Hurricane Norbert – September, 2014

I admit it .. I’m a storm junkie. Something about the drop in barometric pressure and the wildness in the skies. I became edgy. Can’t sit still or focus. Pace the perimeter. Waiting. Watching the sky. Watching satellite photos and charts. Norbert was to be small .. A category 1 storm for a short time and then a tropical depression. He fooled us all by building to a Category 3 – but all of it off the west coast of Baja – and with no serious impact.  We had 3″ of rain in Loreto and an amazing 49mph gust.  I was awakened at 3am by what sounded like a bucket of water thrown at the window.  Palm fronds bent agains the weight of the wind.  The normally placid Sea of Cortez whipped to a wind-chopped frenzy.  A wild alertness that accompanies a storm.  Yes, a junkie – particularly when they have some punch but no destruction.

rb0-lalo
The storm sent clouds north from south and west of Cabo San Lucas on the afternoon of the 4th. By dawn (okay it was dark with no real sunrise) the storm had moved up the peninsula and after the 3am slam, rain and winds began to affect Loreto. By 3pm, the skies had opened, the wind had laid low the palm trees and ‘game on’ – the storm raged through and into the dark of night. Morning, the 6th, still dark skies, but by afternoon – clearing skies. Then sunset, an arm of the storm – now directly west of Loreto – laid a thick band of grey which intermittently spit water. Seas calm. Storm now a memory. We wait for the next circular disturbance.

Beautiful Dreamer

Beautiful Dreamer

Sultry morning. Long slow paddle in mirror-like seas.

Undulating jellyfish lazily propel themselves along the surface of still water. “Common” Jellyfish (Aurelia aurita), these are the most familiar of the species. Four gonad rings – usually purplish/pink – are visible through the translucent body. In the blue-green sea this morning, they appear more golden in color. Short numerous tentacles hang from the margin of the bell. The large quantity makes me reconsider an early swim. While the sting from these is considered mild, a sting is a sting is a sting ….

Besides the undulating jellyfish, artic terns, blue-footed boobies, Elegant frigate birds, and long-necked cormorants populate the morning count. I find myself in such awe of my surroundings that I cannot lift my camera. Rather, when a group of pelicans approaches, their wingtips mere inches from the surface of the sea, I simply hold my breath, listening to squished sound of the air between the water and their bodies.

Farther up the coast, three sea turtles lift their heads in curiosity. My board and paddle are stealth-like compared to the noisy engines of the pangas. The largest of the three lingers on the surface watching me, and I paddle toward him. I find that turtles are relatively shy, and this one is no different. As I approach, he lowers his head and dives beneath the surface. I see his broad green body as he glides underneath the shadow cast by my board. His tips his head once, and our turtle-human eye contact is complete.

I paddle farther, thinking of the turtle and the conservation efforts across the globe by groups like Grupo Torugero, or in Loreto, Eco Alianza, whose missions are to protect the natural world and those species that have become endangered or nearly extinct. Funny, this role of mankind on the planet. We seem to constantly push ourselves – and this planet that we love – to the brink – one way or another, before we can become conscious enough of our actions to change and alter our course.

Blue Mind …

Sunrise

“This is Your Brain on the Ocean,” is a must read article about our ‘own’ Wallace J. Nichols – who’s research and perseverance has led to protection and enhancement of turtle nesting grounds in and around Loreto (okay, and the globe).  The interview of Nicols by Jeff Greenwald for onearth,  a survival guide for the planet, explores the work of J. and the foundations he has created and supports.

When asked the question by Greenwald, “What do you mean by ” Blue Mind,” J. answered, “When we think of the ocean — or hear the ocean, or see the ocean, or get in the ocean, even taste and smell the ocean, or all of those things at once — we feel something different than before that happened. For most people, it’s generally good. It often makes us more open or contemplative. For many people, it reduces stress. And that’s ‘Blue Mind.'”

J. organized this past summer, the first Blue Mind Summit: “a revolutionary new approach to studying — and energizing — the complex relationship between humans and the sea.”  Nicoles believes that the our connection with the ocean is neurological, and an awareness of this inter-relationship can change the way we treat the seas.

The article and J.’s research opens the question and dialog : What is your own personal relationship with the sea?  What actions can you take to protect her bounty and beauty?  Check out : Blue Marbles for ideas of ‘random acts of ocean kindness.’

Morning Birthday Gifts

Loreto Sunrise

Quiet seas and shimmering dawn. Early morning osprey calls. The whiz of hummingbird wings next to my face. The splash of hungry pelican. A brisk walk to a thought provoking seminar by Mark Spalding the Ocean Foundation on environmental governance, part of the three-day Simposio de Ciencia de la Conservación en Loreto (Conservation Science Symposium). A vulture parked atop a palapa waiting for???

A seven mile SUP on glassy blue green seas filled with fleets of small yellowtail, puffer fish, sulking rays, fat faced puffer fish …. and … a sea turtle! First time paddling I’ve had that kind of up/close encounter. Cormorants and gulls. Lots of wonderful messages from friends all over the world.

Now, to hop a flight back to the states just in time for dinner with my mother, Kay Wright. It just happens to be her birthday, too! Happy Birthday, Mom ….