Your Paradise Depends On Your Actions

ZMKF aka DORKY SHARK

Right, so we've all written you a little intro, a little starter article, a little ocean overview or animal profile. One of them was literally titled "What's Going On." We haven't told you everything, and you probably, honestly, feel the same way about the ocean. Which is fine. Reading is not inherently the same as feeling.

Now I'm going to share a personal adventure with you in the hopes that you realize - wherever you go, the ocean will follow.   

I went to Catalina not that long ago. From the 1st to the 3rd. Two nights. The boat ride there was slightly longer than an hour, the boat ride back was slightly shorter. 

This is a weird panorama of my hotel room. 

This is a weird panorama of my hotel room. 

 First of all, I had an…interesting…view of the surrounding apartments. One person had little dolls and statues in their makeshift backyard:

Now we go closer...

Now we go closer...

...Yeah. 

...Yeah. 

Oh yeah. 

Oh yeah. 

The first day all we did was get there. We had a late lunch at the Bluewater Grill, and then we all took baths and then, together, watched Mrs. Maisel, had dinner, played one round of cards with just my mom and my bestie Sadie and I, and then went to bed. (I am so ready for Season 2 of Mrs. Maisel!) 

Picture I took inside the Bluewater Grill. 

Picture I took inside the Bluewater Grill. 

Then, the 2nd, my sister Sofia and Sadie started the day by going parasailing together. I didn’t go, but that’s okay. I don’t really like heights. I tried to greet them at the dock when they came back, because the entire city of Avalon is walking/chair-rolling distance, but they ended early, and I wasn’t fast enough, so I met them on the dock as they were walking back. I felt slightly jealous so we looked into something we could all do together. (Makes me sound bratty, doesn’t it?) We tried the ecotour office, but they said they only had spots for us the day after (guess what we did on the 3rd!). 

My mom wasn’t feeling that well, so Sadie, my sister, father, and I went kayaking. On the ocean. After eating street tacos. I definitely stuck close to the shore, but relaxed into it more as it went on. Plenty of times I wished I’d had one of those cameras that attaches to your head. It was pleasantly sunny and refreshing. The view was wonderful. The sky was gray-ish white, but lit well. Saw lots of small-ish orange fish. 

Oh, and flying fish.

And dolphins.

We saw the dolphins before the flying fish, as we were first coming past the red buoys that mean “People Swim Here” – we saw them behind a somewhat distant medium sized boat, and then in front of it, and then ahead of us, in the span of what, three minutes? They’re fast. And playful. Duh. They’re dolphins. A few of them jumped so high they turned over in mid-air. I actually didn’t see it when it happened, I was looking the other way. (You never know when to look!)

Fun fact: Dolphins ‘deliberately get high’ on puffer fish nerve toxins by carefully chewing and passing them around. Dolphins are thought of as one of the most intelligent species in the animal kingdom – and experts believe they have put their ingenuity to use in the pursuit of getting ‘high’. - Dolphins ‘deliberately get high’ on puffer fish nerve toxins by carefully chewing and passing them around, the Independent

Dolphins like to get high. They’re smart, fun, and they like to get high.

Sound like your kind of people?

Just kidding,

The flying fish came when we were a bit farther out. Around 30 of them came out of the water at once. They were so fast I only saw a whoosh. That’s right, a cartoon “W H O O S H” spelled out in the air. (Sarcasm.) But seriously, they’re in, they’re out, they’re in. Then something funny happened where they didn’t even come all the way out, they just…jumped. Bunch of bubbles. No fish. Like pop goes the weasel, but the weasel’s poppin against a glass wall.

That evening, my dad, Sadie and I walked around by the Avalon Casino. No gambling. Casino is something like “place of entertainment or gathering” in Italian. They had red and green lighting for Xmas. We snuck around back and tried to listen to the movie Ferdinand’s audio through a door. It sounds bad.

We came back the hotel room and played one round of poker and one round of Go Fish. And then we went to bed.

The morning of the 3rd, we packed, had breakfast – I had bacon, hashbrowns, and some eggs – and went to the ecotour office. Twas there we took off for the basic short tour of not all of the island. It’s only two hours, after all.

Oddly, I started taking pictures relatively late in the tour:

 

Catalina Hills Number 1.jpg
Catalina Hills Number 2.jpg
Catalina Hills Number 3.jpg
Catalina Hills Number 4.jpg

Catalina is a beautiful place, as is most every other island on this Spaceship Earth. And just like our tour guide, Pat, did for us, I’m going to give you a bit of Catalina history. 

