Saturday, October 18, 2014

Social Media Feeding Frenzy - Spread the Word for Shark and Ray Conservation!



Calling All Animal Lovers! You DO make a difference

Photo from www.projectaware.org

Calling all animal advocates! Sharks and Rays need your voice for international protection. If you have TWO MINUTES you can help by signing this letter now so it can be presented at the Convention of Migratory Species in a few weeks!

On behalf of the sharks and rays, THANK YOU! XOXOXO

Here's the complete press release from Alex Earl of Project Aware (or just click on this link now and sign the letter):

We're just weeks away from the 11th meeting of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) where the future of 21 migratory shark and ray species will be discussed and debated. 

Project AWARE is making every effort to get the best results we can. But we need your help to amplify our voice as a global community of concerned scuba divers. 

Will you add your name to our campaign and urge #CMSCoP11 to take international action for sharks and rays? Here's how you can help: 
1. Send a letter to decision makers and use your voice to support shark and ray proposals.
2.  Join the Thunderclap and send a strong message to CMS Parties #SharksWithoutBorders. 
Sharks and rays aren't interested in political boundaries. To help threatened migratory species rebound and thrive, international cooperation is vital.
Take two minutes to send a letter now to select CMS leaders. Ask them to support proposals to list 21 shark and ray species and collaborate for the conservation of shared shark and ray populations.

For the Ocean,

Alex Earl
Executive Director, Project AWARE Foundation
P.S. Sharks and rays desperately need national safeguards and regional conservation initiatives.  Raise your voice to those with decision making power by sending a letter today. We must act now.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Into the Abyss




"There are two kinds of divers: those who pee in their wetsuit* and those who lie and say they don't." - Anonymous

Who, in their right mind, would venture into the sea, at night, with nothing more than a dry suit to protect them from what lurks below?

            It's a new moon and impossible to distinguish between ocean and sky - both are equally black. Shuffling backwards in giant flippers across the snow-covered rocks I edge towards the Pacific Ocean. The visibility is best during winter in the Pacific Northwest. My five dive buddies are already bobbing around, neck-deep in the darkness. This night dive is a necessary component of the PADI Advanced Divers Certification. It’s the one I've been dreading and only my second dive in a dry suit.

            During my first lesson in my brand new 7mm wetsuit they told us peeing in the wetsuit would keep us warm in chilly waters - they were right. But now, in my luxury (rented) dry suit upgrade, previous stay warm tactics are not only unnecessary but would make a dive uncomfortable to say the least. Don't pee in the dry suit. Don't pee in the dry suit.

            Pushing the button, I fill my BCD and surface swim out to the group who has already drifted further out to sea. I swim fast to catch up with them, distracting my foolish mind that imagines what may be on my heels.

            Joel will lead us tonight. He knows I'm nervous, they all do. And they think it's funny. Joel begins,

            "Once we descend, we'll probably lose each other, but stay with your buddy and stick to the dive pla-"

Joel suddenly disappears below the water. I scream just as he bounces back up.

            "Very funny Joel!"
            "Something pulled me under!" he laughs.
            "Yeah, right, stop f'ing around."
Beside me, Jimmy suddenly vanishes into the darkness.
            'Jimmy!" I scream just as something grabs hold of my flipper and tugs me down. Almost instantly it lets go and I bob back up to the surface. Don't pee in the #&%^ dry suit!
            "What the hell! Who's doing that?”
I count heads to see who in my group is trying to terrify me. But we're all on the surface.
            "It's the seals," says Joel, "they're playing with us. Just don't make eye contact and you'll be OK."
            Giant harbor seals continue to tug at our fins and playfully pop their heads up around us. It's comforting to know we'll have locals guiding us through the penumbra.
            Emptying our BCDs, the descent begins and soon, as Joel predicted, the other torches disappear into the darkness. It’s just me, Jimmy and, a seal. An impressive natator, he spins and soars just above us allowing our bubbles to tickle his belly. Apparently that's why they come along for the ride: the bubble massage.
As we sink deeper into the abyss, uncertainty grows. I clutch Jimmy's octopus tight and search for imagined predators with my torch. Don't pee in the dry suit. Adrenalin forces my breathing: fast and shallow, I'll be out of air in 10 minutes if I don't slow it down. The result: a long surface-swim back to shore, which, in the blackness, is terrifying.

            At 80 feet we cross a threshold and an alien luminescent creature appears. Purple and pink electrical bolts flash through it. With each jolt it leaves a trail of fluorescent green stardust behind it. More and more alien creatures appear - some red, some blue and some seemingly changing color with every jolt.
I wave my arm and it, too leaves a trail of stardust.  Jimmy has already made the discovery and the field of fluorescence grows. We turn off our torches and the blackness comes alive with phosphorescence.
            Weightless, suspended in the darkness and surrounded by unending twinkling lights, we transcend into a cosmos peregrination. The silence is euphoric. The contrast of brightness and blackness is enigmatic. This must be what outer space feels like.
            Even the seal has disappeared for there are few bubbles now. My breath is nearly non-existent, as I have slipped into a trance of awe and wonderment.
            I don't want to alight my torch for this is magical, dream-like and oh so incredibly unlike any other place I have ever been or dared dreamed of. It is an undersea galaxy of brilliance, no, that adjective is too weak. We have collided with a miracle and are entangled in its divinity.
We explore this new frontier sans torches for some time until we have just enough air to make it back to shore.
Who, in their right mind, wouldn't venture into the sea at night with nothing more than a spacesuit?

*If you rent your wetsuit...Don't pee in it!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Five Miles of Gratitude in a Coastal Rain Forest in the Pacific Northwest



Blue sky. Crimson leaves. Yellow leaves. Crunchy leaves. Prickly leaves. Giant leaves. Tiny leaves. Beard moss. Carpet moss. Calm buddies to walk with. Silence. Singing birds. Old trees, Young trees. Leafy trees. Needly trees. Furry trees. Straight trees. Bendy trees. Trees that grow out of stumps. Trees with lots of lumpy lumps. Smooth trees. Rough trees. The yellow Labrador who smiles. The Dad who keeps hugging his teenage daughter. The lady whose back won't let her stand up straight, but jogs anyways. The burly, serious looking man whose running companions are three Chihuahuas in matching pink collars. A laughing chipmunk. The strangers who smile with their eyes and say hello. A sun bright enough to peek through the forest canopy. A forest floor covered in soft, green moss. Fresh air. Clean air. Oxygen-rich air. Endorphins. A cluster of mushrooms growing from a stump. The strength of a tree. The grounding energy of a tree. A smooth boulder to rest on. The smell of pine needles. The jolly man who looks like Santa Claus. A fern forest. Peace.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wednesday Gratitude Practice

Tony Soprano


Breath. A fresh start. Optimism. A warm duvet. A cold nose. A wagging tail. Unconditional love. Red leaves. Orange leaves. Yellow leaves. Autumn. A curious crow. A flying squirrel. A fearless hummingbird.  A rambling tree. A babbling stream. 1000 shades of green. Patches of baby blue peaking out behind dark grey clouds. Singing birds. Whispering winds. A knocking wood-pecker. Abundance. Hot soup. The pop machine that stole my $1.25 and gave me a lesson in patience in return. Yoga pants. Flip flops. An unexpected hug. Books by Pam Grout. Music by the Black Eyed Peas. A friendly email from a stranger. An invitation to a foreign land. Lost money found. My favorite cereal on sale. A smile. Another smile. Friends. Memories. A heart that beats. Lungs that breathe. Eyes that see. Ears that hear. Legs that move. Hips that groove. A mind that dreams. Unconditional love.