Gone Floatabout

Sailing, Photography, Wilderness


18 Comments

Polynesia’s beautiful underwater world

I recently made another a little reel, which I hope gives a bit of a sense of the gorgeous underwater world and incredible marine life of French Polynesia in the South Pacific. I simply love the diving and snorkeling there, whether its with the big critters – manta rays, dolphins, sharks – or the colorful reef fish, splendid coral, or the shoals of barracuda and jacks. Hope you enjoy the short film! (The diver in all the footage is a guy named Alexis, the organizer of a little dive club in the Tuamotus.)

(Click on the 4 arrows in the bottom right to make the video full screen.)


8 Comments

World Oceans Day

Dolphin

Dolphin just breaks the surface off Celeste’s bow, Baja Mexico, February 2018

Saturday (June 8) was World Oceans Day.

I didn’t actually know that until today — I’m not really plugged into all the sundry United Nations holidays out there. But I like the sentiment behind it, celebrating and protecting the world’s oceans. The ocean is obviously a source of joy for me — as all my readers know, I try to spend as much free time on or in it as possible.

Under-over_Celeste and Ellen

Ellen swims under Celeste, French Polynesia, August 2018. This was the recent double-page spread in Cruising World.

And so Saturday was no exception, despite the fact that I wasn’t aware at the time that I was celebrating World Oceans Day!

I tried out a new scuba diving site, accessed from shore, and was really pleased to find a reef with healthier coral than I was expecting.

Coral reef

Healthy coral reef!

There was also a good amount of fish, many of them fairly large specimens of their species. Though I didn’t see any big marine life (rays, sharks, game fish), I was still very pleasantly surprised by the health of the reef.

Peacock grouper

Peacock grouper

I’m just an amateur observer, not a scientist, so I have no idea if my hypothesis is correct, but it seems likely that this site (which involved a 3/4-mile hike in over rocky terrain in full scuba kit) was more pristine than many I’ve dived simply because it’s less trafficked. And not just by scuba divers, but snorkelers and spear fishermen too. There was also little run-off from the land and the water temperature wasn’t too hot by tropical standards – 79 degrees F. In an effort to keep the site healthy and untrafficked, I’m not going to say where it is — sorry!

Over the years I’ve seen a pretty big variance in coral reef health, all over the world. Again, this is hardly scientific, as I’ve only been back to exactly the same places in very few instances and haven’t done any kind of systematic studies, but it does sadly appear as if the reefs of the Pacific are not as healthy as they were a dozen years ago. Thankfully, I still run across some areas of superbly healthy reefs. And even the moderately healthy reefs, like the one I dived Saturday, give hope for conservation efforts.

Reef and surgeonfish

A beautiful reef in the South Pacific, July 2018

In my opinion – and for me personally – there’s nothing like seeing the beautiful natural world with one’s own eyes to make a person care about protecting it. So it’s good we have days like World Oceans Day, which hopefully get more people out there to see for themselves!

 

 


20 Comments

Photo publication news

Ocean-Navigator-March-April-2019

Seth’s photo of me on the cover of Ocean Navigator!

Good news on the publication front: two of Seth’s images were out recently, one as a cover shot (!) and one as a double-page spread, accompanied by a short article I wrote. The cover image is above – of me tending the spinnaker at the end of a good day’s sailing across Shelikof Strait, which separates Kodiak Island and the Alaska Peninsula. As you can see, it graces last month’s cover of Ocean Navigator magazine 🙂

The double-page spread was an “under-over” (half underwater) shot of me snorkeling below CELESTE, an image we worked hard to get over the course of our last season’s sailing. My article tells the story of getting the image. It was in the January-February issue of Cruising World magazine. Here’s the PDF of it!


4 Comments

Series in Water Craft magazine

WaterCraft Dinghy1I’m excited to have a new series of articles in Water Craft magazine. Water Craft is a British publication that comes out every two months and has some really high quality writing and photography. My series is called “Adventures with Dinghy” and chronicles just that – good explorations all around the world in the little rowboat. Some of the most fun to be had on big voyages is to jump in the dinghy once we’ve reached an anchorage and explore at an even slower(!) pace and even closer to the water, whether we’re heading up a river overhung with enormous mangroves, dodging sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, checking out a dive site in a coral lagoon, or tempting fate with the grizzly bears fishing in an Alaskan estuary.

The first of my series is out in the current issue of Water Craft – it tells the story of exploring a strange wreck in the Bahamas. Next up will be dolphins in New Zealand!


6 Comments

Critter Post 7: Atlantic Blue Tang

A big departure from my earlier Critter Posts: this one doesn’t live in Alaska and doesn’t breathe air! The Blue Tang is a reef fish native to the tropical Atlantic, so with this Critter Post, we’re harkening back to Seth’s and my global circumnavigation aboard HERETIC, during which we snorkeled with Blue Tangs in the Caribbean on the way out (2006/7) and the way home (2010).Blue Tangs-3

Continue reading