Like all islands, Catalina didn’t pop out with animals and plants already roaming around. The plants would’ve most likely been the first to get there, swept out to Catalina by wave and wind. Animals then follow the plants there. Especially since palm tree leaf + palm tree leaf = nicely sized raft for a nuclear rat family. Bigger animals come on bigger “rafts,” and birds fly, of course. This all takes time. The evolution of an island is the evolution of a full ecosystem. 

Catalina in particular formed not from a volcano, like all the popular islands, but from subduction. “About 200,000 million years ago, the Farallon plate, sitting under the Oceanic Plate, began to subduct, or go under the North American Plate. This movement scraped up rock and sediment from the bottom of the ocean bringing it to the surface, forming what we know today as The Channel Island chain.” (From the Catalina Island Marine Institute’s website.) Which means that Catalina is made up of three basic types of rock – igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary. Neat, right?

Skip forward just a few years (geologically speaking), and Catalina has people on it. (Yaaaay, right? Yay! Yay? Humans = good?) “There have been inhabitants on Catalina Island for the past 7,000 years. The Island’s history as a resort community spans only the last 120 years. The first Europeans to arrive claimed the Island for the Spanish Empire, it was later turned over to Mexico and then to the United States. The island has served as a stop for smugglers, gold diggers, pirates, hunters, the Union army and missionaries.” (From Visit Catalina Island’s website.) I would’ve liked to meet some pirates when I went, but alas, we missed each other by a few generations. 

1864 – James Lick owns the place. The whole island. He’s just the most recent in a succession of apparently unimportant (and therefore nameless on Visit Catalina Island’s website) owners, but he’s different (or so they say) – he was once considered one of the richest men in California. After a few passionate but short-lived attempts to start resort development there, he sells the place to…

1891 – the Sons (their names weren’t revealed, so I guess that’s their official title) of Phineas Banning! The Banning Brothers (Sons, Boys, Buddies, etc) created the Santa Catalina Island Company to start developing the island for resorty purposes, and in improving the “fancy” score of the island, they paved the first dirt roads! (Wow! What an accomplishment!) Everything was going along swimmingly until – sizzle – a fire (something you should never yell in a theatre) broke out in 1915, causing them to sell the island to none other than…

1919 – William Wrigley Jr! Yes, that one! The baseball chewing gum man! “Wrigley invested millions in the island, building infrastructure and attractions. To bring attention and tourists to the Island, he made the Island the spring training home of the Chicago Cub’s, which he owned. Wrigley built the Catalina Country Club to house the team’s lockers and provide a gathering place for players. The team continued to train on the island until 1951. In 1929, he built the iconic Catalina Casino, which boasts the world’s largest circular ballroom.” (Visit Catalina Island.) 

I’ll leave you with the Wrigley’s. Because they still own the island, to this day! They benevolently share it with the Catalina Island Conservancy.          

 Catalina has many similarities with the Galapagos, although the two don’t really compare. The Galapagos islands have many species that live there and nowhere else (gigantic tortoise, anyone?), and though less impressive in some ways, so does Catalina. St. Catherine’s Lace is native to the Channel Islands and Catalina, and I suppose it makes it cheating to note that it’s seen as a “California plant” that is allowed to grow in fancy shmancy Malibu gardens rather than an “island plant” that only grows there. 

The Catalina Island Fox is another example. We saw one on this stretch of the journey: 

Catalina Hills Number 6.jpg
Catalina Hills Number 7.jpg
Catalina Hills Number 8.jpg
Catalina Hills Number 9.jpg
Catalina Hills Number 10.jpg
Catalina Hills Number 11.jpg
Catalina Hills Number 12.jpg
Catalina Hills Number 13.jpg

…and it was adorable. I wish I had gotten a picture of it. They’re about the size of a kitten. It wasn’t afraid of us, it just stared at us for a while. The tour was done by the Catalina Island Conservancy, and according to them: An adult fox weighs just 4 to 6 pounds and is about 25% smaller than its mainland ancestor, the gray fox. Its diet includes mice, lizards, birds, berries, insects, and cactus fruit.

For another example of an animal that only Catalina has, meet Auggie, the mini donkey. 

