Posts Tagged ‘California’
Journey to the Sea of Cortez.
I feel very guilty as I didn’t make a note of where I came across this film. Whoever highlighted the film, thank you! It’s truly beautiful. So, please, settle yourself down and be enthralled.
In March 1940, the author John Steinbeck and his friend, marine biologist Ed Ricketts, sailed down the coast of California and Mexico to the Sea of Cortez. “The abundance of life here gives one an exuberance,” they wrote, “a feeling of fullness and richness.“
Their stated purpose was to document the creatures that inhabit shallow waters and tide pools on the margins of the Sea of Cortez. But it became much more. In these mysterious, phosphorescent waters they sought an understanding of mankind’s relationship to the natural world and a wellspring of hope for a world headed toward war.
Looking beyond the events of the day, the two friends foresaw our rising impact on the oceans and the devastating impact that over fishing would have on this rich sea. And yet, in their journey, they encountered a periodic cooling of the eastern Pacific Ocean known as La Niña that can still set off an explosion of life.
Can the story of their journey inspire new efforts to preserve the Sea of Cortez? Down along the shores of western Mexico, the wind blows hot and dry. Beyond these barren landscapes, cold currents rush up from the deep and the ocean literally boils with life.
Following their journey down to the Sea of Cortez in March of 1940, John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts searched for a way to describe what they saw. “Trying to remember this place,” they wrote, “is like trying to re-create a dream. It is fierce and hostile and sullen. The stone mountains pile up to the sky and there is little fresh water. But we know we must go back if we live, and we don’t know why.“
The Sea of Cortez is one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on the planet. It’s shaped by the cool waters of the California Current flowing into the warm tropics and by a complex undersea terrain that rises up along a chain of islands and sea mounts. It was the shorelines, between the desert and the deep, that drew John Steinbeck, the author, and Ed Ricketts, a marine biologist and expert on coastal ecosystems.
Ricketts’ book, “Between Pacific Tides,” is a classic study of the inter-tidal zones of the California coastline and the myriad creatures that live in shallow pools, clinging to rocks to sift the rich nutrients carried in by the tides. Steinbeck and Ricketts sought to extend this work to the Sea of Cortez and to explore ideas at the core of their friendship. They shared a belief that man’s fate, like that of the animals they saw, is linked to the health of the natural world. [Ed. my emphasis]
Ricketts is said to have inspired some of Steinbeck’s most memorable characters, including Doc in Cannery Row, and the preacher Jim Casy in The Grapes of Wrath, published a year before their voyage. Set against the backdrop of drought and economic depression, the book describes the dustbowl conditions that gripped the American heartland in the 1930′s. “Now the wind grew strong and hard and it worked at the rain crust in the corn fields. Little by little the sky was darkened by the mixing dust, and carried away. The wind grew stronger. The rain crust broke and the dust lifted up out of the fields and drove gray plumes into the air like sluggish smoke.“
In most years, southerly winds carry moisture into the midsection of the country from the Gulf of Mexico. In the 1930′s, according to a recent NASA study, those winds were diverted by a build up of warm water in the Western Atlantic and by a periodic cooling of the Eastern Pacific known as La Niña. This combination robbed the region of rain.
By the time Steinbeck and Ricketts began their journey, the historic backdrop had shifted to war. Fighting had engulfed Europe and was spreading to the western Pacific. While the United States was still officially neutral, American companies had begun supplying arms to the allied effort. In early 1940, John Steinbeck used money he earned from “The Grapes of Wrath” to hire a sardine boat called the Western Flyer. From Monterrey, California, he, his wife Carol, Ed Ricketts and a four-man crew headed south, charting a course along the Mexican coastline.
By all accounts, the journey was filled with adventure, camaraderie, and a sense of wonder at the diversity of living things they encountered. Over a six-week period, the two friends wrote journal entries, took notes on conversations, and catalogued specimens they collected on the way. They compiled these writings into a book: “Sea of Cortez, A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research,” later changed to “The Log From the Sea of Cortez.”
