Tuesday, December 29, 2009

End of 2009 and what have we discovered?

I guess everyone looks back over the year and wonders if we are any better off now, compared to when 2009 began. My biggest new discovery was finding out about that huge mass of floating garbage in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It has been around for years (I think I first heard about it in 2007) and it only starting making the major news this past year. Oh, yes, it was reported before but the national news seemed to ignore it. Stupid stories of Micheal Jackson's lifestyle tended to take up the allotted air time and serious news was left to the internet for people to find out about.

Meanwhile back out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean the mass of plastic junk like water bottles, shrink tube, the discarded child's toy, plastic twine by the mile and non-descriptive little bits of plastic torn apart by the ocean currents all floating together in one huge mass seem to remain in place with no one doing anything about it.

I can't wait for the reports to come back in 10-20 years about how those toxic plastic bits found their way into every organism on the planet. Happy 2010 everyone.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays

The year is almost at an end. I can't believe how fast it went. My fall semester of college just ended and I just got my text books for the winter term last week. It is moving all so fast now. After the winter term I will probably take a break and go on site for more of a hands on feel of a marine biologist in the Pacific Northwest.

I wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A warning to all those leaving spam comments

There are times I wonder why I even bother keeping this blog going. I get so many garbage comments with links to trash websites it is sickening. I like writing about sea life and oceans and often voice my views on what my dream vacation is ......hint....it is not one of those all inclusive vacation packages. I write for me and if I get readers I am thankful but that is not why I write. I suppose I could make each post a "no comments" allowed post, but that is not like me.

For now I will just grit my teeth and continue to delete those nasty comments that have nothing to do with what I have written. I am hoping that it does not stop me from writing my blog .... as I enjoy it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Swimming as therapy

I love to swim. Although I love to swim I have problems with some types of scuba equipment. Because of that I take an occasional lesson in scuba diving just to keep in practice and to learn more about the equipment that gives me problems.

One of the people that use to teach me was a person with one leg. He use to be on SSD and got fed up with not doing anything with his life so he took his passion for swimming and became a scuba instructor. He has since retired and now travels.

He is one of the many people that I have found in my life that inspired me to continue my own quest in marine biology.

Whole countries are disappearing under water

Low lying countries are now on the verge of disappearing altogether, watch the video below for a very graphic look at the rising sea water.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Finals week is almost here

I will never understand how some of the teachers get their jobs at the college I attend. I loosely call them teachers because the name professor to me means they know more than the students. I am in one program that, I swear, the teacher has not touched on anything that I did not learn in HS. At this point I am thinking I should have gotten an online degree then transferred the credits. The only problem with that is that most of them only cover computer courses like an online IT degree and not biology or marine science.

I am hoping that next semester is better than this one was. This time I will be asking other students which teachers to avoid.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Another lonely Thanksgiving

The Holidays, when people have family to visit, except when they don't have family around. That has been my story for the last 5 years. My mother past away 6 years ago, dad 9 years ago and my only sister has been in and out of drug rehab for the last 12 years so she is not what I call a close family member anymore. I guess that is why I divert my energies to wildlife and sea life rescue and rehabilitation.

Speaking of sea life rehab, the sea life rescue in Alaska just released 2 seal pups, named Cupcake and Starburst,......was someone eating at the time they got named,... back into the wild just over a month ago. Last word on their release is that they were doing just fine.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Polar Bears and the melting ice

This photo reminds me of how the melting polar ice caps will be affecting the Polar Bears. The bears need the ice to be able to hunt and rest on the ice and eat their catch. If they can't hunt on the ice they won't be able to gain enough weight to help them survive their hibernation. They can't afford to have a fast weight loss before their hibernation ends because there is nothing around for the to eat before spring.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sea otters

I really love the antics of Sea Otters. They are the jokers of the sea. One of the best places to watch them from the shore is in the Monterey Bay along the California coastline. Monterey Bay is also the location of the Monerery Bay Aquarium where they have an otter cam located on their website. Michelle Staedler is Monterey Bay Aquarium’s sea otter research coordinator and she is alarmed at the falling otter population. Their numbers are down by 1.3% from 2005, their numbers should be growing.

Otters are no longer hunted, at least legally, so that is not a major factor in their declining numbers. I have a spreadsheet on my notebook computer that I use to track the other major causes of their decline in numbers. Disease and parasites have been playing an important part in their demise. For example sea otters are prey to a parasitic worm that burrows into their intestine. They are also dying of toxoplasmosis which kill brain tissue, causing seizures and disability.

Toxoplasmosis is something I have written about in the past. It is an organism that is found in cat poop. When people flush cat poop or litter down their toilets is when it makes its way to the world's oceans and ends up killing the sea otters.

