Monday, January 30, 2012

No whale action since my trip out with Vicente and Elizabeth 3 weeks ago, but I’m going out tomorrow and taking an old friend, Leon Springer and his family out, and we may be lucky. Sea is looking real good today and tomorrow and Humpbacks were seen the other day just a few miles south of me. It’s still very early in the season.

Another of Nature’s sweet surprises, an Albino Hummingbird…..very rare. Courtesy of my daughter Kersti who is so very sensitive to my appreciation of the life on this planet.

And how about this critter? A 30’ (longer than my trailer) Angolan Crocodile….wow!!!

BTW, here she is with her husband Bill and their dogs hiking in Yosemite, a very recent discovery (Yosemite) for them.

Kersti, Bill & "The Boys" on the trail

I spent every summer in Yosemite from the time I was 6 until I became a teenager, hiking “The High Sierra” with my mom and brother, wonderful memories!

Peter and me at Merced Camp in The High Sierra, I'm the smaller guy

I recommend the following short video for those who love this wonderful planet as much as I do, or more.

Speaking of memories, the recent playoffs with The 49er’s were pretty nostalgic, no? Yeah, they lost to The Giants (can’t win when you have two turnovers result in points) but who would have thought they could go from years of losing to become a serious contender for The Super Bowl in one season? It also brought back memories of how important it was for me as an immigrant kid to be accepted by my new peers and how sports were my salvation. I was extremely shy, fearful and lacking in any confidence until I was “discovered” by my good friend Bill Symon in the fourth grade. He was already a serious and exceptional athlete and needed to put together a group of boys to play on the grammar school teams. He happened to notice that I was a natural athlete also. Now I don’t mean to imply I was necessarily an especially talented one, but I was gifted with excellent hand eye coordination and therefore could play American sports rather well. It was Bill that I owe for “taking me in” and demonstrating through example the nuances of team play and the skills I would need to compete successfully. What I learned from him literally changed my life. I am delighted that at this time in our lives we are still real close friends. We do not see each other often, but when we do it is as if time had stopped during those heady days as young, vibrant boys glorifying in our physical existence and I am filled with a deep gratitude for his part in my childhood.

Two young "sports", 8th grade, Bill on the left

Bill today, Palo Alto, California

On the 20th I was able to kayak out to The WZ. I wore a new wetsuit donated by my neighbor and friend Alex Cook. When I got out to The WZ, and it was a beautiful day, I kept thinking about The Mako Shark we saw a few weeks back and realized that it had reawakened a trepidation (not fear) of swimming in deeper Ocean Waters. I “hemmed and hawed” to myself and then knew that if I DIDN’T go in, I would return to my trailer with a feeling of defeat. Therefore, I rolled in and swam around for a while and then lay on the surface on my back until all feelings of concern were gone. I am so glad I did that, and the new suit was a delight.

New suit and a beautiful day in The Baja

Below is a recent picture of my dear friend Christine Gist "playing" on a glacier. In 2010 she, and her friend (and mine) Linee, accompanied me on a whale search and “called” in some Humpbacks. It is just that energy that she radiates in this photo that I believe The Humpbacks were attracted to that day.

Christine Gist.....being Christine!

A reminder, and an appeal….help us preserve the Marine Environment, respect Grandmother Ocean!!

The World Ocean is no place to hide the trash!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Natalia Avseenko

Years ago I taught Russian History as a sideline to my Natural Science classes at the college. One of the many things I came to respect in The Russian People was their almost super human physical stamina in the face of a brutal climate. This was/is of course most tested in winter, and was the true agent of defeat for both the armies of Napolean Boneparte and Adolph Hitler. The picture above is not mine but I can vouch for it’s authenticity. The woman you see diving with some Beluga Whales is Natalia Avseenko, a Russian yoga instructor and World Class Free Diver. She had heard that Belugas would not swim with Humans because we were always wrapped up in all manner of synthetic dive gear and therefore unpleasant to be around. She decided to test the theory by diving naked in Arctic waters after a hole had been cut in the ice to allow her access to The Belugas underneath. This picture is one of a handful taken of her during her swim….need I say more.

