Many of my posts are the result of a call from someone familiar with my “natural curiosity” as well as my need for five interesting subjects to photograph and write about each week. A naturalist friend who shall remain anonymous (for reasons that will become apparent) sent me a photograph asking me to identify something he had discovered partially submerged, clinging to a rock in a freshwater pond several miles away.
I was unfamiliar with any invertebrate aquatic species that even vaguely resembled this organism, and immediately thought it would make a great “mystery photo” for my blog. The only trouble was that I needed to know what species it was in order to solve the mystery for my readers the following day, so I knew that if it was possible I needed to see this creature for myself.
It was a stretch to hope that it would still be in the same location 24 hours later, but I felt it was worth the trip to this pond just in case luck was with me. After getting specific directions to the location of the rock I visited the pond, and to my total delight the subject I was searching for was there, exactly where it had been seen the day before. With a 400mm lens I was able to photograph it (after slipping knee-deep into the pond trying to get as close as I could to it). Long story short, hoping beyond hope that this actually was a very rare, if not totally new, species, I took hundreds of pictures of it in an attempt to get its “tail” to show. Strong winds caused tiny waves to wash over it every other second, making this quite difficult, but I persevered, and came home very excited to have achieved the unlikely accomplishment of having actually found and photographed this bizarre-looking creature.
Only after downloading and blowing up image after image did I realize that my wet feet were for naught… I spent several hours, considerable gas, over 1,000 photographs and got my feet soaked all for an algae-covered fishing lure, or something man-made, perhaps a spring of some sort. Waking up this morning, I realized Mother Nature had royally succeeded in April fooling at least two naturalists, at least one of whom is feeling very humbled.
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