I would like to see the sea otters survive just a few hundred more years at least. If only the cat owning public were made more aware of the consequences of flushing their cats' poop or litter.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

College blues

It is mid-term and I have 3 classes that I think that I should have dumped after the first 2 weeks. One is a writing class that is a prerequisite for another class that I have to take. The teacher is a self proclaimed author. I was fine with that until I found out the only book she ever wrote was a 15 line children's book, and she read it to us in class today! It was written for 6 year olds to read.

My thoughts were, "this women is a college professor!", then I wondered how she got the job.

Next up is a business class. I needed to take the class to simply get class credits and it was either that or accounting .... and I hate accounting. The business class teacher has spent almost the entire class periods so far showing movies on DVD that are interviews with business owners. Other than showing us how successful the business owners have become none of the material is a how-to or even instructional in any way. The teacher has also shown some questionable "how to start your own business" websites on his refurbished laptop that is hooked up to the overhead so we could all see them. So far I have gotten nothing out of the class.

My last boring class is just that, boring. It is my math class. The only reason I got stuck in that class was the fact that I missed one extra problem on the math entrance placement exam and instead of not needing math at all I have to repeat what I already know. So far I have gotten 100% on all tests and it is a breeze but boring.

I hope next semester is better than this one.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Be careful what you flush down the toilet

More and more pharmaceutical products are ending up in the world's water supplies. Water treatment plants are not equipped to handle the broken down pills and prescriptions that people have flushed down their toilets or washed down their drains. This is not counting the untold incidents of illegal dumping done by companies to get rid of products that did not make it to market or failed clinical trials.

If those products are ending up in our drinking water, what is happening to the world's oceans? They, the oceans and seas, are ending up becoming the world's cesspool. So next time you what to get rid of a weight loss product or an expired prescription think twice before dumping in your toilet or drain. Contact your local doctor or pharmacy to see if they have a disposal system in place for medications.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A rainy day in the Pacific Northwest

Storm season has arrived. I got all the outside stuff finished yesterday, like mowing the lawns and putting stuff away so it would not get water damaged or blown over by the wind. Today I have college homework to do. I have got to get to finish yet another essay for writing class and of course there is always math.

Sitting here watching the heavy rain come down and seeing the trees dropping their autumn leaves. I almost feel like I am getting nothing done. I should be out collecting samples or observing something related to sea life. But no, I sit and type.

About an hour ago I did try and make a call about my printer. I hate getting those call center places that don't speak English too well. They couldn't help me so I found the answer online. Oh well, I had better get that essay finished so I can enjoy tomorrow - the weather is suppose to be better.

Strength training - country style

Spending too much time just doing homework lately. That and sitting in those long boring classes has made my body to mush. On Friday I stopped over a friend's house and we were going to go out but since a storm was coming in she had to move 14 bales of hay into her hay barn. Me, usually active chipped into help so we could leave. Well after just one month of school my muscles have become like limp noodles. Thankfully I did not pull any muscles but I sure I did feel sore afterwards. I think that I did lose belly fat, if I had much to loose that is, during that little workout with the bales.

Just today my friend tells me that the bales were 175lbs each! No wonder my muscles felt like mush. When my family use to get bales for their cattle they were the smaller 80lb ones. Now I feel strong!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Winter storm season is nearly here

The Pacific Northwest will be starting it's winter storm season in the next 24 to 48 hours. Rain will be the norm for many months to come. Personally I love the rain - it keeps everything green here. It will soon be snow season at my house. Last year we had snow for several weeks before Christmas which is unusual. The normal snow season is from January to March.

The Grey Whales along the coast will be soon starting their migration south to Mexico. I might just bundle up in my warm winter jacket and go watch, no need to worry about being just a tad overweight, who needs a new weight loss pill when my jacket can cover it all? Ha, winter and another life cycle begins.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Finding time to promote this blog

As many of you know, I recently had a slight injury that kept me occupied and away from the blog. Well, I am back. I also started my fall term in college so that took up another 2 weeks. Now that I am settling in to my classes I hope to post more blog posts on here. I have also noticed that readership has dropped slightly so I now have to submit the blog to a few more free web directories. The big bonus of my college term is the fact I am taking a creative writing class so I get to practice that art here. Right now I have a few homework assignments to do.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Laid up with a sprained ankle

I have not written much on this blog lately but that might change. A few days ago the house phone was ringing and dumb me had wet feet and did a faster than usual walk to get to the phone. The ceramic tile floor was not very kind to my wet feet and I slipped. Down I went and twisted my ankle in the process. Of course sliding into the wall was not that much fun either.

It now gives me lots of time to catch up on my text book reading and sharing a few more thoughts here on the blog.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Moving an aquarium

How do you move your home aquarium full of fish? After you said "carefully" what else? Would you call some moving companies New York city? Or call your local pet store for advice? I hope you said the pet store. They could not only advise you on the types of containers or bags to house your fish in during the move but also the amount of oxygen they would require.