A few weeks ago, on one of the rare days I can go out to The WZ at this time of year due to wind, I came across a small herd of Dolphins and started singing “Boop Boop be do”. They seemed to like it so I was able to kayak with them for a while as they swam slowly beside me. I’ll have to try that again, it might mean something in their lingo.

More and more “Street Art” is showing up worldwide. Personally, I LOVE IT! For me it is an expression of creativity, joy and hope during a difficult time of change. An era is coming to an end, thank The Great Mystery, and it is nice to see the human spirit continue to flourish.

Went in to Los Barriles with Alan and Marilyn Pomeroy to catch the 49er’s winning their final game of the season and assuring a week off before The Playoffs. Saturday next they play The New Orlean’s Saints, always a tough go for them.

On the 6th I was able to kayak again and came across a large herd of Common Pacific Dolphin. I made a perfect intercept and had them on all sides of me for a good 5 minutes as I paddled along with them. Definitely one of my favorite things to do here in Baja California Sur. Waters are too cold for me to go in at this time of year. Didn’t used to be but the chill factor really gets to me nowadays.

Common Pacific Dolphins

Just finished an extremely well written historical novel titled, “Falls the Shadow” by Sharon Kay Penman. It is the story of the true life Simon de Montfort, a Frenchman who became England’s Earl of Leicester in the mid 13th century and, as much as anyone, was responsible for introducing parliamentary law after centuries of the indisputed authority of kings. Terrific read for anyone interested in the politics, intrigue and daily life in the middle ages.

Simon de Montfort, 1208-1267

On the 8th I took a group of folks out in the panga to help me search for whales. I had been out twice before without success but it was the family and a good friend of one of my past interns, Elizabeth Plumb, and since there was a weather window that day we went out.

Eric, Jim, Elizabeth, Evelyn, Iris

The weather was ideal, Sea as flat as a lake, sky clear and a good number of whales had been spotted just about 40 miles south of my grid during the previous week…..well, longshot but maybe, eh? We went south as far as Los Barriles and saw a number of Mobula doing their acrobatics and a very placid Sea Turtle that allowed us close alongside and even to be petted, that’s rare!

I decided to go out further to deeper water and head back north towards Boca del Alamo. As we were passing Las Tinas Vicente spotted a dorsal fin cutting the water nearby. At first he wasn’t sure what it was but as we got closer it turned out to be a good sized shark. Vicente maneuvered the boat to get closer and the shark seemed to be as curious as we were. At one point it followed us, passed just under the stern and then came up real close to the gunnel on the port side as if to get a closer look at us.

Short Finned Mako

It showed no fear and was clearly not intimidated by the boat. He was close enough to touch but we all were more than satisfied to just look at him “eye ball to eye ball”. I have dove with sharks before but this one gave off such a PRIMAL energy I didn’t seriously entertain swimming with it. Vicente was certain it was a Great White but I was skeptical. I sent the above picture to a number of my colleagues and the consensus is that it was a Short Finned Mako. It was about 8’ long and absolutely beautiful. It was a real treat to be in his presence and feel that primordial energy.

So, we had seen Mobulas, a Sea Turtle and a shark…..not bad. Soon after we spotted a Sea Lion and there was fear that The Shark might just get it but if it did we were not witness to it. AND THEN Elizabeth and Vicente spot……YES, a Humpback, no two!! HOOHAH!! It was not difficult to follow them, they were youngsters and maintaining a classic 3-4 blow series with “flukes up” after the last blow. I got two IDs, HB# 1 12 and HB# 2 12, as my first whales for the 2012 season. HB# 2 12 is the better picture so I'm posting it.

HB# 2 12

I'll leave you with this cartoon, tickled me.