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?

whale harpoon
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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Join the Celebration June 8

downloadOn June 8, a segment of the world’s population will be celebrating World Ocean Day. In many locations the entire month of June is dedicated to the ocean. World Ocean Month recognizes and acknowledges the people striving to protect the ocean and marine life. Are you one of these people?  You don’t need to live in a coastal region to celebrate this wonderful day.

NOAA gives good reasons why we need to take care of our ocean. (There is actually only ONE ocean, but it is divided into geographical areas so it sounds like there’s more than one.)

For starters, NOAA says the following:

The air we breathe: the ocean produces over half of the world’s oxygen and absorbs 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere. Climate regulation: covering 70% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean transports heat from the equator to the poles, regulating our climate and weather patterns. Transportation: 76% of all U.S. trade involves some form of marine transportation. Recreation: From fishing to boating to kayaking and whale watching, the ocean provides us with many unique activities. Economic benefitsthe U.S. ocean economy produces $282 billion in goods and services and ocean-dependent businesses employ almost three million people. Food: the ocean provides more than just seafood; ingredients from the sea are found in surprising foods such as peanut butter and soymilk. Medicine: many medicinal products come from the ocean, including ingredients that help fight cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease.

I think this is plenty of reason in itself why the ocean deserves a special day to be celebrated. The oxygen part certainly gets my attention!

 

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June 8, Ocean Celebration Day, is one of the reasons we drove ourselves cranky and crazy trying to get Saving Our Oceans into print when we did. We wanted it to be available as part of the celebration…and perhaps to help people understand why the ocean and its inhabitants are in such a perilous state.

Ocean problems cannot be solved by beach clean-ups, no matter how noble the effort. Unless the pollution itself is stopped, the ocean will die. Simply put, when the ocean dies, we die.

So, you may not live near the ocean, but you can celebrate this day anyway. One way to do this is to resolve to stop one habit that contributes to ocean pollution. Even if you live in the middle of Kansas, or the heart of Africa, remember that plastic travels down streams and rivers and through the air. Every lake in the world has evidence of plastic pollution. Sewage, fertilizers, and garbage tossed about carelessly (and off Carnival Cruise Lines) all contribute.

And, most important of all, you can buy a copy of Saving Our Oceans. You’ll be shocked at what you read. Saving Our Oceans is available on Amazon and can also be ordered through any book dealer.

If everyone adopts just one habit, makes one change, we could literally see an ocean of difference.

Save a Whale – It’s Easy

john boyd photo

Here’s an easy,  gratifying way to feel uplifted and do a wondrous deed in the process.

Adopt an Orca! This small adoption act is powerful and enriching. Your donation will not only leave you feeling delightfully good, but somehow the adoption feels like a gift for you too.

The Friday Harbor Whale Museum has a wonderful whale adoption program. For $35 a person can adopt an orca (a member of the Southern Resident Pod) and help support these endangered whales. The proceeds from the adoption support orca education and research.

You get to choose your whale from a long list of available adoptees. (They all have names, too!) You’ll receive a large photo of your whale along with adoption papers, and you’ll also receive a monthly newsletter about the pod. It’s an incredible program. Or a person can do a family adoption or a classroom adoption.

After adopting a whale in 2018, I “gifted” the whale (Cookie) to my four-year-old grandson so that he might develop an interest in these animals and eventually grow to be a steward of nature in some manner. He now has several story books starring orcas.

You might tend to think this is gimmicky, or perhaps akin to adopting a star and naming it after someone. But orca adoption is entirely different. These whales are strikingly intelligent, social beings. The Southern Resident Pod is in a precarious situation in part due to the rampant capture and imprisonment of these magnificent mammals by Sea World which decimated the population. Tragically, no captive whale has lived much beyond 30 years of age. In the wild they can live up to 80 years and longer. And, no whale born into captivity lives past 30. (Sea World can’t seem to figure out that swimming pools just aren’t the same as the ocean. This is why Sea World is one of the most hated companies in America.)

Click here to access the whale adoption page on the Friday Harbor website.

You can also buy a copy of Saving Our Oceans and support these whales. The Whale Museum is a 2019 recipient of the proceeds from the sale of Saving Our Oceans.

