Let's Party Like It's 1913!

Are you with me? Tomorrow is the 100th Anniversary of the hottest temperature ever recorded anywhere.  The World Meteorological Organization's assessment is that the highest recorded surface temperature of 56.7 °C (134 °F) was measured on 10 July 1913 at 46 Greenland Ranch (Death Valley) CA USA.

What do you say we meet there tomorrow and celebrate the 100th Anniversary?

20 Feet From Stardom

Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill,Tata Vega, Merry Clayton … all voices you've heard and know but probably wouldn't recognize them on the street. They are background singers that are the focus of a new film, 20 Feet From Stardom, released over the July 4th weekend.

Darlene Love, perhaps the best known, was the "voice" on the #1 Rock and Roll hit He's a Rebel. That song was produced by Phil Spector (yep, that Phil Spector) who credited it to The Crystals who had never heard the song. More recently Darlene has appeared for more than 25 years running to sing Christmas on Late Night with David Letterman. 

You might know Merry Clayton as a background singer for the Rolling Stones on Gimmie Shelter with that iconic wail "It's just a shot away … ". Judith Hill worked with Michael Jackson up until his death. And Lisa Fischer who toured with the Stones and Tina Turner. 

This is a nice, enjoyable film which probably won't be playing where you can catch World War Z or Monster U.  You'll need to look for it at a smaller neighborhood theater that specializes in indy and smaller release films.  Make the effort. If you love music run, don't walk to see it.

"He's a rebel and he'll never ever be any good/He's a rebel 'cause he never ever does what he should/Just because he doesn't do what everybody else does/That's no reason why we can't share a love"

Goodbye paradise

Just finished a two-hour snorkel at Trunk Bay. Trunk Bay is considered one of the Top Ten Beaches in the world according to National Geographic. 

Trunk Bay is our traditional 'last snorkel' of the trip. We head home tomorrow after two weeks in paradise. 

Your cousin is calling

Clavelina picta is a tunicate in the subphylum Tunicata, a sister subphylum to the Vertebrata. Humans are members of the subphylum Vertebrata. These simple-looking organisms are marine filter-feeders with a sac-like body structure. These "higher animals" are the first we've seen in the numerous trips we've made to St. John.

Snorkeling The Indians

The bright fish is a blue chromis (Chromis cyaneus) foraging on a reef. Blue chromis are captured and sold for the aquarium trade.  The reef surrounds a group of 4 rock pinnacles that extend and descend the same 50 feet above and below sea level in the British Virgin Islands. The Indians are regarded as one of the best shallow dives in the BVIs. 

The Baths

"The Baths", located on the island of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, is testament to the Caribbean's volcanic and tectonic origins. The predominant rocks forming most Caribbean islands are basaltic from eruptive volcanos and these granitic rocks formed deep beneath in the Earth's mantle and have been uplifted to the surface and subsequently eroded to their present shapes. This kind of rock is found only in a few places in the Caribbean. The name The Baths refers to their origin from the batholith. 

The largest boulders are about 40 feet long and they form tunnels, grottos, and tidal pools. In the image above we are standing in one of the grottos, a picturesque room called the Cathedral. 

Lobster on the hoof

Here's a Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) hiding in the protective recess while waiting for the sun to go down before venturing out to forage. These Caribbean lobsters are closely related to the California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus) common to the coastal waters off California and Baja California. They are highly prized by fishermen and divers so they rarely live more than 5 to 7 years. Lobsters are thought to live up to 50 years although there is no hard evidence that this is so.  

Caribbean spiny lobsters are also under fishing pressure and are scarce in some areas. This lobster was photographed along a shallow coral reef/rocky shore.  Mass migrations after winter storms have been observed where up to 50 individuals move single-file across open terrain. A common French grunt (Haemulon flavolineatum) swims by above the lobster.

Color, color color!

We saw this brightly colored fish, one that we hadn't seen before, while snorkeling in Little Lameshur Bay on the south coast of St. John. I followed this fish around trying to get a good profile shot of the fish. This was one of about 10 shots I took that shows the bight colors. The predominantly blue with yellow tail and blue stripes is a juvenile of the Queen angelfish; filmed June 17, 2013. 

The larger, predominantly green angelfish above is the adult Queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris); filmed May 29, 2012. There are a number of different adult forms ranging from mostly yellow to blue to the green forms.