Saturday, June 15, 2013

Mom and calf humpback - not my pic

This is not my photograph – I found it on FB and was totally taken by it. Though I have seen a number of mom/calf breaches from a distance and I have kayaked and swum next to a good half dozen pairs, I have never been this close to a breaching pair. Perhaps next season I will be gifted to see this up close and personal (maybe even breach with them) – isn’t it utterly beautiful!

And speaking of whales, which I often do, I mentioned in my last post that I had seen my second ever fin whale about two months ago. We were close enough (30’) to really appreciate it’s great size, sleek body and incredible grace while swimming but the picture I posted didn’t do it justice so I’m posting this picture – again not mine – to give you an idea of their size and shape.

Fin whale (Rorqual Comun) - Balaenoptera physalus - females up to 70'

Staying with animals a bit longer - here is a shot, this one IS mine - of my first ever sighting of a Baja Spiny Lizard.

 Baja Spiny lizard

This is not the same as my resident Spiny Tailed Iguana Bub, and as a first it was very exciting. It reminded me of my Herpetology professor whose specialty was lizards and how interesting his lectures were – a real reptile aficionado and wonderful teacher.

Some of you already know this but on the 28th of last month I was invited by SEP (the government agency over-seeing all the secondary schools in Baja Sur) to give a presentation of my idea for a marine lab in El Cardonal. The Telesecundaria 26 of our community (the secondary school) had offered to donate land adjacent to the school for the lab but needed to have SEP authorize the donation. It was up to me to convince their council (about 20 people) that it was a worthwhile project. I put together a power point presentation and with my mentor Dr. Jorge Urban for support, went to the meeting and presented my case.

 Here I am doing my “thing” (all in Spanish by the way) and I am delighted to report that there was unanimous agreement that the project should in fact go on. I want to thank my mentor and friend Dr. Urban for his eloquent support of the project.

This is me the day after hearing about the decision and a good kayak/swim out to The WZ – elated doesn’t quite capture the feeling. Perhaps this picture does!

 Good news!

Then on the 10 of June I learned that ISIFE (another educational agency in Baja Sur) has donated the funds for the design, permits and plans. A complete surprise!

 A rough floor plan of the proposed building - the site has been moved away from the arroyo!

By the way talking about feelings, this is how I feel when I am in my kayak in The WZ where it is absolutely quiet and all I hear is The Sound of The Great Unknown – Celestial Music to be sure.

 I absolutely love this picture

And then if I am very, very lucky I will hear the blow of a great whale nearby and time becomes rich beyond measure – HOOHAH!

Just a few days before my presentation, my son Zack had been one of the keynote speakers at The March against Monsanto in San Francisco.

 Zack at the rally in San Francisco

Here he is doing his “thing” in front of a whole lot more people then I have ever spoken before. He is currently working as an assistant media director for OCA (Organic Consumer’s Association) and getting some real airtime on TV, radio and the press. Needless to say, I couldn’t be prouder - he's doing "the Good Work".

A few passing things regarding my life here in El Cardonal: Bub is back. He was gone for a good three weeks and I thought I had lost him to better accommodations but not so. He seems to be willing to stay next door (about 15’ from my trailer door) and continue to receive my offerings of fruit and vegetables. Here’s a shot of my accommodations or at least a third of my accommodations. Compared to my berth on Dariabar this is the Captain’s cabin!

 My bedroom through the kitchen - 24' 1967 Airstream Trailer

Next January I will have lived here in El Cardonal fulltime for 5 years. I have been accepted, respected and now kind of adopted by this generous Mexican community. This is my home – this is where I feel more at home than any other place I have ever lived. Interesting for a born and bred Viking.

Here’s a little something from Marcus Aurelius, one of the great emperors of Rome (circa 160 AD). I would have been a big fan.


“Everything harmonizes with me that harmonizes with thee, O universe. Nothing for me is too early or to late which is in due time for thee. Everything is fruit to me that thy seasons bring, O nature. From thee are all things, in thee are all things, to thee all things return”.

I have almost completed the third volume of Will Durant’s epic “The Story of Civilization”. I feel yet again how very, very little I know and it troubles me that the men and women who run our country have no idea of the history and the lessons available to them.

