Friday, December 21, 2012

 I’m going to try to post this today, which is The Winter Solstice. If not, well here’s some pictures you may enjoy. Happy Solstice for sure!

Had to have a sunrise bonfire, even jumped over a part of it….old Viking tradition.

This was my Solstice morning layout – Medicine Wheel, central stone with Viking tablet of the Ægishjálmur on it (the helm of awe), Solstice Stone with Estonian sword from the Battle of Muhumaa (the last battle fought in the north country to preserve Paganism and resist the Judeo-Christian-Muslim one god). In the left background is an Inuit “Inuksuk” to aid in the hunt. Rock with yellow top is the Equinox stone.


Speaking of Paganism check out the Celtic God over my head. This was in 1992 when I had the whole island of Innisfallen to myself and I found this early Celtic monastery to roam.


In my most recent post I announced my 71st birthday and had some pictures of myself. Thought I’d throw this one in – 1966, graduate school and the beginning of my political/environmental radicalism, serious, no?


 Every now and again there are some real wonderful things to be proud of as a human being. For me, many of them are in regard to our space program. Voyager I, that we sent out in 1977, is now 11 BILLION miles from the sun and is STILL sending back information. Please just chew on that a bit. We had no idea it would be able to withstand the rigors of space that long - now that’s technology I honor, and am willing to pay for.

Voyager I - beautiful, elegant, sophisticated, functional

I was able to go kayaking out to The WZ three times in one week and it was delightful. No encounters but the tranquility I feel when drifting on Grandmother’s bosom is beyond description. One time I just did not want to come in, I would have been completely satisfied to simply become part of her and drift into the world of pure spirit. Another day I went out with my buddy Alan, drifting, talking (always a treat with Alan), feeling, laughing and sharing our love for the sea. The next evening we went to our local cantina and watched the 49er’s beat The Patriots, saw the international space station fly by and conversed again under a sky filled with stars (the Andromeda galaxy was visible even with the naked eye). Chased two HBs the third day but no luck with an encounter but so good to see them coming back.

These were not the two whales but a couple from a year ago that I followed in my kayak.

 A couple of days latter I went down to the beach for my workout and was gifted with a “bird day”. As I worked out on the beach all these beauties showed up to share the morning. When I look at birds and realize that they are the evolutionary descendants of The Dinosaurs, I am awed and love them even more.

Yellow Footed Gull

                                                               Great Blue Heron

                                                                Turkey Vulture

                                                                 Great Egret


                                                                       Brown Pelican

                                                 Belted Kingfisher        Tom Munsson    
I had my annual meeting with Jorge Urban at The University in La Paz on the 13th. I turned in my 2012 IDs and data and we discussed whale world. I have mentioned before that Jorge is arguably Mexico’s main whale man and I am honored to be working with him – he’s also great fun to talk to! Some topics: the MMPA continues to look good and could be implemented in the next few months, good numbers of humpbacks registered for 2012 and we expect a good 2013 season, my son’s adopted whale “Odin” is an anomaly in that he has returned to my grid four times in five years – very rare and finally a whale I saw while kayaking a few weeks back did turn out to have been a Fin Whale which I have never seen before.

I gave a power point presentation in Los Barriles on the 17th, 30 people showed up, sold some books, 3 whales adopted (117 have been adopted thus far) and got lots of strokes. Thank you to Pam and the other folks at Baja Land and Homes Realty who sponsored the evening.


Jorge had this up on Face Book last week. I have swum eyeball to eye ball with six of these critters, the top one was indeed large…hoohah!

This also from Jorge. Unfortunately dead but this is a Pygmy Right Whale, thought extinct for 2 million years. Anybody want to look for some Plesiosaurs?

                                                           Pygmy Right whale

On to a new year, eh! Hope your trip will remain long and strange!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I thought I'd start out with something funny!

Looks like I’m into a once per month blog post. I’m pretty certain that will change as soon as the whales start coming in. There have been some humpbacks seen in my grid but not enough to warrant using any of my funding.

Today is my 71st birthday. I am grateful for my good health, my family and my friends – and this incredible life I live here in Baja Sur with “The Whale people”.

Me at one                                        Me at 71

On the 29th of October I received an e-mail from my good friend Roxanne in San Isidro that there was a humpback in front of their place. After further inquiry it was determined that it was coming my way, had passed their place no more than 5 minutes earlier and was about ¼ mile out. I grabbed my gear, scrambled down the bluff, launched my kayak and was out in the area within 10 minutes. I was pretty sure I was going to see it because they generally don’t travel very fast (4 miles per hr) and if they are in that close they usually stay at that distance. It was a beautiful day and then after waiting a few minutes I heard it’s blow. It was not one, but two, both adults and coming right towards me. They were still a good mile or two away but no question they were humpbacks.

