Disappointed

So far my summer travels and book-selling attempts for Saving Our Oceans have been only slightly worse than awful.

For starters, the Marine Naturalist Training Program I was so gung-ho about was a bit of a let down. The presenters knew their subject matter and were very passionate about it, but too many were terrible public speakers. (Mumble mumble) Some were good, but too few.

Unfortunately there was also a lot of repetition. How many times is it really necessary to play orca recordings?

One major complaint that I and others had, however, was the two days of back-to-back lengthy lectures, a very outmoded, ineffective method of teaching. A few presenters were outstanding. Their presentations included time IN THE FIELD, actually DOING instead of just sitting and LISTENING.

The training program, though, was staffed by extremely nice, caring people. However more than a few seemed totally obsessed with the Southern Resident pod. Granted, this pod is in danger of extinction, so there is plenty of reason for concern.

As of now, I seriously doubt that I’ll do the required practicum to obtain a Naturalist certification.

All that being said, though, I am now armed with several Marine guides and am anxious to start exploring on my own!

No photos available due to my current location and lack of gigs!

Day 3: Spotting Whales

After two long days of lectures we will now be out in the field for the next 3 days!

Today’s outing was to Lime Kiln State Park to look for whales passing by, take a hike, and two more classes…two outside and one inside.

It’s interesting that the Southern Resident pod is finally finding its preferred food on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and not so much here in the Salish Sea. Reports from the coast are that the whales are looking fatter and happier! Meanwhile, a transient group of orcas, Biggs transient pod, is now in this area more. The Southern Resident pod prefers to dine on Chinook, and the transients like seals, sea lions, etc. And there are plenty of those around here. Their population has exploded in the last 40 years since they were listed as an endangered species…so no more shooting them for stealing fish off your hook! The Southern Resident pod is still around some though, but this year they even hit up Monterey Bay for food. It’s been a spell since the Southern Resident pod has traveled that far for Chinook.

The day, incidentally, was great! Weather was accommodating, the speakers were knowledgeable and interesting.

The question is growing in my mind, though, can I be a Marine Naturalist in Arizona? How’s that going to work? I will have to give this A LOT of thought. I signed up for this course thinking we’d be relocating back to the Pacific Northwest. This may not come true if our house in AZ doesn’t sell. Bummer.

Could I be a naturalist in Arizona? I just don’t see the culture there embracing this. We’ll find out soon enough.

Oh…we saw no whales.

Day 1: Marine Naturalist Training Program

After driving 1600 miles and meandering around the Salish Sea for six weeks, we finally claimed our reserved dock spot in Friday Harbor, Washington, where the MNTP is held twice yearly. Would this class be worth the $1000 fee I paid to attend? And would it be worth my time considering my chances of relocating to the Northwest seemed slim and slimmer due to my house in Arizona not selling?

Day 1: Today’s session was “classroom lecture” oriented. After not having sat all day listening to lectures for many years I was glad I was not a student again. The program has two days of lecture and then three days of field trips.

Today I found the talk on the Chinook fish hatchery located on Orcas Island very informative. These are NOT farmed fish filled with chemicals and antibiotics. The spawn actually go to sea for 3 to 4 years and then return.

Also, Joe Gaydos, a veterinarian who belongs to the SeaDoc Society, gave an excellent, entertaining account of Mustelids of the Salish Sea (river otters and sea otters). Joe is also involved with organizing and starting a Southern Killer Whale Health Profile Project.

Jenny Atkinson gave a nice presentation on the Southern Resident pod’s biology and culture.

Although it was a long day of being “talked at” it’s necessary to learn all of this information in order to become a Marine Naturalist volunteer.

Hours of volunteer work are also required and that will be a challenge for me to find something I can do in Arizona.

One more day of lecture and we’re off on a field trip!!

Eventually, however, I’m going to have to address the horrendous news of how Sea World had inhumanely treated the orcas. People who worked for Sea World are finally speaking out. It’s criminal.

Score 1.5 for the Whales

Iceland has announced it will not slaughter whales this year!

Iceland has given up whaling in the past also, but always resumed after a year’s hiatus. Will they do so again? One year at a time, right?

Several reasons were offered for the whaling hiatus – one reason being the lucrative, booming whale watching business. Whale consumption is also down among Icelanders, and there was a suggestion about a permit not being applied for in time.

Unfortunately, this good news is offset by Japan’s resumption of commercial whaling starting. July 1.

Finally, Russia has made good and freed 2 orcas and 6 beluga whales that had been held in captivity in tiny holding tanks for months. Unfortunately, they didn’t ease the whales back to their environment by placing them in a sanctuary for a short time to help them readjust, but instead plunked them down into the ocean.

If the orcas cannot locate their original pod it’s possible they may die. Upon delivery one beluga looked to have been injured.

But the whales at least have a chance to survive in freedom – certainly better than a Russian jail enclosure, a Chinese marine park, or Sea World’s swimming pool.

