Thursday, November 29, 2012

Turtles - baby turtles!

I have to say I've done a lot of things in my life, had some great adventures, seen a lot of cool things. But last night we did one of the absolute coolest things I've ever done: we watched new hawksbill turtle hatchlings leave their nest and make their way to the ocean.

Our good friends, marine biologist Kathy Hall and Mike Shand found the nest on Shacks Beach during the high waves following Hurricane Sandy. The nest was being destroyed by the waves. By the time Kathy and Mike got to it, some eggs had already washed into the sea.

They carefully - very carefully, because the eggs have to stay in the same position - gathered the remaining eggs and move them to a new nest in a safer more sheltered location. Yesterday morning Kathy found one living hatchling, the first indication the move was successful.

The hatchlings start their trek to the sea just about dark. There are fewer predators out, improving the young turtles' chances of reaching the sea.

We all gathered at dusk, a little before dark so we would have a chance to watch. Kathy carefully dug into the nest and pulled out one, then another and another and another live viable hatchlings. The first ones started toward the water. Kathy scraped the sand off the nest and revealed a writhing mass of turtles all climbing over each other to get out and start their own trip to the sea.

Watch the video I shot and posted. (The ambient sound was bad so I eliminated it.)

All I can say is incredible!!! Watching these little guys head straight for the ocean was just mind-blowing. We were cheering them on, urging them, willing them to make it. We watched the last of them reach the waves under an amazing full moon.

Kathy and Mike rescued 82 eggs from the original nest. Of those 78 turtles survived and made it to the sea.

Thank you, Kathy and Mike! What an amazing incredible unbelievable evening! Thank you for allowing us to share it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

So Thanksgiving here started off with snorkeling with our Breakfast Club partners, Courtney and Christine. Then off to John D's for a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner.

The day also included a pause - for those of us old enough - to remember where we were on November 22, 1963, a Friday that year, when President Kennedy was assassinated. It was one of those defining moments. Everyone who remembers knows exactly where he/she was when the news broke. I even remember the color of the walls in my middle school classroom.

But this year the 22nd is a Thursday, Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. We have so much to be grateful for. At the most mundane level, we are grateful we can start a day at the end of November snorkeling. At a much higher level, we are grateful - and hopefully we show it every day, not just once a year - for our family, for our many many wonderful friends, for our health, for the life we are living.

With gratitude, Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 12, 2012

IBA Body Boarding Championships

 The International Bodyboarding Association came back to Middles Beach for another championship tour event this week. The weather and waves weren't as cooperative this year as they were last year. But it was still a fun event.

For events like this I usually don't try to shoot the actual competition. As I've said before, there are so many "official" photographers that one more shooter on the beach doesn't matter. I try to do something different, like KAP (Kite Aerial Photography).  Nobody else has shots of the event like mine.

This year even the wind didn't cooperate. There hasn't been much wind at all. Today - finally - there was a little wind and some sun. Unfortunately, because it's a Monday, there weren't a lot of spectators on the beach for the event. Oh, well. I always love KAPping at Middles.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Post-election thoughts

So the 2012 election - the most expensive presidential election in history - is over.

Some thoughts:

First, I'm very VERY happy Obama won a second term, for a lot of reasons. Not the least among these is the fact that Romney and his teabagger supporters and the god-zillionaires like the Koch brothers who tried to buy the election are just way way way too far out in right field. They want perpetual power for themselves, even though there is no concrete plan for what they would do with that power. They want smaller government. That is, they want less government regulation of corporations but interference in individuals' personal lives is okay. They want lower taxes for the wealthiest while planning higher taxes on the poor and middle classes - those hardest hit by the economic disaster their policies allowed to happen. And they do not support equal rights for ALL people - regardless of gender, sexual orientation, economic status, race, religion and place of origin. The Constitution, and especially the Bill of Rights, was created to protect right. Yet these people who insist only they know the true meaning of the Constitution propose amendment after amendment to take away rights.

I do hope Congress and it's entrenched "conservatives" - think John Boehner - are more open to dialogue this term. After all, it's too late to make sure Obama is a one-term President. Boehner failed at that "job," which he considered his most important as Speaker of the House. Let's hope he does better at his new one, representing what's best for the country.

Now on to Puerto Rico. In the interest of full disclosure, I must say I did not vote in this election. I've learned more about the parties in PR (political, not rum) in the past few days than I have in the past six years. But I still don't think I understand enough to make an informed decision.

Puerto Rico held it's fourth referendum on the question of statehood. On the ballot was a two-part question: the first asked voters if they favor the current status as a U.S. territory. Fifty-four percent said no, they are not content with the current status.  Second, should Puerto Rico become a state, independent or a "sovereign free association." The latter is not the same as the current status. This new designation would give la isla more autonomy that it currently has.

Sixty-one percent voted for statehood.

This is important. It is the first time a clear majority of Puerto Rican voters have voted for statehood. Note: this is not binding. It still takes an act of Congress to make Puerto Rico the 51st state. But it is an expression of the will of the people.

Or is it? With a body politic that is at least as divided and screwed up as that in the states, island voters turned out the sitting pro-statehood PNP (Partido Nuevo Progresista) party governor, Luis Fortuño, and elected a PPD (Partido Popular Democrático) party governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla. The PPD is pro-status quo, that is, continuing as a "free associated state" or commonwealth of the U.S.

Much is being made of this split between voting for statehood but electing an anti-statehood governor. The pro-statehood people are afraid the new governor will try to undermine statehood. vote and with good reason. The PPD is already trying to discredit the vote, saying it is not valid. Others are using an numbers game, siting how many voters left question one blank or how many left question two blank, as proof that a majority of pueertoricañs really don't want statehood.

While the split vote definitely creates problems, my personal sense is the reason for the split vote is not that complicated. I think people just didn't like Fortuño. He did some very very unpopular things economically like laying off 22,000 government workers. It was a necessary move, long overdue, but how he did it was the problem. He just dumped people on the streets with no economic plan to put them or the other thousands of unemployed on the island to work. (Sound familiar? The PNP is aligned with the Republican Party in the states.) That's just one example. I think islanders just wanted him out. Puerto Rico has a long history of one-term governors.

So where will all this go? My personal guess is nowhere.Given the political climate in the states and the debate that is sure to rage on the island, I don't think anybody is going to do anything. It's easier to leave things alone. What we have works - sort of. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Monday, November 05, 2012

November already

How did that happen? It's been so warm here - 6-8 degrees above normal everyday - it' still seems like summer. Except it get dark earlier.

Last night our great friends Bill, John, Tom, Kelly and Raul (Spontaneous Combustion and Friends) played a semi-surprise gig at Ola Lola's. Usually we know when they are coming to the island (they are all surfers from Arizona) but this was kind of a surprise visit. Still we had a great crowd. And we love to listen to these guys play. Not only are they great musicians but they are tons of fun too. They'll be back in March. Be sure to catch them then.