I had plenty of time to maneuver as they approached so I could be directly in front of them. After two more blow series they were no more than 200’ away and then they submerged but no flukes up so I presumed it would be a shallow dive. I figured they would come up again within 50’ of my kayak at most. I put on my mask and got ready to dive in as soon as they blew. NADA! They “disappeared”. That has happened to me less than half a dozen times in all my years with the whales. If they had come up within a mile or more of me I would have heard them or seen their blows. My guess is that they found a nice current to glide in and were just cruising with it and had little need to come up for air. They are known to be able to do that for up to 45 minutes. By that time they can be just far enough away to rise again unseen. Disappointing of course (first humpbacks of the season and close but no encounter) but as always I felt gifted to see them at all. 10 days later Vicente saw one in front of Punta Pescadero so they are around but it is still way early in the season.

The weather has begun to change. The north wind has started to blow, bringing cooler temps to us here in Baja. Cooler being in the mid-80’s. The wind makes the seas more turbulent so visibility for diving is lessened and of course kayak time restricted. Nevertheless, about a week ago I had a great dive on the reef, I’ve never seen so many fishes and of all kinds of species, plus the water was very clear. I got to see two turtles over the reef too. And then on a second kayak shortly after, I came across two Pacific Common Dolphins who came to investigate and I got to swim with them for a bit…..always a big treat!

Pacific Common Dolphins from last year

The next night I had a whale dream. The whale dove just before getting to me and as he passed he came so close I could touch him. We looked each other in the eye and I swear he was smiling at me. I needed that dream because the one just before had been of me watching the news with a group of people in a large auditorium and the news was all bad…very depressing.

On the 18th I got a message from the village that a whale had washed up on shore about a mile south of me. I took my camera and found that indeed it was a whale. The interesting thing was that it was a Beaked Whale. We don’t see them often at all and though I was sorry it was dead I was interested as a biologist. I sat with it for a while to connect with it’s spirit and then took some photos.

Lesser Beaked Whale

I sent the photos to Dr. Urban at the university in La Paz and he immediately sent out 4 grad students the next day to do an examination and collect samples for the lab. It was a “Lesser Beaked Whale” and from the examination it was difficult to tell how it had died. It was a mature male around 10-11 feet long.

From left: Pablo, Lorena, Carlos and Sergio
PhD candidates from Universidad Autonoma de La Paz

Over the years I have met many of Dr. Urban’s students and these, like all those before, were the most gracious and courteous young folks one could imagine. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with them and watching them work. All four are candidates for their PhD’s in Marine Mammalogy.

Speaking of Jorge, he had this up on FB the other day. Is this cool or what?? Talk about rare!
 Northern Right Whale Dolphin

Now for a bit of history, some of it very personal, but nothing inflammatory or dark – I don’t think?

 Vasilli Arkhipov

A ‘hero” in the truest sense!

50 years ago, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, second-in-command Vasilli Arkhipov of the Soviet submarine B-59 refused to agree with his Captain's order to launch nuclear torpedos against US warships and setting off what might well have been a terminal superpower nuclear war.

The US had been dropping depth charges near the submarine in an attempt to force it to surface, unaware it was carrying nuclear arms. The Soviet officers, who had lost radio contact with Moscow, concluded that World War III had begun and two of the officers agreed to 'blast the warships out of the water'. Arkhipov refused to agree - unanimous consent of three officers was required - and thanks to him, we are here to talk about it.

Making hero’s out of everyone in uniform is a media hype to generate nationalism. It is now, and has always been, demeaning to men and women in uniform. Occasionally someone IS a genuine hero – Vasilli Arkhipov qualifies.

Russell Means - an American hero

Another Hero who died last month of cancer at 72 is Russell Means - Ogalala/Lakota, straight talker, defender at Wounded Knee, a good man. Check out this memorial to him.

Most of you probably weren’t a part of AIM (The American Indian Movement) but you may remember him as Chingachgook in the movie “ Last of the Mohicans” - a story that galvanized my childhood interest in everything “Indian”.

This is an ode to my mom and dad. “I am now 71, your son has grown up, done mostly good, helped create two new and delightful souls in The Universe, and I just want to thank your memory and all the really, really beautiful and generous guidance you gave me.”

