Thursday, September 1, 2016

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Incredible, eh?

“A new study has led researchers to conclude that Octopuses (NOT Octopi) have Alien DNA. Their genome shows a never-before-seen level of complexity with a staggering 33,000 protein-coding genes identified, more than in a human being”.


When I was working at the Bodega Marine Lab in 70-71 (as their “collector”) I was also in charge of maintaining the specimen’s lab. These were all live and kept in various size and types of tanks depending on species. One of the professors was working with octopuses and I was able to watch them in action. One of them had figured out how to exit and reenter it’s aquarium through the air filter. You would have to see it to believe it but that’s not all. This octopus then raided the large fish tank across the aisle, snatched some chow and slithered back into it’s own abode unnoticed. For weeks, the professor working with the fish could not understand where all his fish were disappearing to. I happen to catch him “in the act” one night and when it spotted (felt) my attention it simply stared me down!



This is a rather interesting article. I include it because I am a true believer in the infinite possibilities that exist in our universe and even more so in this multiverse that we inhabit. As Stephen Hawkings once responded to the question, “Well Stephen, if what you say is true (Stephen’s thoughts on certain Black Hole phenomena), Hobbits could actually exist somewhere” - “ not only Hobbits but everything and anything that can be imagined actually exits” he replied. With that as one of my guidelines I do not easily dismiss the unusual. My uncle Boris was the son of my great aunt Betty (Elizabeth) and her cavalry Colonel (Col. Maslenikof) husband in The White Russian Army during the revolution. Just a little personal memory popping up. Getting a lot of those lately. Prompted by this article. 




 




We are getting our first tropical storm warning today (Aug. 7th) and we may get some action here in the next few days – I certainly can “feel it in the air”. The plants will be soooo happy and if the plants are happy the animals are happy. *We got some rain but nothing serious, just enough to bring out the BoBos (Gnats that go directly to your eyes, nose and ears).





How’s this for a crop circle? Again, I remind you that these are created within minutes, in complete darkness, without noise and to this date no perpetrators. Fascinatingly inexplicable!! I am sure that when I pass to the “next” side some of this will be clarified. 





Intricate, no?



My old buddy Vicente came by yesterday to check up on me and told me he had seen a dozen or more whales last week and not just humpbacks but blues and sperms. Too far out (20 miles) for me to track but wow, exciting. Another pangero saw about 20 Orcas just south of me last week the same day I was kayaking – oh to have been with them – just one more swim with them and I will be terribly grateful. 


This swim with them (a pod of about 8 hunters and 4 youngsters as observors) from some years ago convinced me of their peaceful nature. 





Me with Orca



“Caving” has never been something I’ve been drawn to though I have toured Carlsbad Caverns in S. CA. Some of the incredible caves and “spelunkers” that have discovered this vast underground world are both amazing. Here’s an article about some fantastic caves in Mexico and the “lakes” that exist in some spots.





Underground brine lake






I have a veritable Gecko family living in the bedroom. I saw two little ones (1 ½ “) and mama? Out on a excursion the other day. There is one larger one (maybe 4-5”) that I assume is the male. They always make their calls around evening time and I talk to them as best I can – generally just a “hey, buddies”.



This is a pic I took a few years back and one of my favorites. It is a Willet and common here along the playa at this time of year. Birds are so cool.





Willet 



Here’s a picture that Kersti sent me that is so much the way my day often starts with laps in the sea. 



How I feel before my morning swim



And as usual for this time of yearhe only one on the whole beach. I remember how much fun it was for me, and very rare and special when I was a child to be alone in someone’s pool and just enjoy my connection to the water. Now I have the whole sea in front of me.





Galaxies



This pic has become more relevant to me as time moves on. Such an adventure, no?



 I continue to derive great enjoyment and satisfaction from my “rock paintings”. This is my most recent one and possibly most ambitious one to date. 





Rock



I have never lost my fascination and appreciation for Egyptian Hieroglyphs. As Will Durant said, “no culture has ever equaled The Egyptians in turning language into art”. I couldn’t agree more.



When the rocks themselves are works of art the inspiration can be intense.





Rocks



The pic below MAY be my next project but not sure yet – love the colors.
















Tuesday, August 2, 2016





To all those I left out to thank in my last blog post – please forgive me. Especially my son Zack who has always been a believer in his father’s “quest” and has come to share intimately my experiences with the critters of the ocean; learning to love and interact with them as I do.



