. This is a major problem in most developing countries. Dentists, tooth brushing, and flossing, are alien concepts.

This is a merchant that makes his living selling goods to the miners. Again, notice his teeth.

He was quite friendly, and tried to sell us Schwarzenegger bags. Notice how he spelled Schwarzenegger

Our last day was quite heartwarming. The staff gave us a going away party. They felt honored we came as far as we did to literally give them paying jobs for 2 weeks, so many of them gave a small speech as a token of their appreciation.

Everyone showed up and patiently waited for the festivities to begin.

Even our cook gave a speech thanking us for coming to camp Leakey. Maybe one day we will see her on the Food Channel hosting a show called “Making Rice the Camp Leakey Way”. Did you notice the two National Geographic magazines on the wall? You saw them at the beginning of this presentation.

Time to bring out the presents. They gave each of us a hardwood spear that had a metal blade at the end and could also shoot darts. The airlines were thrilled when we brought them on board the plane home!

We spent the next several hours dancing to many local songs. The small man in front is in charge of the camp, and is the same man you saw earlier giving the huge male orang a cup of coffee. He weighs about 90 pounds, and all the orangutans run from him.

This young dayak played the guitar for us. Too bad he only new one song- Hey Jude. Do you know what it is like to listen to this song over and over for several hours?

The next morning before our return boat arrived they taught us how to use the spears to shoot arrows. We were not very good.

We say good bye to Tanjung Putin National Park and Camp Leakey with one last group photo.

To learn more about orangutans Dr. P gives community slide presentations on his trip. The slide show takes about an hour and is a fascinating arm-chair adventure. The pictures on this web site are only a small sample of the whole presentation. If you have a group located in the immediate Los angeles area that is interested in seeing this presentation, please contact him at the hospital. The number is (562) 434-9966.

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Antarctica Scenery

Our first stop was Deception Island. The red flag denotes a walking path.

As the anchor was dropped we could see a house and fuel containers for a whaling station and a British research station.  They were here until 1968 when a mud and debris flow (called a lahaar) destroyed most of it.

Our Expedition Team went first to make sure the coast was clear from all those penguin gangs ready to mug us. You can visualize the steam from the underground thermals at the waters edge.

This was also our first opportunity to go zodiaking. First things first, so lets get them in the water.

Our skilled crew were experts at moving them from the top of the ship into the water

Loaded with passengers and with a driver determined to get us to land

When we get to our destination there is a team waiting to unload us

This is what happens when your motor does not restart. After several tries it was determined they forgot to fill up with gas, so we left them there. No worries, we threw them the book “Endurance “by Ernest Shackleton. We figured they might need it as we waved good bye.

The weather can change instantly, and one time our driver had to navigate through mini icebergs to pick us up

There is a specific procedure for entering and exiting the zodiak, all under the watchful eye of Jannie (he’s that mean- looking guy at the top of the gangplank). If you didn’t do it exactly to protocol you would get an earful from Jannie- don’t fool with him!

Another successful (nobody fell in) unloading to the mothership

A huge jellyfish on one of our zodiak outings

Our first time on Antarctic terra firma. You can see the steam rising around me from the thermals at the waters edge.

The first wildlife we encountered were fur seals. They were just as curious about us as we were about them.

Our first chance to get up close and personal with penguins.  This is a chinstrap.

The remains of the Biscoe House as it was when the lahaar hit

We could hike the island to the far end and get a nice view.  The Biscoe House and fuel storage tanks are now visible at the far right, along with the steam for our Antarctic hot tub excursion.

Hot water from the thermal springs at the edge of the beach was just warm enough to enjoy. If you moved just a few inches either way you would feel the full impact of the icy waters and your you-know-what would freeze!

Those of us that took the dip are official members of the Antarctic Hot Tub Club

As we continued our cruise we went through areas called Half Moon Bay,  Paraside Bay, Gerlache strait, and the Lemaire Channel. The scenery was top notch!