Auggie 1.jpg
Auggie 2.jpg
Auggie 3.jpg

Whatever you do, do not feed the Auggie.

And no, technically, donkeys and foxes aren’t marine animals.

But island life is ocean life.

Every paradise you could ever happen upon is rooted in the ocean. If the ocean becomes too hot or too cold or too acidic even in the smallest of areas, the entire cookie crumbles. 

Catalina Pond 1.jpg
Catalina Pond 2.jpg
Catalina Pond 3.jpg
Catalina Pond 4.jpg
Catalina Pond 5.jpg
Catalina Pond 6.jpg
Catalina Pond 7.jpg

This is a pond within an island within the great big ocean.

The cattails depend on the pond, the pond depends on the island, the island depends on the ocean.

We depend on the ocean.

I went kayaking again on the 3rd, an hour before our boat left. Just Sadie and I that time. It was amazing. (I think I’m going to take up kayaking now…)

Every water sport, every island, every island life – you cannot underestimate the reach of the ocean.

If you like water, you should respect water. 

Sea Otters, The Fluff-balls Of The Sea

Sea Otter Mama & Pup.jpg

Sea Otters

Enhydra lutris

12/14/2017

By Bill Hawks

Operation: Oceanfixer

www.operationoceanfixer.org

Why Are Sea Otters Important

Sea otters are loveable flurfy snuggle-butts, and what is called a keystone species, keystone species are animals that are crucial to the ecosystem; like a keystone in an arch/bridge, a good example of this, (besides sea otters) are sea stars, which  keep the levels of seaweed healthy, therefore, sustaining all that rely on the seaweed for food. Sea otters live in kelp, sea urchins eat kelp, sea otters eat sea urchins, dozens of species depend on the kelp for shelter, therefore, without sea otters, sea urchins destroy kelp forests.

 

Main Threats

  1. Hunting to near extinction by humans *what a surprise!* and not being able to rebound properly. Luckily that ended in the early 1900s

  2. Human adjacent issues (ex. Oil spills, pollution, fishing/bycatch)

More on Keystone Species and how They Impact the Ecosystem

     Not all keystone species are aquatic. Some animals are keystone prey, hosts, nutrient vectors (also called Keystone links),or even keystone mutualists! Okay, wait, what the heck are those!? I know, just let me explain.

     Keystone prey are animals that, despite being heavily preyed upon, maintain a large population, such as wildebeest, whom are preyed on by lions, crocodiles, and several other predators.

     Keystone hosts are mostly plants, they provide shelter and sometimes even prey to keystone species; a great example would be kelp forests and sea otters, as sea otters live in kelp forests, however they would not if it weren’t for sea urchins, one of the few that prey on kelp, and prey to sea otters.

     Next, are keystone links (nutrient vectors), grizzly bears eat salmon, grizzlys can go further inland/away from water before eating that salmon; salmon carcasses are left to decompose, this fertilizes the soil around it!

     Keystone mutualists are two or more species that work together to benefit the ecosystem, a perfect example of this would be in Patagonia, where the green-backed firecrown pollinates 20% of their local plant population, while the green-backed firecrown pollinates the plants; the plants feed it, a hummingbird’s diet is almost entirely nectar; this exchange is a win-win experience for both of them!

 

Sources:

https://defenders.org/sea-otter/threats

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/keystone-species/

https://seaotters.com/

http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/education/marine-mammal-information/sea-otter.html?gclid=CjwKCAiA6qPRBRAkEiwAGw4SdlY3M4xIYD1Dl4nnV85F0M9mIXfbosBhLAdZOjqaCP-HFi4IjHvO9hoC4ooQAvD_BwE?referrer=https://www.google.com/

 

And Now……This.

Because you deserve this in your life, here are some live sea (and river) otter web cams, that will ensure you have a good day!

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals-and-experiences/live-web-cams/sea-otter-cam?gclid=CjwKCAiA6qPRBRAkEiwAGw4Sdma2rFjFnDe0YxtajbN6rFFWK-EQFmhWPx9QqCXd364h8R99jvoTnxoCYOYQAvD_BwE

http://www.tennesseeaquarium.org/animals-exhibits/river-otter-falls-cam/?gclid=CjwKCAiA6qPRBRAkEiwAGw4SdjRgmRm5O-gGn_ZGzwN3I2CGDkY_rBKTBwg7dO9Tkmtgfxm9Oi71fhoCQKAQAvD_BwE

https://www.vanaqua.org/learn/see-and-learn/live-cams/sea-otter-cam

http://www.seattleaquarium.org/otter-cams

http://www.vanaqua.org/learn/see-and-learn/live-cams/underwater-otter

http://www.vanaqua.org/learn/see-and-learn/live-cams/baby-otter

Ocean Killers

BY SHELLY L. BLACK

 

polar-bear-cub.jpg
dd44a39434be1b41f7797dedd65acde5.jpg
6d47157574e556841c79383014694a5b.jpg

But OK, is it just me, or are these THE cutest animals EVER?!

