Wednesday, June 1, 2016


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.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Urmas -

    Just dropped in to see what intriguing material you have up now, always interesting stuff.

    I also can recall a magical & light-filled night along the Sea of Cortez many years ago, camped somewhere north of Loreto on a desolate stretch of beach. The moon was up, and I was wading in shallow water that was alive with phosphorescent creatures, lapping around my ankles like the sea itself was aglow. The scene is still etched in my mind’s eye. Unforgettable.

    Hope all is going well in your world -