Whales and parhelic circles

I first began blogging in 2001, and from time to time will excerpt from some of the posts, just for fun. Comments will precede the posts. Like this:

Bellingham, Washington, summer of 2001. My mother and husband are no longer living. I didn’t yet have a digital camera.

Mom (Ethel Crook) treated Jack and me and brother David Crook to an all-day excursion on a Killer Whale Search / Nature Watch Cruise on The Island Caper.

We packed a delicious lunch and headed for the ship, docked at Bellingham Bay, and finally left the slip after all 60 or so passengers were aboard. The captain and and the naturalist provided us with a memorable day. We had brilliant nature lessons often followed by complete quiet as the boat slowed down to give us access to some seal rocks, or the habitat of a bald eagle.

They knew all the orca (killer) whale pods by a letter identification, and that day we watched the antics of whales from two pods, J and K. Getting a good photo is almost impossible. Every time I had my camera pointed at a spot where a whale had just appeared, another, nearby, would joyfully leap out of the water. I’d move my camera, but almost always too late. Oh well. Nothing can erase my memories of their playful, and trusting natures! Marshall Brain has an entire section on How Whales Work, replete with photos, charts, and sounds, at How Stuff Works. The section also offers links to other quality whale-related sites

Parhelic Circles

In a different vein, seeing two parhelic circles filled everyone on the boat with a sense of awe. The photo to the right shows two circles (the lower one is less brilliant than the one closest to the sun).

“What happens,” says naturalist David Given-Seymour, “is similar to what happens when you hang a crystal in the window of your home. Sunlight hits the crystal and, as it passes through it, is refracted (bent) so that the red light waves are bent at a slightly different angle than the blue light waves.

“Thus, they are separated and become visible, with the red waves appearing closer to the sun than the blue waves. The crystals in this case are made of ice and are found only in the upper reaches of the atmosphere.”

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