Keep in mind that the tank your fish will go into after the move should be "aged" for at least 24 hours prior to the fish being added. Planning for that you might have to move much of the original tank water with the fish.

If you plan ahead for the move and are prepared, your fish will survive the move.

Misidentified sea monsters

Mammals and sea life are often misidentified when they are washed up on shorelines. Take for example the many strange lifeforms that have been found washed up along the shoreline of New York. One of the more well known ones was called the Montauk Monster (pictured below)

What at first appears to be a four legged creature with a beak like mouth is in reality a decomposing land mammal. There is evidence of fur on one of the legs. The creature also has teeth and not a beak. The animal has hand like paws which resemble a raccoon and not a dog as many people originally thought. The face had been either eaten away or got caught in something which may or may not have resulted in the animals death.

The bottom line is.... a picture is not always the best way to identify an unidentified creature. An autopsy or DNA test should be done to determine the what the creature truly is.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Laptop trouble

As you have probably noticed I have not blogged too much in the last several months. My laptop has been back and forth to the repair shop and I have had to rely on borrowing another computer to post from. Unfortunately at one point the repair shop made the stupid mistake of erasing my entire hard drive. Thank goodness I had all of my email on an online backup system and my documents and photos on a flash drive. Never again will I fail to back up my computer before sending it out for any work if the laptop allows me too before failing. Now it has been back for almost a week and seems to be working just fine for once. Keeping my fingers crossed.

How do you move a whale?

.....very carefully of course. All joking aside, how do you really move a whale? Normally whale transport is done by air. Specialized shipping boxes or containers are used. Sometimes government aircraft is used like the coast guard, but more often, private air cargo companies handle the task. Below is a photo of a UPS plane with the shipping container ready to go on board. The container has a whale shark in it, heading for the Georgia Aquarium.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Scientific words

Once you get involved with biology you will discover a whole new language. With species, sub-species and genre all derived from mostly ancient Latin words. There will be occasional new word that the scientists will come up with for new discoveries.

Just the other day I cam across a word that I had not heard before - apidexin- and had deduced it was some form of new sugar. That was not it. It was another new pill. I now realize that new names for medications are thought up by marketing and not the research team. Can you imagine what would have happened to the names of some of fish in the sea if marketing had gotten a hold of them first? I don't think that TUNA would have been named TUNA. Tuna to me sounds more like the tin it comes in.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Whale blubber facts

Did you know that people that eat whale blubber have a lower chance of artery problem and heart disease? Here is a short list of facts about whale blubber-
  • Blubber was used after processing into oil for lamps, cosmetics and soaps.
  • Blubber insulates the whale against hypothermia.
  • When a whale needs energy it uses its' blubber fat burners to turn the blubber into energy
  • A Blue whale can have up to 50 tons of blubber
  • Since whales are at the top of the food chain, recent studies of blubber have revealed that it contains a high amount of mercury, PCB's and other toxic chemicals. It is thought that industrial pollution is to blame.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shapes at the seashore

In my journeys to the coast I don't always pack food. This leads me to frequent many of the small eateries along the coast. Food varies from a quick sandwich at a stand up counter to some fancy restaurants along the way.

Some of the restaurants go out of their way with the ocean decorations. For example here is a picture of a stone sink that was in one of the restrooms.

Other decorations that are common are shells embedded into various furniture like tabletops and the top part of the backs of chairs. Of course I always see the trophy fish hanging on the wall - which upsets me no end but that is another post entirely.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Laptop problems

Yet again I am having problems with my laptop. I bought a new laptop 2 years ago because my first laptop finally wore out after just 3 short years. Normally HP makes some decent laptops but this one is quickly becoming a lemon in my eyes. Thanks goodness I have an extended warranty on it because I don't know a USB from a sdram.

This time the wireless capabilities went south. So back the laptop goes for repairs. I need it to write my papers and of course to maintain this blog. I am now tied to an old (like in 10 years old) desktop computer to do all of that.

My active time of the year

Travel, keeping up with marine biology news and trips out to the local fish hatcheries has kept me active this summer. I often volunteer at the fish hatchery each week. With the cut backs that government agencies are having they welcome us volunteers with open arms. In Oregon if you plan on doing volunteer work you will need to contact the state biologist which is located in Corvallis at OSU.

Volunteers will learn lots of interesting stuff about fish farming, breeding and even taking the fish out to remote lakes in backpacks. I would mainly feed the trout and it might surprise you to know that the trophy trout are fed a special feed compared to the regular trout. Just moving those bags of 50 pound feed around is enough to make anyone think twice about using weight loss supplements. You'll build lots of muscle doing that type of work.

