Welcome to my 2018 Twelve Days of Photos, where I look at one of the images I chose to include in my best of year selection and talk a bit about it. To see the entire list of images I chose and learn more about my year in photography, please check out my 2018 Best Photos of the Year post. You can also look at all of the images over on my Smugmug Portfolio Site, and I’ve embedded a slideshow at the end of this post. To see a larger version of the image, you can click on it.

Tufted Puffin, Oregon Coast Aquarium, Newport, Oregon

Also on the docket for our stay in Newport was the Oregon Coast Aquarium, which I love most for its aviary of regional water and shorebirds. This is a smallish aquarium with otters, sea lions, seals, and some really nice and innovative fish displays covering the regional waters and the Pacific Ocean. It is also the former home of Keiko, the Orca from Free Willy, who lived here for a few years after being moved there from a Mexican amusement park. Keiko was ultimately shipped to shipped to Iceland to attempt to return him to the wild, and the site of his tank has been re-used in the other aquarium structures, although if you had visited the aquarium back in those days, you can still see some hints of where it was.

The Aviary is a home for rescued and injured birds and carries a population of species that can be very difficult to photograph in the wild here on the West Coast including both Tufted and Horned puffins, Common Murre’s, Black Oystercatchers and more. When we were there the Murre’s were busily protecting a just-fledged chick, which was a notable hatching in captivity. This stop gave me a chance to update images I had in my collection from over 10 years ago, replacing them with new images using modern sensors and lenses.