Dive Dive Dive!

     As a young midshipman I did a summer patrol on a “Boomer”, aka a Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine.  Just like in the classic WWII Pacific submarine films, the Officer of the Deck would give the order DIVE DIVE DIVE! The Diving Officer of the Watch would then give orders to the plane and helmsmen and Ballast Control Panel Operators to submerge the boat to the appropriate operating depth.  I qualified as the Diving Officer of the Watch during the patrol. On my first independent watch the Officer of the Deck (OOD) gave the order to come to periscope depth, which I smartly executed. The OOD raised the periscope, swung it around and said something I can’t repeat, then said, EMERGENCY DIVE, DIVE DIVE DIVE! Take her down fast and deep! Needless to say this got my attention really quick and in turn I got the Commanding Officer's attention as I took the submarine down like a rock and then gave orders to pull the boat out of the dive and level off (just in the nick of time). A strong thermocline had masked the noise of an approaching freighter that almost ran us over. 

     Why do I tell this sea story? Because on the Broward we now have a bird called the Pied Bill Grebe (one of the Editors favorites) that is half bird and half submarine. These little diving birds submerge just like a submarine, swim long distances chasing fish and then surface with only its eyes above the water like a periscope to see if there is any danger before coming up to the surface. When they spot me they dive again. Often all I see is the top of the head pop up with those little eyes peering up to see if I am still there. Unlike ducks, they do not have webbed feet but instead have paddle like appendages on the toes that aid in swimming. Although they are very apt swimmers they are very awkward on land. This is because their legs are located way back under the rear of the bird. The Latin word for Grebe literally means “feet at the buttocks”.  Their aquatic prowess though is second to none on the Broward. In mating season the dark banded vertical stripe on the beak is very pronounced on the males.

     It pays to have a periscope in life. Before exposing ones “boat” to danger, it is wise to peer quickly and quietly around with just a little snorkel sticking above the surface. You never know what may be lurking up there just waiting to run you over.  And always have a lid on your coffee cup in case you have to do an emergency dive.  Be Blessed. Harry

Full Moon over the Broward 6 Dec 14

One never knows what may be flying overhead looking for a meal. A juvenile Bale Eagle surveys the marsh for something to eat..These eagles are known to eat other birds like Pied Billed Grebes.

Two Pied Bill Grebes swim by the dock and spot me, one takes flight, the other quickly dives like a submarine.

This young grebe swims warily by and keeping one eye on me at all times..

The grebe begins to submerge like a submarine..the neck is the first to disappear..

Next the head and front of the body sink lower until it almost is gone..

With a quick nose down entry…the next thing you know..

All that remains momentarily is a tail feather and ripples as it dives dives dives..!

Up Periscope…the Grebe pokes only  its head up to see if I am still around...

Yep, Mr Doohickey is still there, dive dive dive!.

This brave little grebe decides to swim by me on the surface..

During the breeding season the vertical stripe on the male's bill becomes more pronounced.

We leave you this frosty morning with a bit of a tail feather wag. Hang on to your coffee cup, we are about to DIVE DIVE DIVE!

email: selsorhd@me.com

All photographs and materials copyrighted and possession of Harry D Selsor. All rights reserved.

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