The work amounts to a search for a way to understand nature, and humanity at large, in a world steadily coming apart at the seams.
The film was released last Feb 28, 2013. Directed by Thomas Lucas, the Producers were John Friday, Thomas Lucas and Adam Ravetch.
Will end with a couple of personal reflections. First is that when I was invited out to Mexico for Christmas 2007 by Suzann and Don, I travelled to San Carlos, Mexico on the Eastern shores of the Sea of Cortez. San Carlos is a little under 300 miles south of the Arizonan border with Mexico and was where Jean had been living for many years. Meeting Jean changed my life forever! Here’s a picture of the Sea of Cortez through the rear door of Jean’s house in San Carlos.
Second reflection is about dogs. Jean had spent many years rescuing Mexican feral dogs and finding homes for them; hundreds of them over her time in San Carlos. We brought 13 of those dogs with us when we moved to Arizona and 9 came to Oregon. Below is Hazel, one of the five remaining Mexican ‘rescue’ dogs that are still with us in Oregon.
Food miles: Another tragic aspect of modern life.
Last week I had to travel from Merlin in Southern Oregon up to Portland, a round-trip distance of 480 miles. The vast majority of the journey was along Highway I5, most of which is a 2-lane highway, significantly harder driving than a 3 or more laned highway.
It was the first time I had driven North along I5 since Jean and I moved to Merlin last October. What staggered me were the huge number of trucks on the highway, many of them food trucks from California and beyond. Also noticed at regular intervals were very large industrial buildings that were described as food distribution centres.
Another connection to today’s reflections is that I am about 50 pages into Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. The book is the account of Barbara’s family spending a year deliberately eating home-grown and local food. The book’s subtitle is ‘A Year of Food Life‘ and, inevitably, the book has a website here.
So the book and the journey to Portland got me thinking about food miles and the huge transport distances of so much of what we eat today.
Jean and I were incredibly lucky when we bought this property last year to discover that it had a mature vegetable garden surrounded by a deer-proof fence, as the following photograph partially shows.
So even before considering the food miles we are saving from ‘grow-your-own’, we were enthusiastically planting a whole variety of vegetables. Here’s a rhubarb plant that went in last Saturday.
Anyway, I’m rather meandering along – anyone still awake!
The whole point of this long introduction is to highlight a fabulous film that we have watched over the weekend. Called Edible City: Grow The Revolution we came across it on Top Documentary Films, great source of films by the way if you don’t know it.
Luckily it is on YouTube as well.
Here’s the full film:
It’s an inspiring account of what it means for a community to take control of their food, ergo a strong recommendation to watch it in full.
If you want a taste of the film (pardon the pun!), here are two trailers.
plus much more information from the film’s website.
So why don’t you join the millions of people already buying from their local Farmers’ Market. For the USA you can find your nearest market using this website and for the United Kingdom try the Local Foods website.
Not only will it give you access to much healthier food, it is a very practical way of reducing our use of energy.
Institutionalized insanity versus intelligent thinking – a reflection.
This appeared on Patrice’s Blogsite on January 11th and is republished with his very kind permission. You may want to bookmark Patrice’s blogsite, which is here. The sub-heading of his blog is ‘Intelligence at the core of humanism‘ and, trust me, that is not an overstatement of the wisdom that is contained within his blog, as the following nobly illustrates.
Aphorism January 2012
Species Shifting North, Intelligence Left Behind:
Nothing like raw numbers. In the last twenty years, Europe warmed up by one degree Celsius (about 2 degrees in the primitive, less meaningful Fahrenheit system). That’s equivalent to a thermal shift of 249 kilometers north.
Insects responded by an average shift north of 114 kilometers, and birds by only 33 kilometers. This is creating imbalances (fully obvious in Alaska, and high altitude North America, where the insects move faster than their predators, killing entire forests, which then burn).
