Category Archives: Uncategorized

Great Barrier Reef Is Alive! Barely

Great Barrier ReefThe Great Barrier Reef off Australia is being bleached, almost beyond recovery. This happens when water temperatures rise, causing the coral to expel the algae that live in them as a stress response.  Pollution and poor water quality also contribute to the Reef’s potential demise. The result is death over a period of time.

So what, you say?  Who needs it?  We do! Not only does it provide shelter and protection for a a greater variety of marine organisms than any other place, it helps recycle nutrients, assists in nitrogen and carbon fixing, and protects coastlines.  Perhaps more importantly, it forecasts global warming as much as the melting of the polar ice cap.

The coral can recover if temperatures go back down.  But what is the likelihood of that happening?  You tell me.

Hermit Crabs and Bottle Caps

A few months ago I saw a video about hermit crabs of various sizes lining up in order of size to switch shells.  Those that outgrew their shells would move out and the next in line would take that shell.  Only the largest hermit crab had to find a new shell.  Ingenious.

hermit_crab8.jpg__1264x568_q85_crop_subsampling-2In another example of their ingenuity, some hermit crabs are using plastic bottle caps for their homes (see photo from  Now I thought this was just their being clever, but a couple of points stick out.  First of all, many are doing this because sea shells can become too flimsy due to pollution.  Second, there is so much darned plastic in the ocean, it is sometimes easier for a hermit crab to find a sturdy bottle cap than a proper shell.

That makes me sick.  How about you?

Please, please think twice before you discard any garbage, especially plastic, into anything but a proper receptacle. You can say that large manufacturer and car companies are ruining our environment. But remember that when it is you who are contributing to pollution.

No more Greeting Cods?

Atlantic-CodAccording to, among the Top Ten endangered species due to climate change is one very familiar to folks from Massachusetts–the Atlantic Cod. My last post focused on the Pacific Salmon so from sea to shining sea the most popular fish on both coasts are being threatened.

To be fair, with the cod (Gadus Morhua), It is not just environmental issues that are the problem.  Cod has been overfished for a long time, although stricter limits have partially reduced that concern. What is it about global warming that is having such an impact on the Atlantic Cod?  The thinking is that the warming waters decrease the amount of zooplankton, which are critical to the growth of young cod. Plus, the higher temperatures force the fish, especially younger ones, into deeper waters they are not familiar with and where new predators exist.

It will continue to be a downhill spiral until we take more action. I hope this blog helps.  Let me know what you are doing.

Where have all the salmon gone? Long time passing.

I’ve thought about writing a modified version of the Pete Seeger song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” and change it to focus on salmon, the beautiful, tasty fish that I spent several summers commercial salmon fishing for with my dad when i was a teenager on the Oregon Coast.  Back then, it seems like there was an endless supply.  In my newest novel, Chickamin Bay, I write about a $1,000-dollar day (spoiler alert!), a day that Jack Richards and his father, Lefty, set the record for most money made fishing in a single day.

Slowly but steadily, the amount of salmon caught has been reduced, by overfishing, pollution, and global warming.  Today, it is a shadow of what it once was. In the great Columbia River, fisheries biologists report that over a quarter million Sockeye salmon have died due to warming waters.  Biologists say that a salmon can lay 3000 eggs. Only about 15 percent hatch and of those, about 30 live through the first year, four make it to adulthood, and two live long enough to spawn. You mathematicians can calculate how many salmon have to lay how many eggs to reach 250,000 dead fish.

Obviously, it isn’t only salmon that are suffering from global warming.  Virtually every animal species is too, including you, my friend. Do your part to overcome this dire issue.  If you don’t believe in global warming, will it really hurt to do your part by investing in solar panels, an electric vehicle, or switching to CFL light bulbs?  In fact, you’ll save money at the same time.

I’ve tried in all my works of fiction–The Ages of Oosig, With Which the Waters Swarm, Lefty’s Tavernacle, and now Chickmain Bay–to drop gentle hints about the negative effects of pollution and global warming.  Perhaps the next one will have to be a little more forceful.

Cleaning Up The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

191002143747-03-ocean-cleanup-catching-plastic-exlarge-169This missive is a follow-up on my last blog, which mentioned that there is a glob of plastic garbage as large as Texas floating around the Pacific. Ocean Cleanup, a Netherlands-based nonprofit, has invented a “floating vacuum cleaner” that is capturing large plastic items and tiny microplastics.  It actually isn’t a vacuum cleaner; it is the Rube Goldberg device shown in the photo.  At one end is a parachute intended to slow the unit so it doesn’t miss garbage.  Although it is pretty kludgy-looking, its inventor says it works and, after refining it, they plan to launch an army of these things.  They believe they can reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean by half every five years and cleanup 90% of the ocean waste by 2040.

Personally, I applaud anyone making an effort to clean up the ocean, since there are a lot of people who seem to want to clutter it. So if you are on the Pacific one day and see this thing floating toward you, make sure to place your plastic bottles in a safe spot or you might lose your deposit.

Want Some Plastic in Your Gumbo?

Turtle and PlasticThe Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Florida showed photos of a dying baby turtle found to contain 104 chunks of plastic in its stomach.  Small enough to fit in your hand, the turtle was emaciated and starving and died soon after it was in the Center’s care. A turtle rehabilitation specialist said many baby turtles die this same way, with plastic instead of food in them.