I also like the idea that it gets me outdoors more. There is nothing worse than staying inside on a beautiful day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Baby beluga whales born in aquariums

Here is the latest birth announcements of beluga whales born in aquariums all over the world. First is a beluga whale born in the Vancouver Aquarium in Canada in June 2009. The female calf is the second beluga born in that aquarium in less than a year. This is a very welcome birth because it is estimated that only 100K belugas are left in the wild. Also infant mortality rates for baby beluga whales are around 50% in the wild and the reason is yet unknown.

Next is another female born June 12 at SeaWorld in San Antonio. They are currently looking for a name for the young female. Here is a picture of her just after she was born:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A water world vacation

Of course my favorite type of vacation has to have water but I have got to think about the rest of the family too. So what better place to go on vacation that has lots of water than Walt Disney World in Florida. Of course Disney World is not just one big theme park but is made up of 6 very different theme parks. Each one of them has one central theme. The Epcot park is devoted more to exploration, science and discovery than rides and has dolphins too!

The dolphins in depth tour at Epcot is a 3 hour tour that will get you up close and personal with a school of dolphins. You will have a dolphin trainer as your guide and they take you behind the scenes. You will have the opportunity to swim with the dolphins near the end of the tour so you will need to bring your bathing suit. There is an age limit, you have to be over 13 years old. Of course the cost is $175 per person so it is not for everyone.

Another opportunity to go scuba diving at the Epcot center is Epcot's DiveQuest. This special tour is for Disney World guests that are scuba certified only. Of the 3 hour tour only 40 minutes is spent in the water. DiveQuest also costs $175 per person.

You are probably getting the idea that the admission price to the parks don't include tours and some rides and you would be right. The behind the scenes tour of Epcot which includes the underground areas and takes 7 hours costs $219 per person and is for 16 year olds and up. Of course you could hire your own Disney VIP tour guide and pay them $175 to $315 an hour for that perfect vacation.

Considering the costs of all the extras that Epcot charges for you will want to get discount tickets to Disney World. You can some real deals for Disney World Tickets at orlandofuntickets.com so you will want to check them out before you buy any tickets.

A water vacation should be fun and not leave you like you just sold your soul just to enjoy yourself.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Combining vacations

While I was busy organizing my photos of the coast the other day my husband asked me if we could combine our hobby interests and go on a golf holiday. I cringed at the idea of golf, since I am not a fan of the sport. The only time I even bothered to watch it on TV was when hubby mentioned the whales playing next to the golf course on a tournament in Hawaii. The blimp taking video of the golf tournament would keep showing these 3 whales just off shore.

To appease him I said I would think about it but only if the course was next to the ocean. To my surprise he said he was thinking about Pebble Beach and the golf courses in that area. I know that the Monterey Bay Aquarium is close and so are several research study areas. I told him to look into it and I would think about it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Aquarium fish

Salt water aquarium fish can be tricky to care for but are a very satisfying pet once you have mastered their care. I prefer saltwater fish that have been tank bred rather than caught in the wild, for obvious reasons. You will need to check with the saltwater fish store that you purchase your fish from to find out where the fish came from. Stay away from a store that doesn't know or won't give you a straight answer.

Certain marine animals like live coral, sea urchins and non-vertebrates are also kept along with fish in the same tank but you should do your homework first about how compatible they are with each other. You would not keep sea anemones with seahorses unless you want to have dead seahorses. Some corals also sting so you need to know what species you have in your tank along with what part of the world they are native to so you don't put the wrong fish in the tank with them.

Before setting up a tank you should not mix different fish from different parts of the world. The salinity requirements are different according to which ocean they came from. They should also be compatible with each other. Passive fish can be kept together and aggressive fish kept on their own or in an extremely large tank with other fish and kept well fed so they don't eat your other fish.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Walking in the dunes

Sand dunes are a wonderful feature found at many west coast beaches. Walking those dunes I have seen many kinds of wildlife as well as domesticated animals that have gone feral. Cats and rats are a common sight along with the native shore birds. I can tell you one thing about walking the dunes - it is better for your body than the best weight loss supplements on the market. You legs, lungs and heart will get a workout of your life. Remember to take plenty of fresh drinking water with you when you are walking on the dunes.

My dream vacation

I have been on a few long ocean cruises and for someone who loves the sea so much I am sad to say that I get seasick. Yep, that's me, puking up my guts on board a ship even if it is in dock. Small vessels I have better luck with and row boats don't affect me at all. Even white water rafting has no ill affect. It is those large ships with the steady rolling action over time that makes me sick.

My dream vacation does involve the sea but not traveling by ship to get there. My vacation would involve the South Pacific islands of Fiji and Pango Pango (American Samoa). I have visited Pango Pango many years ago and would love to go back. I ended up visiting there because of one of those weird travel deals. At the time it was cheaper to fly from Hawaii to Pango Pango then on to Auckland, NZ rather than straight from Hawaii to Auckland.