Well if you have half a brain, then you will be nodding 'yes' and smiling at the adorable baby animals.

But we are KILLING these animals. Have you ever had a wrapper and thought "oh how much dammage can ONE wrapper do?!" and tossed it onto the ground?  Well guess what? One peice of plastic can kill something as big as this guy:

 

Leatherback-sea-turtle-4-588x342.jpg

4 Ocean killing problems

1). Speedboat strikes

Speedboats going really fast near marine mammals is dangerous because mammals need air. Strikes are scars from speedboats on an animals body. Strikes are so prominent on manatees that scientists can identify individuals by their strikes

BoatStrikes_Manatee_c_CarolGrant_www_oceangrant_com.jpg

Manatees also known as sea cows, share an order with their cousins. Fort the speedboats there is no time to avoid them. Think about it. If there is an air-breathing mammal in the ocean, it will come up for air (otherwise it dies); if there are any boats around, once again particularly speedboats, it is likely going to get hit.

Of course many manatees die yearly due to this cause; manatees have very few natural predators, so obviously the human race had to mess that up. They could get their tails caught, be striked “normally”, or get a direct hit to the head and die immediately; even if it’s not a direct hit to the head, many manatees die just from the blood loss There are laws and speed limits, but since when did everyone obey and care about the law? These laws barely help, and for a law to be obeyed, it must be enforced!. I believe that boating in areas in which manatees are common, should be banned.

2). Fishing nets/ghost nets

Ghost nets are nets that fishermen abandon that can continue killing for up to 500 years. For marine mammals they are particularly dangerous because marine mammals still need air so they drown.

9828829_orig.jpg

Don't let his adorable baby sea otter drown!

3). Oil pollution

Oil pollution literally suffocates the water. It sucks up oxygen and if caught on fire can trap animals.

Oil spill--Disaster type

Oil spill--Disaster type

If you look up oil spill, it is listed as ‘disaster type’ just like brush fires and tornadoes, and floods.

To save the ocean we need to implant filters and patrols.

4). Sea ice breaking--global warming

If sea ice breaks to early in the year, it is really really hard for polar bears to find food. This is the result of global warnings, there will be no sea ice by 2040, and polar bears gone sometime between now and then. When the ice breaks early it leaves the polar bears stranded in the middle of the ocean!

A stranded polar bear family, to far to other ice to swim.

A stranded polar bear family, to far to other ice to swim.

We need to take down pollution rates and stop smoke pollution and unclean factory production!

If we don't take action, then that makes us ocean killers.

What's Going On

WHAT WE ARE DOING TO OUR OCEANS

GOLDIE MARINA

The oceans of yesterday teemed with fish and swarmed with marine diversity. But what the oceans of tomorrow will hold is a mystery. Maybe a few worms? Will there even be grass? The question we have to ask ourselves is why? What's the reason? Do we not like our animals? Is there anyone out there who can say they would rather an empty ocean? If you yourself care in any way about nature than you should take a step back and look at what we are doing to our oceans.

OVERFISHING

Have you ever eaten a piece of sushi? Or had a fish fillet or a fish stick. Most people have because fish is a commonly eaten food. What people don't think about is that fish doesn't just fall from the sky. We have to fish for it obviously. But sticking in one bait at a time and waiting isn't enough for a fishing company. So they got new techniques that are more efficient. But the more efficient these new techniques become the more fish are becoming endangered. The more fish are going extinct. Fish is only good for less than a week, that means that it has to be prepared sold and consumed in under a week, and when it's not it's thrown to waste. So more fish is fished, and any animal that's caught and unwanted is thrown back into the ocean. Dead. and that's how we are killing our ocean. More and more marine animals are going extinct, you name it and it's endangered. It is estimated that the oceans are gonna be empty by 2048. That is less than 40 years away and in most of our lifetime. But 40 years is also enough time to stop it. But we would have to do it quick.

