The Artist Telegraph By Geoffrey C. Smith
The Nature of the Bahamas
Drone footage above paradise.
I love new experiences, never knowing what I might encounter! It's why nature never ceases to inspire me. My trip to the Bahamas was no exception. I stumbled upon sea turtles, lemon sharks, Antillean nighthawks, and laughing gulls to name a few. . These experiences and adventures continue to fuel the inspiration for my art. Let's explore!
Watch me sculpt stingray candelabras.
The idea to travel to the Bahamas began when friends of mine told me I had to see the stingrays on Munjack Cay in the Bahamas. They have a home near there and had heard stingrays gather along the shore to be fed by humans. Knowing how I can't miss an opportunity to observe animals in their natural habitat, my friends kindly invited my wife and me to their home to make a trip out to see the stingrays.
It was incredible to see the stingrays in person. Some of the rays were almost 3 feet across! I wasn't expecting that. I mostly enjoyed watching the way they moved along the seafloor, scattering sand with their fins to find hidden prey. In the past, I have sculpted stingrays, inspired by the way they move through the water. You can watch me sculpt the stingray candelabras above!
Stingrays tend to be odd man out, but they are amazingly smart creatures! They are able to communicate with each other and known to have high cognitive abilities. Stingrays contain venom in their spined tails and use their brilliant sense of smell and electropaths to find their prey. They don't use their stinger to hunt but rather to defend themselves against predators. Their light gray coloring helps them camouflage against predators such as hammerhead sharks. Their skeleton is entirely made from cartilage instead of bone which allows them more flexibility. They flap their pectoral fins to move themselves through water, some of them able to travel up to 30 miles per hour!
Check out stingray art I have created!
I caught a sea turtle wading through waters on my drone! I was excited to capture the sea turtle since most species of sea turtles are considered endangered. The most common sea turtles found in the Bahamas are Green sea turtles, Hawksbill sea turtles, and Leatherback sea turtles. Hard to say which type I caught on film from this view... any guesses? Comment below!
I sculpted little sea turtle hatchlings to highlight the humble beginning of their life. Sea turtles begin their lives on earth a few inches in length from nests on the beach. The incubation temperature of the nest determines the sex of the turtles, so sand temperature is very important. Cooler temperatures produce male hatchlings while warmer temps produce females. Fluctuations in temperature will produce both male and female hatchlings. Then once they leave the nest, they make their way into the ocean where they spend years in the water.
It's incredible to think that sea turtles have been on this earth in their current form since dinosaurs wandered the planet. That's more than 100 million years! They are capable of spending hours underwater. If you are a fan of these prehistoric animals, take a look at other sea turtle art I created.
Antillean nighthawk nesting on the ground.
I was overjoyed when I captured the Antillean nighthawks on my camera. These stealthy birds are hard to capture due to their speed. These beautiful birds have an interesting feather pattern of white, tan and brown feathers. Their coloring can be easily mistaken for graveling because their feathers' colors looked freckled in their plumage. Antillean nighthawks don't construct nests. Instead, they set up shop on open soil or gravel. They like to feed on moths, beetles and other insects. They are best known for the way that they hunt. When they hunt, they descend straight down to swoop up whatever insect they set their eyes on. It was incredible to see and hear them as they stealthily captured their dinner.
Learn more about lemon sharks!
Juvenile lemon sharks surrounded us in the Bahamas when we went to feed the stingrays. It was surreal, imagine four or five sharks darting around you in the same water your feet are in! Lucky for us, lemon sharks are known to be less aggressive than other species of sharks.
Why are they called lemon sharks? They get their name from their yellow hue which helps them blend into the sand while they hunt for food. Lemon sharks like to eat crustaceans. Similar to stingrays, they use electroreceptors to find prey. When they pick up an electrical pulse from movement, they stalk their prey until they attack.
Despite how the media may make it sound, shark attacks are very rare. You have a better chance of being struck by lightening that to be attacked by a shark. There have only been 10 documented unprovoked attacks by lemon sharks on humans, none that were fatal.
If I made you less fearful of sharks and you're interested in inviting one into your home, check out my shark art.
Two laughing gulls walk along the beach in the Bahamas.
Have you heard the call of the laughing gull? As its name suggests, it sounds just like a a high-pitched laughter. Laughing gulls are noisy birds that can be a bit more aggressive. They are known to steal prey from other birds. Though they generally consume a carnivorous diet, laughing gulls tend to scavenge for anything they can find- notably berries or even trash.
Though they aren't endangered, laughing gull nest colonies were almost eliminated in the northeastern United States during the 19th century due to egg and plume hunters. Luckily, their population survived and is thriving nowadays.
I hope you enjoyed the natural world of the Bahamas through my eyes!
Be Well, Be Loved,
Please email me your questions or comments, I would love to hear your thoughts.