Join me in the cold, dark, life-sustaining NE Pacific Ocean to discover the great beauty, mystery and fragility hidden there.

Posts from the ‘Ocean Voice’ category

Scuba Sisters

Here’s to the salty sisterhood of cold-water divers (and the men with whom we submerge). I am a week late with posting this for “Women’s Dive Day”. Yes, it’s been busy.

But, it’s still really important to me to put these photos into the world and reflect on how much this sisterhood means to me, and why. I have tears in my eyes as I type this, so apparently, the feelings run deep.

Scuba sister Jacqui Engel with Egg Yolk Jelly.

Why? Because you may have noticed that, by some, there is an increasing downward pressure on womxn in an attempt to limit the spaces in which we expand and the choices we WILL make. Because some want to hold on to the assumption of inherent privilege based on the absurd “criteria” of skin pigmentation; whether one’s chromosomes have one X or two; or gender identification. Because some fight equality to claim superiority.

I now have some pretty good expletives in my head which I will not type here.

Scuba sister Natasha Dickinson and Sunflower Star. We documented the same one over a span of 71 days. It’s the sea star species that was / is impacted the most by Sea Star Wasting. This individual is on an anchor block covered with encrusting coralline algae.

Of many examples of times it has become very clear to me that being a womxn* in science and scuba is important, let me share the following:

On a really hot day, I was “show and tell” for two children in our community. I dressed up in all my dive gear (the full weight and heat of it) and walked down the hallway and into the classroom with Cayden’s little hand in mine on one side, and Sophia’s little hand in mine on the other.

I walked in as a surprise to the other students. I then was gifted the time to talk about the science of the dive gear and the life that lived in the cold Ocean; our neighbours who were just below the surface of where we lived.

I took the equipment off piece by piece after explaining what it did. The children chose to try to lift the weights and cylinder and we discussed pressure and buoyancy (always good metaphors 🙂 ).

In the course of this, among so many moments the filled my heart, a little boy looked up at me. He had such an open expression on his face and he said . . . “You’re my first scuba diver”.

I was his first scuba diver – me an older woman, speaking for science and the sea, engaging not in an elevated way but in a way that invited them all to follow where their loves took them, and yes, I was wearing a bright green tutu.

Scuba sister Janice Crook.

How does this help shape the future? We will never know will we? We are all projecting our energies and images into places where we might increase what is good in the world, or suppress it.

From the depths, love to you my scuba sisters, and to the men we swim beside. Respect and gratitude to all who shine their light so that others may follow; who do NOT push others down in an attempt to feel elevated. That’s such a tragic and transparent indicator of being a hollow human.


Below: A slideshow to honour some scuba sisters.

For those that may not have seen the use of “womxn” before. The spelling of womxn is a feminist choice in two ways. It removes the “m-a-n” from “woman” and “m-e-n” from “women”. It’s also an acknowledgement that I am including trans and non-binary humans when I use the word.

I Want for Rights . . .

The is not a scientific post. It is an #OceanVoice post = my thoughts about hope, connection, equality and positive action for future generations.

Scenery The Marine Detective
Mother Ocean. NE Vancouver Island, Kwakwak’wakw Territory ©Jackie Hildering

I posted the following on social media last night with the text:
“I needed to write this for myself.
May it land with those who need it too.”

The reaction to the poem suggests it may be of value to readers here too. Here goes.

I want to hide
Below the waves
Where man
Does not decree

I want escape
From values vile
That choke
Humanity

I want to be
Where those with eyes
Use them
To truly see

I want for light
To shine in dark
This way
To equality

I want for rights
So those who wrong
Shrink in . . .
Their toxicity

Bull Kelp The Marine Detective
Grow towards the light. Summer Solstice 2022.
Bull Kelp just below the surface near NE Vancouver Island, Kwakwak’wakw Territory. ©Jackie Hildering.

For more #OceanVoice, please see click here. 

Wishing You Wild

My final words for 2021. Squeezed out of my heart, head and hands.
I need this for myself, to focus on what matters.
As always, I hope it has value to you too.

