Story and Photographs by Haley R. Pope | TerraLens Photography, LLC
It is the largest wetland, the second largest river delta, and the best preserved in Europe, I was told. It’s an intricate pastel mosaic of winding river channels, floating reed islets, never-ending blue skies, migrant nesting birds, diminutive spotted frogs, and schools of fish, I was told. A pristine haven for wildlife lovers, birdwatchers, and fishermen and a sight to behold as the river flows through ten countries and finally joins the Black Sea. They were talking about the Danube Delta, a UNESCO world heritage site that covers parts of Romania and Ukraine.
Editor’s Note: As I’ve mentioned before, NANPA is fortunate to have a large archive of blog posts going back several years. Occasionally, we will post one from the past that is important and relevant today. This blog by Chad Anderson was first posted in December 2014, and offers important information that has renewed urgency today. DCL
Vast stretches of azure blue waters thinly vail a dark secret. It’s been happening ever since the melting of the Wisconsin glacier some 12,000 years ago, but now occurs at a hastened pace and with a new cause. Meanwhile, Margaritaville plays, tourists stroll, and wading birds perch on mangrove shores as the slow pace of everyday life in the Florida Keys continues. Scientists, government entities, and even the public are coming to a grim reality. Change is here. It’s not abstract, distant, or easily pushed aside but prevalent, pervasive, and imminent—and the evidence is everywhere. The vast stretches of post card blue waters are a result of recently submerged lands. Even the upland forests here can hardly conceal their ancient marine past. Just millimeters below the leaf litter lies weathered coral reef. One of the oldest permanent tidal monitoring stations in the United States is located in Key West, Florida. Without hyperbole, it states the bare truth. Nearly nine inches of sea level rise has occurred since 1913. That may not sound like much, but for perspective, the average elevation is less than four feet. This effect is amplified by the fact that the slope of the shoreline is near flat, imperceptible to the human eye in most cases. For this reason, a couple of inches of rise can translate to hundreds of feet of land lost. In just a few decades the changes to the ecosystems have been staggering, rapidly shifting as the mangroves march inwards. Ancient buttonwoods stand like tombstones of a once proud forest. At times, mangroves, the most halophytic of all flora, can’t keep up the pace. Continue reading →
Andrew Synder is finishing up his Ph.D. in biology at the University of Mississippi. His dissertation is entitled “Biodiversity and Evolution in the Guyana Shield.” He is a scientist and a professional photographer, but more about his work later.
Andrew got involved with NANPA in 2013 as one of the college scholarship winners. “I consider that weekend of the NANPA conference, and spending the week with other members of my team working on a project as one of the defining moments of my photography career,” Andrew says. Their project was to document Amelia Island off the coast of Jacksonville. A number of pro photographers were with the students to give guidance and to make sure things went well. “The presentation of our group was done at the 2013 summit, and this experience set the tone for how I wanted to guide my photography work,” he adds.
Situated along the Rio Grande River, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge covers more than 57,000 acres and is a major wintering ground for cranes and waterfowl. Refuge personnel manage the water levels of its wetlands and impoundments to simulate what was once the seasonal flow of water from the Rio Grande before the river was damned and the flow altered. To feed the huge number of birds visiting the refuge each year, nearby fields are planted with corn, winter wheat, millet, and other grains. Loop roads transect the refuge marshes and fields and provide prime sites for wildlife viewing and photography. Species that may be seen include shovelers, buffleheads, pintails, teal and other ducks; bald and golden eagles; kestrels and other hawks; turkey; meadowlarks; quail; roadrunners; coyotes; mule deer; and more. In November, large flocks of snow geese and sandhill cranes will be present. At night to escape predators, the birds flock to the marshes and shallow pools. With dawn, the snow geese and other waterfowl rise in mass from the wetlands and sweep overhead on their way to nearby fields to feed. Each day we will spend the early morning and late afternoon hours at the refuge photographing birds and many other species of wildlife which are present at the sanctuary.
On Christmas Eve 1968, astronaut William Anders captured a photograph that depicted the earth as a wispy blue orb suspended in space. The image – described by Galen Rowell as the most influential image ever taken – crystallized in our collective conscience the beauty and the fragility of our shared home. The impact of the photograph was so profound that many have credited it to the birth of the environmental movement – a testament to the power of the single image in mobilizing people at a global scale.
Andrew Snyder is a new NANPA board member, a professional biologist and photographer, and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Mississippi. He recently posted a piece on maptia.com, a website devoted to stories and photography of the natural world, about the annual spawning of sockeye salmon, which return to freshwater rivers from the Pacific Ocean each year to lay their eggs.
When sockeye salmon are born, they spend between one and two years in freshwater lakes or streams. Then, they migrate to the ocean and spend two or three years there. Once they’re ready to spawn, they head back to the river where they were born. Continue reading →
As the 2016 recipient of the Philip Hyde Grant, I encourage all NANPA members engaged in a conservation photography project to apply. I was awarded the grant from the NANPA Foundation in support of my Anacostia Project, which aims to help residents of Washington, D.C. better understand and get engaged in restoration of the beleaguered Anacostia River watershed.
The Anacostia River, long known as the forgotten river, has, like so many of our urban rivers, suffered centuries of abuse and ecological insult–from deforestation for tobacco production in the 1700s, to toxins and sewage that accompanied a rapidly growing population ever since. Continue reading →
I couldn’t help but stare out the window during the short 45 minute flight from Anchorage to Iliamna — my home base for the next week as I sought to photograph the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) and maybe catch a glimpse of the elusive coastal wolf (Canis lupus). Coming from Seattle, Washington, I am no stranger to vast mountain ranges, winding rivers, and large bodies of water, but the Alaskan scenery left me awestruck. I couldn’t believe that I was going to spend the next week in this incredible place. Continue reading →