Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bright Moon over Cocos

It will be a few days until the full moon, but the way the light shimmers on the sea makes the area light up. I´m getting dropped off in Waffer Bay on Cocos Island, and the captain of the boat doesn't want to risk coming close too shore. The water is shallow, only ten feet or so with reefs coming up almost to the surface, but it´s that way for about a quarter mile. So as they lower my gear overboard and onto a kayak, I look into the crystal clear water and wonder what lies below. As if on cue, the unmistakable silouette of a shark passes under the boat, perhaps 7 feet long, but it could be deeper, and bigger. Wafer bay is full sharks using the cover of night to hunt. It´s one of those places you don´t swim past dusk. Soon however, I´m halfway to shore, approaching the shallows, where the water is only 5 feet deep. The waves are beginning to break, and as I paddle to ride a swell to shore, the familiar shape slides alongside the boat, and surfs along side the kayak only a few feet away, ducking away just as the wave finally breaks on the rocky shore.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sea Sick

Even the hardened sailors got sick on this passage. 36 hours of traveling against the swell, with the boat constantly crashing into the next wave, then gaining speed and rising only to crash again. Inside, where you can´t see the windswept ocean, it looks like the walls themselves are dizzy, rocking back and forth trying to find balance.
I finally have arrived on Cocos Island, and am greeted by a rising sun. The Island is lush, and overgrown. More so that I remember. I don´t believe in omens, but i need one, so I take it as a sign that this trip will finally end my search for the perfect image to go along with my project. Setting foot on the sea soaked sand, my body sways back and forth, as if the island is being rocked back and forth by the swells crashing against the limestone walls that make up the coast. I know it´s just me though, and I stumble to my bunk to sleep off the Dramamine...

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Last Expedition to Cocos

I'm sitting on the Pier, waiting for a boat to take me out to the Sea Hunter, the vessel that will be taking me to Cocos Island for the last time. I'm told that the sharks have arrived, and that the water is clear, so my hopes are high that I will arrive in time to finally finish off my project. I present to the Geographic on the 10th, and with some dedication and luck, I will be able to make a difference for Cocos Island.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ispiritu Santo

The breeze from the wings are all that alerts me to the Ispiritu Santo hovering just behind my shoulder. Its head turned to the side throws an inquisitive look at me which I’m sure I returned. In the green world full of ferns feathering off from whatever they can hold onto, the little white bird seems to have been sent down from another realm, an ethereal light pouring out from its feathers. Up into the canopy it returns to it’s roost and our team moves on with not a step lost, even in a moment which has had as many moments in it, as all of eternity.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Great Blue Void

Kicking slowly through a great blue void, to deep to see the surface, and hundreds of feet above the ocean floor, I allow the current to carry me so that I can conserve the priceless breath of air I'm holding in. I can hear a pod of spinner dolphin approaching, though I can’t see them yet. First a few flashes of light off of the sides of tuna, then the torpedo shaped fish begin to dash by on all sides. Following close behind, five hundred porpoise effortlessly glide by in formation. Some circle just beyond arms reach and others herd the young away from me. As quickly as the ocean revealed them, they are gone, their whistles still audible.
With a single kick my body rises along side the bubbles that the dolphin had left behind. With the appearance of the surface, the hull of our 38 foot sailboat looms overhead like a gigantic oceanic bird resting on the surface. With no land in site, the sails are hoisted, and slap of the waves on the side of the boat carry me away, and below into the void.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


For over 60 years Costa Rica has had ties with Taiwan, and now, the ties have been cut and Costa Rica announces their new contract with China. Taiwan was granted the fishing rights to the Costa Rican waters and had hungrily scooped up everything in it's path, now, with an even hungrier benefactor, the oceans of Costa Rica are about to come under siege. Already, over 90% of the large fish are gone. Not missing, just gone.

Costa Rica let it happen, bribed by Taiwan with bridges and roads, and of course large payoffs to the right government officials. Costa Rica has long enjoyed the reputation that it's held as the Eco friendly vacation spot. With tourism dollars pouring into Eco tourism, hotels have been built on what was once mangroves, cities have been built around "pristine" rain forest so as to bring gawking tourists closer. Thus isolating species, and encroaching on their habitat.

With one of the best dive spots in the world in Costa Rica, they again appear to be doing everything just right, all those who visit are wooed by the vast schools of hammerhead shark, the gigantic tuna, and the jack schools so large that they block out the sun. This Island is a protected area, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Costa Ricans have dedicated one small boat to patrol over 450 square miles of ocean. Fishing boats enjoy lax laws that just barely allow the government to say that they are making an effort. Just outside of the the 12 mile radius, sea life falls off drastically, a testament to the overfishing that is rampant in the region.

It seems odd that a country whos number one income is tourism would risk it all by openly squandering their recourses, and they will continue to do so until that tourism market is affected. Of course, your average tourist is ignorant of the main issues of the world, and travel to places like Costa Rica where there is little besides the landscape to make them feel like they have gone too far from home. Awareness is our only weapon against transactions like these. When it is common knowledge that we are on the brink of disaster, and that certain places like Costa Rica have actively fooled us for decades, then and only then will they take action.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Four days on safari in Africa feels like you just dipped your toes into a cold pool. You feel like you know something about it, but there is nothing that can capture the feeling of diving right in. There is strong desire to get out as quickly as possible, yet it's so invigorating. I'm going to dive in, by walking around Lake Eyasi with a group of Bushmen. Traveling for two weeks with the second oldest tribe of people on the planet will be a good way explore the Dark Continent. The Hadzaba tribe is threatened right now, by a family from the United Arab Emerates that wants to relocate the people outside of their valley, and redesignate the area as a hunting preserve. Hopefully, through photo-documentation, and making the world aware of their plight, we can hold off their destruction and have the Yaida Valley and Lake Eyasi made into a reservation of sorts. How though do you make a reserve for a Nomadic People? That's why I'll be living with them, to better understand their way of life. A way of life which we desperatly need to keep on our planet. Without them, we will have lost a large part of the soul of the human race.

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It feels like I'm home, and yet, I can't remember being here before. They say that human life started in the Rift Valley, and my body tells me that's right. I'm in the Serengeti, and the rare but powerful grasp of instinct has taken hold of me. It is quickly forgotten however, and the comforts of life 20,000 years later drown out the part of me that says never to relax, you never know what lurks in the tall grass. I'm hunting, but my trophies are images, not skins. It's better that way, harder too.