This pic is of us three years ago diving with the sea lions near their rookery at the south end of Isla Cerralvo. I’m the one with the scarf on my head.   

Here are some books I recently finished and recommend highly. The Oracle of Stamboul-Lukas, Firefly Lane-Hannah, Bones of the Master-Crane,A Thousand Splendid Suns-Hosseini, The Gnostic Gospels-Pagels, Unfinished Conquest-Perera. Without TV or in- home internet I read voraciously: lucky for me I always loved to read! Many have suggested I buy a Kindle. Fact is I am also a born Luddite – I love the “feel and smell” of a book, I like pages to turn and the intimacy of it. I like to see them lying on my bed waiting to entertain me and to visit like old friends. As long as there are books there is nowhere I can’t go or interesting people I can’t meet.

Hard to believe this (below) is possible.



 Please don’t tell me it’s photo shopped. If not – what patience and steadiness of hand, there are others even more astounding.


Summer demands a new daily regimen due to the heat. I am up at 5:00am, take a leisurely and light breakfast and then walk down to the beach as the sun rises. I have cut down my beach exercises in half and swim just 10 laps unless really feeling fit. I am usually back at my place at 9:00am, take an outside shower to get the salt water off and then lie down for a read and nap. Go into town, Cardonal, to do any errands, visits, groceries: usually done by 11:00 then more reading or a few hands of solitaire.

Prepare lunch and watch an episode of one of my favorite TV shows (Game of Thrones, Vikings, Deadwood, Outlander, Orphan Black......some for the 4-6 time). BTW: anyone coming down this way who can download this year’s episodes of the above (or others you may deem interesting to me) and puts them on a thumb drive or external hard drive for me to download here will receive my eternal gratitude. Back to reading then walk to my internet connection around 4:00 and return around 5:00 because I am getting tired by then. More solitaire (good for the coordination in my right hand, wrist and arm – victims of the stroke and I simply enjoy it.)

A glass of red wine....maybe two, prepare dinner, another episode along with dinner, in bed by 7:30-8:00, read myself to sleep. That’s the way it’s going to be for awhile until the critters start returning in November.

Speaking of critters I have a family of Geckos living with me in the house (through the graciousness of my Q’s I have been invited to stay in their home instead of the trailer). For those of you who have seen their home you know what a pleasant place it is. The Geckos are fantastic to watch, make little noise and hunt all kinds of unsavory critters that might otherwise be an annoyance. I also have at least two Spiny Tailed Iguanas living just outside and of course the usual menagerie of lizards and small snakes....oh, and lots of chipmunks and jack rabbits. As usual at this time of year the local cows are free ranging closer to the ocean for “greener pastures” and causing an unpleasant din with their cow bells and their propensity to stretch their necks over the fence to get at anything green. I have no love for cows!

Hurricane season has started and though nothing nearby so far they are marching right along one after another out on our Pacific side.

July 20th I went out with Alan kayaking.......and , yes again I called in a whale. I believe it was a Brydes or maybe a fin. There is more to this story – “again” means half a dozen times – honestly!

I always told my classes at the college that “of course there is other life in the universe, more likely within our own galaxy and probably in this solar system”. I said that if found I would throw a party and we would toast the new paradigm that would necessarily ensue, especially being able to dump all the religious mythologies that have so barred our evolution as a species. Well, we are getting closer but the party will have to be down here – I find long distance traveling uncomfortable at best, The US is not the country I remember and I tire easily (except when I am swimming), HAH.



http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/If_life_can_make_it_here_it_can_make_it_anywhere_999.html

800 yr old seeds found intentionally stored for “the future” by people of the Menominee tribe of North Eastern Wisconsin, known as the “Wild Rice People” by The Ojibwa (Chippewa). Yet again an example of true connection to the earth.



On the 25th while swimming laps I was surrounded by a large school of “Machetes” that stayed with me as I continued my swim, circling me the entire time – really cool!

About swimming: I was taught early by Clive Devine (Olympian). After an initial deep fear of putting my head under, my uncle Van held it under and when he let me up I was hooked – never, never could get enough of swimming. Oceans, lakes, rivers, ponds, creeks and of course pools; on top of or under didn’t matter, I loved it!