My mom and dad on their honeymoon - 1938

No more than three years after this picture was taken, WWII began. My father was deported to a Siberian Labor Camp to later be conscripted into the army of The Soviet Union as part of The 8th Estonian Rifle Corp on The Eastern Front. He was in combat for two years, survived but returned to find his entire family dead or escaped to Sweden. He and I met for the first time in 1976 when I was 35. I had two weeks with him, and in that short time I discovered what a good man he was.

My mom and dad 35 years later meeting for the first time since the war 

Here they are again, 35 years later, he remarried in Estonia, my mom stayed a single woman all her life after he was taken. She was a devoted, supportive but not suffocating mother – she was a good woman. I am honored to have been their son.

Ixmael's first Halloween

Here’s the little guy Ixmael from an earlier post - on his first Halloween just this year

Ixmael's mom, Jessica


This reminded me of my mother and some other women I have been fortunate enough to have known.

BTW: I have a new mailing address. It is a contact address and whatever mail goes there will be a long time coming to me.

Urmas Kaldveer
C/O Bill & Gloria Symon
516 Patricia Lane
Palo Alto, CA 94303

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling very emotionally low and shared that with my kids, this is what my daughter Kersti sent – perfect, what a sweetheart.

So Kersti

As always, “Que les vaya bien"

Please donate what you can to my efforts to protect our east pacific humpbacks, the work must go on!
 Donations can be made out to MioSah at:

C/O Susan Janssen
106 Canyon Dr.
Ukiah, CA 95482

Friday, October 26, 2012

"Billions upon billions"...Carl Sagan

This is one of my favorite pictures of all time. It is The Hubble Telescope’s deep field photo of the galaxies in our region of Space-Time. I include it because the other night I was on my bodega roof and caught the faint glow of our nearest neighboring galaxy, Andromeda. When I put the field glasses on it, it was a sight to behold – 2.5 million years in the past. Please note, these are galaxies (islands of stars orbiting a black hole and separated by millions of light years from the next galaxy) and each contains at least as many stars (suns) as The Milky Way. There are somewhere on the order of two hundred billion of these in our “known” universe...and we are the only life?? Over eight hundred extra-solar (outside our solar system) planets have been discovered in the last decade. To think that life does not exist “out there” is like thinking that evolution through natural selection is a theory!

Well it just keeps getting greener. Tropical Storm Norman passed close enough that we received another good amount of rain this year. I am walking through 3-6” grass on the paths that have been stark desert for the past four years that I have been here full time.
A small part of Norman

 This is a minor squall just off the village but one that gave us a fine, gentle rain for hours.

One of the things all the rain has brought out has been millions of butterflies. I mentioned these in my last post. One of them is actually a moth called The Black Witch. Here’s her pic, I had a “coven” of eight of them in my bodega – super good luck!!

And lots of the insect called the Walking Stick.

Walking Stick

This one watched as I repaired a screen door outside. We carried on a very one sided conversation but informative nonetheless. This is a male. Females are beautiful green and considerably larger.

I caught my first whiff of mountain air coming from the highlands of Mexico and California. I woke up to it and could almost smell the pine cones!

I have been reading Will Durant’s first volume (of ten) of his “The Story of Civilization” literary epic. There is NO WAY that I could over emphasize the grandeur of his work. The man was brilliant, absolutely brilliant and though some of his archeology is dated, his analysis of the development of the story is breath taking. I read it during my cocktail hour which has now become my scholarly pursuit just before dinner - the book, not the cocktail...delightful.

Now to get to something I really dislike doing but is nevertheless necessary.

It is time for me to begin my fund raising for the 2013 whale season. This note is to ask you to help me in my effort to insure the survival of the great whales of the eastern pacific. These are the same whales many of you see returning each summer to the waters of California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska for massive feeding and “communion”.

Some of you may be aware that the past eight years of my work, supported 100% by private donations, has helped result in the strong possibility that the cape region will be soon designated as a Marine Mammal Protected Area. This is one of only four breeding/calving grounds in the entire North Pacific Ocean and is the winter home for as many as 6-7,000 humpback whales. We also have a substantial number of blue, fin and Bryde’s whales as well as Orcas and a number of species of dolphin.

The MMPA will be only as effective as our continued monitoring of these whale populations allows. I therefore ask you to donate what you can to my efforts. Every dollar I receive goes to just one thing, “boat time” (paid panga & pilot) in the field. I have never taken a dollar of the donations for my time spent tracking and photo-identifying the whales.

