dolphins

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:

 

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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: 

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…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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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.