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Review

I read The Extreme Life of the Sea by Stephen and Anthony Palumbi.

If you would like to read about ocean life that lives in the deepest parts of the ocean, the coldest and hottest parts of the ocean and learn about ocean creatures large and small, then read this book. I liked reading about bowhead whales, they can live longer than we thought. Imagine a whale that has seen canoes and rowboats, then sees battleships and submarines. I wonder what the whale would say about living so long, do they like it? What changes in 100 years, 150 years, 200 years? A lot! I loved the color photos in the book, even of things that were not whales. There were some scary things like blind zombie worms on a whale fall, it’s what they do that scares me, tendrils that drill into the whale bone. Sometimes tiny can be scary, but big things can be scary too; like the giant isopod (think a 20 pound doodle bug), the colossal squid and whale sharks (I put that one in, I just watched an IMAX movie with them in it.) There are things in the ocean that live in hot water like the rift shrimp that lives near deep sea vents and things that live in the cold water like: narwhals and sea otters. This book was very interesting and introduced me to sea creatures that I hadn’t known about before, plus some that I know and love.

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Ice Whale

Ice whale by Jean Craighead George

Recently, I heard a interview on NPR with Mrs. George’s son and daughter. They were talking about their mother’s last book. When I heard ‘bowhead whale’, I perked up my ears. When I heard that her son was a marine biologist and bowhead expert, I knew I had to read this book.

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What do Inupiat, Yup’ik and Yankee whalers have in common? A bowhead whale that lives for 200 years, surpassing the generations who try to hurt him and protect him. The book starts off with the encounter of a boy, Toozack, and a whale, Siku. Toozack was kayaking and saw the ice whale being born. Some Yankee whalers come up to him and they get him to tell them where the whales are. The whalers start killing the whales and since he had led them to the whaling ground, Toozack was cursed. He was charged with protecting the ice whale and the ice whale with protecting him. Since bowhead whales can live for 100-200 years, Toozack had to name his son Toozack and charge him with protecting the whale. At the same time, the whalers were also having generations born and passing down whaling secrets to their children. The ice whale, Siku, is given a voice in the book by translating whale sounds heard over the hydrophones into lines and squiggles in the book.

What I loved about this book – the bowhead Siku has a voice, by translating the lines from an electronic device, Jean George gives the whale a voice, personality and brings the reader closer to the action. I liked how the book switched back and forth from hunting the whales to protecting them, to the whale protecting the humans. I think this book is a good read for anyone who likes whales or has read other books by Jean George.

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Update and good reads

Well, I am very sad. Mission 31 is being moved to April 2014. So, yes it is still happening, but because of the government shut down things didn’t go as planned to have the Mission go ahead for November. For me it’s bad news because most of my Skype lessons got moved to April, they aren’t going to be down on the ocean floor to do the lessons – until April. For others I know it’s sad because they were looking forward to this, like Alex who was going to be on the Mission. She is from California, I hope she can still make it to the site next April. But, you can still support the Mission by going here to get updates and donate, I hope they will keep that donation site going because if they get that money it will help with the Mission (and help make a 3-D movie of it too.)

To prepare for my lessons and learn more about the Mission I checked out every book in my library about Jacques Cousteau, Aquarius, Sea Lab and videos about all of those too.

This video was really good, it showed how the aquanauts get into the lab Aquarius, what they do aboard and in the field and, gross, the food they eat. I don’t envy that one, the food looked really gross.

This book is very good, it tells about the race to make a lab in the ocean.

Much like the space race up above, there was a race below the ocean to get aquanauts down into the depths and be able to keep them down there. SeaLab is the American version of Jacques Cousteau’s ConShelf. The book goes into inventions that were made in order to dive and live at incredible depths. The opening will have you shaking your head (a blow and go from 300 feet, I can’t even do that for a few seconds for the pulmonologist!) The book is also very sad as it tells of the deaths of men who dared to go explore the ocean with equipment that was often brand new to everyone involved.

And, if you have Netflix, I just found a cartoon series of Jacques Cousteau’s ocean tales. It’s a cartoon, but it’s very informative.

I think I am making a video about watersheds soon and I do have a few lessons on Skype this month including….speaking with Mr. Rothschild about the Plastiki, giants of the ocean and a lesson on corals, so I am excited for that.

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Inland ocean

An ocean in Colorado? Well, we are all downstream. Since Colorado is a head-water state (meaning that all of our water starts here and then leaves, nothing flows into us) we have a responsibility to keep our rivers and streams clean so that the next people to get the water get clean water and a good environment for marine life.

Vicki and others from COCO did a lot of work to put together this conference. The flooding right before did not help and had teams of people scrambling to clean up, make arrangements for visitors and find a way to link those who couldn’t come to the action going on. Going to the WAVES symposium was amazing. I learned a few things I didn’t know before, like what really happens to plastic in the ocean, how to make trash into art, what the Sea Shepherd does and how I can help the ocean. We got the news at the conference that Boulder is now a California inland ocean community thanks to Rep. Mark Stone from CA (that’s Vicki from COCO, the Rep. and a Rep. from Boulder accepting the proclamation for Boulder.)