Wishing you health 
And the heart 
To help those 
Slowed along the way 

Wishing you weather 
That does not 
Flood, burn
Nor twist

Wishing you strength 
To see
Truth and fact 
And what is not 

Wishing you endurance 
To run the race
Dodging pitfalls positioned
For disappearance into despair

Wishing you balance
Not to flirt with vertigo 
But to right yourself 
When you fall (because you will fall)

Wishing you love 
That mirrors back 
The good of
Who you are  

Wishing you joy 
Laughter that fills 
And makes your
Belly shake 

Wishing you wonder 
That stops you 
In your tracks 
And you are small again 

Wishing you silence 
Amid stridency
Buy, buy, buy 
Never enough (always too much)

Wishing you vision 
To know the way 
To what matters
Now, always

Wishing you wild 
For if there is wild
There is all 
Of the above 


Happy New Year dear community. 💙

Photo: Member of the G Clan of Northern Residents (threatened population).
Taken in Kwakwaka’wakw Territory, NE Vancouver Island, with telephoto lens and cropped
©Jackie Hildering, The Marine Detective.

#OceanVoice
#OceanInspiration 
#MoreOfWhatMatters #LessOfWhatDoesNot

We Are the Weather Makers

I recently had the great joy of meeting artist Nico Kos Earle through another artistic powerhouse, Dawn Dudek.

In this meeting, Nico referenced a line from her poem “We Are the Flood” that hit me full force with its power to capture so succinctly the reality of we humans and climate change. That line is: “We are the weather makers“.

Below I share the full poem with Nico’s permission. There is so much in the words that moves me and fortifies my resolve.
May it do the same for you. 💙

Poem: Nico Kos Earle
Image: Horizon the Humpback by yours truly.

I Know

The following content has been very well-received on my social media. Therefore, I am sharing it here too.

Daring to share . . .

This belongs here, on my page, where ultimately it’s about the welfare of future generations; about equity and connection.

Through recent international “realties”, to situations impacting the welfare of other species and dear friends, I have gained even more insight into how power structures enable abuse and how, at their core, it’s about keeping others small, and preferably . . . silent.

I see, and live, how disparity in power means that those working for equality, truth and justice bleed out time, energy and expense into strategizing to navigate these power systems, adding another layer of disadvantage.

I have felt anger boiling up and exhaustion creeping in. I am an older woman which means . . . I can’t.

I can’t stop.

I found myself going back to a blog I had written on “Lessons Learned from Whales – How to be a Killer Female”. Being this age, I had forgotten that I had included the text you see above beside my head.

Those of us with power must help those who have less, for that is a life well-lived. It does not mean that we have to carry it all. But imagine a world where many more of us recognize and reject the forces that strive to diminutize, divide, distract, and paralyze, and rise into our power to create positive change and help others. More of us united. That’s the world I will continue to work for.

The blog I am referencing is at this link. And yes, by writing this post and that blog, it clears my head, adds to my resolve, represents what motivates me most, and hopefully is of use to others.

#KillerFemale

Can’t see the forest?

Can’t see the forest for the  . . .  fears?

Yes I am toying with this idiom to get your attention dear community. 

Please read. Please take just a few minutes to check in with yourself. Please share if this resounds with you. 


This week the findings of a very big, very important report went into the world.  Likely you noted the heft of it; urgent words accompanied by imagery of burning, flooding and/or orange, red and yellow graphs?  

Yes, I am talking about the 2021 report by the Intergovernmental Committee on Climate Change. Stay with me!  What was your reaction? What did you feel? What will you do?

Take a few minutes please to reflect on this. Was it an emotional cocktail of overwhelm, fear, despondency, shutdown? This would be so understandable, especially for you who are already striving for so much socio-environmental good. But, BUT reflect on the amplified danger of this. 

If we shutdown, if it is “too much”, if we bury it, or if we reject  . . . where is the action? Where is the resolve and dedication to change? Where is the empowerment? Where is the future? 

It is such a difficult and delicate dance in how to communicate the urgency for change while not stimulating the fear that catalyzes paralysis or for “hope” to replace action.