We had a chance to go on the bridge and watch how they navigated past icebergs

Even though our ship is further away than this blue iceberg and seems small because of this distance, you can get an idea of how big an iceberg gets in relation to our ship

This is what our captain and his bridge crew had to navigate around oftentimes



The only other tourist ship we came across was the National Geographic Endeavor

It was fun to watch it disappear off into the distance

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Vets of Antarctica

Lets meet some of our fellow intrepid explorers

Michelle and CP

Ann, Howie, Raph, Michelled, Cathy, Joan, Ralph, Dominic, Rhonda, and Tom

Ralph, Joan, Rhonda, Dominic, and Ralph

Steve, Kevin, and Gery

Mary Ann

Dominic (scanning for enemy torpedoes)

Rick

CP

Ralph

Ralph and Joan

Gerry

Paul and Cathy (again)

Carol discovered a news species on our trip- the Antarctic black-nosed fuzzy pygmy polar bear

Doug

Diane and Doug

Dianne and Monica

Howie and Sue

Howie in action!

Howie’s form gave him the winning photo in the NAVC photo contest.
Congratulations Howie!

Sue just plain had fun while Howie was perfecting his winning technique.

Kathy and Chuck

Joe

Kevin

Ann (mom, can you hear me now)?

Kerry

Kerry letting her hair down

Steve scanning for black necked geese

Tom

Lyell and Nancy

Michelle

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Antarctica Treaty

Its this treaty that allows almost anyone to visit Antarctica

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Birds of Antarctica

Albatross Blue-eyed shag

Snowy Sheath Bill

Skua

Antarctic Tern

Wandering Albatross

Blue-eyed shag

Snowy sheathbill

Snowy sheathbills, the only non-seabird in the Antarctic. Sheathbills patiently wait for the perfect moment to make a feeding chick regurgitate its meal of krill.

This is how the gentoo penguin regurgitates its meal of krill for its young

The sheathbill flies into the middle of the action hoping to disturb the feeding process

If the young penguin regurgitates its meal the sheathbill is happy to clean up the mess

This is a skua, one of the primary penguin predators in the region

Antarctic Terns resting and flying

They make nice black and whites

Steve Barten nailed this Antarctic Tern with its dinner

He also got this nice portrait

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Lucky 7- Antarctica

In February of 2008 I had an opportunity to visit my 7th continent with my veterinary colleagues. It was a great time with great company. My story starts in Costa Rica where I spent a week with some friends in a surfing town called Jaco. After a week of R & R we met the rest of our veterinary group in Ushuia, at the very tip of South America.

This page is organized into several sections:

Most of these sections have links to additional photos. All the photos are in low resolution for rapid download. They are available in high resolution suitable for printing at 30″ x 20″ professionally. We went with Abercrombie & Kent.

In Costa Rica we stayed at a nice resort right on the beach. If you follow this link or click on the photo below you will see some of the fascinating wildlife, people, and scenery of Costa Rica. When you are done come back this way and lets head on to Antarctica.

On our voyage we spent all our time in the Antarctic peninsula, which is just a tiny sliver when compared to the whole continent. The large red arrows point to Ushuia, our starting point, and the Antarctic peninsula.

Our first chance to see the peninsula was Deception Island, where the above picture of me in the water was taken, and where most of us became members of the Antarctic “Hot Tub Club”.

Click on this map below for a more detailed itinerary showing each of the ports we stopped at for pictures and zodiak rides, along with some information on the Antarctic Treaty.

Our Antarctica trip really started in Ushuia, the southernmost city in the world. “Fin Del Mundo”- the end of the world

We took a quick tour of Tierra del Fuego National Park. The name means land of the fire. The early explorers coined this name when they observed the fires in the distance made by the native Indians.

After our tour we  boarded our home for the next 10 days, a ship called the Explorer II. The Explorer II is a double hulled expedition ship. The double hull gave me some peace of mind since the Explorer I literally sank just a few months prior to our trip. Click on the photo below to see a few more photos of this ship, along with a present from the crew as we left port.