For more than 30 years, Ocean Conservancy has brought together more than 12 million volunteers from 153 countries to participate in our annual International Coastal Cleanup. Yet it not nearly enough just to clean up after polluters.

Although movements such as toward electric cars has been positive for the environment, petroleum companies that produce gasoline have had to seek alternative business opportunities, such as plastics. More than eight million tons of plastics are disposed of in our oceans each year. One concentration of ocean-going plastics is known to be the size of Texas. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is exactly what it sounds like.

What can you do to help?

If Stingrays Could Fly

raysAs I understand it, the correct term is just “sea rays, of which stingrays are one group.”  But yes, they can “fly.”  Just take a look at these photos or the linked video. My point here is that oceans contain many wonders and I feel bad for people in the Midwest who have never seen an ocean.  Of course, Midwesterners would tell us about the wonders in their own lands that we “coasters” ignore as we speed across the middle of the country.ray2

All three of my fiction books involve the ocean.  With which the Waters Swarm is about a herd of North Pacific fur seals threatened with extermination by seal hunters.  The Ages of Oosig is a fantasy about a boy growing up on islands in the Pacific and the adventures he has. My latest collection of short stories, Lefty’s Tavernacle, describes the goings-on of villagers in the small fishing town of Chickamin Bay (a fictional community similar to my hometown). No doubt my infatuation with oceans is because I’ve lived near the Pacific or Atlantic all my life, first in the Pacific Northwest, then in the Mariana Islands, now on the Massachusetts South Shore.

The vastness of the ocean, its power, and the constant pounding of waves on shores capture the imagination. Staring out at the horizon brings visions of long-ago ships and adventurers to mind. I can remember one time when I was commercial salmon fishing with my dad.  Over the radio came a voice saying “I think I just saw a sea monster!”  Turns out, one of the long-time fishermen had encountered his first elephant seal.  I once saw what I assumed was a mother shark and her baby trailing her, each with a dorsal fin sticking up out of the water.  When my father explained, “no, those are the first and second dorsal fins of one big mother of a shark,” I grabbed onto the gunnel of our boat.

I’ve determined that one of the reasons I used the ocean as a backdrop in my books is that it does stir the imagination.  After all, what could be better for an author of fiction that a good imagination?

Something’s Really Fishy Here

imagesIn my upcoming novel, Chickamin Bay, I write about trying to catch a sunfish with a salmon net.  Doesn’t work.  And if you want to know why that’s not a good idea, check out this one that washed up on an Australian beach.  They claim it weighs as much as a car.  Looks like it was carved from wood and that the sculptor got too tired to finish the back end.

The first one I saw was when I was salmon fishing with my dad. I thought it was a shark because all you could see was that fin waving back and forth in the water.

When you see something like this, it makes you wonder why we are bothering to go into outer space.  Seems like there is a lot of inner space that is unexplored.  I remember swimming over a reef in the Mariana Islands of the Pacific and suddenly it dropped off into darkness.  I was almost frightened to swim any farther for fear that I would fall into the abyss.  I thought about how a young eagle feels the first time he flies out of the nest high on a steep cliff. Looking down, I could see larger and larger fish the deeper I peered. I turned around and swam back to shore. {reference: my novel, The Ages of Oosig)

Perhaps Jules Verne wasn’t writing fiction.Still0828_00022_1535467964206_5977353_ver1.0_640_360

When Is a Tavern Not a Tavern?

Lefty’s Tavern in my newest collection of short stories becomes a church on Sunday mornings. That’s why, in a creative moment, I named the collection, Lefty’s Tavernacle (if you don’t get the play on “tabernacle,” it might be time to go back to school–or church).

Lefty's Cover smBased loosely, VERY loosely, on the fishing village where I grew up, the stories all center around Lefty’s Tavern.  Like the real-life Red’s Tavern–my father’s place– it is the only tavern in town.  So if you want the news, want to drink, or want to pick a fight, Lefty’s is the place to go.  Since there is no other building large enough to house the growing parish, Lefty has kindly opened it on Sunday mornings to Reverend Turkington.

The 20 stories in the book have a bunch of colorful characters, a lot of action, some humor, and a few serious moments. I sat with a number of my Oregon relatives over the years to gather similar stories about Charleston, Oregon, the little town I grew up in.  Then I dumped them all into a large shrimp pot, stirred them up, and poured out stories filled with drunks, Indians, fishermen, loggers (some fit all categories) and their families.

If you get a chance to read it, I’d welcome your thoughts.  It, and my previous two novels, With Which the Waters Swarm and The Ages of Oosig are all available on Amazon and other online book stores.

Not All Black Panthers Are Movie Characters

hqdefaultAlthough technically a black leopard, the black cat in Kenya captured on night video recently is extremely rare.  In fact, it’s the first documented there in over 100 years!  Residents of Kenya have claimed to have seen them but no one has been able to verify the sightings until a team of biologists did.  It took them months.

During my last-year’s trip to Kenya and Tanzania, we were lucky to see regular spotted leopards.  They are one of the most elusive animals in Africa.  We watched one in a tree for several hours before I was able to get an acceptable shot of it.