Friday, December 30, 2011

A big change is the direction of this blog

This blog started out as a blog on the website. It was written by my then grade school daughter. She wrote in it for a few years then let it go. I took it over for a few months then my I let my niece take charge of it. She was the one who was taking college courses and actually becoming a marine biologist. She really didn't have that much time for the blog and basically wrote in it abut once a month. So she left it and now I have it again.

I was shopping with my now high school age daughter and asked her if she wanted the blog back. She said she would think about it but she gave me her answer as we were checking out with a pair of carhartt pants. Her answer is that she has too much school work to bother with a blog. I can fully understand where she is coming from.

So I will continue the blog but there will be some changes. No more talk about doing research at the coast or class studies. The blog will take on the direction that it was meant to when my daughter first started it - it will be about sealife.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beach house

Today we have a guest blogger

Contribution by Stevie Kirby

My husband and I recently bought a beach house. We are almost to the point of retirement, and we have been discussing over the last several years where we would like to spend our golden years. We have two children, both of whom have married and live on opposite sides of the country. We have moved several times due to my husband’s job, spending the last four years in New York. We would like to move permanently to our beach house after my husband retires. He is roughly eight months from that point now. I have always loved the beach, and our family vacationed there often when our children were young. We spent many summers on the beaches of southern Virginia. We have thought about trying to use a fixed-rate for our home energy as we have done with our home in New York, which we found through Http:// However, we will have to wait and see if that makes the most sense financially. I know that my husband is looking forward to fishing and relaxing in the sand. He has worked very hard over the years in the business world, and we are finally going to be able to sit back and relax.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Riding on the beach

I must admit that one of my favorite dreams was riding a horse at a full gallop on a beach. Since I do know how to ride and have ridden horses since I was very young, I know that it is a dangerous dream.

You see the sand on the beach can hold dangers for any animal running. You know how hard it is to walk on the beach when you sink too deep in the sand. The horse would end up injured if ridden in the wrong part of the beach at a gait faster than a walk. The high beach is too deep and the break water area can have soft spots where a horse's leg could sink during a gallop and cause the horse to break a leg.

Those dangers does not seem to deter those people who do gallop horses on the beach during times when I know the sand is treacherous. One day I saw some english horse tack half buried in the sand. I found out later that a horse got injured and the tack had to be cut off of the horse before he could be lead off the beach. I have no idea if the horse survived the injury.

If you like riding on the beach and would like to keep enjoying that activity, then walk your horse and go no faster. 

Tsunami trash due to hit West Coast of the USA by Christmas

If you ever wanted to go to the beach just to pick up trash then your day is almost here. The floating trash that is from the huge tsunami that hit Japan after their earthquake is due to start washing up on the west coast before Christmas gets here.

Just think of all the plastic that will be washing up on our shores. Everything from toys to cable covers will be embedded in our sand and wedging in between our rocky beaches.Couldn't someone think about putting up a net to isolate this stuff before it started to travel across the Pacific ocean?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Seal hunting, past, present and future

Most people probably think that seal hunting has gone the way of whale hunting in that only a few small countries still practice it. That maybe somewhat true......but only somewhat.

The Farallon Islands, off the coast of California had a huge colony of seals until hunting almost wiped them out. Then the International North Pacific Fur Seal Treaty of 1911 between the United States, Russia, Canada and Japan put a stop to it. But it has taken almost 100 years for the seals to comeback but the population is still nowhere near what it was prior to the horrible hunting wipe outs before then.

The Farallon Islands are a success story but seal hunting is still very much alive in Canada. They even have a Canadian Sealers Association which is very active in promoting seal skin products to Russia. They are the ones who are promoting the killing of harp seal pups for their own financial gain.

Harp seal pups are born on the ice flows each February. Their mothers feed them for about 12-14 days and then leave them to fend for themselves until they are old enough to swim, which is about 10-12 weeks. During that time is when seal "hunters," and I use that term loosely, go out the ice and bludgeon the poor pups to death and skin them.

Why cant those "hunters" find another way to make a living? Try moving out of the area and find something else to do like equipment leasing, being a tour guide or perhaps educate others to stop the seal hunt altogether.

