A final post from Mexico and I want to cover two unrelated things. Firstly, a humorous note on the problems of capturing the perfect shot of seabirds and secondly, the deadly threat facing the life in our oceansfrom chemicals in our sunscreen lotions.
The wildlife here has been amazing; from the fish and corals in the sea, through the racoon and iguana running around the hotel, to the birds in the garden and overhead. However, as a keen photographer, those pesky pelicans and friggin’ frigate birds have spent the fortnight trying my patience. I took 3 cameras away with me. My phone, my waterproof and my bridge zoom. The latter is quite chunky so not always at my side, especially on the beach. I’m fairly sure those pesky birds saw my camera selection and chose only to fly within range when the wrong camera was available – for two weeks!
The frigate birds were glorious to watch, gliding through the air without a beat of their wings, seemingly for days on end. Soaring on the air currents, lazily looking for food. Beautiful to see but almost too far away to capture. These are the best shots I could get.
However, it was the pesky pelicans who were even more frustrating. A cruising frigate bird I expect to be high in the sky but these fish guzzlers I expected to be a little more accommodating. But what did they do? As soon as you got near them, they were off. They happily cruised by in v-formation over your head whilst in the pool but not when armed and ready! Anyway, finally on the last full day I went in hunt of these elusive creatures. Still not brilliant results but I did get to watch them diving for fish. Elegance is not a word to use here, not like gannets and other more streamlined seabirds.
One final note and it’s about sunscreen. When we go away most of us wear it to protect ourselves from the sun’s damaging rays but few of us think about the effect it has on marine life. The threat it poses has been brought home to me with my snorkelling escapades on this trip. Much of the coral I saw, here in Mexico, was dull and lifeless. Not all of it, as some of my photos hopefully show, but certainly large parts of it. I was lucky enough to dive and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, decades ago, so have seen what healthy reefs can be like. The bleaching and death of coral reefs have been increasing and there is no one cause to tackle. Climate change, dynamite fishing, increased sedimentation from human activities and careless tourism are just some of the causes.
One that was new to me was the effect that our sunscreen has on the oceans. Certain chemicals found in nearly all the main brands have been implicated. Parts of Mexico including the water parks in the Riviera Maya and the whale shark tours will not allow you to use your own sunscreen. Hawaii has just passed a law banning the sale of any sun product containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. These two chemicals that have been identified as particularly nasty. For more info see here – Reef Safe Sunscreen.
So if you’re going to swim in the sea, near a reef in particular, I urge you to try and find a reef safe product. But check carefully as many that say they are, on Amazon, still list these chemicals in their ingredients. David Attenborough has shown us the problems of single-use plastic in the oceans. Maybe we can at least stop and think as well about the sunscreen we leave in the sea when we head home from our holidays.