Friday, January 29, 2010

Baby Honu strikes back

Baby Honu Saves the Day, written and illustrated by Tammy Yee. This is the 2nd book about Baby Honu; see the first Baby Honu post to learn about her style of writing.
In this adventure, Baby Honu is commissioned by Mama Dolphin (Nai'a) to save her stranded baby. The story itself is meant to teach a youngster about how even the smallest creature is still very important and can do great big things. It is a cute and somewhat touching story, but think of it in Disney terms... it is about as accurate as The Little Mermaid is compared to Finding Nemo, so don't expect this to be a biological teaching tool for little ones. Also, if you thought the 1st Baby Honu book was good for 5+ year olds, well, this book goes way beyond that. With all the Hawaiian language built in, you really do feel like you are speaking another language by the end of the book, which is kind of fun and a great cultural teaching tool.

RATING: ~~~ (3 out of 5 waves) worth reading
If you are looking for accuracy, it is not the book for your little ones. But if you want sweetness and fun illustrations, it is right on point. It is worth checking out and deciding for yourself.

Make sure to never take anything you read or see too seriously, because then you might miss out on the real fun!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sea Turtle Surgery

Since having a baby and dropping completely off the face of the planet, I have returned to my watery roots. When Daddy is able to babysit, I sneak off to volunteer at a local nature center that recently acquired the ability to rehabilitate sea turtles. Today was unprecedented as multiple veterinarians, including a few from Disney World, gathered with vet techs and a plethora of volunteers and staff to perform surgery on 30-35 endangered green sea turtles burdened with the fibropapilloma virus. I've worked with this problem before as an intern, and will be reviewing the book Fire in the Turtle House later; it focuses on the early identification and study of the disease.
For really great videos and information on the "event" check out this link:

Just remember - it is great to read, watch, and learn about the ocean, but nothing compares to actively participating in conservation. Certainly revitalizes me!

Take care and more reviews coming soon!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Undersea Explorer Part II

Just an FYI - the Undersea Explorer collection has 25 episodes... so be prepared for LOTS of these particular reviews. I promise to mix things up and not drone on forever.

Episode II - "Treasure Hunters"
First off, this program claims to cover: the discovery of the Atocha, Bermuda, the affects of saltwater on artifacts, the controversy over salvaging, and feature some treasures; that is just not plausible for a show that lasts less than an hour. The sites are interesting, and this is a great film if you are wanting to stir up a dialogue of controversy. Here are some, um, interesting things noted in the film:
  • Treasure hunter Mel Fisher discovered the Atocha, the "mother load" worth millions, and is still looking for more wrecks, in particular the Margharita
  • Henry Cox is an old salt who does his searching over coral reefs with his bare hands
  • These are often considered spectacular archaeological finds, but are treated as salvage expeditions
Are these "adventurers" greedy? Should they be considered grave robbers? Or are they salvaging/saving important parts of history? Think to how King Tutankhamen's tomb was ransacked and we still gleaned such valuable information about the culture... how should these historical sites that are lost without "treasure hunters" be treated once found?

But the documentary itself belongs on the History Channel, not Discovery, and bear that in mind while watching. It is way too short for the amount of material covered as well.
RATING: ~~ (2 waves out of 5); watch if you are bored

Take care and splashing in puddles isn't just for kids!

I have seen the Atocha exhibit as well, and the stuff is spectacular. I am fortunate enough to have found my own doubloon while spending time in the Florida Keys for a sea turtle rehabilitation internship. (I won't give the EXACT location, sorry) Just an FYI too- the crew that salvaged the Atocha used a system that blew the exhaust from their engines to remove the sand... and in the process scattered an estimated $50 million in emeralds all over the ocean floor.
Wanna go to Key West?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Best of Undersea Explorer series

