Last week, I went on a very short, but very productive expedition to my home waters off of Palm Beach County, Florida. Much of it was a “return to dive” exercise. Part of the reason for my absence off this website was that I was convalescing from fairly intensive surgery (that caused two major complications that caused me to miss an expedition and training in Bonaire, and another expedition to the cenotes of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula).
Continue reading “Come Dive with Me, Come Dive, Let’s Dive Away!”
What’s it like to Scuba Dive with sharks? Most of the time, it is a calm, ethereal experience. But some of the time, especially when the sharks know there is food to be had, the energy in the water changes. The sharks are still indifferent to us, but they can definitely let their presence be known!
This dive was at Beqa Lagoon in Fiji, where the sharks help support the communities of Beqa, Yanuca Island, and Korovisilou.
While the sharks are given incentive to show up, the dives are regulated amongst the local community dive shops to not stress the sharks – a strictly no-touch policy among the guest divers, and non-lethal, non-invasive deterrents are used when the sharks (here, the bull sharks) get a overly aggressive (you’ll see the shepherd staffs used once or twice).
I hope you enjoy this dive, and I encourage you look up the ways sharks enrich Fijian life, from the opportunities they give communities, to their place in traditional Fijian beliefs, art, and music!
(Filmed during the 2017 Shark Angels expedition to Fiji)
iSimangaliso Night (1/20/19)
The full moon hangs spectral
in African air chilled by Antarctic exegesis
whipping waves that bring
the leatherback mother
to a lonely stretch of titanium sand
a ritual of night
to call forth a new generation
we will bear witness
When I woke up this morning, I checked Facebook (as one does), and saw that I was tagged in this Facebook post. I’ve recently had some discussions online and in the real world about the needless cruelty humanity does in the name of sport (the now former Idaho Game and Fish Commissioner Blake Fischer’s hunting sojourn to Africa where he wantonly killed a family of baboons, for the seemingly sole reason of “because I could”) stands out, but then there was this.
I love stingrays. When I would stay with my grandparents, they would take me to Pine Island in Florida, and I would also hope we would get there early enough so I could see the stingrays sleeping in the shallow water by the beach – but by the time I got there, they had flown back into the Gulf of Mexico, leaving behind only their diamond-shaped imprints in the sand, the water so calm that the evidence had not been erased by the tides.
Seeing one killed this unnecessarily, for no other reason than laziness, it’s so infuriating. To see it suffer, slowly suffocating to death… We really don’t deserve this world.
GARBAGE ON THE BEACH
I do not do it myself. I have a choice. I can afford practicing compassion. Others are less fortunate. I understand why some people fish.
Still, wasting life? Putting someone through the agony of suffering and death? Pulling fish out of the water just to let them rot in the sand? That’s an entirely different story.
It’s the same attitude that allows us to club baby seals and skin them while they are still alive. It’s the same attitude that allows us to fire harpoons into the living breathing body of a whale, never mind she is self-conscious, worries about passing away, and perhaps even pays the homage to the Divine in her unique way. It is the same attitude that, we think, gives us a right to rape the earth and the ocean with a myopic greed that leads us to pumping water rather than heavy mud in a drilling hole for a sole purpose to save a few bucks though we have already made billions and will keep making more billions each and every year.
It was an evening at our favorite roaming place on the Mustang Island, right by the Park, right where the dragons smile to me, right where the protective deities have granted us free passage, right where we chant “Namu Dai Bosa — Homage to the Great Compassionate One” into the ten directions, for the benefit of all. My heart was high up in my throat and my fists might have been clenched, too, when we arrived at this place and the first thing I heard was – “I caught a stingray, a really big one, too. It lays down over there by the poles.”
If I had more courage, I would have asked him – “Why do you destroy living beings in such a brutal way? What is your purpose? What have you achieved?” If I only had more courage I would have returned the fish to the ocean right then and there, right in front of him and his children. But I did not.
I hovered around for several minutes waiting until they packed their crap into their gigantic oversized SUV and took off. Only then I returned the fish to the ocean. It was too late. It did not survive. Thinking about it, perhaps it was too late in the first place. Maybe there was no way to help her anyway.
I have to grant them one thing. There was no garbage on the beach once they left.
Namu Dai Bosa
for the fish left in the sand
salt on my cheeks
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stefan Sencerz, born in in Warsaw, Poland, came to the United States to study philosophy and Zen Buddhism. He teaches philosophy, Western and Eastern, at the Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. He has numerous publications in professional philosophy journals as well as several refereed poems that appeared in various nationally distributed poetry journals. He has been active on a spoken-word scene winning the slam-masters poetry slam in conjunction with the National Poetry Slam in Madison Wisconsin, in 2008, as well as several slams in San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and Chicago.