What to do? Feel it and then .  . . do it.

We don’t need to be perfect in our actions. That notion also manipulates / debilitates us into eco-paralysis.  But we do need to act. 

At the very core of what needs to be done is that we need to reject that the use of less fossil fuels is about loss. We need to know the great gains achieved by our consumer and voter actions. We need to act on the knowledge of the common solutions to so many problems being achieved through less fossil fuels, less consumerism (consumerism most often fuels fossil fuel use), and more nature. 

We need to model the happiness that comes from empowerment and valuing our reliance on the natural world (like the kelp and trees that absorb our carbon).

We need to embrace that disempowerment is not only individually disabling, it is the denial by those who have power over the rights and choices of others.

Care more. Consumer less. 

Vote for future generations. 💙


Photo: Bull Kelp Forest in Kwakwaka’wakw Territory.  Kelp forests too are in a state of change through a suite of variables that are related to climate change. More heat and/or more wind challenges their health as does the balance of their predators e.g. more grazing by urchins as a result of less Sunflower Stars. ©Jackie Hildering The Marine Detective


Do you need more red, orange and yellow graphs? Probably not, but if you do or if you want to look at the scenarios for the best future:

IPCC, 2021: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis.
Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change
[Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, A. Pirani, S. L. Connors, C. Péan, S. Berger, N. Caud, Y. Chen, L.
Goldfarb, M. I. Gomis, M. Huang, K. Leitzell, E. Lonnoy, J.B.R. Matthews, T. K. Maycock, T. Waterfield,
O. Yelekçi, R. Yu and B. Zhou (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. In Press.


For those who have found their way here but, for whatever reason, are not able to believe there is a climate crisis, my empathy to you. If this post provokes you, there is emotional truth in that too. There are of course deep reasons for why you believe what you do. Please know that I understand but I will not tolerate any comments that are motivated by countering precaution and/or countering science and reasoned and respectful dialogue.

Mask Squeezed and Lessons Learned

This is a personal post.

This is me 21 years ago, about a week after I got “mask squeeze” on my 37th birthday. I came across the photo recently when looking for a bio picture for a presentation. It was taken as a staff photo when I had the joy of teaching children with special needs.

I found myself staring at the photo, at younger me, and thinking of how much has been learned since then. I am sharing with you because . . . because why? Sure, there’s a lesson in physics here but that’s not it. There’s also maybe something of value in how the most important things in life sometimes don’t come easy. But more, it’s about what I have learned in these years, what I strive to put into the world, and why.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is p1191546.jpeg

It won’t surprise you to know that you can’t be the same after you’ve been punched in the face by the Ocean. So here goes:

Mask squeeze happened on my twentieth dive when I did not know enough to realize how little I knew. It was my second birthday back in British Columbia after my many years of teaching in the Netherlands.

I was on a dive trip to some of the most challenging conditions on our coast. The accident happened during one of my first dives in a dry suit. I now know it was madness to be doing my first dives in a dry suit in such challenging conditions. But it was the result of some human chaos and unreliability whereby the suit was not ready when it was supposed to be. Thereby, I could not practice before the trip and get used to the change in buoyancy from my Dad’s old, thin wet suit.

On that 20th dive, when I rolled into the water off the boat, my fin slipped off my suit. My mask flooded. I did not realize I was holding my breath as I tried to grab the fin. I continued to descend whereby the pressure in my mask did not equalize. BOOM! The pressure of Mother Ocean pushed against my mask and blew out every capillary in my eyes.

From my dive log back then: “ Whatever it took, it was SO worth it. Astounding, astounding life. So grateful to my dive buddies who helped me and who decided the dive site should now be named Shiner Rock.” Yep, I have a little island unofficially named in my honour.

It was a powerful lesson in shaping me on this path . . . the vital importance of humility, respect, and knowing one’s place in the natural world.

Since then, I have metaphorically faced equivalent injuries, usually inflicted as a result of human ego and disconnect from understanding how our actions impact future generations.

The resulting process has been the same: learn, heal, surface, and repeat.