I heard from people who love the ocean and want to make it a better place and explore it further.

In the exhibit hall I talked to diving outfits, a club for teens, artists, and the Sea Shepherd people (and I got a cool necklace from them.)

Back in the lecture hall I heard Stephanie from Green Apple Supply talk about plastics in the ocean. See, a plastic bag floating in the water can look like a jellyfish to a sea turtle. They eat it and die. Plastic, once thought to take thousands of years to break down, actually breaks down quite fast in the warm ocean water, but it doesn’t go away completely. Instead it turns into tiny bits of plastic that fish eat (and then they die), sea birds also eat the plastic as well as larger marine fish and mammals. The plastic can get so bad that it disrupts algae and plankton growth and that makes the whole food web go out of balance.

All of the things at the conference were cool, but meeting Mr.Cousteau was like a dream come true for me.

Fabien talked about stuff like Plant A Fish and Mission 31 where he and other scientists will go under water for 31 days. There is a quote from his grandfather that I think is cool he says, “When one person, for whatever reason, has the chance to lead an extraordinary life he has no right to keep it to himself”.

It was funny to see pictures of Fabien when he was little, but neat to see a picture of him with his Grandpa. He signed my Jacques Cousteau book which now sits on my desk at home.

I came away from the conference with some ideas about starting plastic bag recycling on my street and looking into using bags to make plarn (plastic yarn.) I made a video about things you can do to help the ocean and I’m working on a funny video about plastic bags and the ocean. I got to talk to scientists, artists, lawmakers and people who love the ocean (and Mr. Cousteau too!) The WAVES conference was the best day I ever had!! (And not because I got to sleep in a tent in our hotel room and eat Nepalese food, but that was nice too.)

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The Secret World of Whales review

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Do you like stories about whales, stories that are fun or full of danger with a dose of adventure? If so you should read The Secret World of Whales by Charles Siebert.

This book was fun to read and I learned some things about whales that I didn’t know before (and some things that I did.) There were stories about sperm whales, such as how people would go on their backs and make a fire and then they would find out it was a whale. And there was a name I had seen before in it, James Bartley – he was swallowed by a sperm whale and when he came out he was bleached white and blind.

The book contains stories about whales from different countries, such as China, Africa and Alaska and even stories from books like the Bible. There were whaling stories about how people used different parts of the whale; like using baleen to make hair combs and toboggans. The book talked about whale songs and recordings that have been made of many whale species. I liked the chapter about whale encounters because I want to go whale watching someday. Chapter 9 is all about how underwater sounds harm whales. Sounds from military sonar exercises and air guns, and the sounds of ships, tankers, freighters and ocean liners all pollute the ocean with noise and interfere with the ability of whales to hunt and even migrate.

By reading The Secret World of Whales you will find out how much you want to be a part of everything you see and how much in this world you can miss. But, if you always look a little closer and help where you know you can, you can make a big difference no matter what. This amazing book will help you understand how whales feel and how much they do for us and, of course, what may happen to them. Go find this book today and read it!

Here is a resource to look at too, http://www.nrdc.org/, they helped with the book. Right now on their site you can help save some whales from a US Navy training plan. From their site:
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)

NRDC is the nation’s most effective environmental action organization. NRDC uses law, science, and the support of 1.4 million members and online activists to protect the planet’s wildlife and wild places and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things. NRDC’s website provides a wealth of environmental information as well as state-of-the-art online activism tools.

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A life among whales review

When I watched A life among whales I learned about Dr. Roger Payne. His mother was a musician and his father taught him about sailing. He was interested in birds and once when he was sailing he saw a whale. This got him interested in whales and then in marine biology and he started listening to whales. He found that they made beautiful music and he taped them, this recording was sent out to National Geographic members and it was the largest order of a song. When people started hearing the whales  they wanted to save them.

I already knew about a lot of things in the movie, like types of whales, but if you don’t know about toothed and baleen whales and the different kinds of whales and how and what they eat – the movie will explain that. I learned about a Japanese river dolphin that is a under attack by commercial fishing. I did a quick search and found an article that says that the Yangtze river dolphin is now extinct! That is very sad.

Dr. Payne is also an activist for whales, helping them by showing how pollution hurts whales and how commercial whaling is a bad thing. He created a math problem that showed how far whale sounds can be heard, it almost destroyed his career. But, with the humpback songs, he showed that whales do use songs to communicate and that helped push the Save the Whales movement. I liked what he said at the end of the movie – a single individual can change the world by changing their minds. If we change the world we will be the greatest generation of the human race.

Dr. Payne started Ocean Alliance, their site has information about whales, research and education. If you want to watch a good documentary about whales, activists and whale conservation, this is a good movie to see.

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