 Depressingly rampant

I did my third in a row paddle out to The WZ in wind chop yesterday ( normally I don’t do this) and here’s a little take on this “adventure”.

"Just came in from a rather challenging morning out at sea. I hadn't intended to go out but I was strangely compelled, as I have occasionally been before, to go out in the kayak. I feel that a workout every other day is plenty for me so I have been doing just that - one day doing my beach regimen, rest a day, then out in the kayak. Since both workouts end with 22 laps of swimming I tend to see that as enough - yet there are days like today that for some inexplicable reason I am literally "propelled" out of the trailer and into the sea. It was relatively flat when I got down to my kayak but I could see that it was going to be another one of those mornings when I would get close to The WZ and then the wind would come up and I would have to turn about and come in on some significant chop - not at all dangerous just a lot of work. Well, I was right. On the way in, I had been out about 1 1/2 miles, I realized that it might be too choppy to swim in over the reef and I had done a full regimen yesterday anyway - but again I was as if driven by something outside myself to do it anyway. I got my gear on with the kayak rocking and rolling, rolled into the sea and began my swim. It was undoubtedly the roughest water I had ever attempted this swim in so far - again, not at all dangerous, I am an excellent and strong swimmer. Well, nothing particularly exciting happened but when I finally got in to shore I had in fact completed the full 22 laps  and was not at all tired. I turned to the sea, raised my arms in gratitude to Grandmother and felt very strong - and yet, I felt that a profound loss has occurred in my universe. It is a premonition of sorts and I have no idea what it in fact portends – usually NOTHING.

On the way in I did get this pic of a Cow Nosed Ray – only the second time I have seen one of these critters. Also a group of 6 Cortez Round Sting Rays!

 Cow Nosed Ray - apologize for the pic - rough sea and murky water.

OK to lighten the mood a bit, check out these puns. I am not a punster but I sure can appreciate the talent. Some of these are hilarious.

 If my old grad school colleague Bill Cozine is reading this - thought of you dude!

 And remember this:

 This is so scientifically true - enjoy the thought!

I am now in fund raising mode for the laboratory. Donations and/or pledges are gratefully accepted. Here is the local blurb I have put out for the gringo community in the area.

                              FUTURE MARINE LABORATORY IN EL CARDONAL

During the past 10 years I have been involved as a “Collaborador” with Dr. Jorge Urban Ramirez of UABCS (Universidad Autonoma de Baja California Sur) in La Paz. My work has specifically related to the monitoring, through photo identification, of our local Humpback Whales during their breeding and calving season here in the east cape. This part of Mexico’s marine waters is the second largest breeding/calving ground in The North Pacific Ocean and home to a uniquely rich marine environment.

Some 5 years ago I began developing an idea for a marine laboratory to be situated here in our area for the continued monitoring of the humpbacks (as well as reef and plankton studies) but most importantly to provide a training ground for local students and an inspiration for them to become involved in the marine sciences.

This year, after several meetings and presentations, the Telesecundaria school in El Cardonal has offered a piece of land adjacent to the school to house the laboratory. On the 28th of May I met with the officials of The Department of Secondary Education in La Paz and presented my idea. I just heard a few days ago that they had unanimously approved of the donation and have given me the go ahead to begin planning the construction. The lab itself will be part of the overall school facility but will be separated from it physically. It will be owned, maintained and operated by the school and I will act as a program developer and consultant. The University in La Paz will also be involved in a similar capacity.

Though there may be some money coming for this project from Mexican agencies ( ie ISIFE) the bulk of the funds will be provided through fund raising by myself initially and with the help of anyone interested as time goes by. Donations are tax deductible through MioSah a 501(c)(3) corporation. Contact me for additional information :

I have a power point presentation that I can give anytime if a group of people would like to get a better idea of the project. I have also recently published a book of my experiences with the whales during the past 40 years that is available in El Cardonal and at The Land & Homes office and Information Center in Los Barriles. The title is: THE OTHERS “The Whale People”, A Personal Journey of Discovery, Transformation and Healing.

Urmas Kaldveer, PhD
El Cardonal:
Director: MioSah – Mendocino Institute of Science & History
My website is dated but my blog is current and includes my most recent website information:

"Keep on Truckin" amigos!