WHAT WE CAN DO

First off spread the news. Let people see the facts. Next we should let your senators or who ever is in office hear our side if enough people talk to them about it they will say something. There should be a limit to the amount of fish caught and a law against using certain nets, some species should be left to themselves for at least a few years to regenerate there should be safe places where any type of fish could go to be safe from fisher men. So spread the word and help make a difference. Because this is important and everyone should know.

Shark Fin Soup

SHELLY L. BLACK

One day you find yourself in a popular Chinese restaurant with a hankering for some soup.

“Shark fin is always a favorite!”

“Okay, I’ll take that!”

They bring you a bowl of hot soup, and you devour it.

In your bowl is not chicken, or cow, or anything like that. It is shark (hence the name).

How is this even made, how is this even legal! Well, how is this legal? This is one of many things causing sharks to be endangered, fisheries bring in whole sharks, to do what? To take only their fin. Everything else is wasted! An entire life to only take a fin. What is this? Only 6% of restaurants in China don’t serve it! It is illegal in California, but since when does that stop people? It is still not illegal to kill whole sharks, but it is not allowed to sell the fins. This could be twisted so easily! If we don’t take action, then soon there won’t even be sharks! Just imagine how that would mess up the entire ecosystem, between parasites and birds, it would be a worldwide catastrophe!

OK, if you still would go to China and eat shark, regardless of the shark. Then if you don’t care about the shark, how about you?

In China, people say that it is great for you, but it’s not! Eating shark fin soup risks getting dementia. It contains HIGH levels of BMAA, and BMAA causes degenerative brain diseases. As well as preventing reproduction in men and causing birth defects in pregnant women, it has no health properties, like a normal soup would. If you won’t say NO to shark fin soup for sharks, do it for humans.

Donald Trump recently had shark fin soup. The brain disease is not a threat to him since he obviously already has it. This is also a terrible example for a leader to set! Although you most likely will not be eating Shark fin soup, it is important to know about it, and to:

SAY NO TO SHARK FIN SOUP!

Sources: huffingtonpost.com, rsmas.miami.ed

My Favorite Beaches In SoCal

ZMKF aka DORKY SHARK

Along with finding solutions to problems, we also occasionally do the online equivalent of a newspaper’s lifestyle/travel column! Just kidding. I don’t actually know. Maybe this is just a one time thing. But whatever this is, be prepared to feel an urge to visit the beach!

By the way, by SoCal I mean “Los Angeles county.”

1. This exact spot.

Follow my directions exactly if you wish to be at my special spot. Yes, the whole of Palisades Park is beautiful, but the spot is top of the staircase that aligns with the corner of Ocean Ave and Arizona. You don’t have to go down the staircase, just stand/sit there at the top and look at the view.

2. This jetty.

Marina Del Rey, that’s right. This beach is, to the layman, far from beautiful. I have an eye for things that look lost and useless and industrial and dystopian (which is why I love the port of Los Angeles). I happen to think the view from the little pier is quite pretty. But there is trash everywhere. I would strip down and go into the water to get it myself if I could walk. (Yeah, that’s right! I use a wheelchair. All these places are hence accessible.) It is definitely not the Bahamas. Far from it. The view to the north (and south, I guess) reminds me of two things: one, an ancient harbor kingdom, like Carthage or something from straight fantasy, and two - it reminds me that there is work to do. It is the place I go to think of solutions. It is the place I go to allow a bit (just a bit, don’t worry!) of darkness and bitterness into this ocean-saving work. This little jetty reminds me there is work to be done.

Go to the jetty. I don’t mean to scare you away from it. You won’t step out of the car and suddenly feel depressed. All the jetty does for me, really, is remind me, I can’t ignore what we’ve been doing when I’m looking right at it.

3. Santa Monica Beach 

 

 

This beach is very stereotypically beautiful. It has a long bike path and a few restaurants along it, if you use a wheelchair and really can’t walk (I sort of walk badly holding onto a walker/walls/people) I’m sorry to say you won’t be able to get on the sand unless you have one of those fancy beach wheelchairs (lucky you, then!), but there are “sand piers” (not actual piers), wooden paths that branch of the main one that you can walk/ride down that lead closer to the beach.

Nice place. Pleasant place.