Aquifers Around the World Are Going Dry

India’s 6th largest city is struggling with a depleted aquifer, and it is far from being alone. Despite the cataclysmic amount of rainfall parts of this country received this year (and many areas are still getting deluged) depleted aquifers are a serious threat worldwide.

According to Saving Our Oceans, there are 37 major aquifers on the planet. Of this number, 21 are on the verge of collapse. Beijing, Singapore, and Mexico City are literally sinking. Closer to home, El Paso Texas is now preparing for “toilet to tap” potable water due to the Hueco Bolson aquifer potentially running dry by 2025.

The technology already exists to treat human wastewater to drinking water standards, but for obvious reasons doing so has a poor public image. Other areas do this, however, and no one has ever gotten sick from the treated water.

In the mid-west which has one of the world’s largest aquifers, the Ogallala, a third of this aquifer’s water was used in only 30 years, largely by farmers withdrawing water at an unsustainable rate. California’s Central Valley aquifer is also showing signs of depletion.

And in southeast Arizona large corporations have bought up thousands of acres of land, drilled countless wells and are “groundwater mining,” withdrawing water far faster than it can be replenished.

Agriculture in general uses about 70% of water withdrawn from aquifers.

One rainy or snowy winter does not solve years of overuse. It can take decades for an aquifer to recharge.

You can read much more about this topic along with stunning information about fresh water contamination in Saving Our Oceans, by R.L. Coffield.

To quote Ben Franklin: When the well is dry we learn the worth of water.

Another Day in Paradise

Mmm…Maybe not paradise, but a far site better than broiling in Arizona.

Somehow I’ve managed to load the boat with too many pairs of shoes, socks, shirts, shorts and food, and we actually still have a waterline showing.

Add to this a case of Saving Our Oceans, another box of books I plan to read, and a well-stocked bar, and I rarely even drink.

I have beautiful new wooden scoop oars this year for rowing and a paddle board tied to the top of my shade gizmo.

In July I’ll be in Friday Harbor for my Marine Naturalist Training Program and also house hunting, but I need enough acreage for our two mules also. All this on a budget…it could be tough.

Currently we’re still dock bound in Anacortes getting the boat ready for its summer travels. I’m more than a bit concerned about the number of dead whales showing up on beaches along the West coast, but it seems that the Southern Resident pod of orcas is maintaining its status quo and hopefully things will improve since Canada put the brakes on sport and commercial salmon fishing this year. Washington also cut salmon fishing back and also made stringent rules regarding tour boats’ proximity to whales. ABOUT TIME!!

My goal this summer is to hike 200 miles and to row 200 miles. Oh…and sell my box of books.

Whaling Nations Slaughtering Again

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I’d like to think that the whaling nations of the past slaughtered species of whales into extinction because they didn’t know what we now know about whales. What do we know? Far more than this article can cover, but we know that whales communicate, have sophisticated navigation abilities, feel pain, are social animals, and we now recognize that dolphins and (highly likely) killer whales are the second smartest mammals on earth…yes, smarter than chimpanzees even…but unfortunately not quite as smart as humans even though their brains are shaped and formed like human brains.

For example, only a very few mammals can recognize their own faces when looking in a mirror: humans, great apes, Asian elephants, and dolphins and killer whales can do so. And what have we done to these self-aware mammals? Kill, capture, and captivity. They have then been put on display for entertainment purposes and financial gain for the captors. (Humans have even done this to other humans.)

Unfortunately, due to the persistence of whaling nations who refuse to participate in the whaling ban that over 80 other nations adhere to (and these whaling nations are Norway, Iceland, Japan, the Faroe Islands, and Russia) endangered whale species are again threatened. (In all fairness, however, it seems the Norwegians primarily only  hunt minke whales which seem to have sufficient numbers at this time.) But for the others,  will the responsibility for causing extinction be put in the history books of these countries? Why do humans always presume to have the right to kill, main, pillage, plunder, and destroy other living creatures and environments? Isn’t it enough that people kill each other?

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Mounted whale harpoon

On July 1, 2019, Japan will resume commercial whaling again…not that they ever stopped even though they signed the International Whaling Commission’s treaty banning commercial whaling. They claim the whaling they did was for “scientific research,” asking the world to accept that all 333 minke whales slaughtered last year (many said to be in ocean preserves) were slaughtered for research purposes. They insist they will only whale in certain areas, but can they really be trusted when they signed the IWC, an international treaty, and then ignored it?

The slaughter of dolphins continues unabated also in the bloody Taigi Bay – a sinful. vicious act considering the intelligence of the dolphin who many say is the smartest mammal in the world – likely smarter than people, just not as deceitful, rapacious, or conniving.

While Japan’s history and culture claim a rich heritage, their actions belie them.

There are many Japanese people who object to the whaling and dolphin slaughter. The resumption of whaling is instead a dismal reflection on Japan’s leadership. But then, it seems all nations have problematic leadership issues from time to time, don’t they?  Public outcry and boycotting is one way to stop this savagery.

Read more about whales in Saving Our Oceans.

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