In high school I excelled at water polo (a combination of my two favorite sports – swimming and basketball). My first coach was Nick Biondi, father and trainer of his Olympian son Matt Biondi (he told me that if I continued to improve my skills I had a chance for the ’64 Olympic squad – alas, love found it’s way to my heart and I lost all my discipline). My second coach was Bob Gaugran an Olympian himself. Both stressed conditioning so we swam “laps” till we barfed. After my playing days were over I vowed to never swim another lap again in my life! Well as most of you know swimming laps in the ocean over the reef is just about my favorite thing in the world to do. Here in El Cardonal I have the greatest lap pool imaginable and to think of not having it available as I continue to age is daunting. It is just a short walk to the beach (though a cane is now necessary to navigate the stairs) and I am in the arms of Grandmother and all else is forgotten.

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time”.
Jack London, Jack London's Tales of Adventure

Today, July 30th I swam laps straight out to the reef and back so I could visit with the little critters – delightful, even had a bit of an adrenalin rush when I realized the current had me but I just let the endorphins kick in and it was nothing but good. I am blessed indeed to have this as my home.



A new addition to the Q’s home; a stairway to their roof where I can sleep under the palapa with the cool ocean breeze and watch the “light(ing)” show during this hurricane season – thank you my dear friends. The Hopi style ladder was getting a bit difficult for me to climb safely. It was not of course for me that it was built but I know it was part of the decision process.

A local critter



Baby Spiny Tailed Iguana

Thunder and lighting time coming. My mom always told me I had that as part of my personality – in German “Sturm und Drang”. Particularly during the period of the Viet Nam war.

First of this seasons massive and magnificent Thunder Heads. When they are black is when the fun starts.





The other day I looked out to sea in the morning and the surface literally looked like silver and pewter. I walked to the bluff to photo it but this pic just doesn’t do it justice – it was beautiful. Nature does such amazing things with color. Certainly when watching a sunset here it is as though Maxfield Parrish had painted it. All those Parrish paintings many of us collected (posters of course) during the ‘60’s and we thought were part hallucination were not so at all – he really did capture the essence of those special visual treats provided by nature. 

 



 Here’s one of my favorite pictures of me and my favorite pangero Vicente Lucero “back in the day”. I think this was our 2nd or 3rd year together. In our best year we collected 82 photo ID’s of the humpbacks here.




And here’s a final visual treat (not my pic though). Now after looking at it closely I wonder if it is photo shopped – I hate having to consider that.

 






Sunday, July 3, 2016

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I will be 75 this coming November and find myself mentally navigating the ocean of my years and seeing the good, the bad and the ugly: the squalls and the doldrums and wondering at the path I have taken. My mother told me when I was just a very young boy that I probably would be happiest if I found a cave somewhere high in the mountains and spent my life in meditation. I wasn’t anti social - just looking for something of real meaning. I have come to discover, albeit a little late in the game that I could have paid better heed to her and to others like Kahlil Gibran when sailing through life’s unpredictable ocean.



How very true this simple message has been for me during the past few years. But then I am a great believer in trying to be “up beat” so I often ask myself........





So I look to people like one of my top three icons who have provided so much in the examples they have given me.



Jane Goodall has been an inspiration to me from the time I read her first book and discovered a person who had found real meaning in her life and continues to literally bring peace and love into this troubled world. 



This is a picture of a little bridge I built years ago on the path to my rocky stairs down to the beach. I can’t use it (both bridge and rocks) anymore due to the effects of the stroke so use my neighbor’s stairway to the beach. “it is what it is”, right?



This is the Mayan glyph Etznab denoting the concept of “finding Peace” (among other things). Something we could all use, eh.



Talk about finding your bliss. Check out these photos by a couple who are devoting and risking their lives - literally and figuratively to recording the beauty of the sea and its creatures. They do all this as “free divers” (no SCUBA). The quality of these photographs does justice to our friends in the sea.

https://medium.com/vantage/this-amazing-couple-take-the-best-underwater-photography-we-ve-ever-seen-and-they-do-it-all-614bb73bd86d#.owsvhyl47

  

And how about this surprise to another photographer! I think you will be surprised too.