4. Asilomar Park 

This is the opposite of the jetty for me. It is filled with light and happiness and the view of the sunset is wonderful. I discovered it (maybe) a year ago when I was driving around with my dad. It is my absolute favorite place to go. It allows me to be with my thoughts without drowning in them, again, sort of the opposite of the jetty for me. This place makes me feel utter joy. If it gets really creepily hot over there, I might stay away, but if it gets cold...I’m there pretty much no matter what.

All in all, these places will always be my favorite places to be. Global warming will lead Earth to insane extremes and new heights of architecture and design. Los Angeles, for instance, might become a winter destination...or a rare destination. As they say about the mail, "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." I might live far away and have Asilomar Park or the jetty as they are now be only memories, but the memories will be good ones. Powerful ones.           

A Letter On Ocean Health From My Generation To My Parents’

ZMKF aka DORKY SHARK

I can’t decide how to start this…

“How dare you leave this to us?” Harsh. Bitter. Scared. Betrayed.

Or,

“Don’t worry, we’ll take it from here.” Gentle. Calm. Optimistic. No blame.

Both seem like good options.

I guess it depends on the person, really, but in general…in general, my generation hasn’t done enough to help heal the ocean either. I hear the millenials are doing well with that. I’m kidding, of course. Age doesn’t really matter.

But time does.

My friends and I are now working on a site, this site, to save 71 percent of the Earth’s surface. (The ocean.)

This site is a general site that contains links to more specific ocean-saving sites, such as marine animal conservancies, or particular scientific/technological endeavors. The fact that no site has acted as a bridge between the public and the progress before now is disheartening, but it makes us feel special. We are the first. Boy, are we – eventually – going to be popular.

Age doesn’t matter. You could be 23, 34, 45, 64 but still rockin it, 73 but still absolutely rockin it…age doesn’t matter. When I say that this is from my generation to yours, I mean:

You were my age once. You guys, and the few generations before you guys, you and your friends and your parents all started learning about these problems as they begun. Please tell me that learning any type of marine science is simply a new thing that only happens in awesome schools (thanks, Mary!), and that you simply never learned about how bad it was going to get. Because if you did learn, if you knew…tell me what happened.

If you’re reading this and you are a teacher, or an actually sustainable fisherperson, or someone who works to replenish reefs, or anybody who’s trying, then this is not a cry for you to never have any free time. I just want you to see I care too. 

If you learned it then dropped it and stayed inland or just never really looked at the beach right next door, this is for you.        

If you have ever asked yourself, “Why the ocean?”

Don’t.

Don’t even ask.

But I’ll tell you anyways.

There’s gotta be something good hidden in 71 percent of your planet’s surface, right?

“Prochlorococcus and other ocean phytoplankton are responsible for 70 percent of Earth's oxygen production. However, some scientists believe that phytoplankton levels have declined by 40 percent since 1950 due to the warming of the ocean. Ocean temperature impacts the number of phytoplankton in the ocean.” – Save The Plankton, Breathe Freely – National Geographic Society

And ya know what affects ocean temperature? Planet temperature! Global warming! Fun, right?

Rainforests are meaningful, and they need to be saved. Just like all forests. But for their wildlife, not for their oxygen production.

Okay, next fun fact about the ocean!

The oceans hold 97 percent of the Earth’s water. We like water, remember? The Native Americans are right – water is life. The ocean, in general, gives us the life we have. The ocean literally takes the heat from global warming for us.

“This excess energy has largely been sucked up by the oceans, which have a huge capacity to store heat. As the oceans store more heat, however, they expand. Scientists have shown that over the past decade, this thermal expansion has caused about one-third of the rise in sea levels.” – Oceans Are Absorbing Almost All of the Globe’s Excess Heat, The New York Times

That, my friends, is something we should be terrified of and grateful for. If it weren’t the ocean, we’d be feeling global warming how it really is.

Third and final fun fact!

The coral reefs are dying…and you may not care now, but oh boy, you will soon. And I will be laughing maniacally and very bitterly at you while looking you straight in the eyes. Coral reefs hold up biodiversity. Name your favorite seafood. I guarantee you that it is tied, by food chain or by geography, to the reefs. Reefs host breeding, feeding, and fighting. The jobs that coral reefs inspire humans to take bring us billions of dollars in income. And if you support politicians who market themselves on bringing people jobs, support the ocean! Millions of jobs are performed in around 100 different countries, around and at the reefs.   

