Actors and comedians are talking about water in a new video
campaign to raise awareness about the value of clean water and the
importance of keeping pollution out of waterways.
Waterkeeper Alliance brought together celebrities to share their
feelings and memories about water uses. They include Neil Patrick
Harris, Susan Sarandon, Bobby Moynihan, Taran Killam, Ray Romano
and Brad Garrett.
Locally, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance is affiliated with the
national Waterkeeper Alliance. Puget Soundkeeper Chris Wilke, based
in Seattle, is featured in an earlier video
that explains the goals of Waterkeeper Alliance and the actions of
affiliates across the United States and throughout the
The new campaign, called “Keep it Clean” is directed by Rachael
Harris and produced by Kids at Play.
“We want to get people thinking about what water pollution means
to them — to their drinking water, their surf break, their favorite
fishing spot,” Harris said in a prepared statement. “But
it’s a dirty and heavy topic! So we brought together some of the
most brilliant and passionate voices in entertainment to put their
own spin on it, to get a little silly, to make people think about
why this issue is important, and what they can do to help.”
The videos presented here were announced as the “first round” of
the campaign, which I presume means that more will be coming later.
The three videos shown in players are compilations of comments on
What’s your favorite use of water? (top video)
Heartfelt memories (middle)
What does Waterkeeper Alliance do? (bottom)
The other videos show either celebrities speaking alone or with
The beautiful and powerful brown bears have arrived at Brooks
Falls in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska, and everyone
in the world can enjoy the convenience of watching these giant
bears and other amazing wildlife live from the comfort and safety
of their home.
Lots of people have been going out to falls this year to watch
the bears from nearby viewing platforms, but I get the feeling that
far more people have been watching them from home via the
live webcams. I say that because of the number of
comments generated on the website. More than a few commenters
seem to know the area well and even call the bears by their
nicknames. (Park biologists use a numbering system, identifying
each bear by coat and claw colors, scars, body size and shape, ear
size and shape, sex, facial features and disposition.)
Brooks Falls is one of the first streams in the region where the
bears have easy access to bright salmon soon after they leave the
saltwater and before spawning. The falls provide a partial barrier
to their travels, making fishing easier for the bears. By sometime
in August, the fish runs will dwindle and the bears will be
Operators of the multiple live webcams do a good job of zooming
in when something interesting happens. Occasionally, so much is
going on that they don’t know what to show. Other times, we wait
and watch the beautiful scenery, which is especially dramatic at
sunrise and sunset.
When the bears are actively fishing for salmon, I find it hard
to break away and get back to daily life. One video trick I’ve
learned: If you don’t see anything interesting in the live view,
you can use your cursor to scan across the timeline to see what has
happened for the past few hours and watch that instead.
Park officials have identified the various fishing methods used
by the bears in an interesting
Q&A section on the national park’s website.
Birds and marine mammal cams
Besides watching bears, it’s a good time of year to watch other
wildlife as well via live webcam. Birds are typically active on
their nests, raising their young.
Chesapeake Conservancy is featuring the osprey couple,
Tom and Audrey, who perennially nest on Kent Island in
Maryland. Audrey has taken up with a new “Tom” this year and
produced three babies. They also received two foster chicks from
nearby Poplar Island, according to information on the website.
Another good osprey cam was installed this year in Belwood Lake
Conservation Area near the Great Lakes in Ontario, Canada. Three
eggs reportedly hatched, but I see only two chicks in the nest.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife also has an osprey
cam that updates still photos every 12 seconds.
cam at Seal Island National Wildlife Refuge in Maine shows a
fuzzy chick tucked into a burrow where its mother comes and goes to
feed her baby. Other views shows puffins on a ledge where they
often hang out. Wildlife biologists are trying to establish a new
colony at this location after hunters wiped out the puffins in the
If you would like to see a colony
of walruses, (also in video player below) check out the live
camera installed on Round Island, Alaska. Sometimes only a few of
the large mammals can be seen. Other times, like this morning,
large numbers were pushing and shoving each other for space. The
comments are often entertaining.
Last week, while looking into some early research findings about
Puget Sound rockfish (Water
Ways, June 18), I found an amusing video, one created to
encourage anglers to save the lives of rockfish when releasing the
The video begins with a talking rockfish (puppet) sitting at a
desk and watching a music video. That leads into a conversation
about barotrauma, a type of injury to rockfish that results when
the fish are caught and brought to the surface from deep water.
Barotrauma can be reversed — and the lives of fish saved — by using
a device to get the fish back down deep.
