I wanted baleen bad, but I didn’t want to go to jail over it — especially in the middle of giving a whale lecture. So when Steve and I set out for Anchorage, I called NOAA and asked how I could carry a piece of a protected species around the world without risking handcuffs. No problem, actually. If a member of a Native Alaskan tribe inscribes the baleen with artwork, it is no longer taboo. Better yet, the agent I talked to, had a few illegal pieces that were cluttering up the NOAA office, and he was happy to gift […]
My revered ancestor, Aud the Deep-Minded, had nothing on the five-year-old girl who attended my Viking presentation at the Penrose Community Library. Freya’s parents had their hands full keeping their busy one inbounds through 40 minutes of adult-level Viking history, but when I asked for questions, Freya popped up with one of the best questions I’ve ever gotten from an audience. “Why aren’t they scary anymore?” Whoa! All that fidgeting, didn’t keep her from listening…and thinking. Fortunately, I knew the answer: Vikings took the Atlantic by storm because they had better ships and weapons. When they invaded other countries, took slaves, formed alliances, and fraternized, others picked […]
I spent much of last year begging people to listen to programs I’d slaved over for months. I got a few takers here and there. Then I got my foot in the door with half a dozen libraries and the Colorado Springs Senior Center, and life is good! This year I let their schedulers know I’m rolling out my Whales presentation, and I’ve got five speaking date just like that. I’ve always appreciated libraries—Steve says I’ve never seen a library tax I didn’t like—but now I am profoundly grateful to libraries, not only for speaking ops but for so many of […]
It was the most pampered snorkeling trip I’ve ever experienced. Kim got me rigged up in top of the line gear, including a wetsuit that floats, then had me sit with my feet in the water while she slipped on my flippers! No waddling across the beach like a duck in clown shoes, no getting queasy in the waves, no fear of, drowning, drifting out to sea, animal attacks or boat strikes. No worries period. Any time I lifted my head, Kim was there with a float to steady me, answer questions, adjust my gear. Much as I love the ocean, […]
The Denver Aquarium seemed like a good place to find audiences interested in hearing my Stirring Sea Secrets presentations, and it is, but when I contacted the education manager there I found I’d stumbled on a motherlode. Colleen Shipley’s standards for volunteer enrichment programs are stringent. Every driblet of information in my hour-long talk had to be cited to respectable sources. My terminology needed updating too. Starfish and jellyfish are now sea stars and sea jellies because they aren’t fish–the very sort of nitpicking I needed to bolster my confidence and credibility. Colleen’s passion for education keeps her running hard, but […]
My latest Sea Secrets talk led me to the discovery of a sordid ruckus in the family tree. Somewhere in the late 700s, King Gudrod “the hunter” got his heart set on King Redbeard’s daughter, Asa. Redbeard told Gudrod to go sit on his sword.* Gudrod took the setback like a true Viking and stormed Redbeard’s kingdom. He ran Redbeard through* and took Asa back to his own kingdom. Asa bore him a son then bribed a squire to make her a widow. Well played Asa! Wish we could do lunch. *Poetic license invoked.
When our local paper asked for wacky, wonderful job stories, I had to share mine: “Can I squirt him in the eye?” I felt weird being so blunt with the brave little geek in braids, but having graduated from high school in the seventies, I knew I’d feel weirder negotiating with five teens over shark tagging tasks. So when the grad students got our shark situated under their bodies, I got to test his reflex, and his eye membrane nictated nicely which meant that he wasn’t too stressed. On the next round I clipped a bit of tissue off another […]
Imagine the patience and skill it takes to train these powerful, free spirits to play these games with any dolphin lover who signs up to be the ball. The artistry required to make such programs safe using only positive reinforcement is mind boggling. Many thanks to the Dolphins Plus team for their absolute dedication to helping dolphins support themselves by having fun with people like me.
What does it take to make a superhero flight at parks like Dolphins Plus? Two uber-educated dolphin specialists like Krista and Hunter–one to direct the dolphins, one to direct the “hero”. I played the improbable, hero with marginal swimming and direction taking skills. A photographer, and two exquisitely trained dolphins round out the team, though a group of enthusiastic spectators will add flare. The team makes the stunts look easy, but having played the hero, I marvel at the chemistry. When I missed grabbing BB’s dorsal fin for a team pull, Isaac idled forward allowing me to catch BB and get situated before they punched it. That coordination is child’s play for dolphins. They regularly […]