I will admit too that this photo makes me reflect on the few who say to me “You’re so lucky” or who have had the need to try to blow out my fire. I am so very lucky in many ways but, as much as I do not know the journeys of others, very few know my path. There have been difficult choices made and painful lessons learned. We’ve all had those.

I’ve written about having mask squeeze once before, after my 800th dive over seven years ago. There I reflected: “The Ocean is the source. The battle force. She is my inspiration. She is the beginning and she is the end. She is where I hide and where I am fully exposed. She has taught me my most valuable lessons and . . . . I know it’s not over yet. Not by a long shot.

I thank all who carry me forward – from my dive buddies to you who signal shared values and understanding. Please know how much direction you give.

Onward, fuelled by lessons learned and knowing what matters most. 💙


See this link for my previous blog about mask squeeze and lessons learned:
“My 800th Dive. From Shiner to Shining?” from January 2014.

On the Radio . . .

I am so grateful for having been interviewed by Sheryl Mackay for CBC Radio’s North by Northwest and for how she captured the messaging for conservation.

This has led to a significant spike to my website and to social media channels which means . . . more reach of this work.

Welcome to all who have found their way here through their interest in, and love and concern for, the life-sustaining Ocean. 💙

 

Please click to hear the episode.


Social media links. 

World Whale Day 2021

Today is World Whale Day.

The following is what I wrote for our Marine Education and Research Society social media.

I am sharing it here too in the hopes that it is of value to you in thinking about our giant neighbours, how far we come in overcoming fear and disconnect but  . . . read on. 💙

[And welcome to all those landing here as a result of the recent CBC interview. It would be wonderful if you follow along on social media with The Marine Detective and the Marine Education and Research Society. Links are at the bottom of this post.] 

 

Take but a few minutes to reflect on the giants; how they enrich life on earth and how endure human need?

They inspire awe, capture carbon, fertilize the ocean upon which our lives also depend, and remind us of our capacity for change.

So many were driven to the brink as a result of whaling, which only ended in British Columbia in 1967. They have survived the breadth of human impacts from harpoons and guns, to overfishing and ignorance of ecosystems, to capture and the selfie absorption of believing wild whales put on shows.

Some populations may topple still.

Now they swallow the consequences of our disconnect and consumer crazed lifestyles – climate change, plastics, toxins, continued overfishing, noise, collision, entanglement, etc.

The leviathans, may we truly understand how they are barometers of our value systems, indicators of environment health, ambassadors of the marine ecosystem that sustains life on earth, and reminders of how little we know and that we are but small . . . in the world of the whale. 💙


Photo is of Cirque the Humpback with scarring testifying to being a survivor of collision. See the scarring from a boat propeller?

©Kate Holmes, Straitwatch 2019. Photo taken with a telephoto lens and has been cropped.


World Whale Day dates back to 1980 and originated from Maui’s Whale Fest to honour Humpback Whales.

Social media links. 
Thank you so much for your interest!

Where?

Daring to do this again. It’s an #OceanVoice blog where it is not science that speaks the strongest.

I need words to find my way.

By sharing, I hope for connection, affirmation, and maybe, that the words help others too.

Photo while on my boat “Fluke” by dear friend and contributor to light in the world, Kendra Parnham-Hall


Where?

Where to find the space
Between denying the darkness
And disappearing into overwhelm?

Inhaling scorching realities in shared air
Masked and isolated against viral spread
Where to find the space?

Refugees on roadsides
Inequalities of skin laid bare
Where to find the space?

Narcissism thriving
Rewarded for lies and lechery
Where to find the space?

Social media frivolity
Verses sleepless sorrow
WHERE to find the space?

It’s there . . .

It’s there in the knowing
Eyes closed, is to contribute to darkness
Wide-eyed in horror, is to contribute to same

It’s there in the feeling
Compass unwavering forward
Recoiling from misspent privilege

It’s there in the tasting
Savouring what is sweet and true
Rejecting the poison of paralysis

It’s there in the doing
Common solutions, common good
Forces joined, together brighter

The space is found
Where we shine our light
So others too, may find their way


View down Johnstone Strait ©Jackie Hildering.