If you fish in deep water, you probably already know about this
device, but I think everyone can be amused by this video and
appreciate how humor can help introduce people to a serious
The first couple minutes of the video introduces the viewer to
the problem of barotrauma in simple terms, followed by about five
minutes of product reviews showing various devices to reduce the
effects on fish. If you are not interested in the technical side of
things, you can skip over this part and go to 6:55 in the video.
There you will hear the funny rap song about fishing for rockfish,
including a line about “sending them back to where you got
The music video, “Rockfish
Recompression,” was written and sung by Ray Troll and Russell
Wodehouse. Wodehouse is the musician appearing in the video. Those
two and others have long performed as the group Ratfish Wranglers,
creating funny tunes about fish and related issues.
If you’d like to hear more from this group, check out these
The ongoing drought in the West, especially California, is a
serious problem, but that does not mean that we shouldn’t enjoy a
few jokes. I’ve located some “It’s-so-dry …” jokes going back 25
years and covering areas including Arizona, Texas, Georgia and even
I’ve tried to pick the best jokes I could find. But if you want
to see even more, click on my sources in parentheses, not to say
that these are the original inventors of these jokes.
The first joke is a little longer than the others:
“I really need to share with y’all how bad the drought is here
in Georgia. It’s so dry here that the Baptists are starting to
baptize by sprinkling; the Methodists are using wet-wipes; the
Presbyterians are giving out rain-checks; and the Catholics are
praying for the wine to turn back into water.”
It’s so dry that …
… the birds are building their nests out of barbed wire.
A series of seemingly silly videos, called “Gombby’s Green
Island,” is designed to stimulate the imaginations of preschool
kids. Themes focus on creativity, knowledge, friendship, humor,
discovery and respect for the environment, according to notes on
YouTube channel (English version).
I’ve chosen a sampling of three videos from the 46 available on
YouTube. Stories often come in a package of three videos, so each
one has two related videos you can find and view with your
children, if you are so inclined.
which distributes children’s videos, purchased the rights to the
original Portuguese series from Big Storm Studios in 2012,
according to a new
release. The videos were recently posted to YouTube.
In the series, the main character, Gombby, a boy with a knack
for baking, explores Green Island with his friends Strawy and
Celeste. Other characters include Gadget Man, who invents all sorts
of useful equipment, and the Professor, a wise man who continually
explains the ways of the world to Gombby and his friends.
“Gombby’s Green Island is all about discovery: discovering the
world, others and ourselves,” states the YouTube notes. “In every
episode, Gombby and his friends will also learn about the
importance of making healthy lifestyle choices and respecting the
environment, about friendship and respecting others.”
The three videos I’ve posted on this page all deal with water
issues, but there are plenty of other topics as well. The first one
addresses concerns about drought, the second about saving a beached
whale, and third about solving a mystery involving a recurring
event on a beach.
I guess we can forgive the writers for posing simple and often
technical solutions to complex problems, since some of these issues
would be difficult to explain to a preschooler with a short
attention span. At least the young viewer can begin to get a sense
of how to solve a problem. And maybe it’s OK to wait until
elementary school or later for a more complete explanation of the
science and social values.
In any case, I think most people will find some amusement in
“Gombby’s Green Island.”
I was eager to find out if a 32-foot fiberglass replica of a
killer whale could scare off a huge number of sea lions crowded
together on the docks in Astoria, Ore.
I kept telling my wife Sue, “It’s not going to work” — and I had
not the slightest idea that the motorized orca might capsize during
its attempt to frighten the persistent sea lions.
About 1,000 people were on hand last night when a human operator
drove the orca toward the sea lions, according to Associated Press
reporter Terrence Petty. A passing cargo ship created a wake that
rushed toward the shore and capsized the fake killer whale. And
that was that for now. You can read the story in the
I understand that the fake killer whale might be deployed again
against the sea lions in August, when their numbers are expected to
be high again. I still doubt that it will work — unless the
operators can find a way to aggressively approach the sea lions and
stay with the effort for an extended time. It might help to play
recordings of transient killer whales — the kind that eat marine
mammals. But my understanding is that transients don’t make many
sounds when they are in their hunting mode.
I readily admit that I’m not a killer whale expert, but let me
tell you why I believe that any sort of limited effort with fake
orcas will fail. It’s not that sea lions don’t fear transients. In
fact, if sea lions can be convinced that they are being approached
by a real killer whale, their fear level could be quite high.
I’ve heard from homeowners who live on Hood Canal, Dyes Inlet
and other shorelines that when transient killer whales are around,
seals and sea lions head for shore, climb up on docks and even
attempt to board boats to get away from them.
So I don’t know if the fiberglass orca will fool the sea lions
in Astoria, but does anyone think that these marine mammals are
crazy enough to jump into the water if they believe a killer is
there waiting for them?