The stop over in Pango Pango was about 15 hours but it gave me time to tour part of the island and see the clear waters that surrounded it. I have never been to Fiji and have friends that lived there.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Safety around the water

Here in the Northwest USA we have very cold rivers. When ever it gets hot people flock to local rivers and streams to cool off. What they should do is visit the local lakes since they are warmer than the fast moving, cold streams and rivers.

Oregon has laws about swimming in the rivers. You cannot be in a river without a life vest. Even if you have a flotation device such as an inner tube you still have to wear a life vest. That law covers people that are in boats as well as people visiting the river and swimming in it from shore.

Almost every few days there is a report of someone drowning in a local river in Oregon. Most of the time the body is not found until a few days later. The swift under current that the local rivers have is deadly. There are lots of tree limbs and logs under the water which also makes swimming a hobby left for swimming pools and lakes. So before you venture into the water, forget about looking for affordable life insurance quotes and get a life vest. A good vest is well worth the investment (no pun intended).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A spectacular view

Some of the views that overlook the Oregon coast are fantastic. While visiting a friends home that overlooks the beach I just had to throw open the vinyl shutters she had closed on one window to enjoy the morning mist.

If I lived that close to the beach I would not have any shades, blinds or curtains on any of my windows that faced the ocean. I would always what to look out and see the waves, gulls and water all the time.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Whale watching

There is a favorite spot of mine on the central Oregon coast that is not only a great place to eat but looks out right over the Pacific Ocean. I was there last week in Newport during the lowest tides for the year. Since it is not whale migration time I did not bring my binoculars.

It was unfortunate that I did not bring my binoculars during this last trip because while I was at my favorite eating spot over looking the ocean during lunch, a group of people were pointing out something in the water. It looked like seals feeding just beyond the surf but the people kept saying whales which I knew was not likely because of the time of year.

I wish I had my binoculars with me and I would have been able to correctly identify the creatures in the water. I had been looking at getting a newer and more powerful pair of binoculars for my trips to the coast. I heard that Nikon makes a pair of Green Binoculars that has lead free glass. Since I am becoming more of "green buyer" I might look into them.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fat and happy

In the ocean the fish and mammals depend on their body size to survive. If they are too small for their species then they don't often live long enough to reproduce. Whales, for example, need extra blubber to survive the far northern or southern cold oceans. Their weight loss supplements are in the form of brine shrimp or large schools of small fish. Only the Killer Whales will feast on the larger prey animals like seals, dolphins, tuna and sharks.

It is not only sea mammals that need to have extra body mass but fish do too. A thin under weight fish usually has a health problem going on and lack of energy to escape from larger fish hunting it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A workout at the coast

A stroll on the beach is not that easy. The muscles in my back still ache from yesterday's trip to the coast. The beach areas were nice but getting to them was a climb down a steep trail and over some large boulders and logs. The trip up from the beach to the parking area seemed to be harder then the hike down.

I am going to have to get into better physical shape for my next trip. I might even have to take a few trips to the gym and work out on the fitness equipment since I am going to need better muscle tone.

My lower calf muscle have tightened up so much I now worry about having leg cramps. Reminder to self - don't over do the hiking.

Low tide at the coast

We are currently experiencing some of the lowest tides of the year at the central Oregon coastline. Yesterday at 8:15 am was a tide that was 3 feet below normal. Being that I am not a person to miss out on such an opportunity to go to one of my favorite spots at low tide I made the 1.5 hour trip to the coast early in the morning.

It seemed like many other amateur marine biologists had the same idea, many of them rv camping. The beach I went to was Seal Rock and the parking lot was at almost capacity but I found a spot to park. The weather was clear and mild but that changed dramatically a few hours later.

Normally there are seals in the water and the tide pools are not that well visited. This time the number of people had increased 20 times. I normally see only 10 other people on the beach. That number had grown to at least 150-200 people on the 1/2 stretch of beach. It was summer and parents were taking their kids to see the starfish, barnacles and sea anemones. of course there were plenty of adults that were acting like this was the first time they had ever seen a tide pool.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Just a walk on the beach

I really can't see how people say that walking on a beach is just a relaxing stroll. Those people have not been to the beach lately. Remember when you were just a kid and just following your family with a towel or a small bag was a chore once you got to the beach? That was because to typically get to the water's edge you had to cross those enormous sand dunes that seemed like you were crossing the Sahara Desert. Even running on the beach wore you out.

If you look at a typical beach you have the sand that is firm at the water's edge followed by looser sand the further away from the water you are. If you are walking, running, playing or just strolling at the higher beach level then you don't have to worry about finding the best diet pill that works in the entire world because you won't need it. You'll not only be worn out in a few hours but you'll have fun getting that way.