I have seen a total of 4 humpbacks go by this June. That is not unique but it is kinda late in the season so quite rare. One I was able to get fairly close to but the others were too far out and I was not in my kayak. Such a joy to see them even though I know they won’t start coming back till November. I chose the pic below (from a different time entirely) because I imagined it as a good-bye wave.






Before leaving the whales I suggest you read the article in The New York Times, “A Conversation with Whales”, opinion section, Sunday, April 17th, 2016. Delighted to see that other researchers are extending the boundaries of their interpretation of whale sounds: something I mention in my book and that supports the idea of a vast communication existing between whales....that could include us!



As I have said before, if it were not for whales I would certainly have chosen wolves to work with. Aren’t they beautiful.....and so intelligent.



Well, I did it! Took me 5 years but I completed my reading of Will and Ariel Durant’s magnificent epic, “The Story of Civilization”. There are 10 volumes, each around 700-800 words. I say this not as a boast but as a thank you for their absolutely wonderful success in providing an articulate, intelligent, humorous and astute run down of history. I can just imagine what it would have been like to have it as a textbook. It has been my boon companion in the evenings for these past 5 years: never have I enjoyed the written word more.



And never have I been more convinced of the truth of Voltaire’s

Statement (included in the volume titled: The Age of Reason: The Age of Voltaire) as I read the series and began to see the consistent folly in man’s pursuit of power and glory.



 Voltaire


Then I receive an image from my daughter Kersti in respect for my pursuit of knowledge and all the negative get’s blown away.



A few choice astronomy related articles:



 It's long been thought that a giant asteroid, which broke up long ago in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, eventually made its way to Earth and led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. 





New studies say that the dinosaurs may have been facing extinction before the asteroid strike, and that mammals were already on the rise. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech





For a long time, it seemed that a mission to Mars was out of reach, off the table, and nobody was really talking about it. Now, we have two separate programs aiming toward an eventual mission to Mars. Could this be the new space race? But instead of capitalism versus communism, as in the original space race, it’s government versus private?
In the end, it won’t really matter. We just want someone to get there. And we want an established presence. A colony. Our survival may depend on it.

“Elon Musk”



Planet 9, an "exoplanet"?




One of the most revolutionary studies from recent months, also with computational simulations and participation of French institutions, was led by the researcher Alexander Mustill from Lund University (Sweden), who raised the idea that Planet Nine may have come from outside the Solar System, that is to say, that it could be an exoplanet.





I will end with a few thank you’s to some people who have gone way beyond “the call of duty” to help me out so that the work I do with “The Whale People” can in fact continue. It’s been a lot about health these past few years so....Thank You: Kersti and Bill for your kindness, hospitality and care at my hardest time - To my son Zack, always honoring my work, caring for me when the need be and joining me in my work here for an amazing three month father - son experience, Tanya, Macy, Jackie for your advice on food and supplements - Susan Janssen for so many things but one I definitely needed to hear “take risks” - Carla and JC for your unconditional friendship - Leslie and Alex for the many kindnesses and generosity over the years - Nancy/John, Bonnie/Nole, Frank/Diana, Juanito for your “courier service” from The States – Robin for teaching me the “breath wave” technique – Charlie/Lisa for your encouragement and understanding – Alan/Marilyn for their constant and unwavering support, Pam, Christina, Christine – Isa....well, you know. To Drs. Toledo and Alexander, Char, Edgar



And all of you that have kindly and generously donated to my work.



And to my neighbors: Rubin, Luis 1 & 2, Jose, Alfonzo, Felipe, Alexis, Samuel, Cesar, Juan Rubin, Vicente, Ishmael, Roberto, Herminia, Diana, Luce, Jose Luis, Santiago, Javier, Ezekial, Valentina and to those whose names I have forgotten.



To you all I owe your willingness to accept me for what I am – thank you!













Wednesday, June 1, 2016


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Just finished this rock painting. Thought I would copy one of the images created by a Paleolithic artist some 15,000 years BCE in a cave in Altamira, Spain. If you haven’t seen the vast cave art of that period I suggest you get online and check it out. It is truly amazing, incredibly powerful and beautifully rendered prehistoric art.



I’m going to devote the majority of this post to sharing some of my favorite whale shots over the years but before I do here are some interesting articles to check out.





This is a wonderful and fruitful example of really creative science using astronomy as a guide to the past. It will be interesting to see what comes from it. At the very least it will require a reevaluation of ancient cultures in The Americas.





