ʀᴀʟᴘʜ ᴘᴀᴄᴇ
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ʀᴀʟᴘʜ ᴘᴀᴄᴇ
Dreaming of warmer waters and bigger animals with the @whaletrustmaui crew on this cool California morning. looking forward to another winter of sunshine and science on Maui. Taken under NMFS permit #13846
Monterey Mola Massacre. Last night I was driving 4 hours south after a full day of work up in Bodega Bay when a friend told me the huge swell was washing dead molas up on the beach. When I got back into town I headed down to scour some beaches. Didn’t take long to find loads of dead molas washed up on the beach brought by the last high tide. In this raft there were 11, dozens more spread out on the beach and many more in the surf. The molas are predated on by sea lions that solely rip their fins off... I know, what cute little furry animals those sea lions are. But bottlenose dolphins do the same to harbor porpoise (porpicide) and otters harass everything and we still think their cute. After the molas have their fins ripped off they sit on the bottom of the ocean and are consumed by everything. Huge surf and high tides brought them to town. Strange night.
Kelps around the world have been harvested for millennia and were likely a mode of migration (Kelp Migration Theory) for the first Americans some 16,000 years ago. Kelps today are used in a variety of ways including direct consumption but also used heavily for their emulsifying agent, algin which bonds together products such as toothpastes, shampoos, cakes, frozen foods and even pharmaceuticals. To meet the need for kelps many countries have began growing kelp species in large farms but huge quantities of wild kelps are still harvested worldwide. Chile is the largest harvested of wild kelps in the world equating to some 400,000 wet tons each year. The product is often then dried, ground up and shipped to Asia where it is a highly sought after commodity. He kelp industry is proving some much needed 30,000 jobs to workers in rural/coastal Chile but there is concern over regulations. Plants are only suppose to be collected from natural mortality in many areas but that is often not the case. As global demands for kelp increase and kelp populations continue to plummet worldwide there will be a need for a global conversation on how to beat manage species.
I spent the better half of this last month working off the coast of California. The state I am fortunate to call home. I worked in the north with scientists and engaged locals who are trying to combat catastrophic kelp loss. Documented leatherback turtles that migrated over 9000 miles to our coast in search of food. Swam with swordfish. Swam with opah. Motored from San Diego to Monterey and fished all between. We spent a lot of time dodging bad weather and rough seas but in that time we saw some amazing things. California’s wildfires and heavy winds have pushed huge amounts of smoke offshore and made for some strange and eerie environments. We got to see a group of unknown orcas take down a fin whale, saw some 40 sperm whales together in a large pod, large bluefin feedings, super pods of thousands of common dolphins, humpbacks lunge feeding, countless other marine mammals and more pyrosomes than anyone would want to see in a lifetime. We even saw an owl, an f’ing saw whet owl 40 miles off the coast with a group of sea gulls. Our backyard here in California is as good as in in the world.
Cheers to the legend you are. Cheers to not being an asshole, and cheers to dealing with me when I was one. Cheers to jumping off the garage. Cheers to always trusting your cape. Cheers to being my fucking hero. Cheers to understanding that using the left was as important as the right. To collecting cans and returning arrows when the count was off. To knowing you were only as good you acted, smart as you taught and as good of a father as you did. Cheers to noticing the light as it dappled the river. The grain that pointed inwards. The boards that were backward. ... Cheers to knowing the importance of the mud between your toes, the smell of cutting grass, the touch of the earth, the freedom of dipping in the Hazel. Cheers to the warm slide on a fresh duck egg. Cheers to crafting with your hands. Things that you can feel. Things that are real. To sharing it with the world. Cheers to teaching us. Cheers to not fixing the leg. I always thought we’d have another chance. A few more spins on the lathe, a few more fucks said aloud. Cheers to being able to say fuck with the best of them. Cheers for teaching me. Cheers to driving the open road. Cheers to the fun of throwing a line without a fly. To spoiling long walks while trying to dodge gopher holes. To coffee in bowls, wine in sailor jars, walking to the end of the world and understanding no place is more important than where you are. Cheers to being at your best in a vast field running wide open. Thanks for letting us be part of the ride. I’ll never forget the sunset salt, poor pregame diets, milk for stomach aches, gasoline on ivy and the importance of the gentle caress on the downshift. Thanks to giving me life, the hard head and curiosity of the wild world. To showing me what a big heart feels like and how to wear it on the sleeve. Cheers to not giving a fuck. To sawdust in your hair. Cheers to winning the dirtiest car two weeks in a row. Cheers to giving away the wash. To understanding it was more important to be you, than to fit the mold. Cheers to understanding the value of conversations, connection and being human. Thanks for not understanding technology, I loved the extra calls. **more below**
A pair of breath holding (male/female) humpbacks rest in the waters of the Auau Channel off Maui, HI. Worldwide humpbacks are loved for their acrobatic leaps, their social lunge feeding behaviors, lovely whale songs, and their testosterone driven active groups. But, much of my time observing them, particularly so in Hawaii, the whales are simply conserving energy. Like these breathe holders, who stayed down for nearly 30 minutes. What they are thinking or doing we may never know but my favorite guess yet.... “reciting telepathic love poems” image taken under NMFS permit # 19225 with @whaletrustmaui
At high noon, the sun’s rays are no match for the super red tide that consumes the top 20 ft of the water column. Blocking almost all available light and producing an eerie orangish water hue it was quite the experience swimming around with swarms of these 10 ft alien-like nettles. The bay is absolutely fantastic at the moment.
Cheers to another lap with this fun having, adventure chasing, baby wranglin’ wild child. Making the hard look easy and the dirty seem graceful. Easily the greatest adventure of my life. Photos: @loveisabigdeal
A juvenile green turtle cruises a shallow reef off of San Diego, CA. Green turtles are once again regulars in SoCal after decades of binational conservation efforts in Mexico and the United States. Happy to be on the turtle trail again and look forward to sharing some work in the coming months.
A shortfin mako shark hooked off the coast of S. California last year. Makos were recently listed as Appendix II by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This listing makes the international trade of makos harder which could help some populations that have been greatly affected by exporting fins to foreign markets for shark fin soup but has no affect on domestic markets or artisanal fleets.