I think that if more people just took a walk on the beach they would be healthier and have a better outlook on life.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sea life birth announcements

If you have not been keeping tabs on the sea mammals baby announcements here is a short list:
  • Dolphin calf born at the National Aquarium in Baltimore in May 2009
  • A baby brown seal was born on June 1, 2009 at the Reykjav√≠k Zoo in Iceland
  • The second porpoise ever to be born in captivity was born in May 2009 at the Harderwijk dolphin centre in the Netherlands
You can find most of the baby updates at their websites for the institutions mentioned. Some of them have videos too.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Getting close to the sea

Not everyone has the opportunity to see the Great Barrier Reef of Australia or to visit the clear waters around Pango Pango. There are opportunities to visit sea life and clear salt waters closer to home and have fun doing it as well. One of my favorite places is Disney World in Florida where you can experience dolphins up close and personal on a 3 hour tour in Epcot. The tour is called Dolphins in Depth. You can ask the trainers questions and have an chance to swim with the dolphins under the guidance of the trainers. You must be at least 13 years old to do so.

Another chance to swim with the fish is also at Disney World during the Epcot DiveQuest where you will don scuba gear and dive into their 5 million gallon salt water tank containing reefs and fish. You must be scuba certified to participate in this experience. You will swim with dolphins, sharks, rays and over 6,000 other fish. Disney World supplies all the equipment except a swim suit.

If you are not scuba certified then there is yet another chance with the Seas Aqua tour. This 2.5 hours of fun lets you swim on the surface of the giant salt water tank with the fish without diving under. You are still in with the sharks and dolphins so it is also like being out in the ocean but the water is clearer and you have a guide with you.

If you haven't already gotten your summer vacation planned out yet go get your Disney World Tickets and take a dip in with the fish.

Cold water and fish

Did you know that cold, almost frozen water causes fish to hibernate? During the cold months of the year when water temperatures drop to 40 degrees or less, fish stop eating as much food and their growth slows down. The cold water acts like an appetite suppressant for fish. That is also one of the main reasons why bait fishing is not very successful in winter months. That is something I learned while working at the fish hatchery.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunken treasure

If it was not for the glamor of striking it rich by diving for sunken treasures many people would not even be thinking of taking up scuba diving. Now what these weekend treasure hunters don't realize it that many of the ships that carried gold bullion have already been claimed by governments or private salvage companies. Taking treasures from them are stealing and some times federal offenses.

What the hobbyist scuba diving treasure hunter is looking for is that undiscovered sunken treasure. They might not find gold bullion but they might find diamond engagement rings or a case of smuggled rubies. It is not only the old ships that contained treasures but the modern day yachts and ships that go down with something valuable on board.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The perfect dive watch

A diving watch should be much more than just waterproof to a certain depth. It should be able to log your dives, be able to be read under water, measure depth and duration of dive, measure water temperature and of course have a nice long warranty.

Here is my ideal diving watch, a Citizen JV0030-19F Diving Watch.

It does all that and more. The price tag is just under $500 but for what it does it is well worth the price. You can find it at the same site that sells bulova watches.

If you have a diver in the family it would make a great gift.

My home decor

I wish I could tell you that I live in a magnificent property overlooking the waves on an unpolluted shoreline. That is just pure fantasy. I do live in a nice home that is unfortunately a 1 hour drive from the coast and the only water nearby is the creek that runs through the property in the back that I can't see from the house because of the dense underbrush.

To bring a bit of the ocean into my home I decorated the main bathroom last year with tropical fish. The walls are a light blue and ceramic schools of brightly colored fish hang on the walls. Of course I added the matching towels and rugs but that was as far as it went. I did not get into finding bathroom faucets that looked like dolphins or anything like that.

When going into the room is reminds you of a trip under the sea. I did not add a fish tank that doubles as a sink like in the photo below. What will people think of doing next?

Friday, May 8, 2009

A fish light

I just happen to come across the lighting fixture photo above while doing a search on schools of fish. The photo was not on a page that told me anything about the light so I don't know if it is a one of a kind light or a production run. I do know that it would make a wonderful addition to a entrance way with a staircase near it. I wonder what kind of shadows the fixture would throw. If any one finds this in their local light fixture store just drop a comment and let me know what the asking price for it is.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The benefits of the salty ocean

The saline qualities of the ocean have some great benefits for us humans as a healing power. If you have ever had a cut or slight skin infection and went swimming in the ocean you will find that the wound becomes cleaner than if you just cleaned it with fresh water and mild skin soap. The salt acts as an astringent and kills the germs and bacteria in the wound. I have also found that swimming in the ocean is one of the best ways how to get rid of blackheads that I know of.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Human suppliments made from ocean life

You have probably heard about the many kinds of human "miracle" drugs and pills that have been made from sea life and ocean water. Everything from seaweed diet pills to pills made from shark cartilage. What bothers me the most is the shark cartilage pills. They are reported to aid in bone development in humans but not much is said about the harvesting of sharks for those pills.