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“Thousands have lived without love, none without water.” W.H. Auden

The New York Times ran an article May 21, 2019, reporting on the polluted drinking water in many parts of California. Two states so far, California and Michigan, have confessed that some populated areas in these states have water polluted to the point of being undrinkable. Every state could likely say the same.

According to Saving Our Oceans by R.L. Coffield, the list of unscrupulous companies that have contaminated drinking water for literally millions of people is shocking. It seems there are endless accounts of “manufacturing, mining and waste disposal companies – and dozens of others – who are among the country’s worst water polluters.”

“Hundreds of these companies have been contaminating drinking water throughout the country for decades with everything from arsenic and lead, to mercury and chromium – most coming from improper dumping and waste disposal….” (Environment, “Industrial waste pollutes America’s drinking water.”) “Mining and smelting operations are responsible for contaminating water with heavy metals in almost every state in the nation.”

Example: “In Ringwood, New Jersey, Ford Motor Co. dumped more than 35,000 tons of toxic paint sludge…poisoning groundwater with arsenic, lead, and other harmful bacteria. Today, more than 43 years after the dumping ended, those toxins are still in the groundwater and threaten a reservoir providing water to millions of residents in New Jersey.”

Example: “In North Carolina, the state has told residents living near coal-fired power plants their water contains elevated levels of chromium-6 and other chemicals.”

Example: “Anaconda Aluminum in Montana produced manufacturing wastes that contaminated local water sources with lead and chromium. Gulf States Utilities in Louisiana discharged toxins into marshlands polluting waters with benzene and other chemicals, and the Conklin Dumps in New York leaked volatile organic chemicals into groundwater.”

Photo by NRDC.ORG

Various industries located on or near the Ohio River which borders six states and provides drinking water to nearly 3 million people, have dumped over 600 million pounds of toxic substances into the river.

These toxins cause extraordinary health problems in people and animals. Dioxins (byproducts of incinerators) are the most commonly released chemicals. “They are known carcinogens and exposure has been linked to health effects such as heart disease, diabetes, and reproductive issues. Almost every living creature on Earth has been exposed to dioxins, according to the National Institutes of Health.” (“Industrial waste pollutes America’s drinking water.”) And how much of all these poisons traveling downstream make it out to sea? We already know that fertilizer runoff provides a gross amount of contaminants to the Gulf of Mexico helping to create the world’s second largest dead zone – 8,700 square miles.

There are other “more modern” examples of toxin pollution, such as PFOS and PFOAS (forever chemicals are found in the blood of more than 99 per cent of Americans) along with radioactive waste. By the time one reads about Naegleria fowleri (brain-eating bacteria found in water) and vibrio vulnificus (flesh-eating bacteria found in food and water) the idea of a house-hold water filter begins to sound necessary and the cost quite reasonable.

There are many “natural” sources of water contamination also. Trevor Nace, a science writer, describes the “Nine Deadliest Rocks and Minerals on Earth” (Forbes). Sometimes these rocks and minerals are water soluble and can leach into water. Others, like arsenic, a rather common toxin, comes from water flowing through arsenic rich rocks and soil. Some areas experience quite a bit of arsenic in the water which is why well owners especially in these areas should have their water checked regularly. Not all well owners are aware of this, unfortunately. And just because a neighbor’s well water tests fine, doesn’t mean the next door neighbor’s well will.

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Can’t Find “Saving Our Oceans”? You’re Not Alone!

3167e-SOOpc2B2Bjpeg      For those who have contacted us asking where in the world they can locate a copy of Saving Our Oceans (like on Amazon), you have no idea the frustration level in our office this past week.

For the time being, to access Saving Our Oceans on Amazon, you will need to also include the author’s name along with the title.  Saving Our Oceans  R.L.  Coffield. 

Apparently there has been a rare glitch with the company that provides Amazon with the book information…specifically they’ve had a problem with the cover image. In today’s world, wouldn’t you think they’d notify someone? Like us? Or our distributor? Or our printer? or that Amazon would contact them??

