Wave that Formed into a Face

‘Blown away:’ Ingersoll, Ont., photographer captures more than just a storm in ‘perfect’ shot

Waves were a result of gales that are common during seasonal transitions, meteorologist says

Photographer Cody Evans of Ingersoll, Ont., captured wave action that resembled a famous Greek god. (Cody Evans)

Most people avoid the beach on a stormy day. Not Cody Evans. 

The howling wind and churning waters are what draw the Ingersoll, Ont., photographer to Lake Erie regularly, with the mission of capturing the perfect shot — and on Nov. 18 was his lucky day. 

Of the more than 10,000 photos he shot, one appeared to look like a face.

Evans said he believes it resembles the face of Poseidon, the ancient Greek god of the sea and storms.

“I was kind of blown away,” he said. “You see a lot of stuff like that in waves and in clouds, but to have it clear like that was just unreal. That photo sure stood out of all the rest.”

Since 2020, Evans has used his Nikon Z9 camera to catch the wave action at the lake, but this was an image he was not expecting to see, he said.

“It was just crazy. It was like the perfect day. I’ve been going there for three years, trying to get good shots and that was by far the best day I had there,” Evans said.

So, what was in the air that caused this phenomenon to happen?

Evans is from Ingersoll, south of London. (Submitted by Cody Evans)

Strong winds and enhanced waves

According to Environment Canada meteorologist Daniel Liota, the short answer is “November gales,” strong winds over marine areas that go faster than 64 km/h. 

“The lakes this time of the year are relatively warm compared to the air above them, especially with the cold air mass that came into the Great Lakes this past weekend,” Liota said. “So that resulted in the very gusty winds over the water.”

One of the many photos Evans took of Lake Erie’s waves. (Cody Evans)

Gales are especially common during the times between the fall and winter seasons, Liota said. In this case, southwesterly winds travelled a long distance over the lake and built up those waves over the water, he added. 

Evans admits windy days can be difficult on the beach especially with cold weather and sand blasts, but he made sure to wait out the snowfall to see the waves crash.

“The waves were crashing pretty good because the pier pushes the water back out into the lake so when the water is pushed back out, the waves collide and they cause those peaks,” he said. 

This was due to the cold air that was prominent in the Great Lakes region that came through behind a cold front, making for unstable conditions causing some lake-effect snow. 

“We usually have an active storm track that runs through the lake this time of year especially in the wake of these stronger systems that bring in cold air masses,” Liota said. 

High winds causing for strong winds and enhanced waves at Lake Erie in Port Stanley, Ont. (Cody Evans)

“So we get the strong instability over the waters which results in a long of strong winds and gustiness over the great lakes hence the gales.”

Liota said there’s not much peculiarity behind these kinds of waves and they happen every year. 

But Evans is determined to continue his streak of catching more of these stills at Port Stanley. “I’ll have a camera in my hands till I can’t hold one anymore honestly, I love it,” he said.


Canadian Landmark ‘Teacup Rock’ Wiped Away by Hurricane Fiona

A beloved rock formation in Canada is no more after Hurricane Fiona swept over the eastern part of the country over the weekend. According to a local media report, the natural landmark dubbed ‘Teacup Rock’ sat on the shore of Prince Edward Island’s Thunder Cove Beach and had become something of an iconic location which was photographed countless times by awestruck travelers and people celebrating milestone occasions in their life. However, the teacup-shaped chunk of sandstone was no match for the massive storm that battered the island on Saturday and when the proverbial dust finally settled, it was sadly discovered that the formation had been wiped away by the hurricane.

The demise of ‘Teacup Rock’ led to several people venturing to Thunder Cove Beach on Sunday to see the shocking sight for themselves and to mourn the loss of the landmark. One visitor observed that, in her travels, she had “seen many great things,” such as the Great Wall of China and the Giza Pyramid, but she found that the formation was “more magnificent” than those sites, since “she formed herself from nature.” This sadness was echoed by another person who regrets that future visitors to the island “will not get to experience the ‘wow’ factor of coming around the rocks through the water to see the Teacup.”

While the famous formation vanishing from the landscape is undeniably jarring, it would seem that local residents have been expecting this turn of events for the last few years due to the precarious way in which the sandstone sat upon the beach. “Every year, every fall, we think, ‘Oh it’s gonna be gone this winter,'” explained resident Katie McCrossin, “you always think it’s gonna be the ice that takes it. But Hurricane Fiona was quite the storm.” To that end, she mused that, while the disappearance of Teacup Rock was unfortunate, it was also a natural occurrence not unlike how it came to be in the first place as “the coastline is forever changing.”

Albino Redwood

Albinism is rare in humans and animals, and it is rarer still in plants, where it manifests as the complete lack of chlorophyll. Because this green pigment is vital to the manufacture of food and thus the survival of plants, an albino plant typically die as seedlings.

There is an exception, however. Researchers have noticed several albino redwoods in California that have managed to survive till adulthood by latching on to the parent redwood and leaching off nutrients from the host tree.

Albino redwood in Henry Cowell Redwood State Park. Photo: Tom Stapleton.

Albino redwoods do not grow into tall majestic trees. Rather they survive as shrub-like vegetation at the base of the parent redwood tree. The roots of the albino redwood is entangled with those of the healthy plant, which enables them to obtain sugar through the connections between its roots. At some times of the year, albino redwoods have distinct white needles. During the winter, they have a good amount of brown foliage.

“The albino plant behaves a lot like a parasite, because it’s dependent on the parent plant for everything,” explains University of California plant physiology professor Jarmila Pittermann.

However, the relationship is not entirely parasitic.

New research have suggested that the albino redwood also helps the healthy redwood trees to survive by filtering out toxins from the soil. Albinos have defective stomata that causes them to lose more water through transpiration, forcing them to compensate by taking up more water through their roots. As a result they accumulate more metals in their bodies than normal trees do.

The research led by Zane Moore, a doctoral student at the University of California Davis, found high levels of toxic heavy metals, including nickel, copper and cadmium. These heavy metals were at least twice as high in the albino redwoods compared to healthy redwood trees.

“They are basically poisoning themselves,” he said. “They are like a liver or kidney that is filtering toxins.”

Albino redwoods were first documented in 1866, when one was found near San Rafael and taken to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, where researchers couldn’t figure out why its waxy leaves were white. Later investigation found that the plants, which grow out of healthy redwoods, are white because of a genetic mutation that leaves them without chlorophyll, the pigment that makes plants green.

It is believed that there are about 400 albino redwoods across California’s wilderness. Their locations are not advertised in order to prevent people from seeking them out and collecting souvenirs that would be harmful for the plant.

An albino redwood in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.