How are the sharks caught? In nets or fished with bait and hooks, or are they the sharks that are caught up in nets while fishermen are fishing for something else? I am intrigued enough to go and look for some answers.

Keiko the killer whale

I happen to be watching a program on TV the other night about captive Killer Whales. The program focused Keiko the whale that was the inspiration for the movie Free Willy. There were many little facts in the show about Keiko that I had not known before. They showed the horrible skin condition he had because of being kept in a small tank while on display in Mexico. The mentioned why his dorsal fin had not developed erect. The show was so fascinating that I did not change the channels during the boring diet pill or mesothelioma ads. I have also found that there is a website devoted to Keiko and it can be found at keio.com

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Delicate whale skin

When you think of large mammals you would normally think of elephants and rhinos. As land mammals their skin is rather tough and thick. Now think about whales. Their skin has to be smooth to help them slide through the water.

Whales are victims of whale lice that live on their skin. Their bodies also are host to barnacles that attach themselves to the whales. A mystery in my mind is "how do barnacles catch a swimming whale?"

How do whales rid themselves of their unwanted guests? They can't use skin care products like Willy's lice remover and barnacle cream. What they will do is swim into the mouths of large rivers where the water is less salty. The salinity of the water will often kill or dislodge those parasites.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Recycling old boat sails

There is a company in the Northeast that is doing it's part with recycling. They make an unusual product from old boat sails. They make custom tote bags. The sails are tough and water proof and adapt well as the large bags. The company is called Sea Bags and you can find them at seabags.com

It is nice to see more innovative companies that are recycling in interesting ways.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sea turtle in Texas gets a new life

This is a video of a one flipper sea turtle that has been outfitted with a special swim suit that enables it to swim freely.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Travel to Tasmania

About the only thing people think about when they hear the name Tasmania is the cartoon character, The Tasmanian Devil. Often people's thoughts do not wander much farther than that. When asked where Tasmania is the answers would amaze you. Answers like Africa to somewhere near Transylvania and a few actually do know the right answer, off the coast of Australia.

Being a island, Tasmania has a large coast line. Climate ranges from arid and dry in the interior to mild and wet on the southern half of the island. If you are ever lucky enough to visit the island you will want to go on one of the many Tasmania tours that local companies offer. I personally would be interested in the company that runs "Sealife Experience" which is located 1 hour form Hobart and takes people on tours of the islands sea life habitats.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hair loss in marine mammals

Hair and fat are the ways that nature insulates both land and sea mammals. Both fat and hair keep the body from losing precious heat during either the colder months or living in colder seas. For sea mammals they either have long hair or extra fat, known as blubber, to insulate their bodies from losing heat.

The larger the sea mammal the less hair they tend to have. Whales and dolphins have very minimal hair while sea otters have plenty of hair. Hair loss in the smaller marine mammals can spell death from exposure. When a large population of marine mammals is suffering from excessive hair loss something is either wrong with the environment or a disease might be the cause. Marine biologists must work fast to see what the underlying cause it and best determine what hair loss treatment to put in place. Can the cause be removed or should the mammals be treated?

Sometimes the cause has been in the environment for years and only time and future prevention can cure the ailment.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Those little flightless, underwater swimming birds, the penguins. They have been depicted wearing tuxedos and as espionage spies in the movie Madagascar. Other than they live at the south pole what do we know about them? Here is some trivia about penguins:

  • Not all penguins live in the cold Antarctic area. One penguin species lives near the equator.
  • The Emperor penguin is the largest of the penguins and stands about 3 foot tall.
  • The Emperor penguin has been recorded to reach a diving depth of 1800+ feet that took 22 minutes.

Whale migration patterns

Whales migrate. They make seasonal trips from breeding areas to birthing areas. The birthing areas are typically warmer oceans than the breeding areas. If you plan on going to see the whales during their migration up or down the coastline you will need to know the whale species and the months they migrate. Just miss their migration period and you will have an easier time finding Ferrari parts then you would spotting a whale.

Along the west coast of the USA, gray whales migrate during the spring and fall months. They are traveling from the Alaskan sea to the warm waters off the coast of Mexico. They can only be spotted for a few weeks during their migration on their way along the coast.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Beach erosion

Drastic beach erosion occurs mostly during winter storms that can eat away at the soil under cliffs and cause dramatic landslides. The gradual type of beach erosion is a natural occurrence and has been going on since land met water.

The only time that people have become so concerned about beach erosion is when it involves property that they have purchased. When part of a cliff falls off into the surf in an isolated area of the world where humans do not live, it is called "nature". When a beach home is threatened to fall into the ocean or waves threaten to destroy the home it is called, "God's vengeance".

Instead of planning the building of homes away from the powerful ocean people try to construct the most ineffectual of barriers to keep the ocean at bay. Everything from rock sea walls to elaborate fence installations have been attempted. Almost all of them have failed.

