Shore Shot Images: Photography by Mary Dunham: Blog en-us Copyright (C)M. Dunham Shore Shot Images (Shore Shot Images: Photography by Mary Dunham) Sun, 03 Dec 2017 17:22:00 GMT Sun, 03 Dec 2017 17:22:00 GMT Shore Shot Images: Photography by Mary Dunham: Blog 120 80 New Jersey Whales Living at the Jersey Shore for over 50 years, I have always been connected to the ocean in one way or another.  I have always spent a lot of time at the beach or near the ocean, whether it was fishing, bodyboarding, surfing, or just looking for shells.  There is one thing that I never saw growing up, that I am seeing almost every year now.....and that's Humpback Whales.  Many believe it is because the waters are much cleaner, and those cleaner waters have brought enormous schools of a Humpbacks favorite food.....Menhaden, aka Bunker. 



Personally, I've spotted whales for the past 7-8 years.  Up until the past two years, the whales always seemed to stay miles off shore, only coming up to spout here and there, and disappearing from sight in a minute or two.  The past two years, however have been completely different.  Large schools of Menhaden have been migrating south bringing the Humpbacks inshore with them.  Humpbacks have been spotted not much farther out than the tips of the jetties.


The Humpbacks are generally moving south with the schools of Menhaden.  Find a school of Menhaden, and you have a good chance at finding a whale.  Humpbacks have been spotted along the shore lunge feeding for hours.  I have been fortunate enough to witness some of the Humpbacks using the "bubble net" technique, in which a Humpback will blow a large circle/ring of bubbles to confuse the Menhaden.  The Humpback then gathers speed and comes up underneath the bubble circle with mouth wide open.  Humpbacks are the largest marine mammals in the ocean, so you might think they are slow moving.  The speed at which this happens is absolutely incredible.  Once the whale has a mouth full of fish, it closes its mouth and uses its tongue to force water out through the baleen.  Baleen is the hair-like material which lines a whales mouth, allowing water to filter out of its mouth and fish to stay trapped inside.  

_DSC0273_01HumpbackLBOct2017_DSC0273_01HumpbackLBOct2017 A full grown Humpback can consume several thousand pounds of food each day.  On several occasions along the Jersey Shore, Humpbacks stayed feeding in an area for several hours, moving on when it seemed there were no more Menhaden to be eaten.  


The best action I've seen has been over last two years; Fall has been the best time for spotting them actively feeding.  October seems to be a good month, but again, it all depends on where the Menhaden are.  Late Spring, early Summer can also be a time for possibly seeing  the whales around.

_DSC4802humpbackBunkerfly_DSC4802humpbackBunkerfly So the next time you are along the Jersey Shore, take a stroll along the beach or the boards.  While you walk, scan the water and the horizon for spouts and schools of just might have a whale of an encounter!  All images in this blog were taken from the beach using a Nikon D500 and a Nikon 200-500mm. 

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]]> (Shore Shot Images: Photography by Mary Dunham) atlantic avon beach belmar bunker fish humpback humpbacks jersey lake mammals marine menhaden new ocean shore spring whale whales Sun, 03 Dec 2017 15:21:11 GMT
The Mystical Sea The ocean is like a living, breathing, ever changing and transforming creature that is never the same.  Living blocks from the ocean my whole life, I have been fortunate to see the ocean almost every day of my life.  The ocean can be calming and filled with beauty.  The water colors changing from greens to blues and turquoise.  The sea can also have that raging power, rising surging and dark.  One thing is for certain, the ocean and it's waves are never the same.  Yes you can figure out approximately where each wave will break based on the height of a wave and depth of the water below, but each wave is slightly different.

The morning before Hurricane Gonzalo headed up the coast, I took my morning cruise along the beach searching for some of the local surf crew to shoot.  Looking down the coastline I saw the most amazing wave I had ever seen.  A formation unlike any other that rose up high into the air, curled, hollowed for a split second and crashed down.  I had to get to the break and hope it happened again.  Finding the location where this had occurred, I realized with the slope of the shoreline, water was surging up the beach then rushing back out toward deeper water, creating a back wave; a small wave that heads out into the break.  As new waves formed and came in, the two waves collided, forming some of the most incredible wave formations I have ever seen in my area.

After setting up, I knew the chances of seeing such an incredible wave as I had seen from up the coast, were slim.  I shot for nearly 3 hours, capturing some very cool wave patterns but nothing that was off the charts.  Then it happened.  A huge wave surged up the beach, causing all that water to flow back out toward the ocean,  slamming into another incoming set wave.  The impact created my most popular and asked for shot to date.....the shot I call "The Surge"  

The following slideshow are some of the shots from that 3 hours of shooting and the big one...."The Surge".  Hope you enjoy.