However, one benefit of not getting the book hot off the press, is that we found an error! Someone typed “damns” instead of “dams.” That’s an error we couldn’t ignore. So the book has been re-uploaded to the printer with that correction along with a few additions to the acknowledgment page. Unfortunately, we sent an email blitz out to about 2000 of our former customers. We’ve been inundated with emails wanting to know how to get the book! Of course, we do have a box of books with the misspelled word in them. And even more sadly, we sent a copy of that “damn” book out to contacts who we hoped would help “spread the word.”

In any event, it should be sorted out by next week. I can only hope.

I think it’s time for a rare Saturday night libation!

cropped maniac

 

 

Hats Off to Exxon – They’ve Done it Again!

 

cleaning each other
Photo by Mike Baird. offshore-technology.com

30 years ago, the worst oil spill in U.S. history took place in the pristine Prince William Sound in Alaska. For those too young to remember, this tragedy that killed literally hundreds of thousands of seabirds, otters, seals, and an entire pod of orca whales was entirely avoidable.

For a quick review: recall that the drunken captain, Joseph Hazelwood, gave control of the vessel, Exxon Valdez, to a relatively inexperienced, unlicensed third mate who ran the tanker aground on Bligh Reef, a well-known, clearly marked reef.

oiled bird
Photo by Audubon.org

While the Coast Guard, Fisheries and others twiddled their thumbs trying to figure out what to do about the calamity, the oil spread and covered 1300 miles of unspoiled, immaculate coastline. When the clean-up finally began, the damage was already done. But it wasn’t entirely done…much of the clean-up actually made matters worse, such as spraying oil dispersal chemicals in the water (which causes oil to sink as tiny droplets – it does not dissolve the oil into nothingness).

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Photo by Evostc.state.ak.us

The next tragedy was washing the shoreline with high-pressure, hot water hoses, which simply drove the oil into the ground, causing more ecological damage by killing any remaining plants and animals in the process.

It gets worse, however. The offending captain was acquitted of felony charges and fined a mere $50,000 (for doing billions of dollars worth of damage). He was also assigned 1000 hours of community service – hopefully it was in retrieving dead sea life, but that would be too logical a punishment.

So much for that catastrophe.

The new issue: Exxon predicted decades ago that the carbon dioxide level in our atmosphere would rise to precipitous levels, but they chose to do nothing when action could have been taken. Exxon predicted that by 2020 CO2 would reach the levels we now have. The last time CO2 levels were this high was about 2.5 million years ago during the Pliocene age. At that time, scientists say the oceans were 82 feet higher than now, and trees grew near the South Pole.

The fact that Exxon made this dire prediction of a CO2 level between 400 and 420 ppi, knew how bad it could prove to be and kept the matter classified, did nothing to avert this, and instead poured millions of dollars into a disinformation campaign is treasonous. But, the executives have big salaries and money in the bank. Wonder where they think they’re going to live to escape the consequences of their decisions?

So, you may be wondering, what’s the problem?

For starters, there’s reason to think that high CO2 levels can have catastrophic effects on people’s health. For example, heat waves kill thousands of people. More people die from heat exposure than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, earthquakes and floods (Business Insider, “Earth has crossed a scary threshold for the first time in more than 800,000 years, and it could lead to tens of thousands of deaths.”) CO2 drives temperatures higher, and as temperatures climb, non-ozone warmer weather will increase rates of lung cancer, asthma, and emphysema.  (Ibid)

ticks
Photo by labs.russell.wisc.edu

My personal favorite: ticks and mosquitoes! There’s never yet been a mosquito that has passed me by! These annoying creatures thrive in warmer climates. Some of them, besides being blood-suckers, carry diseases like Lyme Disease, Zika, and Dengue Fever.

Hurricanes and fires will be an increasing problem. Due to warming seas and rising oceans, hurricanes will become more fearsome. And unprecedented rainfall will occur. This was seen recently in Texas, and today’s weather forecast is for two rain rivers to drench California again. Wildfires, despite the rain, will increase due to higher temperatures. Wildfire season is now much longer than it used to be, particularly in the West.

So, 415 ppm CO2 levels may appear to be a rather boring headline. But it’s not. It’s an imminent warning – one that we likely have received too late.

(Read more about our ocean and its inhabitants in Saving Our Oceans, by R.L. Coffield) Pending on Amazon.

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