[Tweeters] Ripple Effects

jeff gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sat Sep 28 13:42:26 PDT 2013

Thursday I was down at the Edmonds Marina, and taking a break from my boat project, walked across the street and checked out the water scene. Amongst other things, I noted two nice big salmon, about 30 inchers, swirling around down in the deep clear water.

That reminded me of a day a few years ago, when down on the Edmond's docks, I saw a big ripple headed my way - like a bow wave of some big submerged fast- moving thing. "Seal ,a big one" I immediately thought. I was surprised when it turned out to be a big dense school of Salmon, about 40 of them just below the surface, swimming right by me.

Friday, down on the docks again, I was just leaving when I noted a large silvery creature beneath the surface, coming my way. My immediate thought was "monster salmon!" Fooled again, it turned out to be a young Harbor Seal, about 4 ft long - not some iconic 100 lb Chinook. The seal, while cruising at quite a pace just below the surface, caused nary a ripple in the glassy water.Quite the smooth mover.

Last week, in Everett, I bopped down to the 10th st. boat launch to see if the water was clear for a change. It was, relatively, but it was too breezy to see much below the surface. I did see some Harbor Seals though, hauled up on a big raft of smallish cedar logs that's parked north of the boat ramps. I'm curious what these cedar logs, bark still on, are being utilized for.

Anyway, a 'landed' seal is quite different than the mermaid I saw in Edmonds. Sort of clunky and awkward out of water - a big floatation device, without any floatation. They are pretty though, I think, with their spotted fur, which changes color and texture as they dry out. And of course they got those big brown eyes.

One, on the nearest log, allowed very close approach, and was still wet - it's wet fur glowing with color, like a wet beach rock (that just doesn't quite look the same after you take it home and it dries out). The sun was low in the west, and with the rippling water, the seal seemed to vibrate with moving light reflected from the water. Normally not interested in doing video photography, I sorta wished I had a movie close-up of that seal fur light show.

The light projection from ripple marks has to be one of my favorite natural phenomenon. Think of the rippling water as the film, the sun as the projector, and whatever object is on the sunlit shore is the screen. Whatever the object, wet seal, shoreline forest, or rocks, cave grottos, bridges, a cement wall, or a heron , it's transformed by the moving reflected rippling light into a magical light show. Or at least I think so.

One of my most profound experiences with these 'shoreline light show's, was along the Montlake Cut in Seattle one February. I was working on a boat for a month or so, and as sometimes happens, February was cold (not too bad) and sunny. Taking a break at lunch time we would walk down the pathway on the UW shore. The brilliant low noon winter light, shining across the canal, threw incredible moving light reflections up on the trees, shrubs and grasses of the south -facing slope, making the whole enchilada appear to be vibrating with the energy of light. I bet Van Gogh would've liked it. The light conditions were just right- I could have watched that all day.Maybe it was the contrast with looking at boat hull all day. The sunny spell lasted weeks. I felt lightshow rich.

Whether spreading rings from diving birds , mystery ripples or bubbles on the water, whatever, ripple effects are interesting. I guess the whole Universe is a ripple effect, isn't it?

Jeff Gibson

watching ripples

Everett Wa

More information about the Tweeters mailing list