This differential adaptation also illustrates an important point the stupid partisans of the “market” always neglect: being more intelligent can make you slower. Birds are more intelligent than insects, so they find harder to leave their families, friends, habits, and landscapes they are familiar with behind. (No, I will not say that insects are more like Americans, driven by the market, and birds more like Europeans, driven also by broader values. I shall resist, lest I move too fast, like an insect, and outrage part of my brainy readership…)
Thus, as the market dominates, so does the stupid.
Adaptation is not always a manifestation of intelligence, and inadaptation often a sign of intelligence. A well known experience is to put a fly, or a bee, inside an open bottle, with a light source opposed to the opening. The bee will search intelligently the bottom of the bottle, where the exit ought to be. The less intelligent fly will buzz around stupidly, and exit first.
It’s no wonder that the partisan of the markets, who are richer and thus more influential, are for something stupid, as they are faster, precisely because they are more stupid, with fewer values, besides the colossal greed which dominates their psyche. So there is a non linear vicious loop, the more the market dominates.
Thus, next year the candidate historically financed by Wall Street will confront the extremely wealthy businessman cum politician, son of his father, also a governor cum businessman. Market against market: the market should not lose. The birds will be left behind by the fast moving insects, once again. Change you can’t believe in.
Where is everybody?
“Lord” (!) Martin Rees, “Astronomer Royal”, Nobel laureate, etc., complete with pretty pictures and beautifully spooky music, speculates it’s teeming with aliens out there.
But as Enrico Fermi quipped:”Where is everybody?“
The situation is not helped by us understanding very little about what the universe is made of. In the latest numbers I saw the universe was made 4% conventional matter, and the rest was… Dark. Mostly Dark Energy, with some Dark Matter. Who said the Dark Side was not important?
There are no dominant theories of what the Darkness is made of.
CERN should be able to find stuff below its energy reach. So far, nothing.
We have detected more than 150 planets. It seems one star out of ten, at least, has planets. Some have been detected in the habitable zone, where liquid water is found. But the water has to be continuously present for billions of years. Continuously (which did not happen on Mars and Venus).
400 billion stars in our galaxy. The big question is how many planets can harbor advanced (=oxygen breathing) life. No inkling of that. There are plenty of planets out there, indeed, but most hostile to life. So far. How Much Intelligent Life Out There? On Earth, it took 1.5 billion years to go from advanced life to intelligent, civilized life. A lot of things can go wrong in 1.5 billion years.
That advanced life did not develop on Mars or Venus is not an accident: although on the outskirts of the habitable zone, either planet did not have what it took. Mars was too small, and, just like Venus was not protected by a powerful plate tectonic, with accompanying magnetic field, among other problems (so the solar wind blowing the top of the atmosphere stole the hydrogen, hence water, etc.)
My hunch is that most planets in the hospitable zone, when found, will be bereft of advanced life, although primitive life may be quite frequent. Reason? Too many miracles at work for billions of years in the solar system. Especially in light of what we find out there (We see plenty of Jupiter size planets in close orbits around their suns, presumably after sweeping their entire system clean; OK, that’s partly a result of the method used to find planets presently, but the fact is, we find such situations aplenty! The presence of Jupiter out there, as our guardian protecting Earth from comets looks quite miraculous…)
If You Want To Save the Biosphere, Push Tech:
Some people in the Netherlands have suggested building an artificial mountain. It’s feasible, and would be smart to do, not just there, but say in a place such as Saudi Arabia (technical variations on the theme could collect water, as in cloud, or fog forests found in California or Peru).
Another point is that artificial mountains could help protect biological diversity from the greenhouse heating. Cynics would point out that it would take an enormous amount of energy to build them. True, with present tech, and the energy would be dirty too, presently. But that would be another motivation to go green. Green and big.
Most wind-driven energy system in Europe? Denmark. Most CO2 polluting country in Europe? Denmark. Coal power plants pick up the slack when the wind falters. Another case where nuclear offers its smiling face. Future nuclear that is. Not your great grandfather’s nuclear. Past nuclear tech should be terminated, just like coal. However, there are 100 unexploited, un-researched nuclear energies out there, and only those with insignificant waste will be acceptable. (Nobody would accept a fossil fuel system where only 2% of the fuel would be burned, and the rest allowed to pollute all over!)