It’s been nearly a year since the opening of Verruckt, the
tallest water slide, located at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in
Kansas City, Kansas.
Numerous videos reveal a thrilling ride, as three people are
strapped into a raft and fly down a 60-degree incline from 168 feet
up — higher than Niagara Falls — reaching speeds up to 65 miles per
hour. The German word “verruckt,” which means crazy or insane,
seems to fit, but I’d love to hear from anyone who has gone down
A year ago, just prior to opening, more than a few people were
alarmed by the continuing delays, caused in part by safety
concerns. During practice runs, before any person went down the
slide, rafts loaded with sandbags kept flying off the slide in
A little less water on the slide slowed the speed and kept the
rafts more stable. Still, to this day, riders report that they can
feel the raft rising off the slide and going into free fall. The
first video shows the initial trip taken by any human. On board
were park designer Jeff Henry and ride engineer John Schooley.
Schooley admitted to Astead Herndon, reporting for CNN
News, that the ride was more than a little nerve-racking.
“It was terrifying,” Schooley said. “It was great fun, but it
was actually terrifying.”
Before the ride was finally opened to the public, most of the
slide was enclosed with netting as an added precaution. Read
“LiveScience” to see how they can make adjustments to the speed
The feeling of height and speed is shown well in a promotional
video for Garmin action cameras (shown in the second video player
on this page),
Another good depiction of the wild ride was shown by reporter
Matt Gutman of
ABC News. He was one of the first regular folks to go down the
Verruckt is listed by Geobeats in the 10th position among the
“World’s 10 Most Amazing Water Slides,” shown in the last video on
this page. They all look more than a little crazy.
Old photographs can help us grasp human ways of life, long ago
supplanted by new ways of thinking, acting and living in the modern
Photographs don’t judge; they just depict a truth about how
things were at one point in time. At least we can hope for a
certain honesty from pictures that predate Photoshop.
As they say, a photograph is worth a thousand words, but it
still takes a few words to capture a deeper meaning in the images
we see, especially when they are far removed in time and place from
our own experiences.
I’ve been looking through collections of “historical”
photographs compiled in various galleries on the Internet. I
especially like the one posted by writer Justina
Bakutyte on the “Bored Panda” website. She calls the gallery
Must-See Photos from the Past.”
I learned from these photos that a woman’s one-piece bathing
suit was once a scandal that could get you arrested, while a
two-piece suit was the norm. The first photo on this page shows the
scandalous one-piece worn by Annette Kellerman in 1907.
It didn’t take much digging to learn how Kellerman became a
competitive swimmer as a child, after she had difficulty walking.
Kellerman later became a Vaudeville performer, developing her
aquatic artistry as a water spirit.
Kellerman gained world attention when she was arrested for
indecent exposure after spurning the cumbersome bathing dress,
which was the norm at the time. Instead, she appeared on Revere
Beach in Massachusetts in a one-piece, form-fitting bathing suit.
Her action sparked other women to redefine their gender, according
to an article in “The
Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in 20th Century
Another water-related photo shows Annie Edson Taylor, the first
person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. The feat took place on
Oct. 24, 1901, as shown in the photo.
History.com, one man had survived a jump from the falls on the
Canadian side in 1829. But Taylor wanted to follow 72 years later
with something that would gain even more attention. She strapped
herself into five-foot-long pickle barrel padded on the inside.
After a wild 20-minute ride, she came to shore battered and
bruised. She soon became famous, but she never earned the fortune
she had hoped for.
I was also intrigued by a photo of a young girl wearing a
breathing apparatus while lying in a hospital bed. She is smiling
as she gazes at a small pool next to the bed, in which four baby
ducks are swimming. The caption says “Animals being used as part of
medical therapy, 1956.”
An article by registered nurse Lorraine Ernst in
“Annals of Longterm Care” says Florence Nightingale was one of
the first people to recognize the therapeutic benefits of animals
in medical treatment.
While attending Washington State University in 1975, I had the
honor of interviewing the late Dr. Leo Bustad, dean of the College
of Veterinary Medicine. We talked about the important role that
animals can play in the recovery of patients and how pets can lead
to a healthier physical and mental condition among the aging.
Two years later, Bustad co-founded
the Delta Society, which studied and promoted the human-animal
bond. In 1989, the society developed a certification program, which
allows animals to visit hospitals and nursing homes to aid patients
with their companionship.