When will people learn to live with the ocean instead of battling it?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Container ships add toxins to world's oceans

You would be surprised at the amount of modern container ships that are at the bottom of the world's oceans. Just last month a huge container ship collided with an oil tanker off the coast of China sending both of them to the bottom of the sea. Now those ships are not filled with any modern day treasures that will be valued highly in years to come from salvation operations. Those ships are filled with all sorts of wholesale tvs, radios, cars and other assorted items that fill the local Walmart.

Along with those items are often toxic chemicals such as lubricants and paint thinners. You can now see another contributing factor to the lower fish populations in the world's oceans.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A little piece of the ocean in your home

What part of your home reminds you of the ocean? If you said the bathroom then you would be right. People decorate their bathrooms with fish, seashells, dolphins and other scenes from the sea all the time. Just go into any major interior decoration store and you will see what I am talking about. There are bathroom vanities with mirrors that have seashells for frames. Towels embroidered with images of sea life.

Our fascination with the ocean is a pleasant one. It also transcends to the bedroom where you can have CD's that have ocean or whale sounds on it to lull you to sleep. Our laundry detergent now has "ocean breeze" as a scent.

The next time you are near the ocean remember your home and how different it is from the real thing. The ocean does not smell like the laundry detergent, it's more like salty fish. The seashells are not perfect and whole but broken and crushed. The sound of the waves is often overshadowed by the sound of the wind.

Yes the ocean is romantic and soothing in our mind's eye but rugged in the real world.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dolphins aided by human help

In Canada last week 3 dolphins became isolated from the ocean in a bay by an ice shelf. The small local community of Seal Cove heard the dolphins calling and thought that they might die. The ice shelf had drifted further into the bay and the small circle of open water in the center of the ice shelf where the dolphins were getting their air was shrinking fast.

The residents called the Canadian Federal government for help with sending an ice breaker ship but the government said there was none available. A local fisherman with his own trawler finally cut a path in the ice from the bay to the open sea. 2 of the dolphins made a dash to the open sea but the 3rd on was too weak from swimming in the open hole for over a week. A 17 year old boy jumped into the water wearing a survival suit and helped the 3rd dolphin.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Beach walking

Taking a walk on the beach is one of the best exercises that I can think of. The walk not only exercises your body but relaxes your mind. A walk on the beach can be done in any weather you just have to dress correctly for the occasion. I always take my camera along as well as a small plastic bag (I tend to clean up other people's trash when I see it). So forget about taking diet pills and go for a walk on the beach instead.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Documenting everything

I am so glad when laptop computers came along. I can take my computer with me to document my studies. I was thinking about a palm type of device but I didn't get one. The laptops are now getting smaller. First there was the notebook and now there are netbooks. The only disadvantage about the netbook is the fact that they don't have a DVD drive and the system used is the old XP Windows. I am debating with myself about getting a smaller computer but I might wait until I see what the next step in technology will be.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Google introduces Google Earth for oceans

Google has just introduced Google Earth 5.0

What makes this Google Earth version different from the older versions? This version now has the latest oceanography of the ocean floor on the maps. One of the amazing features of Google Earth 5.0 is the way it is able to put together layers of images to show the rise and fall of the ocean levels.

You no longer have to go out and do much of the first hand research that many of the older marine scientists had to do. Even armchair amateur marine biologists can have a go at doing their own hypothesis and theories. So get off of your sleep number bed and go check it out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Getting through college

If you are thinking about a career in marine biology here are a few things to keep in mind. You have to have outstanding grades to get into the college of your choice. College is not cheap.

Becoming a marine biologist will take several years of college. The average cost of tuition will be $15K a year and up. Be prepared to take on several jobs to get you through college. Working at Mickey Dee's won't cut it. You will need more than just a minimum wage to pay for your expenses. Warehouse jobs pay more but you need to put together a few different logistics resumes, depending on your experience and the position you are applying for. Those types of job have the advantage that you can work nights and go to school during the day.

Don't even think about summer vacation as a time to earn more money as the time often taken up by special school projects.

Do yourself a favor and start looking into scholarships before you are in high school. You will be glad you did.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Tide pool hopping

A wonderful clear day at the Oregon coast a few days ago. The storms are coming in again but for just a few days we had our annual winter "heat wave". Anything above 50 degrees is a heat wave on the Oregon coast during the winter months.

The tide pools were teaming with life. I had a new colleague with me and she was not the type that was cut out for the rugged outdoors. I caught her popping, what she called the best diet pills money could buy and I just shook my head. I told her that a few hours around the tide pools and she would never again need any kind of pills to get thin. In fact she might need to eat more since our work would require lots of energy.

She found out that marine life study requires more than just cataloging and observation, it also requires you to be physically fit.