The future is up to us, yes you and me. Only we can shape the population of the seals of the future.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pearls and other precious gems from the ocean

For thousands of years, pearls and other shells have been valued by the human race. Shells were sometimes used as a form of currency in some cultures. I must assume that only the rarer shells were used that way, otherwise everyone would have been rich...........LOL.

Pearls are formed by oysters when they get a bit of sand in their shell and can't seem to get it out. They form a protective coating around the sand because it is irritating to them. Over time, the pearl gets larger and larger. A "cultured" pearl is created by putting a large bead in the oyster and letting it put a few coats of "pearl" around the plastic. You can see that natural pearls are considered much more valuable than "cultured" pearls. Natural pearls are often called "wild" pearls.

Abalone has its own special value. It is the shell you often find inlaid in all kinds of items. See the photo below:

The pearl necklace below is a strand of cultured pearls from scott kay jewelry and is priced at nearly $2K. It is apparent that pearls prices are not based on their original location or if they are cultured or not but the price is merely where they are bought from.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Loving the Sport

Today we have a guest blogger

Thanks for the post, Arthur Lawrence

I sure like windsurfing and I fortunately live in one of the best places in the country to do so. I spend pretty much all my weekends out on the water and I don’t really worry about my place anymore since I went to and got an alarm. It’s good for the workweek too. Anyway, I found some great friends doing this and it’s better exercise than anything I’ve done in years and aside from the windsurfing board which wasn’t cheap I haven’t really had to spend any money to do this. There are tons of great people out on the water and getting out there for the day usually turns into dinner or beers or something afterwards so it’s really changed my life in a lot of ways! Who knew getting involved in an alternative sport would really brighten up so many aspects of my life out here in California. My advice to anyone reading? Get out there and do something that scares youbecause you never know what will come of it!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Raping the seabed

I was recently at a local arts and crafts fair and was simply appalled at the number of sea life that was used as jewelry beads. Now I am not talking about shells or even pearls but sea life that had to be harvested while alive to be used as jewelry. The main item was seahorse bodies, next was sea urchins. Both of those types of creatures had to be killed in order for the crafters to use them.

I did enlighten a few people, very politely mind you, as to the origins of their supplies. One women even told me that she wondered why some people would not buy the seahorse jewelry she had made. It was quite possible that her customers were aware of the origins as I was.

As more people become aware of products made from living sea creatures and how they are killed and processed, the less likelihood those people are to buy those products.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Think before you buy something that is not biodegradable

We all know that plastics do not deteriorate very rapidly. The same can be said for many man-made products. Batteries, or going cordless, can put a strain on our ecosystem once the batteries no longer hold a charge. They end up in dumps, land fills or worse yet, in our oceans, lakes and rivers.

There is good news on the technology of batteries. One company, Vendum, has filed a patent for a biodegradable battery. The battery is carbon based and is using nano technology. The entire thing is said to be non-toxic. They are being designed for personal cell phones and small electronics for now, with the aim for electric cars in the long run.

So the next time you go shopping to buy batteries, think about where they will end up once you are done with them.

Fresh water fish threatened

It has been a few months since I last posted here. My summer so far has been inland and not near any coastal areas. That is a bit of a change for me. Family functions and me with a summer job selling  ATV Accessories has kept me busy. Normally there is enough oceanic news to report but this time I want you to be aware of the inland oil spill in the Yellowstone River.

The oil is slowly destroying fish habitats for catfish, walleye and trout. There are several native and non-native species of fish that call this area home. I am sure that the area will recover but the question is, how many years will it take?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Handy tool for when you are on a boat

If you were out hiking, you would take your cell phone, water and a first aid kit. So what would you take if you were going out on a boat? One handy item is a pocket knife and keep it in your pocket. I am not talking about a utility knife that you open boxes with but a study knife capable of cutting through ropes.

Don't keep the pocket knife in your purse or bag, you need to keep it on you. If you fall overboard and should need it, you have it with you. Nothing worse than bringing something you need on a trip and getting separated from it when you need it the most.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I changed the look of the blog....again

So what do you think about the new fresh look that I gave the blog? I am experimenting with the background right now so you might see all sorts of things pop up. I have noticed that my readership has now increased over the last few weeks. I have no clue why.

A cousin reads my blog and asked me why I didn't have my own domain name and hosting. I told her that blogger is free and that's my price. Why would I need to buy a domain name at Go Daddy or host gator?