The ocean is important.

The ocean cannot wait.

The ocean is worth your time and effort.

Even if the time is 30 seconds and the effort is sending this article in an email.

The ocean is not yours to own but if it helps, treat it as such.

There are still things you can do.

But if you ever doubt yourself…or simply get tired of fighting to solve problems that seem to keep coming back…or maybe you’re just worried about what’s coming after your time of fighting is over…

I’m here. My friends and I, we won’t excuse your struggles with this but we will cut you some slack.

And we’ll take charge.

Now is the time.

I am here for you, all of you.

I am here for the ocean, the planet, the flora and fauna.

Lastly, I’m here for myself.

I can’t let this go.

I wonder how you did.

Let me point something out to you. You are a good person. Even though you let it go. But while you sit here having a moral or philosophical argument about whether you should take action now, or whether you will make a difference, or whether you ruined your chance…“Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales, and other marine mammals, and more than 1 million seabirds die each year from ocean pollution and ingestion or entanglement in marine debris.” http://www.seeturtles.org/ocean-plastic/ As you would see if you’d read my shark op-ed piece before this one, about 11, 417 sharks die every hour. Oil spills are thankfully not as common as the pessimist would expect, but whenever they do happen, the part of the ecosystem in which the oil spreads is contaminated. The animals need to be cleansed in a way that they can’t do themselves to survive, not even birds or otters. A beautiful, huge, worthy species that you didn’t even know existed is already extinct and has been for 249 years – Steller’s Sea Cow. 26 to 30 feet long, they were wiped less than 30 years after they were “discovered” by “the Westerners.” (Russians, Northern American immigrants who don’t like to think of themselves as immigrants, etc.) “The smallest and the rarest marine dolphin in the world - the Maui dolphin - is on the verge of disappearing forever. There are no more than 47 of these mammals left in the wild, existing in just a sliver of ocean on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island.” https://www.thedodo.com/fewer-than-50-of-these-dolphins-remain-on-the-planet-1168357358.html As you can see, there is much to be done. But we’ll help. And you are a good person. Don’t doubt that.

You might not make a difference. You might. You might find that there’s so much to work on that you don’t know where or how to start. And you might feel like you can’t forgive yourself for ignoring this. But crying about the ocean alone in your room for longer than an hour isn’t going to help the ocean. You may feel depressed about what we tell you. There’s one way to feel better, and that’s to ignore it. You’ve already tried that.

Now try action. Just try. See where it takes you.

I will guide you.

We will guide you.     

Sharks Are Harmless, Lovable Dorks Who Don’t Deserve Us

ZMKF aka DORKY SHARK

Yes, I am talking about the group of apex predators.

Sharks belong to Selachimorpha, a lower classification within Elasmobranchii. (The exact taxonomy of sharks is down at the bottom.) They share Elasmobranchii with skates, rays, and sawfish, and they share Chondrichthyes with Holocephali, a group of “ghost sharks” (chimaeras) sometimes separated into their own class.

The page on Sharks from the Smithsonian Ocean Portal describes their variety beyond just the Great White: “They range in size from the length of a human hand to more than 39 feet (12 meters) long; half of all shark species are less than one meter (or about 3 feet) long. They come in a variety of colors (including bubble gum pink)…” In case you’re wondering about the bubblegum pink one…so did I. I looked it up for you:

And you’re right…it is weird. It’s a goblin shark. I learned about those in Marine Zoology but I didn’t know they could be that color: 

And you’re right…it is weird. It’s a goblin shark. I learned about those in Marine Zoology but I didn’t know they could be that color

That is ugly. Not scary. Ugly. Very, very, very ugly. And sure, maybe it is a teeny bit frightening, but that’s just because of its horrendous face. 

That is ugly. Not scary. Ugly. Very, very, very ugly. And sure, maybe it is a teeny bit frightening, but that’s just because of its horrendous face. 

Pay no mind to the face.  Instead, I’ll show you the world’s cutest shark to cleanse your eyes and then we can move on. 

Take a good, long look at that Bristly Catshark. It’s adorable. 

Take a good, long look at that Bristly Catshark. It’s adorable

Sharks are not innately scary, not even Great Whites. “But what about all the shark attacks I hear about?” you say. Shark attacks do happen, and there are four main types of attack. I’m going to explain and justify each one so you have a bit of information to help you calm the f*ck down about sharks.