Seemed appropriate to throw the pic below (not mine) in here. Not just because I find it relating to the above article but because I have done this here in the Sea of Cortez and it is one of my most loved experiences.



A Moonlight kayak into Grandmother's embrace.



And that leads me to honoring this man.



Dr. Edgar Mitchell



Not only for his accomplishments as an astronaut but for the way he embraced the experiences he had and how he saw so much more in them than just the science and shared those revelations with the public.



February 9, 2016 - In Memoriam

“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense
dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something
about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want
to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million
miles out and say, 'Look at that, you (censored).'”

- Edgar Mitchell, Ph.D., The Way of the Explorer © 1996 
about how seeing Earth from space changed him


Edgar Dean Mitchell, Ph. D., Apollo 14 astronaut
and 6th man to walk on the moon, died Thursday, February 4, 2016, on
the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 14 mission that launched January 31, 1971,
landed on the moon on February 5, and returned to Earth on February 9, 1971. His daughter Kimberly Mitchell confirmed Dr. Mitchell died at night in a
West Palm Beach, Florida, hospice after a short illness. Edgar Mitchell grew up in
Roswell and Artesia, New Mexico. He graduated in 1948 from Artesia High School, was a U. S. Navy veteran who earned several degrees in aeronautical engineering, aeronautics and astronautics plus a Ph.D. from MIT before joining NASA.



As a last addition to this train of thought I suggest you read this article about some ideas (a bit disturbing) coming to us from Stephen Hawking.





As a segue into more pleasant realms here is a shot I got the other day of one of a cardinal pair who visit me regularly at cocktail time (red wine only now-a-days....”mores the pity”). 


They were bathing serenely when a Ladder Back woodpecker usurped their tub (the watering moat at the base of one of my palms) so they had to move aside until the woodpecker was finished with his bath. As usual at this time of year there are birds everywhere and are truly valued company. When I think of them as the evolutionary product from the dinosaurs I am even more grateful for their presence. Watching the reptile people (turtles, lizards, iguanas, geckos and snakes: themselves the evolutionary predecessors of the dinosaurs) in the yard at the same time it’s like going back in time and watching this amazing feat of nature unfold in front of my eyes. Especially when I have a Road Runner (think Velociraptor) pass through. Even though I sometimes regret not having become an archeologist, I am so glad I chose the biological sciences as my academic field – especially now while I am surrounded by nature 24/7.



And finally this nice image I took off of FB – ah, serenity! It also captures (at it's best) how I feel while sitting in my lounge chair watching this “nature show” every evening.





Below is a photo that was in The UC Berkeley student newspaper in 1970 when I was working at The Bodega Marine Laboratory. That’s Macy, my first wife and our daughter Kersti posing with me. It was that year that I had my very first “whale experience”.


And here’s a shot of Kersti and me a couple of years ago at my brother’s home in Danville – all grown up and a lovely person.


 


 It has now been 16 years that she has been Mrs. Evans. Here's a favorite pic from that wedding. Happy Anniversary.

Bill and Kersti .....with respect and dignity, so refreshing! appy Anniversary.


 In 1992 when I had become the Exec. Dir. Of Pelagikos (an NGO focused on whale research) we went out to The Farallon Islands to do a sea lion release and happen to be there when a large group of humpbacks were passing through. I was lucky enough to see, and it has been my only time, an example of “bubble netting” by the feeding whales. I wasn’t this close and had no camera but this is what it looks like up close! One of my colleagues was this close and after returning to our vessel he just sat and looked out to sea for the rest of the voyage – he was “mind blown”!!



Humpback feeding strategy....'Bubble Netting"



Some more common and often seen behaviors are below. These were all taken by me.




 Fin Slap


 Tail Lob



Spy hop

 Flukes up

 Full Breach

Blue Whale sounding




  Orca Pod - this is part of the pod I swam with, there were 12 all together

                           
  Sperm whales "logging"


Propeller strike: I got a pic of this whale 3 years ago and found that it had been ID'd in Alaska 5 years before that with the damage already done. 50% of all the north pacific whale population has evidence of boat strikes and/or entanglement (drift nets and long lines).


This is what drives my work. "The Whale People" need our protection. Thanks for all the support over the years. I hope to be strong enough to engage in the 2017 season next year.

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