Reminder: as the greenhouse heating proceeds, winds will falter because the heat differential between poles and equator will sink, thus shutting down that thermal engine known as the atmosphere (yes, hurricanes will be rarer, but fiercer).
Institutionalized insanity Versus Thinking Right:
In Switzerland a nuclear plant was built one kilometerdownstream from a dam, along the same river. None of those two could resist the sort of very strong quake happening occasionally in the Alps. A flood cum nuclear explosion is entirely imaginable. This sort of insanity has nothing to do with nuclear power, it has everything to do with lack of intelligence.
This is all the more strange since some Swiss cantons such as Valais get 20% of their GDP from research. By the way themedical drug sector part of GDP is twice the banking sector in Switzerland. For those who wonder why Switzerland is so rich (the same holds for Sweden and other Nordic company). It’s not (just) about the banks.
(More) Direct Democratic Keeps Bankers At Bay:
The weight of direct democracy has forced Swiss banks into reserve requirements twice those of the future Basel III regulations. (In other words, banks are many times tamer in Switzerland than in the USA, if one uses reserve requirements enforced as a measuring device; Basel III does not cover most of the enormous derivative trading, though.)
The scandal of the central banker heading the Swiss Central Bank buying dollars days before taking the decision of making the dollar explode up against the Swiss franc keeps unfolding. Yes, he knew about the trades, and yes, he had days to stop them afterwards.
It is dawning over Swiss society that those with privileged information should not be legally allowed to exploit them. The whole planet has to follow down that line. But, although it has been obvious for years that American and European politicians and central bankers are rich from insider trading, nothing has been done. Yet.
The Plutocrats Cash Out And Shame Does Not Count:
What looked to me as the immensely stupid and arrogant wife of the Swiss Bank President, explained herself from Singapore, where she owns an art gallery. If she really wanted to make real money out of her husband’s job, she knew how to do it, she asserted confidently. And there she was going through a list (a), b), c), d), etc… of things she would have done if she wanted to make more than the measly $75,000 she made. And how to make them secretly, she insisted.
Her name is “Kashya”, appropriately pronounced “Cashia”. In this case, Cashia said, in her native American English, they were in a rush, because they just had some cash from selling a chalet to store, so that is why she hid nothing. That brings a few questions, such as whether she is used to exploit the mechanisms of further cheating she explicated so adroitly on TV. The central banker, the plutocrat Hildebrand, having resigned, will get a million dollar salary in the next year, from the People, while his fellow plutocrats will rush to propose him a much more protitable conspiracy to join. I propose to put him in jail, instead.
Another Claim Of Mental Decline. And The Agenda Behind It: There Is No Good Wisdom, Except Dead Wisdom, Say Plutocrats:
Supposedly some new test showed a decline in “cognitive capabilities” starting at age 45. Apparently people were asked to remember lists of words starting with some particular letters. It does not seem to have come to the mind of the experimenters that maybe older brains do not like to remember such stupid stuff.
Thinking means motivating. Without the right motivation, there is not the right thinking.
In the case of “IQ”, a decline is observed at 24, some say… Military officers would concur that it is better to send 18 year olds to die, because they are bright enough to execute orders well, but not so bright that they would know that they might die for no good reason.
A related point: no doubt a two-year old training to go potty remembers very well each time she goes. Whereas an adult tends to lose this facility of neurological retention for this sort of event. One generally observes. But it is not because adults have suffered mental decline that they do not remember every poop. Simply, they have seen lots of poop passing by.
Actually the argument can be made that consciousness and conscious memorization are needed to deploy automatisms, but once those are in place, they are not needed anymore, and so consciousness, and conscious recall should not be present.
When I was a young driver, I remembered everything I did when driving a car, but now I do it automatically, remembering very few of my gestures. When driving, my consciousness is mostly watching for the unforeseen.
