Racing Extinction

In my timeworn tradition of being years behind trends, I just saw an amazing documentary from 2015 on Hulu. It’s called Racing Extinction, and it’s both beautiful and horrifying. It has forever changed the way I look at the world.

The cinematography is stunning. Many of the people involved in this documentary also worked for National Geographic. That pretty much tells you all you need to know about this film’s quality.

It moved me to tears more than once. The first time was when they played the recording of the very last O’o bird singing a mating song that would never, ever be answered. Then there were the views of hundreds of thousands of shark fins on a roof in Hong Kong, and footage of sharks with their fins chopped off, struggling to swim to get air through their gills, only to eventually suffocate. And the sight of majestic manta rays fighting for their lives in hour-long battles with fishermen made me want to scream.

At this point I’ve probably convinced you not to see this documentary, but I urge you to change your mind. It will open your eyes. It shows you incontrovertible evidence of the methane we release into the atmosphere every day. It shows how this methane is making the oceans more acidic, and how this acid dissolves seashells. It demonstrates how this is killing the phytoplankton that produces more than half the oxygen we breathe. As the film says, “Your life depends on the oceans breathing.”

It also says that “if every American skipped meat and cheese just one day a week for a year, it would be like taking 7.6 million cars off the road.” (I’m managing to be meat-free 3 to 4 days a week, but that doesn’t let you off the hook.)

But more than anything, it shows the gorgeous way they are educating all of us about this crisis. Check out their website to see the videos they have displayed on the side of the Empire State Building, for example. Absolutely stunning. The website also suggests ways you can help slow down this man-made mass extinction that is happening all around you, even as you read this. Please help.

Copyright Jon Brumbaug

Like this blog? Then you’ll LOVE this book!

Exploring the Oregon Coast Aquarium

I have a confession to make. I absolutely love aquariums. Zoos, too, but aquariums even more. I’m most fascinated by animals that are nothing at all like me. Mammals? Pffft. I can imagine what it’s like to be another type of mammal. But I can’t wrap my brain around the life of an anemone or a sea cucumber.

So when I saw signs for the Oregon Coast Aquarium during my recent vacation, I knew I’d have to go. And it’s a delightful place.

As you can see from the pictures below, I was particularly fascinated with the touch pool in the Rocky Shores Gallery. I never realized that anemone feel kind of sticky. I won’t even get into what sea slugs feel like.

I got quite the shock at the harbor seal and sea lion exhibit. I was practically pressing my nose against the glass in hopes of seeing one swim by, when I looked down, and right on the window ledge, separated from me by only a thin sheet of Plexiglas, was what I thought was a rock… until it moved. What a delight!

I also would have overlooked the sneaky octopus if someone hadn’t pointed him out to me. I couldn’t have overlooked the biggest living crab I’d ever seen in my life, or the playful otters, or the many sharks, though.

And in the aviary I got to see my very first puffin. It made me smile. These are the buffoons of the bird world. That, and I like to say, “puffin”.

All in all, it was a delightful afternoon. If you ever find yourself in Newport, Oregon, I highly recommend this aquarium. And check out their Aquari-cam! Fun!

Start a gratitude practice today. Read my book.

Wild Will Be Wild

I’m always amazed when someone interacts with a wild animal and is then surprised when they eventually get hurt. Oh, it might take years. Just ask Roy Horn, of Siegfried and Roy, or Steve Irwin, if he had survived the sting ray barb and was able to tell his tale. People don’t seem to grasp that wild animals are always wild, as much as we’d like to think we’re making a connection.

There are too many stories to tell.

And yet you hear about these things happening again and again and again, and the fools always seem to be taken by surprise. How is that possible? I don’t get it.


Yeah, this is most likely photoshopped, but you get the point.

[Image credit:]

I’m Feeling Used

I saw this meme recently, and now just about everything ticks me off.

like body

The reason for my ire is that it really DID make me think of all the businesses that would go under. Look at the contents of our closets. The money I’ve spent over the years, trying to accentuate my positives and hide my negatives. Madness. And God forbid I go out of style! Unacceptable. The clothing industry would disintegrate if we didn’t care what we wore.

And can you imagine if we stopped buying cosmetics and dark spot removers and fancy shampoo and astringents and moisturizers and creams and lotions and dyes and waxes? What if we stopped taking vitamins? How about if we only bothered to own one pair of comfortable shoes?

The number of agencies that prey on our insecurities is astounding when you really think about it. Gym memberships. Weight loss plans. Advertising, and by association the entire television and magazine industry. Designer EVERYTHING, cosmetics, skin care, health food, hair salons, spas, exercise equipment, diet cookbooks, self help books and gurus, a lot of therapists, models, cosmetic surgeons. Even cell phone companies like to imply that you can’t look cool without owning their product.

Just like the remoras that latch onto sharks and feed off their leftovers, these body image industries could not survive without actively maintaining our negative self-images. Now when I walk through a mall or a department store, I see signs of this everywhere. It’s like being pelted with dead fish that have “you’re not good enough” written on their stinky scales. They NEED us to feel insecure. They NEED us to think that if we just buy that “one more thing” we will be popular, feel better, be more loved, be accepted and attractive.

From now on, with every single purchase, I’m going to ask myself, “Do I really need this?” “What do I really think I’m getting?” “Am I really going to get what I want to get from this product, or am I about to buy an illusion?”

Once you start looking at the world through that particular lens, you really can see how used all of us are. We carry much of the economy upon our stooped shoulders, and I don’t know about you, but I’m tired.

And that makes me mad as hell.

Ocearch—Great White Shark Research

The other day I had a front row seat for what felt like a public television nature special. I got to see the research vessel Ocearch dock beside my drawbridge. They have been here in Jacksonville, Florida, tagging great white sharks off our coast.

001 My picture of the vessel as seen from the bridge.

 ocearch (Photo: Robert Snow)

There have been slide shows, TV reports, and newspaper articles that do this topic more justice than I ever could, and much talk around town regarding Lydia and Mary Lee, two of the sharks they have tagged and are now tracking, one of whom came within 200 yards of our most popular beach (which kind of makes you think).

For a very large city that is so sleepy that it behaves like a small town, this is the most excitement we’ve had since we hosted Superbowl XXXIX and got roundly criticized for how unsophisticated we are. We even made a ham-handed bid for the 2016 Olympics, but quickly came to our senses. We just don’t have the infrastructure for it.

Even so, I love the fact that we have been hosting this research vessel, and actually making a scientific impact. It’s a refreshing change, and a quite welcome one. If you go to the Ocearch Facebook Page, you can see an excellent video of them discussing their time here in Jacksonville and how welcome they felt. (You can even catch a glimpse of one of my bridges.) They say they’ll miss us. We’ll miss them even more.