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horseshoe_crab_v2_by_al_lau

Horseshoe Crabs have been on the earth for 500 million years. They are fragile gentle creatures. They use their tails, not for stinging, but as a rudder while moving in the water, and if necessary, to right themselves when flipped upside down.

Although horseshoe crabs lay over 800,000 eggs at a time, it is estimated that only 10 will survive to adulthood. That is because so many other animals, such as turtles, fish and birds, eat the eggs. Without the existence of the horseshoe crab, tiny Red Knot birds may perish as they rely on the horseshoe crab eggs for energy to sustain them for the long annual migration along the Atlantic, from the Arctic to South America.

Thanks to horseshoe crabs, human vaccines have been tested and approved by using the crab’s blue blood. Special cells in the blue blood attack any bacteria, thereby telling physicians if an experimental drug is safe or not for injection.

So when this spring comes and you see horseshoe crabs spawning at the beach, be nice to them, because they have been giving their lives to us and the Earth for a very long time.

My illustration shows a horseshoe crab emerging from the sea to lay her eggs during spawning season.

sketch: ice skater

February 18, 2017

ice_skate_away_by_al_lau

It’s a nice long Presidents weekend. A good time to go outside to ski, snowboard or ice skate. What winter activity do you like to do?

Dungeness Crab Version 2

Along the west coast of America, up to the Pacific Northwest, lives the Dungeness Crab. It is one of the larger family of crabs. Their name is derived from Dungeness, a fish port town in Puget Sound, Washington state. Their lifespan is about 10 years. Commercially caught Dungeness Crabs are usually around 5 years old when their shells reach 6 to 7 inches wide. Crabs grow through a process called molting where it sheds its shell for a new, larger one. Each time this happens, the crab grows 15 to 25%. They can be found in muddy/sandy portions of estuaries with eelgrass, along rocky shores, or as deep as 2000 feet in the ocean where they forage for small fish and invertebrates, such as clams and mussels.

Here is some good news. In a world full of so many threatened species of sea life, Dungeness crabs are actually a very good choice as a sustainable food source.  Regulations is saving the species. For example, in Canada, Dungeness Crab fisheries have catch size limitations. This protects male crabs until they are sexually mature, giving them the chance to spawn before being harvested. Female crabs are also protected by having fishing season restrictions.

What is your favorite prepared way to eat crab?  Mine is Hong Kong-style which is stir-fried in a wok and tossed with soy sauce, green onions, and lots of scrambled egg. Yummy.

I have painted a Dungeness Crab before, however, my approach toward doing watercolor has changed over time, so this is version 2 of the beloved tasty subject.

plesiosaur_vs_dunkleosteus_by_al_lau

The quick and nimble Plesiosaurus encounters the megashark, Dunkleosteus. Both creatures were deep sea dinosaurs from the prehistoric seas of early Earth. Check out my illustration which is available at my store now.

There can only be one alpha predator. Who do you think will win this battle?

sketch: salmon shark

January 7, 2016

salmon shark_by_al_lau

It’s a bummer to be a salmon in a world where everybody loves to eat salmon steak and sushi. It’s even worse when salmon have an apex predator stalking them called a Salmon Shark. This is my sketch of a salmon shark on the prowl. He kinda turned out cute. Almost huggable.

dinosaur_footprint_by_al_lau

I did this illustration in watercolour medium. It was fun to do because of all the sandy texture that had to go into it. I wanted to capture the footprints as if they were made recently, hence the sharp nail marks and defined foot pads.

These track imprints in the sand belong to an Allosaurus, or a bipedal theropod, from the Late Jurassic age. The Allosaurus is a carnivorous dinosaur much like its cousin the Tyrannosaurus Rex. All theropods had bird-like clawed feet although their legs were very strong and muscular to chase prey down.

illustration: trilobite race

December 4, 2015

trilobites_race_by_al_lau

Trilobites were early arthropods that existed over 500 million years ago during the paleozoic era, even before the dinosaur age. They ranged in size from under an inch to as big as two feet long. Their body composed of hard-shelled body segments which we can find today in fossil form. Unfortunately, their legs and antennae were much too brittle to be preserved during fossilization.

In my watercolor painting, the trilobites are full of life, scurrying and anxious to find food among the ocean floor.

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