Jeff Clarke Ecology

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Updates and photos from around the world on my travels both through pleasure and work

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Alaska Click on images to view at full size. Leviathan A dark presence looms in the water below our hull, while two radiating shafts of white swirl and twist, attached but seemingly independent of the whole. A barnacle encrusted fluke lifts clear and appears to be dripping salty tears. Its trajectory surely destined to slice into the side of our, suddenly tiny, craft, but the whale understands its proportions and the tail sinks back into the drink, leaving eddying whirlpools at the surface to mark the point of departure. The faces of the humans carried on this vessel are universally contorted into beaming smiles and glittering eyes. We are small. Momentarily insignificant when measured against the mass of the leviathan. Bu...
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All images are authentic to the tour and copyright © Jeff Clarke unless otherwise stated. Click on images to view at full size. I’d just returned from a dramatically foreshortened cruise, where a five-week tour had been truncated to one-week due to Covid-19 complications, so you’d imagine I’d be sceptical about accepting an offer to join Viking Jupiter in Chile, with just two weeks’ notice to embarkation. As someone who is generally one of life’s optimists, I perceived the logistical hurdles as surmountable and the pull of possibilities as irresistible. So it was that Laura and I boarded Viking Jupiter in the early afternoon of 11th February 2022. The ship would spend two nights in Valparaíso before departure. On embarkati...
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All images in this blog are copyright © Jeff Clarke 2021 Click on the image to view at full size.  After a sixteen-month hiatus courtesy of COVID-19, I finally got back out on the ocean. I had the good fortune to be selected as a guest speaker on Fred Olsen’s new ship ‘Borealis’, on one of her first outings. Our original itinerary to Shetland and Orkney had been scuppered when a certain person in Holyrood decreed that folk from Greater Manchester were ‘unclean’. And so it was that we found ourselves setting out from Liverpool on a southerly trajectory instead. It was a lovely calm evening and Deck 6 forward on Borealis provides an ideal platform for searching out cetaceans and seabirds. The waters here are exceptionally shallow...
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Click on images to view at full size. In my previous blog I discussed my fascination with albatrosses, but alongside that I also have a deep affinity for cetaceans, and I’ve spent the best part of the past two decades in pursuit of encounters with these aquatic mammals. As someone with a tendency to gravitate toward rocky headlands on the extremities of this sceptred isle I have enjoyed numerous encounters, albeit mostly distant, with many a cetacean over the years. Despite my best efforts my species list remained remarkably small, just three species, consisting of Harbour Porpoise, Common Bottlenose Dolphin and Short-beaked Common Dolphin. Whales eluded me completely. Short-beaked common dolphin off Cornwall © Jeff Clar...
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Anyone who has ever met me knows that I am generally an enthusiastic person and I get very passionate about things. Sometimes these passions are short-lived – let’s never again mention my, thankfully brief, interlude as a teenage plane-spotter – and some sustain over the longer term. I’ve been mad keen on nature my whole life and this is where most of my passions are rooted. Like most naturalists, my initial introduction to nature was through birds and butterflies, and my fascination with birds has never wavered over five decades. I am not immune to the desire to see new species, but some of my most desired seemed unobtainable, mainly because my financial resources are not bottomless. Albatrosses had always captured my imagination a...
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