]]> (Shore Shot Images: Photography by Mary Dunham) amazing back beach coast coastal curl east hurricane jersey life mystical new ocean sea shore shoreline surge wave waves Thu, 28 May 2015 23:05:48 GMT
Year Round Jersey Surf When you think surfing and places to surf, you may envision places like Pipeline, Mavericks, Bells, Rincon.  These are truly amazing places with perfectly formed waves,  and sweet barrels.  Places like New Jersey generally don't come to mind, as Jersey doesn't have the crystal clear water or a consistent wave like many other spots around the world.  But, there is surf.  Some seasons, there is amazing surf. _DSC0629_DSC0629

Winter surf often has solid over head waves with waters hitting low temperatures in the 30 degree range.  5mil wet suit, boots, hood, and gloves are a must.  Huge surf often follows severe winter storms, often resulting in waters that resembles chocolate milk rather than the typical ocean blue/green.   _DSC8281jenkssnowBrianFoley_DSC8281jenkssnowBrianFoley

Frigidly cold waters accompanied by air temps hitting the single digits....It takes a special person, who truly loves to surf, to paddle out.  But, these are the days that makes Jersey a spot like no other.  These are the days surfers will drive from New York and PA to come and paddle out into the line up for a chance at a heavy Jersey barrel.   DSC_4594BWDEC10JenksDSC_4594BWDEC10Jenks

As Winter breaks, and waters warm and clean up, the gloves and boots come off.  Surf tends to settle down unless you know the right spots.  Wishes and hopes for a storm to come through are often heard when a long flat spell takes over.   _DSC0871wavesurfer_DSC0871wavesurfer

Flat spells in the summer can last for weeks, but as summer draws to an end and Hurricane season starts to hit it's peak, Jersey often gets lucky.  September marks the time when the Fosters Pro comes to Belmar. The cycle then starts all over again.  New Jersey, not just boardwalks, seaside amusements and casinos, but a great place to surf as well.  


]]> (Shore Shot Images: Photography by Mary Dunham) barrel beach county jersey life line monmouth new ocean surf surfer surfing swells tube waves winter Thu, 05 Jun 2014 00:17:16 GMT
Snowy Owls Visit the Jersey Shore Winter 2014 Some unexpected visitors came to the Jersey Shore during the brutally cold Winter of 2014.  The Arctic Snowy Owl with it's bright yellow eyes and enormous wing span, was spotted any where from beaches in Cape May all the way north to Sandy Hook.  This was highly unusual, but experts believe it was a very good breeding season and these owls moved south to look for  food, due to the population growth and competition for food in the Arctic.  In the Arctic, a small rodent known as a Lemming is a favorite food, but here along the Jersey Shore, small mice and other rodents probably filled their bellies.   DSC_2663SnowyOWLSH13DSC_2663SnowyOWLSH13

Snowies have incredible eye sight and generally hunt at night, dawn, and dusk.  They seemed to enjoy sitting high atop sand dunes, sign posts, and even roof tops.  Often times they would sit for hours in the same spot.  

DSC_3964SNOWYIBSPDSC_3964SNOWYIBSP These owls were virtually silent when they would take flight.  Absolutely breath taking to see.  Hoping they visit us again.


]]> (Shore Shot Images: Photography by Mary Dunham) arctic beach birds coast dunes east jersey new owl owls raptor sand shore snowy wildlife winter Wed, 04 Jun 2014 23:47:27 GMT
On the Wild Side There's nothing like getting outdoors to enjoy your surroundings.  Too often, the hustle and bustle of everyday living takes over and we no longer take a minute to "stop and smell the roses."  As a photographer I try to take every opportunity to get out and do just that.  Whether it's a stroll along the beach, a hike through the woods or a state park, or just observing wildlife at a nearby lake.  

Gray Seal Pup

Photographing wildlife is by far the most challenging photography I have done.  More often than not, a wildlife shot involves a tremendous amount of time and research.  Finding a location to photograph your subject, considering the location of the sun, trees, and other natural surroundings, and determining the daily patterns of your subject, all come into play.  Oh, and yes, occasionally you are in the right place at the right time, with the right gear.  The Gray Seal pictured above was one of those times.  This young seal was very ill and had stranded itself along one of our local beaches along the Jersey Shore.  The seal was rescued by Marine Mammal Stranding Center and later released.

Some shots involve a test a patience and stealth.  Sitting at a location for hours waiting for that one moment to arrive, or creeping through a field to get a better vantage point, or standing in ankle deep mud hoping....and waiting.....just a few scenarios.  Island Beach State Park is a well known state park with great fishing, walking trails, and birding areas.  Red Fox roam the park freely but unfortunately some have become almost tame due to people throwing food to them as they drive by.  I have been to the park more times than I can count looking for a shot of a Red Fox in it's beach habitat with no sign of man in the image; no road, fence, building, car, etc....After observing a fox running about the dunes and brush, I decided to just sit along a sandy path and wait.  Finally the fox shown below walked down the path toward me.  Although the sun was behind the fox and not in the greatest location, it helped to add to the magnificent color in the fur and the shadow on the face brings out the look....




So next time you have time away from hustle and bustle of everyday....get out and enjoy your surroundings.  Look around and observe your surroundings.  Be patient, be quiet....look and listen.  You just might be amazed at what you will see.  Bring your camera along, for you just might see something so amazing your friends won't believe you.  Perfect example is the shot below:  While taking my morning stroll along a local beach (camera in hand of course) I spotted a pod of dolphins they got closer they began to feed maybe 40yds. off the beach and then...this shot:  It's an amazing world we live in....Get out there and live on the wild side!





]]> (Shore Shot Images: Photography by Mary Dunham) animals beach blog coast county east fox jersey life mammals monmouth new ocean outdoors photography sand seals shore wildlife Wed, 04 Jun 2014 23:28:23 GMT