Art and Design

Our Favorite Bay Nature Photos of 2018

December 20, 2018

We look through thousands of photos every year to select the ones that appear in Bay Nature magazine and on our web site. Here are a few of our favorite images published in 2018.

Humpback Feeding from the Golden Gate Bridge, by Bill Keener of Golden Gate Cetacean Research

Cetacean researcher Bill Keener captured this shot from the Golden Gate Bridge on Nov. 9 — with smoke from the Camp Fire hanging over the Bay Area and casting a reddish-orange tint over the water. You can see anchovies leaping from the whale’s mouth — a major reason humpbacks are increasingly spotted in the Bay year-round.

Find out more in David Loeb’s accompanying story, Humpback Whales Now Feed in San Francisco Bay Through November.

Lake Merritt Turns Blue, by Damon Tighe

Damon Tighe, a naturalist with the California Center for Natural History and Oakland resident, heard about blue bioluminescence lighting up Lake Merritt. He asked regular boaters to be on the lookout, and when rower Mandy Bliss reported seeing blue light on the lake in August, Damon set out in a two-person kayak to try and photograph it. It took his highest ISO setting — and some steady hands — to capture this 1/15-second exposure of the swirl created by co-conspirator Joey Santoro’s paddle.

Read more about what he found, and the tiny organism causing the blue light on the lake, in Damon’s story Why Is Lake Merritt Turning Blue at Night?

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, by Carlos Porrata

red-tailed hawk

Red-tails are common in the Bay Area, but photographer Carlos Porrata still says he was lucky to get this one to hold still and allow him to get close enough for this amazingly sharp photo.

Read more about the red-tails and other raptors that fly over a new ocean trail in Soaring Views and Hawks Highlight New Jenner Headlands Preserve.

Anemone Fission, by Allison J. Gong

anemone fission

Anemones have the ability to make copies of themselves simply by ripping themselves in two, a process called fission. It’s a common process, says photographer and naturalist Allison J. Gong, but spotting them can be a bit like spotting an octopus — you know they’re all around but it’s still lucky to actually see it!

Read more about the wild science behind anemone clones and self-recognition in Allison’s story Anemones Recognize Us and Them — And Go to War Over It.

The Rare Western Leatherwood, by Stephanie Penn

western leatherwood

The rare, endemic Western Leatherwood, which blooms in late winter and early spring, can be found in only a few locations in the Bay Area. One is Huckleberry Preserve, where botanical photographer and freelance journalist Stephanie Penn took this photograph. Penn uses a black heavy paper backing to capture portraits of flowers in the field.

Read more about her trip to Huckleberry, and some of the other rare plants that live there, in her story Discover the Rare Blooms of Huckleberry Preserve in the East Bay Hills.

Coyote Stealing a Newspaper, by Jaymi Heimbuch of the Urban Coyote Initiative

This San Francisco urban coyote learned to steal newspapers to play with from neighborhood porches. To avoid trouble, the newspaper delivery person started to just throw the coyote its own copy.

Read more about San Francisco’s urban coyotes and how people live with them in Kim Todd’s story, Coyote Tracker: San Francisco’s Uneasy Embrace of a Predator’s Return.

The Banana Slug, by David Liittschwager

National Geographic photographer David Liittschwager worked with a captive slug in his studio to create this incredible portrait of one of Northern California’s iconic creatures.

As it turns out, once you see the banana slug up close, it’s a whole different perspective — as Eric Simons writes in his story, Not Just a Pretty Face — the Banana Slug is One of the Weirdest Creatures on Earth.

The Remains of the Fire, by McNair Evans

This stump burned in the 2017 North Bay Fires. Photographer McNair Evans captured it on a trip through the burn area a few weeks after what was then the worst fire in state history.

It took less than a year to be surpassed by the 2018 Camp Fire, an alarming trend that Zach St. George documents in his story, There is No Option to Live Without Fire in California.

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