This is an article from the newspaper on what happened to the Explorer I in November of 2007 

This rainbow was a good omen as we left Ushuia and cruised through the Beagle channel on our way to the dreaded Drake Passage. In case you are not aware, this body of water is where the Pacific and Atlantic oceans meet, and can be some of the roughest water on the planet.

We got lucky. The 2 day ride through the Drake Passage was about as calm as it could get.
The crew coined it “The Drake Lake”.

We spent as much time outside as we could in order to take advantage of the calm waters

On the way out our speakers gave us some presentations. Dr. Walton teaching us about the natural history of the wildlife. She was also part of the Expedition Team that took us onshore in zodiacs.

Dr. Mader talking about medical aspects of Antarctic wildlife.

Dr. Barten sharing his significant photographic expertise

Yours truly also talking about digital photography

We had some action on the way out. The Expedition crew spotted this pectoral fin and yelled at all of us to get on deck and bring those fancy cameras we all brought along because we have visitors- humpback whales!

The captain was proud of us as we practiced our humpback whale sighting drill and were ready to shoot pictures in an instant

They slowly approached our boat….

…swam around us a little….

….and then dove to feed on a large school of krill under the ship. Only one day into the Drake and the good luck continues!

One whale gave us a beautiful view of the underside of its fluke

I sent it to the Antarctic Humpback Whale Catalog for identification purposes

As we continued our ride through the Drake the pelagic birds made their appearance. They are curious about our ship and any food they might get, so they swoop around the boat as the wind carries them zipping by.

This was a good time to practice focusing on fast moving objects- in this case a Cape Petrel

I have lots of bird photos like this Blue-eyed shag. Click on the photo below to see a few of the birds we met on our trip. You will see sheathbills, skuas, and Antarctic terns. Penguin photos are up next and get their own special page.

As we got near the Antarctic peninsula we got our first taste of penguins. I captured these porpoising penguins from the mother ship by shutting my eyes, pushing the shutter button, and then keeping my fingers crossed. For as comical as they are when they waddle around on land they move with lightning speed in the water.

During our zodiak trips we had them coming at us from all directions

They pop up in an instant, and disappear just as fast. I had to literally focus on the water where I would anticipate they would appear. Don’t ask how many photos like this one below I took of only rippling water trying to capture such fast moving subjects.

There were a few keepers in the hundreds of photos I usually shot in vain

We encountered three different species of penguin on land

This is the chinstrap

The gentoo

The Adelie

Click on the photo below if you want to visit a page that has a whole lot of very cute penguins and their young. Interacting with this vast number of penguins was the highlight of the trip for some of us.

One of the more intimidating predators we encountered was the Leopard Seal. It has a serpentine body and a face that can freeze prey just by the sinister look it has. I have some great photos of a Leopard Seal attacking a Blue-eyed shag in the water.

Click on the photo below to see this awesome predator in action.

We came across other seals also. None of them were quite as active as those Leopard Seals

Weddell Seal

Crab-eating seal

We visited many locations that had historic significance.

Click on the house picture below to see some scenery shots of icebergs, glaciers, and research sites.

And oh yes, we had quite the eclectic group of veterinarians to say the least.
Click on the picture to meet some of our fellow intrepid explorers

All too soon its time to head back, leaving this beautiful scenery on a warm summer day in Antarctica.
This is the Gerlache strait from the map show earlier. 

The breeze kicked up just around the time this photo (thanks Steve) was taken as we headed back in to the Drake. It was an omen of things to come

We weren’t so lucky on the ride back. The Drake Lake became the Drake monster for some people as they stayed in their cabins to ride (puke) out the worst of it. I took this picture from our room window before it got dark and the rough water really started. The next day the captain said the waves overnight were 30 feet ( a 7 out of 10 on the Drake meter), but he gave us permission to say they were 50 foot waves. Lucky the boat has stabilizers!

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