I am quite happy to blog here for free and play with the design.

The surf can be loud

I was visiting a friend at their ocean front condo just before a storm came onshore. We were watching a movie and had the french doors slightly open when it started to rain. The speakers home theater system were getting drowned out by the sound of wind and the crashing waves.

Waves when  pushed by winds can get quite large and noisy. As the storm slowly came ashore, we shut the doors and watched the ocean churn and the rain come down sideways. We rarely get lightning storms on the coast but we were treated to a brief show of thunder bolts that appeared offshore.

Hideous jewelry

The photo above is of a real seahorse that has been preserved and gold plated and is sold on the open market. To me it is hideous, why? Because you know darn well that the seahorse did not die of natural causes but was "harvested" for the jewelry market. I first saw one of these on a online Key West jewelry store.

In one of my very old books on seahorses, there is a section on preserving your pet seahorse once it has died so you can decorate your home or person with it. That is the same as skinning your dead cat and wearing the poor animal's skin as a hat.

I say leave the seahorses alone.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The sea has gotten its revenge

A week after the tsunami hit Japan's coast we are asked for financial help from that country. I have even been asked to write a blog post about it with a link to the charities asking, begging, for cash. I will not do that and here is my reason:

Each year 20K dolphins are hunted and slaughtered by the Japanese. The Japanese government either does nothing or condones the hunt. Because of that fact and the fact that the hunt still goes on, I will not donate nor advertise donations (with my luck, the Google ads will display them.....sigh).

For those of you who are not familiar with the dolphin hunts in Japan, below is a video of the event.

Now if that footage was too tame for you, here is the graphic version of the hunt. Even YouTube wants you to verify that you are 18 to even see the footage below.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Marine biology classes are being cut from many school cirriculums

When it comes to cutbacks at the high school and junior college curriculum's, marine biology is often the first program that is cut back on. I guess the powers that be, in those school systems, have decide to make some dramatic changes. There is now an increase in short term learning classes just to get people back into the job market. Unfortunately those colleges don't realize that in the long term it is the research done by biologists and others that are very well educated that will help produce the long term industries of the future.

For example, did you know that bio-diesel can be produced from algae? Darn, now that I mentioned diesel in my blog post, I will probably get a Google ad about a major oil company. Much like the ad that appeared the other day about ashton cigars for sale and I still have no idea what words triggered that ad.

I do put the Google ads on the blog, after all they did help pay for my laptop and some living expenses. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Discovering marine biology news

I love finding out new research studies about the ocean. Just recently at there was an interesting article about how over the past 100 years, larger fish have declined in numbers while smaller fish have increased in numbers. So I sat down in a comfy chair, grabbed a couple of mini cheesecakes and read some more.

It appears that scientists are blaming overfishing to the cause of the larger fish disappearing and when those fish disappeared, the smaller fish thrived. This they estimate will contribute to the end of many larger fish like tuna.

If you get a chance, pop on over to the science daily website and read some of the interesting articles they have on marine biology.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The fake eye

Tropical warm water fish are often very colorful. Since they have so much color to attract mates it also makes them venerable to predators.

They often have a "fake eye" pattern on their bodies to confuse larger fish. The fake eyes can be elaborate and include under eye dark circles. The larger fish see these fake eye patterns and aim for the wrong part of the fish to grab. This often gives the smaller fish the chance to get away from the predator.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Baby dolphins dying

Are the baby dolphins that are washing up on the Gulf Coast shorelines the result of the BP oil spill or is something else going on? That is the question that is currently circulating through the news wires. On the NBC nightly news, the reporter claimed that the oil was the possible cause due to the contaminated fish that the mother dolphins were eating while pregnant. Since the gestation period for a dolphin is close to a year long, it would be almost impossible to determine if the mother dolphin was in the oil spill area for that entire time or even part of the time.

What we have to wait for is the toxicity results of the autopsies of the baby dolphins to be completed and that will take a few more weeks. Knowing that us humans also use the rivers that flow into the gulf waters as sewer lines, I would not be surprised to find that other factors would be in the report.

Antibiotics, those nasty best weight loss pills, household cleaners and all sorts of other chemicals could have contributed to the deaths. We also have no idea what is going on in Mexico and the other countries that also border the Gulf.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Northern lights

If you are in the northern hemisphere..........look north. You might catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis. Our Sun just had a huge solar flare, the largest in the last 5 years. So far there are reports of GPS units having problems and some other minor communication problems being reported.

