Spent another week down the shore on Long Beach Island in New Jersey. The weather was beautiful the entire time, had a few mornings with fog and several nights with clear skies. Caught both the sunrise and sunset multiple times. The island is a great place for photo taking since it so easy to move between the ocean and the bay.
The story of horseshoe crabs on the eastern seaboard is largely intertwined with the story of migratory shorebirds. These birds stop along the beaches of the east coast during their great migrations between the arctic and South America each year. This journey is timed in sync with horseshoe crab spawning so the birds can feed on the crabs’ newly laid eggs. For my film, I shot some great footage of shorebirds at Mt. Sinai Harbor during late summer. This project is the first I’ve really shot wildlife in action and I’m always amazed to look back at my footage and see nature at work. Learn more about the film here.
It’s the end of spawning season for horseshoe crabs and they were out in full force over the weekend at our spot on Cedar Beach. Usually they gather on the beach at night, but there were a few stragglers out until late morning. Horseshoe crabs are considered living fossils, having evolved over 400 million years ago. They live in Long Island waters, both in the Sound and the ocean bays. They are used by fishermen as bait and are vital to human health – their blue blood has a unique bacteria fighting ability which is used by pharmaceutical and biomedical industries for important medical research and testing (NY DEC).
I took my GoPro into the water and shot some photos and video. They are incredibly fast crawlers underwater and I had a bit of a hard time keeping up with them. I’m also still working on my GoPro skills and trying to avoid shaky shots in the rocky waves. (Eric Seals from the Detroit Free Press has great examples of underwater GoPro shooting.)
Over the weekend I went to Cedar Beach on Long Island near Port Jefferson, NY to put my kayak in for the first paddle of the season. I frequent this beach more than any other on LI and I like to kayak around the harbor in between the docked boats. One of my favorite things about the North Shore is how different it is from the South Shore – the beaches are rocky, there are cliffs, and the water is very clear and usually relatively calm.
Last week I was on vacation in Florida and stopped in Jacksonville for a couple days at the beach. We arrived just in time for some of the nicer weather down south this winter. The water was cold as you can see by the wetsuits, but that didn’t stop me from heading in and getting some shots.
Surfing (and most water sports) and conservation have a long gone hand in hand. A recent story of a fight by surfers and beach-goers for public beach access is told in this great short doc Martin’s 5: The Battle for the Beach.
I don’t shoot surfers very often, but I’ve recently been following the work of Ryan Struck, Erik Schwab, Matt Clark, Justin Burkle, and Salty by Nature – all of whom do beautiful surf and ocean photography showcasing the northeast’s coast. At times it feels like shooting at beaches can get a little redundant after a while, but I’m learning that there is much more to see and different ways of looking at things.
A few weeks ago I took a day trip to Smith Point on the western end of Fire Island National Seashore, which runs along the south shore of Long Island, NY. Fire Island is a barrier island that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Great South Bay and other smaller bays. It is about 30 miles long, 26 of which are federally protected by the National Park Service.
Despite it being less than a mile wide, Fire Island’s beaches feel vast and the dunes (some of which top off at 40 feet high) are my favorite spots to take photos. There are only two vehicle access points – the 17 preexisting residential communities on the island are mostly connected and navigable by meandering boardwalks. And Fire Island’s below sea level forests are completely unique to the Northeast. According to the NPS: Fire Island’s Sunken Forest is a very rare ecological community. The Maritime Holly Forest is only found behind well-established sand dunes along the Atlantic coast from New Jersey to Massachusetts. It is one of six forest types recognized in the National Vegetation Classification System. According to the New York Natural Heritage Program, this state’s maritime holly forest was ranked in 2001 as “globally rare” or “G1G2 S1” meaning there are few remaining occurrences of this assemblage of plants throughout the world.
In most recent news, there’s a big debate between island and bay homeowners, fishermen, and environmental groups over a breach/new inlet formed on Fire Island following Hurricane Sandy last October.