Is there a political interpretation explaining such mental declines claims? Indeed, there is. As people get older, they elaborate higher wisdom. Thus, although the soldiers of revolution are typically very young people, because they have their aggression hormones less tempered by wisdom, the leaders of revolution are typically much older.
Let me explain this carefully: fascist and plutocratic leaders typically claim that they are “conservatives“. It means that they justify their mean rule by a refusal to adapt to changed circumstances.
As the French revolution stirred, the most esteemed leaders were senior citizens such as Voltaire or Benjamin Franklin, and everybody looked up to them, from Louis XVI to Turgot; on the Dark Side, many of the leaders, such as the Comte d’ Artois, were barely teenagers.
Closer to us, in WWII, the SS seduced many a 16 year old. In the last few weeks of the war, many of the most enraged Nazis fighting to the bitter end with the allies in the mountainous heart of Germany were school children with heavy weapons. In more than one case, disgusted American GIs, reluctant to blow up some more enraged children to bits, sent their school mistresses to negotiate with them!
If the (plutocratic) establishment can claim that revolutionary wisdom is actually the fruit of mental decline, presto, no revolution. It will be “conservatism” all the way.
Why Do We Want To Always Support Winners?
Supporting the home team is easy to understand: this is the tribal instinct. Human beings are social, they have to love the group, thus dislike what hinders the group, namely, other groups.
One has to love the leader(s) of the group, the alpha(s). In general, to abate social tensions, an instinct has got to exist, which makes the oppressed love the oppressor, or let’s say, the inferior love the superior. or even love the winning group, to be motivated to join it. Something more plausible to females. Hence Beatlemania.
If One Wants Happiness, One Should Prepare For The Worst:
Pe Romaneste: So happiness must be an accident.
Alexi Helligar: There seems to be greater power in the accidental than we imagine.
Patrice Ayme: Indeed, to a great extent, everything is accidental. Realizing this means that those who complain that something happened accidentally, and, thus, was not expected, have not understood the first thing about causality. Accidents is how the world happens. Wisdom consists in anticipating their occurrence, and having a plan B, should they occur.
Brutality Is Friendly To Plutocracy, Long Life Friendly To Wisdom:
Only wisdom can allow long life. Really very long life, lasting centuries, for individuals or civilization. Short lives are brutish, and this has the consequence in many a perpetrator, to spurn whatever life is offered. Indeed a good way to spurn something is by devaluing it. The brutality of the human condition is self reinforcing…
This why human life extension is a necessity, a preliminary, for the extension of wisdom. Because as long as lives are short and brutish, the short and brutish way of life is all too optimal, for all too many people (although those with children, or grandchildren they love will disagree, but they are not necessarily a majority).
This is something that life spurning plutocrats such as Mr. Jobs have been busy not understanding, as brutality is their friend.
Plutocrats Love Death Indeed:
Steve Jobs, despite leaving Reed College after six months, was asked to give the 2005 commencement speech at Stanford. Why? Did Jobs invent anything important? (Disclosure: My Mom offered me an ultra light Mac Air, and I love it.) No, he was just an artistic technology integrator, but not necessarily as mechanically oriented as a car mechanic (his partner Wozniak was the programmer, but even this one finished his college studies in computer science, 20 years later, at Berkeley, and found them hard!)
In his Stanford address, delivered after Mr. Jobs was told he had cancer, but before it was clear that it would ultimately claim his life, Mr. Jobs told his mesmerized audience of naive sheep that “death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent.”
In this light, the invasion of Iraq by Bush and his fanatical followers made sense: by visiting more than one million deaths upon Iraq, the USA brought the single best invention of life. Everybody, or more exactly 83%, including a majority of Stanford students, agreed, at the time.
Is this love of death why Jobs refused conventional medical treatment initially, until it was too late? Jobs insisted that the benefit of death, is you know not to waste life living someone else’s choices. I guess that extended to the medical.
Verily, death came first, and was denied by life. Life is the denial of death. Life did not have to invent death.
