Friday, January 28, 2011
just something pleasing to the eye and the spirit (not my photo)
Had a great visit from my friends Susanna, Carrie, Laura, Nantzy…and a new friend, Addison. The day after their arrival was an excellent Whale Search day so on the morning of the 18th we got into Vicente’s panga and started for the WZ. Within ½ hour we received a call from one of Vicente’s friends that there was a Humpback near Punta Pescadero.
It didn’t take long for us to see the blow and we were off. By the time we had gotten in good position for a photo it was almost 10:00 and the day was warming up. The water was also very calm and there were very, very few Aqua Malas (Portuguese Man “O” Wars) around so as I was taking a last photo I turned to my friends and told them that after the next picture I was going in for a whale swim and anyone wanting to join me needed to suit up.
After my last shot I turned to get on my own suit and there was Laura Hamburg all set to go in… suit, mask and snorkel. What I didn’t know was that Laura had never snorkeled in her life nor even worn a wetsuit. I was very impressed and not just a bit trepidatious at taking a “first timer” with absolutely no experience into the water to meet a 30-40 ton mobile critter coming her way. Nevertheless she was determined and after all she is a grown woman so the decision was hers. I asked her if she knew how to bail out of a skiff with mask etc and of course she hadn’t so I explained the procedure to her. Someone remarked that it might be easier to put the ladder out but Laura refused that, said she wanted to do it “right”…I loved that.
Vicente got us into position (difficult because this whale was changing direction after each breath set) and we bailed out. I asked Laura to meet me as soon as she came up and we would see how things looked. She had a little trouble with her mask but with the whale in sight nearby she took off with me in an attempt to close in. The whale however dove again before we could reach it and the water was not clear enough to see more than 20-30 feet so no underwater viewing. We were close to the whale topside (maybe 60-70 feet) but not near enough for me. Laura was ready to go again with great enthusiasm so Vicente put us in position and this time we were dropped directly in front of the whale and within maybe 50 feet of it before it dove. Still couldn’t see it around us but Vicente said that we were real close with the whale underneath us somewhere. Oh, by the way this whale was a “singer” and that was a special experience for everyone because he could be heard distinctly. He then moved on somewhere else and Laura and I reveled in the wonderful feeling of having been that close to a creature so large and so intelligent. For those of you who know Laura have her tell her side of the story, I’m sure it will be a treat. I should be receiving some photos of all this soon and will post immediately, both here and my next post.
I did get a fairly good photo but definitely not a world class ID (but a good “comparison” shot though).
This is HB# 2 11, I’m calling it “Laura’s Whale”
This is his right side and you can see the damaged dorsal fin, probably from earlier combat. As a “singer” he was calling in another male.
We also saw Turtles, Mobulas, a Marlin and a herd of Dolphin…great day! I was treated the night before to entertaining everyone for dinner at my trailer and enjoying the wit, humor and intelligence of the group. I swear I haven’t laughed so hard in years…it was shear delight.
In a recent post I mentioned how and old motorcycle injury has kept me from attempting kite surfing down here. This is a picture of the amateur class moto-cross race I was in while a graduate student at The Univ. of Arizona in which I layed my bike down in a turn and wrenched my left knee; put a big dent with that knee into the gas tank. This was 1967 or 68 I think so I was about 26-27 (before I developed an eco-conscience).
I just finished reading a book given to me by Gwen Riddell called, “Born to Run”. Fascinating, and though it is about running, it is about so much more…and not the Lance Armstrong type stuff. It is about The Tarahumara people of Mexico and what their kind of “running” means to us all. I myself am not a runner but I was deeply affected.
Another book I recently finished is “The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail”. This is a scholar’s approach to this ancient legend and if it does not connect some dots for you I would be surprised.
Speaking of “legends” there is a myth I would like to clear up. I do this because as the myth is perpetuated more of our Whales will die, as well as a great many other Sea Creatures. The myth is that there is not enough food in the world to feed the continuingly growing human population. DON’T GET ME WRONG (misquote me!), over population is a huge problem, if not the greatest we face as a planet, but the myth that there is not enough food for our billions is a lie. What we have is a HUNGER PROBLEM not a FOOD PROBLEM. There is plenty of food, more than enough, which is not the issue, the issue is that food production has become a mega business controlled by a very, very few and their ONLY interest in producing food is making a PROFIT. In setting up agriculture as a business they have made it continuingly more difficult for the masses to purchase it. In another words you can’t grow your own, you have to BUY it and they control all the pricing. The food is there it is a matter of DISTRIBUTING it. Based on Capitalism food has become something that a great, great many people simply can’t afford.
The perpetuation of THE MYTH allows them to increase the length of their longlines and drift nets, double the boat traffic every 20 years and trawl the bottom of The Oceans keeping 10% of the catch and discarding (now dead) 90% as “By Catch”. All of these techniques are to increase the food for the “masses”….bullshit. It is to increase profits. In the meantime, boat strikes and entanglements already scar 50% of our North Pacific Humpback population. This will not only continue but also increase as long as The Myth holds people in fear.
Fishing of all kinds takes place in pretty much the same areas that the World’s Whales migrate (which they MUST do) so THERE WILL BE MORE STRIKES AND ENTANGLEMENTS. During the 7 years now that I have studied our local Humpback population I have come across one still swimming entanglement, two dead Humpbacks from entanglement on our beaches and have been asked to assist in two more entanglements south of my grid.
I will continue to monitor this population of whales and do all I can to discourage the continuation of “The Myth”. The Great Mystery has brought me here to live in this most beautiful place and has given me the chance to pay back a certain Humpback Whale that saved my life off Bodega Head in 1971.