River Otter and Skypools in Sutro Baths, California

February 08, 2013

Zotter (2)

Photographer: Mila Zinkova; Mila's Web site
Summary Authors: Mila Zinkova; Jim Foster

There’s lots of wildlife you can see in San Francisco, California, or just off shore: sea lions, whales, dolphins, coyotes and great horned owls. But a river otter in Sutro Baths, which at one time was the world's largest indoor swimming pool complex, is something quite strange even for San Francisco.

The photo above shows a river otter swimming in the pool just before sunset, with the reflection of the bath's ruins and surrounding rocks. The movement of the water, the golden reflections off the ripples plus the otter's wake created a beautiful and seemingly mysterious network of colors. Actually, the smeared reflections are referred to as skypools. They're essentially distorted images from the sky above as well as from the ruins of the Sutro Baths. Skypools are easily observed when your line of sight is greater than about 15 degrees -- high enough so that the surface of the wavelet (ripples) can be seen. Photo taken on January 3, 2013.

Photo details: Camera Model: Canon PowerShot SX40 HS; Focal Length: 57.1mm; Aperture: f/5.0; Exposure Time: 0.0080 s (1/125); ISO equiv: 400; Software: Adobe Photoshop CS3 Windows.