The work has also generated an interaction with “The Whale People” that I had not anticipated and that is now described in a book I have written (THE OTHERS “The Whale People”, A Personal Journey of Discovery, Transformation and Healing) that has been published by Balboa Press. 

It is available online at Barnes & Noble Bookstore, Amazon and Balboa Press (with the best return to me). Though the book may generate some revenue it will be miniscule and I therefore must continue to ask for donations at this time.

I also have an “Adopt a Whale” program whereby for a $50.00 donation, you will receive a photo of your whale (the identifying fluke shot), a data sheet for that whale, an opportunity to name it and if I see it again you will be updated. This makes a wonderful and valuable Christmas gift.

All donations can be made out to MioSah and sent to me C/O Susan Janssen, 106 Canyon Dr., Ukiah, CA 95482

Donations are tax deductible and if you are adopting a whale please indicate so in your letter and provide an e-mail address where I can send the photo and data sheet.

Your donations have been instrumental in the success of our work to protect these highly intelligent and delightful creatures. You know my track record with this work, we are accomplishing what we set out to do – insure the survival of “The Whale People”.

Thank You,
Urmas Kaldveer

And I leave you with this photo, our local area of the galaxy. May we find knowledge and peace in it’s magnificence.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I’ve been real busy revising my manuscript and preparing it for a last review. It looks like it will be published in mid to late November. I will announce it’s availability then. In the meantime, the majority of the work has been done and now it’s just a matter of fine tuning.

Nevertheless thought I would share the cover now.

We have been having a real fine rainy season here in The East Cape this summer. No hurricanes but two or three consistent rains, one with a bit of wind that rocked the trailer, that have literally transformed the desert. I know that this will come with the rains, that’s a given, but this year it has been truly extraordinary! I have never seen so much life return to this often parched region.

This is a pic taken from the road approaching my village (dead center) coming north from Los Barriles.

 And this is a pic of the center of the village and the church. Looks like we are in The Tropics instead of the Sonoran Desert, eh?

Speaking of the grandeur and beauty of new life, I want to introduce you to Ixmael, the first born of my dear friends Peter and Jessica in San Jose del Cabo.

When I look in those eyes, I see everything that is good, gentle, intelligent and questing. A new soul to start his journey. Que les vaya bien, little one!

I can’t but follow that with this quote from a conversation between Alice and The Cheshire Cat. Please note, it is not included as a sign of cynicism:

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don’t much care where--" said Alice.
"Then it doesn’t matter which way you go" said the Cat.
"--so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you’re sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

 Here’s another way of looking at it, eh? Carpe Diem, no?

Near the end of last month I got in some really excellent kayaking. Many days with no wind at all and clear water. One morning I went out (its August so no whales right) and there was a whale coming from the north and cruising slowly towards me. I couldn’t tell for sure if it was a humpback, it was real good sized, not a blue or a sperm, so I paddled hard and got within about 200 feet and discovered it to be either a Bryde’s whale or a fin whale. It was really huge. I was unable to track it efficiently so I let it swim off into the horizon. It sure was nice to be near a member of “The Whale People” again.

Another day I went out it was so quiet out there I found myself slipping into that very special place where the internal dialogue stops because you have to LISTEN to “The Sound of The Great Unknown” (Harvey Manx quote). Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!! On the way in I had a short conversation with a sea turtle and then realized that there were hundreds of thousands of Yellow Mimosa butterflies streaming by. They are smaller than a Monarch, BRIGHT yellow and a delight to see. Once again I have never seen so many butterflies…..millions!!! 

Two Yellow Mimosa butterflies in my yard.....of thousands!

Had yet another great day in the kayak in early September. After my usual trip out to The WZ I swam in over the reef and the waters were teeming with life too. I had never seen so many fish and of all kinds and then five Panamic Green Moray Eels appeared just below me. Seeing one is cool, two at the same time is special…..five at once, HOOHAH!

 Panamic Green Moray Eel                               photo: Lance Allan

The Mariposa de la muerta moth has returned. They have been here for about the last three weeks but once again, NEVER in these numbers, they are everywhere. The Catholic priests that accompanied The Conquistadores here to Mexico declared them a sign of death and bad omen. All you have to do is create fear in The People and you can get them to do anything right! I mean who in their right mind would choose to be a slave on a mission? The indigenos of course saw it as something else entirely. If you had one in the home it was GOOD LUCK. To have one in each corner of the house, REAL GOOD LUCK. I have three living on various parts of the trailer. I don’t let them in because they will die but the luck holds I’m sure. Oh, BTW: they were also named The Black Witch by the same misguided priesthood.

