The story of Heimaey Island in the south of Iceland makes geology class feel like a modern day adventure movie. As our ship sailed toward the narrow opening to its fishing boat harbor, a first look at the land bore witness to the 1973 volcanic eruption that nearly closed the harbor entrance. I’ve never before seen hardened lava looking like wet mud that just dripped and dried quite recently. Later, we learned that men battled the lava flow threatening the harbor with fire hoses in a successful and historically unique effort to cool the lava and shorten the length of its flow, preserving the harbor entrance and the way of life for the fishermen.
The fog that would settle in for the day and cancel our flight-seeing tour was descending on us as well. Nevertheless, this view from our cabin this morning was quite beautiful. As a backup plan, I walked on my own into the village.
The volcano that forced the 2am evacuation of all the island residents in January of 1973 erupted for six months. All residents were safely evacuated to the mainland on fishing boats that happened to be in the harbor due to a recent storm. The people had wait all that time before they could return and find out the status of their homes.
A paragon of resilience, the residents returned to Heimaey to rebuild and resume their quiet, communal lives. I strolled up the street past new homes to see the volcano, and to visit the Museum of Remembrance, where recorded voices of residents describe personal stories of what happened as they realized the volcano was erupting and gathered their families to flee toward the harbor.
Vigur Island in the north of Iceland is a dynamic place to observe Arctic Terns and Puffins nesting. Talk about isolation? Only one farmer lives on the island with his family and his own electric generator. In the summer he hosts small groups of visitors coming from nearby Islafjordur.
We were among those lucky visitors last week, and we spent all our time meeting the great challenge of photographing these quick birds in flight. Both the arctic terns and puffins would catch some small fish in the sea, and then swoop onto the thick grass to feed their tiny chicks. Since the arctic terns have a way of attacking the heads of nearby humans, my husband held two yard sticks over our heads with little blue flags on the end, to deter any incoming attacks. He was successful, and so was I — getting a few action photos of these beautiful birds.
While traveling, we learned an amazing fact about the Arctic Tern. It is the longest migrating creature on Earth — traveling from nesting grounds here by the Arctic Circle 44,100 miles to the north Antarctic every year — in search of endless summer. I had to hear that fact more than once before I believed it. That’s a long distance to cover with just those two wings!
Here is a close-up of an Arctic Tern chick. The chicks had no fear of us, and luckily no instinct yet to attack our heads.
Stay tuned to this blog for some very cute Puffin photos coming soon!
July 4 is a date that holds special meaning for all Americans, and for Sea Turtles, too! The Mauna Lani Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii has celebrated Turtle Independence Day on July 4 every year since 1989. They raise a group of baby Green Sea Turtles, known as “honu” in Hawaii, in salt water ponds acquired from Oahu Sea Life Park. On July 4 the Mauna Lani celebrates their release into the ocean.
This photo is a sea turtle I found taking a nap on the beach in Anaehoomalu Bay ( a.k.a. A Bay ) on the Big Island of Hawaii. I have also seen large sea turtles swimming around me while snorkeling in Hawaii. Pretty cool creatures!
This bald eagle basically begged me to take his photo by perching atop this American flag and a brass bald eagle in Naples, Florida. Happy to share the good news that Bald Eagles are thriving in Southwest Florida and Alaska, too, by my observation.
It looks like they’re expecting rain at the Pittsburgh Arts Festival. It seems every June, the brave artists sitting in their booths of painting, photography, jewelry, pottery and other crafts have to cope with inclement weather. This week is no exception.
It was a perfect day to be a tourist in Pittsburgh today. Lots of Pittsburghers strolled through the farmer’s market in Market Square while we enjoyed a family lunch at City Works. The iconic view from Mount Washington never disappoints. The temperature, humidity and the puffy clouds all conspired to create the perfect day, reflected here in the PPG Tower.
As my husband said, it’s like this here all the time.