Hormuz Crisis Versus Suez Crisis: Spot The Difference!
Why did the USA not get upset when Nasser seized the Suez canal, in 1956? And actually why did the USA instead use the occasion to threaten Israel, Britain and France? Not just that, butpresident Eisenhower aligned himself with the Egyptian, and Soviet dictators. The Soviets, while invading Hungary, killing at least 40,000 Hungarians, threatened to atom bomb London and Paris. With the loud acquiescence of the USA… Which got France and Britain, not the mass murderous USSR, condemned at the United Nations’ general Assembly. What a crazy week it was.
And now, 55 years later, lo and behold, the USA is getting all upset as Iran wants to stop what’s going on below its nose in the strait of Hormuz? Just asking. Inquiring minds want to know.
Is it that in 1956, France and Britain were viewed as preys of the USA? And now that the USA has grabbed everything from France and Britain, they want to be friends again? Because the rich need servants, maybe? In any case, the Suez Crisis was an incongruous reminder that, in 1939, the USA was allied with the USSR and Nazi Germany, against France and Britain (oopss, something one should never say!)
And my advice would be to be very careful with Hormuz. If one wants long life, one does not want long wars. And one does not want fossil fuels. The sooner we get rid of fossil fuels, the better, and if Hormuz helps that way, so be it. The messy Iranian theocracy will not win a waiting game.
No Change, No Life!
What the USA needs to do is to do what all serious countries do, and have always done: change its constitution, since the changed circumstances require it.
Cool Is Not Cool:
“Cool”. Why is “cool” such a popular word? Is it supposed to correspond to an attitude? Is it a mark of, and a tool for, our subjugation?
So Obama is confronted to the greatest financial thievery in the history of civilization, and that leaves him “cool“? Having rebooted the perpetrators with public money he goes to them to ask for a billion to campaign for re-election? Cool? I mean: we are not supposed to blow our tops when we contemplate such injustice in the name of change we can’t believe?
In Europe, pretty amazingly intricate financial and semantic engineering is presently deployed to save the banks and the sovereign states entangled with them. There again the bottom line is that the resources of the countries are deployed for the exclusive enjoyment of the few, who happen to be the greatest swindlers ever. Although they are presented as too big to flay.
Actually the same technique as in the USA, Quantitative Easing, is being deployed, and on a similar scale. But, as the head of the European Central Bank, an ex Goldman Sachs partner, pointed out sardonically, a scornful smile on the corner of his mouth, Europeans use a different semantic: they don’t call it Quantitative Easing.Therein the difference. Is not that cool too?
Is the greenhouse effect already that bad that cool is the ultimate state one ought to strive for with all of one’s being? Or are we supposed to reject our mammalian inheritance? Mammals, by being warmer, could do more. So, when climate change happened 65 million years ago, they survived (so did the very warm birds, who evolved from bird-like dinosaurs). Are we supposed to do less now, and not survive? Or then survive like crocs, deep in the mud, super cool, eating carrion?
Is “cool” imposed on us so that people know no higher emotional state than iguanas? Become cool like barnacles, as we cling to the existence the plutocrats condescend to leave us to enjoy? Being so cool we would not be like the American and French hot heads who came forth with new constitutions in 1789?
So is the celebration of “cool” what forces us to not be outraged, as plutocrats steal and burn the entire planet to forget about their megalomaniac angst? To forget they are just crazy critters in need of some restraint? Is “cool” the state slaves are supposed to be in to optimize the enjoyment of their masters? Is it only cool to be cool like corpses?
France anti-genocide law denounced by Turkey:
Now this is hilarious. France passed a law punishing convicted holocaust deniers by up to one year in jail and 45,000 euros fine.
Fine, indeed. Who would turn into a partisan, a defender of holocausts? Is not holocaust denial a form of hate speech? Holocausts remain a problem, because when one has killed most of a human group, there is nearly nobody to complain on their behalf: other people move on, as herbivores do, once one of them has been seized and devoured.
France’s national Assembly passed the anti-genocidal law, with bipartisan support. And what do you think happened?