Type 1: Sudden/Alternate Attacks. A shark will be swimming alongside you or a fur seal, appearing to be utterly lackadaisical, then suddenly – BAM! – it changes direction, speeds towards you, and “gently” tastes you at high speed. Alternate (or Redoublement) attacks are pretty similar, expect the shark does it again at some point – if you stuck around, that is. The shark is not trying to mess with your head. It’s not evil, either. These shark attack types reflect hunting tactics. And sharks don’t really hunt humans. Human swimming is different from marine animal swimming. Marine animals belong there. Packs of wolves will commonly go for the weakest, youngest, or sickest of the herd that they are chasing. This makes sense. Sharks are the same, and our “swimming” feels like a confused, disoriented fur seal. Our “fun splashing” is their dinner bell.

Type 2: Ambush Attack. This really is the nightmare scenario (and it happens rarely)! A shark will wait below you, near the reef or just far below enough to hide, and then *cue Jaws theme* up it comes, too fast for you to react until…chomp. Other reasons for shark attacks other than you swimming (flailing, really, obviously unaware of your lack of grace while in the water) like dinner include looking like dinner. Like surfing? Oh, good. Nice hobby. Look: 

You look just like two of sharks’ favorite foods. 

You look just like two of sharks’ favorite foods. 

Do not blame the shark. Do not blame the shark. Get a safe hobby, like painting or stamp collecting. Just kidding…you can totally surf. But just don’t go out there thinking you’re invincible and then getting mad when a buddy with big teeth gets hungry.  

Type 3: Adventitious attack. Let’s say there’s blood in the water. Let’s hope it’s not your blood, but if it is, guess what? You’re next! Question for you, you’re hanging out in your own house and free food from a source you know is trustworthy shows up…and you’d be able to tell if it wasn’t safe to eat…it is around lunch time…do you take advantage of it? If your answer is no…are you an idiot? Sharks are not philosophers. They don’t doubt their food. They eat it. And sharks, my friend, can detect blood in water at one part per million. That’s hardly the entire ocean, but it should convince you finish bleeding before entering the water. 

Type 4: Provoked attack. Otherwise known as, the You Really Are An Idiot Attack. Imagine poking a bear with a sharp stick, or attempting to make off with one of its cubs. Will the bear take kindly to you doing that? Not at all. You will get a similarly negative reception if you are a dick to a shark. I’m not going to say anything else about this because if you wanna go test it out, by all means, go ahead. It’s your funeral. 

All in all, I think we can agree that shark attacks are not the shark’s fault. In any way. You want proof? Shark attacks are thankfully rare. From the Wildlife Museum: “The odds of getting attacked and killed by a shark are 1 in 3,748,067. In a lifetime, you are more likely to die from fireworks (1 in 340,733), light- ning (1 in 79,746), drowning (1 in 1,134), a car accident (1 in 84), stroke (1 in 24), or heart disease (1 in 5).” 

There is no reason to be frightened of sharks. 

Sharks are dorks. 

Dork. Big-mouth dork. (Whale shark. They eat plankton and the like…tiny, non-human things.) 

Dork. Big-mouth dork. (Whale shark. They eat plankton and the like…tiny, non-human things.) 

Thresher shark. Look at that face. That’s my expression when I hear someone say they voted for Trump. That shark is a harmless, lovable dork. 

Thresher shark. Look at that face. That’s my expression when I hear someone say they voted for Trump. That shark is a harmless, lovable dork

Hammerhead Shark. Dork. Look at all its little friends swimming around its wide head. Such a wide-headed dork. 

Hammerhead Shark. Dork. Look at all its little friends swimming around its wide head. Such a wide-headed dork. 

As with the goblin shark, this one is not scary. This dork – sorry, shark is pathetically, hilariously ugly. By the way, those holes aren’t eyes. They are its nostrils.   

As with the goblin shark, this one is not scary. This dork – sorry, shark is pathetically, hilariously ugly. By the way, those holes aren’t eyes. They are its nostrils.   

Dork. Look at those big finnies on that big awkward smiling fishy. Adorable.       

Dork. Look at those big finnies on that big awkward smiling fishy. Adorable.       

And this is Bruce. You know Bruce. From Finding Nemo. He never knew his father. Perfectly friendly. 

And this is Bruce. You know Bruce. From Finding Nemo. He never knew his father. Perfectly friendly.