I leave you with this video clip. You must see it to the end. It is an actual commentary on a sailing race at the recent Olympics by two Irishmen.

And be happy and secure in this:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A beautiful kayaking morning on The Sea of Cortez

The above picture was taken about three weeks ago from my trailer as the sun rose over The Sea. It was a kayaker’s dream morning. The Sea was flat like a lake, no wind predicted and a slight, slight cloud cover so it would not be so hot as the sun climbed higher. I don’t recall whether I saw anything of particular note that day, just the quiet and tranquility of being with Grandmother.

I may have mentioned in an earlier blog that my land partners, and adopted French Canadian family, The Q’s, are all superb athletes and devoted to the study of the marshal arts. Jean-Luc is a black belt in Judo and instructs in Quebec. My dear Brigitte just completed her tests in karate, and is now ‘Shodan”, a first-degree black belt.
Brigitte Mercier, "Shodan"

I am extremely proud of her. She has three grown sons, runs a restaurant with Jean-Luc, maintains a household, attends karate classes devotedly (where she helps instruct) and looks like a 20 year old. This picture does not do her justice, CONGRATULATIONS Brigitte!

I enjoyed watching the Summer Olympics except for the usual hyperbole that has become a consistent trait in American journalism. I was particularly annoyed with the business about Michael Phelps being “The Greatest Olympic Athlete in History”. I was a water-polo player and swimmer so I do know the effort it takes to be the best in the water (not that I was) and I honor that. He very well could be the greatest competitive swimmer so far in history…but “Greatest Olympic Athlete” is a bit much. When one considers the ALL AROUND athleticism of a competitor in the Decathlon (two days/ten events), one can talk about “Greatness”. My favorite choice would be The Native American Indian, Jim Thorpe. He won gold medals in both the decathlon and pentathlon in 1912!!

Jim Thorpe, a truly GREAT athlete

Mexico’s gold medal in soccer was a special treat. I watched it with the neighborhood cantina owner, Alfonzo, who opened up his place at 8:00 am in the morning so I could watch it on his big screen.

My homeland of Estonia received two medals; one for wrestling and one for discus…go Estonia!

And one last word about The Olympics. You have to give credit to Terri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor. Three consecutive gold medals in beach volleyball, that’s twelve YEARS of being the best!! Amazing.

Terri Walsh....."digging it"

On a different level entirely, here’s a little something to ponder.

Keep in mind please, there are TWO heads on the overpopulation monster…People Overpopulation and Consumption Overpopulation. Two distinct but EQUALLY serious problems. Nevertheless, look what we humans do sometimes.

 I was also delighted to see the landing on Mars of the rover Curiosity. Even if a single reproducing cellular organism is to be found, every cent is worth it. And if one living organism is not found, what an incredible feat of technology nonetheless, makes me proud to be a human.

Curiosity, the Mars rover

Check out the NASA website to see how they landed this vehicle…unbelievable!!

And here’s a picture it sent back a few days later

That's Earth, Jupiter and Venus....from Mars!

On a more earthly note, we FINALLY got our first summer rain on the fourteenth. A good three-day constant watering…the desert is thriving!

The manuscript about my life with the whales is now in the hands of Balboa Press. The working title is: The Others, “The Whale People”: A Personal Journey of Discovery, Transformation and Healing. There will probably be much to be done yet but I am hoping to be published by Christmas.

Speaking of Cetaceans, check this out.

Dolphin sound

White beaked dolphin (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) sounds, wavelet graph. This image was produced by converting the frequencies of sounds made by a white beaked dolphin into a graph using a mathematical process known as wavelets. Wavelets reveal structure and detail that are not always visible in standard graphs of frequency over time (known as a spectrogram). This image has been plotted as a polar coordinate (circular) graph but wavelet graphs can also be in rectangular form. Dolphins produce a wide variety of high frequency vocalizations, such as clicks, whistles and cries. These sounds are used for echolocation and communication with other dolphins. They can be recorded using underwater hydrophones. Image created by Mark Fischer from Aguasonic Acoustics, USA.

Well, that’s about it for now my friends. I hope with all my heart that your journeys are going well…and I leave you with this little bit of wisdom.

Que les vaya bien, amigos