Monday, February 23, 2015

The Most Romantic Tale in the Sea - And a Conservation Success Story!

phhhhhhhhhhhh phhhhhhhhhhhhhh, that's me blowing the dust off my blog. It's not that I've been entirely lazy. I'm 'writing' book two which mostly involves banging my head against my desk, but either way it's left my blog a little dusty.

I've returned to share a tale about the most romantic fish in the sea and the people who are helping to save this species from extinction because it's dangerously close. In fact, the seahorse is now listed by CITES as an endangered species and is on the brink of extinction.

Those people are the couple who passionately started Ocean Rider Seahorse farm in Kona, Hawai'i in 1998. I recently visited their seahorse farm to see radical conservation in action and left inspired by their conservation success story.

Up until recently, approximately 1,000,000 wild seahorses annually were taken from the sea for the pet store trade. That number has been dramatically reduced as people are now buying sustainable seahorses from Ocean Rider.
Seahorses are incredibly romantic - and monogamous. Once they choose a partner, they are together for life, as in never out of sight from one another. The male carries the babies and out of the 1000 or so he delivers, maybe one will survive, making this species ability to survive human consumption precarious at best.
On average, a wild seahorse will survive in a home aquarium for two weeks. Why such a short life span, when in the wild they can live for 20+ years? Because unlike humans, who reach for the nearest tub of Ben and Jerry's when heartbroken, seahorses starve themselves to death without their soul mate.
Seahorses born and raised at Ocean Rider seahorse farm grow up surrounded by many other seahorses and are adaptable to meeting new friends.  These farmed seahorses can live for a long time in an aquarium; in fact, some of their original horses from 1998 are still alive today in their respective new homes.

Not only does Ocean Rider keep wild seahorses in the ocean, they also help protect our fragile oceans and coral reefs from keeping the demand out of the sea.

Seahorses are also used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and sadly, 50% of the wild seahorse population disappeared from 1990 - 1995. If you just felt your heart break a little, you're not alone. The bright side though is there are people making a BIG positive impact, people like Ocean Rider. If you're in Kona, pay them a visit; you'll even get to hold a seahorse. This model can be used for many species to help protect the wild population - lots of opportunity for entrepreneurs to make a positive impact. 

From the Ocean Rider website:
Our story has now become a model as to the difference a few people, a good idea, and a small aqua-farm can make in  protecting and reducing the pressure on our coral reefs and sea grass beds.  The technology developed here for the culture of seahorses is transferrable to the culture of other exotic marine fish from the coral reefs to the deep sea paving a way to greatly reduce the amount of wild  fish taken out of  our ocean. It is our belief that we can bring our oceans back to the level of health and productivity seen at the turn of the century by using this technology combined with conservation solutions that are available to us all.  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

I Have Lived

Such an inspiring song - but this video - tote amaze-balls! What an inspiration this young man is as he reminds us to live each day because the finish line isn't that far away...for any of us.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

It all began with a dream...dream BIG this year!
My dream is to finish book two - will it happen? Yeah! Will it be a struggle? Hell Yeah!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Coolest Tools We Have

Stephen Covey said, "Live today from your imagination instead of your history," but why not live each day from our imagination instead of our temporary reality? We use to. Just spend some time observing kids - they're Imagination and Creativity professionals. In fact, they're so in tune with the power of these tools that they beg us to join them in their imaginative worlds too.

Before we entered this world, each and every one of us were armed with the only tools we really need: imagination and creativity. Every problem can be solved using just those two things. 
And every moment can be so cool when we use these tools ingrained within us. Problem is, like the measuring tape that's always gone missing, we've misplaced these tools somewhere along the way too. 
Truth is, we never really lost them, we just lost faith in them and turned them in for 'reality'. Which, doesn't really exist. Any reality is just a temporary state - even this human reality. So why not lighten life up with some imagination and creativity? Every great thing has been born from these two magical ingredients: the airplane, the wheel, skyscrapers, organ transplants - hardly just child's play! But imagination and creativity can make every day fun, peaceful, exciting, and a welcome break from so-called 'reality'.

Monday, November 17, 2014

What my Dog Wants to Teach Me

I've taught my dog how to do tricks like speak, shake a paw and roll over. He appeases me and happily does these tricks making me feel proud that he's so clever.
Here are a few things my dog is still trying to teach me, however. He hopes one day I'll master them as he has mastered the 'High Five'. But if I don't he understands because, after all, I'm only human.

1) Live in the moment.
2) Don't hold a grudge.
3) Be grateful for everything.
4) Protect those you love.
5) Food should be loved, not feared.
6) Exercise is fun and exciting.
7) Rest when you need it.
8) Chill out.
9) Love unconditionally.
10) It's easy to be happy. Just be.

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

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!