I wish I could see them from where I am, but there are just too many clouds in the way. It almost makes me want to get those motorhome repairs done and travel just a bit farther north and watch them.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A fasinating way to relax

I was just cruising the information highway when I came across this:

I thought that it would be a great place to relax and type up my research papers while enjoying the ocean surf. I also found this outdoor piece of furniture which they called a daybed:

It has got to be the most interesting daybed I have ever seen. I wonder what kind of daybed covers it would take since it is round?

They both look very relaxing. Just perfect for that seaside residence. You just have to keep the seagulls off of them.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Salt water reef tank

There is nothing prettier than a well cared for salt water reef tank. Picture this beauty in your home. Of course along with the care comes short or no vacations unless you can find someone to come in to your home to feed the live reef and the fish. That person should also know emergency tank care.

I had a friend of mine come in to take care of my 55 gallon tank when I went on vacation one year. I was only gone for 3 days and the fish were common tropical fish, but she let the tank almost completely drain itself out. I was pissed and she said that she thought it was odd that there was water on the floor next to the tank when she checked on everything.....well duh!!!

I couldn't stay mad at her for long, after all she is a good friend. She even got me a Sony VAIO for a gift some months back. Who could stay mad at a person like that?

The dreaded meeting

I bet you think that this post will be about me meeting face to face with some unusual sea life or dangerous creature. You could not be farther from the truth. The meeting I speak of is those boring, put you to sleep program updates that really don't amount to much of anything. Yes I attend those things once and awhile. If it was not for the donuts they have during the meeting I would be falling asleep. I do wish that the organizers would think more along the lines of having Conference calls instead of dragging everyone away from their research.

At least the meeting was shorter than normal this time. Now if the meetings were located at the beach or even at the aquarium then it would be a welcome diversion, but no, it has to be at the college in one of the smaller, older classrooms.

Oh well, enough ranting and back to sea life stuff.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Scrimshaw is the art of carving ivory with pictures. Commonly, the "ivory" used was whale bone. The bone was made into knife handles and other utility items of the day. Thankfully, plastics have replaced the art form, much to the whales' relief. Modern knives like the spyderco endura have wooden handles or form fitting ones.

One does wonder if using plastics and the form fitting foams on the handles really are an improvement on the environment. First us humans destroy most of the whale population for oil and other "products" that could be found in other forms. Then we use fossil fuels to make plastics that take eons to biodegrade. Do we make any sense at all?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Getting artsy

When it comes to water I love it. Cool blues and shimmering water are a turn on for me. It should not surprise me when I come across a beautiful work of art that I am attracted to it. Here is my attraction for today -

It is a mural of sealife made out of glass tiles. It is next to a swimming pool which shows off the work of art beautifully.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The intertide area

The area between the high tide and the low tide is called the intertidal zone. There are numerous species of wildlife that can only exist in that zone or area. You can see why something as dangerous as an oil spill or chemical spill can drastically affect the animals that live there.

Exploring the intertidal area is fascinating. I have traveled to many of them that were accessible by steep trails. Yet the one I enjoyed the most was across some sand dunes that we rode ATV's to. We carried our equipment in the ATV Accessories rack to the zone.

I have video of that fun trip but like I said in my previous post, I need to get it off of the VHS format to upload it to this blog.

Underwater videos

I am so glad that videos no longer include tapes or even CDs. The digital revolution has made it so much easier to record events that take place underwater. The cameras are lighter and smaller than ever before. It also makes it easier to make them water tight.

When I get the time I need to transfer my old videos on VHS to purely digital. I need to gather up the HDMI cables, the converting software and make sure the VCR still works to obtain the videos. It sounds harder than it really is and it is not that hard. It just takes time.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Seal fur is still bing used for clothing

I thought that gone were the days of baby seals being beaten to death on the ice flows for their skins, but apparently not. A friend of mine was doing some online shopping just before Christmas and she found a website that featured the apple bottoms (jeans) she was looking for. On the same page was a model showing off a full length seal fur coat. I just about gagged!!

So what happened? Did people forget the ghastly movies and photos of dead baby seals and blood covered ice?