Undersea Explorer is a series of documentaries produced in Canada. The Mysteries of the Deep collection of the "best" programs from the series. I do not know who gets to determine what the best actually is, but we will go through each program together and make our own decisions, eh?
I was able to watch the first in the series, Sea of Steel. This film was released in the late 1990's and focuses on the efforts of the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia to use 3 decommissioned vessels from the Canadian naval fleet and turn them into artificial reefs instead of razor blades (the common use of the scrap metal when these ships are retired and sold).
This program is a good introduction to the process, and lightly touches on some of the controversy surrounding the retirement of ships to the sea. As mentioned, there are environmental concerns, but in all honesty the stringent guidelines and countless inspections prior to sinking really keep all major issues in check. Besides, marine life is found growing on these structures within 6 months of sinking; this creates a spectacular ecosystem is such a short time that I can only imagine how exciting that would be to study on a regular basis. The 3 ships sunk, including the HMS Mackenzie and the HMS Columbia (both destroyer escorts), were noted as never having fired a shot during their commission... hm, how would you read that tidbit when assessing the Canadian peace-keeping efforts? Could go either way, eh?
A really cool side note was how one petty officer's family has successfully petitioned to get his ashes interred on the vessel prior to sinking. When land is becoming a very pricey commodity in areas like California, and it is hard to bury individuals in boggy areas found near coastal waters, how popular do you think underwater burial sites could become? Whole new meaning to "sleeping with the fishes" and personally, sounds really cool to me.
According to the ARSBC, these sites are primarily intended for divers (i.e. eco-tourism), which calls into question the concepts of zoos vs. sanctuaries. There is no mention of how protected these areas are, but that is why I did a little looking of my own on their website:
and learned about the ongoing projects as well as the locations and progress of existing reef projects. They even link to clean-up standards and published papers on their work. As for the documentary itself-
RATING: ~~~ (3 waves out of 5); worth watching
This is because I sincerely feel it gets your mind asking questions, and makes you want to learn about and maybe even dive these amazing wrecks. I also think any future ARSBC documentaries will be better made due to what was learned while creating this one.

Well, Baby Einstein is keeping Baby Jace SO engrossed I think it is time to go outside for awhile.
When YOU go outside, don't worry about getting dirty!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Journey Begins...

Today Baby Jace and I decided to read a children's book called Baby Honu's Incredible Journey written and illustrated by Tammy Yee. First and foremost, there is much respect to authors who take the time to create their own illustrations. I understand, not all people are talented enough to draw (myself included), and having a "friend who can draw" is how my cousin Lane really came into his own. But the pictures are beautiful and colorful and kid friendly for the most part.
Synopsis: Baby Honu is a green sea turtle hatchling and this is the adventure of just trying to make it to the water. It truly is an incredible journey when one considers that 1:10,000 sea turtle eggs laid will become full grown adult turtles; 1:1000 reach maturity after reaching the water; the odds of survival improve to 1:100 after reaching roughly the size of a dinner plate in circumference.
... but I digress...
This book is best for children ages 5+, unless we're talking particularly bright kids with a good attention span. I only say this because many of the pages have quite a few words and lets face it, a 2-yr old (or in this case a 7 month old) is not likely to sit for it all. Jace fell asleep, which was my intention for reading to him. One really cool thing is T.Y. incorporates real Hawaiian language for many of the animals mentioned (i.e. "honu" is Hawaiian for "sea turtle"); there is a glossary in the back, but no phonetic description, so brush up on your Hawaiian before attempting to read out loud! One last warning, Baby Honu faces some very real dangers on his way to the ocean, so look thru the book before giving to a child in case they may find those parts a little scary.
RATING: ~~~~ (4 waves out of 5); highly recommended

Let me know your opinion if you have read this book. If local, I'll loan you my copy to critique.

Have a great MLK day and try not to stay dry!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Welcome Home!

Here, you will be accepted for the deep down ocean lover you really are. Seriously, who isn't moved by the ocean horizon's at dawn and dusk (depending on which side of the pond you are standing)?! Even poetry like "Footprints in the Sand" finds the ocean a perfect backdrop for expression. Put a shark on the front of almost anything, and people react immediately. If you are one of those individuals who stop at the pet store just to look at the fish, then I look forward to sharing with you all forms of marine related media that will include photos, websites, published research, textbooks, magazines, movies, documentaries, and much more!
Even if you've never seen the ocean, I understand how there can be this attachment. The ocean, literally, surrounds us. According to the Ocean Commission Report (2000), nearly 80% of the U.S. population lived within 200 miles of coastline. Here is a favorite phrase I have heard from scientists like Dr. Eddie Widder (the queen of bioluminescence) and Dr. Shirley Pomponi (Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute): Why is this planet called "earth" when it is over 75% covered by water? It should be called "Ocean" instead. I don't yet know who said it first.