As I noted earlier, every picture has a story. I may never find
out the identity of the little girl or the benefits of her therapy,
but it is interesting to uncover the connections. For me, Lorraine
Ernst’s article added information about new discoveries in
animal-assisted therapy and what Dr. Bustad helped to bring
Another worthwhile gallery, posted on the Buzzlamp
website, is made up of 116 historical photos and documents,
including a letter written to Adolph Hitler from Mahatma Gandhi in
1939. While this gallery is not especially focused on a war theme,
many of the images are not for faint of heart.
Bill Dance, who learned how to fish from his grandfather on
Mulberry Creek near Lynchburg, Tenn., is one of the most recognized
sport fishermen in the country.
With 23 national bass titles to his name, Bill Dance retired
from competitive fishing in 1980 at the age of 39. His television
show “Bill Dance
Outdoors” has been on the air since 1968, with more than 2000
programs to date. It’s an amazing career, and it appears this man
is still out on the water with his fishing pole.
With all the fishing Bill has done through the years, it is
inevitable that he has had a few misshaps along the way. Six years
ago in this blog, I rounded up some of the amusing moments this
fisherman has lived through. Since then, Bill has enhanced his
YouTube channel and compiled five “blooper videos” that show the
variety of ways that Bill, his friends and his camera operators
have managed to get wet.
I’ve posted my favorite compilation video from the Bill Dance
collection on this page. Four other humorous videos can be found
under “Bloopers, Goof Ups & Funny Moments” on the “Bill
Dance Fishing” channel on YouTube.
Cameron Teller of Seattle, a former Kitsap County resident, is
the Grand Prize winner in the
“Share the Experience” photo contest — which means his touching
photo of a polar bear and her cub will receive prominent display on
next year’s annual pass for entrance into national parks and other
Cameron’s photo was among 22,000 images submitted last year in
the annual contest, which provides a $10,000 prize to the
Cameron snapped the shot from a boat a good distance away, just
as the cub reached its mother. The amateur photographer had gone
out on the boat as part of a six-person tour to Alaska’s remote
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where the group was focused on
seeing polar bears and Northern Lights.
“I love going on trips to faraway places and taking
photographs,” Cameron told me.
The group had flown from Fairbanks to Deadhorse, Alaska, then
onto Kaktovik, the only village inside the wildlife refuge. A guide
took them out on a fishing boat, where they spent the day
photographing wildlife and scenery.
“The captain was a local resident,” Cameron said. “We went out
early in the morning. It was awfully foggy that morning, then it
started clearing up. The sun came out and it was a great day for
The trip occurred at the beginning of winter last year, just as
the sea ice was freezing up. In fact, he said, the ice had grown so
thick around the dock where the group departed that the captain had
to choose a different landing site to get the group back to
Cameron said there is nothing like seeing mothers and their
babies, and it was a special moment when the polar bear cub walked
over and reached up to its mother.
“I still can’t quite believe I won,” Cameron told me. “There
were some amazing photos that were entered. I think one of the
reasons this appealed to the judges is the whole topic of global
warming and protection of the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge.”
Of course, polar bears have become a symbol of the melting ice
caps in the polar regions, where the bears are threatened with
extinction because of declining habitat.
Cameron moved to Bremerton from Kansas City about 13 years ago
to work for Parametrix, an engineering firm with an office on
Kitsap Way. He lived in Manette a short time before moving to
Bainbridge Island, where he resided for 11 years. For the past two
years, he has lived in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood.
Cameron said the $10,000 prize will help fund his ongoing
adventures. He visited Kenya about two years ago and plans to
travel to Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido next January.
It has been a good year for Cameron, who also won “Outdoor
“American Landscape Contest” with a photo of El Capitan, a
vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park.
The polar bear photo will be featured on next year’s America the
Beautiful pass, an annual pass that gets visitors into more than
2,000 public recreation sites on federal land. About 300,000 people
purchase the pass each year.
The annual “Share
the Experience” contest is sponsored by the National Park
Foundation, Active Network, and Celestron in partnership with the
National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of
Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S.
Photographs are now being accepted for next year’s contest,
which requires pictures to be taken during 2015 and submitted by
the end of the year. Winners will be announced by May 1, 2016.
Weekly winners are recognized.
Other winners announced last week in the “Share the Experience”
contest include Eric DaBreo of Chico, Calif., second place for his
photo of the Golden Gate Bridge taken at sunset from Marshall
Beach, and Jordan Moore of San Marcos, Texas, for his photo of a
bison at the edge of Yellowstone Lake.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said she hopes the
contest helps inspire people to enjoy the country’s “unrivaled
public lands and waters” and share the feeling with others.
“Taking pictures is one of the many ways to enjoy the splendor
of our nation’s stunning landscapes and share those treasured
moments with friends and family, as well as inspire others who may
have never visited to get out and explore their public lands,” she
said in a