Erdogan, the three time elected Prime Minister of Turkey, had a fit: how does France dare make holocaust denial a crime? He forbade French fighter jets to land in Turkey (so I guess the no fly zone over Syria will be delayed), recalled the Turkish ambassador to France, and stopped all talks with France.
And the questions are: why does the present government in Turkey love holocausts so much? Are holocaust such an endangered species that Turkey has to protect them with all its might?
Why does Turkey consider that a general attack against holocausts is an attack against Turkey? Is it because holocausts are intrinsic to the Turkish character? Or is it because holocausts are mentioned positively in the Bible and the Qur’an, and the present Turkish government is obsessed with the religion of the child molester Abraham? Is this why Erdogan is angry?
We Are Truth Machines.
That monkeys now build cities has not changed that truth. No hallucination added in the last 6,000 years has changed that truth either. Science is what we do, and what stands in the way of that fundamental truth, faces extermination.
Please watch this! It ‘s amazing, beautiful, and may take your breath away.
These are the words that John H., from here in Payson wrote, when he sent me the email that included the following video. Thanks John.
Here’s that video, Saving Valentina,
Now, while you are still ‘out there’ with the whales, go here and read,
The Great Whale Conservancy (GWC) Blue Whale Protection Program
To protect blue whales along the California coast from ship-strike caused injuries and death.
The blue whale is the largest animal species to have ever inhabited the Earth. The global population prior to human predation has been estimated at 350,000 individuals. Today that number is ~10,000. Blue whales inhabit every ocean but one of the largest subpopulations is the Northeast Pacific group. These whales transit four favored areas: the California Bight (south of Point Conception,) the west coast of Baja California, the Sea of Cortez, and the Costa Rica Dome. By far the largest number of blue whales congregates in the California Bight between June and October where food availability is very high. This area is also one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, with over 6000 cargo ships/year transiting the Santa Barbara Channel to and from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Blue whales are most vulnerable to strikes by cargo ships, tankers, cruise ships, and other large vessels at night while feeding on krill, transiting, or resting. During the day krill descend hundreds of feet into the water column, but every evening the whale’s photosensitive prey re-concentrate near the surface. The whales follow the krill back to the dark surface waters, and may not react quickly enough to avoid the large ships. A ship collision usually ends in injury or death for these giants of the seas. The documented number of blue whales killed by ships along the coast of California has been as high as 5 whales in a year. The actual number of mortalities is unknown and is suspected to be many times higher because blue whales are negatively buoyant – they sink when they die. The total number of ship-strike kills represents a survival threat to this subgroup and the worldwide population.
Despite their size, California’s blue whales are for the most part unseen, which to a great degree is why they remain unprotected. The GWC will utilize media-generating tools such as web-based videos and public presentations and actions involving life-size blue whale floats to inform the public, focus attention on state and federal agencies and ship owners, and force a strengthening of the rules and operational policies for vessels transiting critical blue whale habitat. We will not turn the corner on this issue until the general public becomes aware of the problem and begins to “speak for the whales.” We must succeed – it would truly be a tragedy to lose this magnificent species forever.
It took decades to institute strong protections, including adjusted shipping lanes, ship speeds, and the establishment of protected areas for North Atlantic right whales, despite 60 years of “protected status” and the knowledge that 1/3 of the known mortalities every year resulted from ship strikes. The survival of the right whale population still hangs by a thread. We can’t afford to negotiate for decades on protecting blue whales in the Pacific.
Let’s all pause for a moment (and my apologies for the late posting!)
The precise time of the summer solstice today is 17.16 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT/UTC).
In terms of local times that will be 10.16 here in Arizona and also in California, 13.16 in New York, 18.16 in London, and 03.16 (Wed) in Sydney, Australia, to pick just a few places.
What a year it has been so far!
So let’s just pause for a moment, as the Sun appears to pause, and put out our combined thoughts across this wonderful Planet Earth and pray for peace and tranquillity for all during the rest of this ‘interesting’ year.