OCTOBER 16, 2018 UPDATE: This was a great idea that didn’t pan out. Unfortunately, September and October turned out to be incredibly busy and I wasn’t able to donate the necessary time to get this going. I will post some recommendations in the coming days, but nothing so elaborate as this had been planned.
ORIGINAL POST: August 29, 2018
While I’m a multi-issue voter – I care about whether or not my duly elected representative likes puppies, babies, AND Mom’s apple pie, for instance – there’s two issues that will make or break my support for a candidate: marine conservation and climate change. In Arizona, we’re upstream from ocean, so what we do here filters down into the Blue Eternal, and in Florida – well, Florida will literally live or die on the health of the oceans and the level of the sea. For my ocean adjacent home state of Florida, and the land-locked desert I now call home, I’ve decided to try to determine, in four races, who is the ocean hero who I can support, and hope, as a salt-water enthusiast, you will similarly support.
Those races will be Arizona’s and Florida’s gubernatorial and senatorial races, and I’m going to be honest with you – I don’t know what I’ll find. I know next to nothing about Florida gubernatorial Democratic candidates Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis, and while I like Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, and have a fair amount of animus towards current Florida governor and Republican Senate candidate Rick Scott, I’ve never gotten into the nuts and bolts if their records on ocean policy and climate change. For Arizona, same thing with current Republican governor Doug Ducey, and Democratic candidate David Garcia. For Arizona, I’m actually fairly antagonistic towards Democratic Representative Kyrsten Sinema, and I don’t care much for Republican Representative Martha McSally, both running for Arizona Senate.
What I’ll be doing is running a series of issues up the flagpole – for DeSantis, Sinema, and McSally, I’ll be using their Congressional voting records, focusing primarily on the most current Congressional session. Likewise for Bill Nelson, I will be focusing on his Senatorial voting record. For Doug Ducey and Rick Scott, I will be focusing primarily on laws they have signed and policy edicts they have issued. Gillum will likely be the biggest challenge, as Mayor of Tallahassee, he will have the most limited ocean policy record, so I may have to extrapolate based on his Mayoral record, coupling with promises made on the campaign trail.
Full disclosure – I am a Democrat, but I’m going to attempt to boil away as much of biases as humanly possible, and go with the science and consistency (meaning: if candidate X is for small government but mandates a big government policy, you’ll hear about it. Similarly, if a candidate is anti-climate change and then takes money from Big Oil, you’ll hear about that too).
There are some things that are going to be taken as non-negotiable.
1. Climate Change: The science is settled. It is real, it is man-made (anthropogenic), and it is causing problems from coral bleaching and ocean acidification, and a political columnist with no field experience or research work’s opinion does not carry the same weight as a scientist who is doing the work.
2. Biodiversity is critically important: Yes, the desert pupfish and the Lost River sucker are as important as the great white shark and right whale.
3. Plastic pollution must be addressed: This means from your drinking straw to a ghost fishing net. There is no single solution for this non-point pollution problem, and all of us are part of the problem (from the consumer to the producer). No, skipping the straw will not draw Lisa Frank rainbows in the sky over an ocean of jumping dolphins. Unless you need it due to disablity, there’s still no reason why you should be using a straw.
4. The affects of rivers and waterways upstream affect ocean health: This should be a no-brainer, but some people don’t get this.
The rating system will be clear and concise. I’ll introduce it with the first post I do, no later than Saturday morning, and we’ll start off, as is my wont, with shark conservation.
NOTE: THIS IS THE WORK OF A PRIVATE CITIZEN, EXPRESSING OPINIONS GUARANTEED UNDER THE 1ST AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES. I REPRESENT NO POLITICAL PARTY, POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE, 501(c)3 or 501(c4) CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION, OR COMPANY.
Never read the comments.
So, I woke up in a pique and grabbed my phone and went onto Twitter and Facebook, as one does in the 21st Century at 3AM in the morning. As the tides of fate would have it, I first saw this, tagged in a post by Sister Klute.
From the Huffington Post:
“A whale found in a canal in southern Thailand has died after eating more than 80 plastic bags, according to officials.
The small male pilot whale was barely alive when he was discovered on Monday in the southern province of Songkhla, Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources said. Rescuers attempted to nurse the whale back to health, but he died on Friday after spitting up five plastic bags.
A necropsy revealed over 17 pounds of plastic, including more than 80 plastic bags, in the whale’s stomach.”
Continue reading “TJ Shope Would Like You to Do Something About Him Not Doing Anything – National Oceans Month, Part 2”
It’s National Oceans Month here in the United States, but if you’re like me – every month is National Oceans Month!
What is National Oceans Month? Well, it’s basically when the government acknowledges that while we may be a terrestrial species, we’re still at the mercy of the tides. And as Chief Executive of the United States Government, the President is the one who dedicates us to the seas during this month of June.
The great orator and 35th president, John F. Kennedy, spoke of the sea in personal, human terms. I could quote him, but in this video, you can hear the man speak…