I can always count on the annual National Wildlife Photo Contest
to provide some amazing water-related photos — and the 2014 contest
was no exception.
This is the 44th year for the contest, sponsored by National
Wildlife magazine and the National Wildlife Federation. This year’s
contest attracted more than 29,000 entries, according to a
statement accompanying the winning photographs.
The winner of the Grand Prize, Hungarian photographer Bence
Mate, spent 74 nights in a blind over a period of several years to
figure out how to capture this remarkable image of gray herons in
Hungary’s Kiskunsag National Park.
By experimenting with his camera gear, he was able to capture a
clear image of the birds and water in dim light, while also showing
us the stars, which were not in the same depth of field. His
home-made equipment was able to achieve good exposure throughout
“I made the photo with a fish-eye lens that was less than a
meter away from the closest bird and had to be careful not to scare
the herons with noise or light,” he was quoted as saying.
The birds kept moving during the 32 seconds that the shutter was
open, “and they created interesting forms in front of the starry
sky,” he noted.
I like the whimsical appearance of this bullfrog, captured by
Cheryl Rose of Hopkinton, Mass., as she explored Waseeka Wildlife
Sanctuary in Central Massachusetts. The water seems to wrap around
the log, becoming part of the sky with clouds in the distance.
“There were so many frogs in this pond,” she said, “but this one
gave me the perfect pose.”
The photo won second place in the Other Wildlife category — a
category for something other than birds, mammals, baby animals and
First place in the Baby Animals category went to Nathan
Goshgarian of Woburn, Mass., who watching as this mallard duckling
leaped at flies swarming over Horn Pond in his city.
“It had the incredible ability to select a single fly from the
seemingly random movements of the swarm and launch itself out of
the water,” he said.
Animal Planet, the cable network, will follow enforcement
officers for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in a
new six-part series beginning tomorrow.
“Rugged Justice,” which will premier at 5 p.m., will feature
patrols by officers to protect natural resources in the mountains,
along the coasts and on city streets, according to a news release by WDFW.
Deputy Chief Mike Hobbs said WDFW’s participation will help
promote the department and its dedicated professionals.
“Policing the outdoors presents unique challenges, and this show
helps to inform the public about our critical role in preserving,
protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems in
Washington,” he said in the news release.
Added Chief Steve Crown, “’Rugged Justice’ provides a window
into the vital, varied and sometimes harrowing work of officers as
they protect nature and people in Washington.”
The series, filmed from September to November, used three film
crews, each with five members, according to a story written by Rob
Owen for the
The WDFW enforcement program includes 144 officers deployed
across the state. None of the officers nor the department received
any compensation from Animal Planet, according to the news
If you miss the 5 p.m. showing tomorrow, Episode 1 will be
repeated at 10 p.m. and midnight. It will also be shown at 6 and 9
p.m. Tuesday and 1 a.m. Wednesday.
UPDATE, Jan. 20, 2015
Some people apparently are skeptical about whether 2014 was
actually the warmest on record. They cite probabilities provided by
government researchers to support their skepticism. But at least
some skeptics seem confused about the meaning of this statistical
Andrew Freedman of Mashable
tackles the subject in a straightforward way. But the best point in
his piece comes in the final paragraph:
At the end of the day, the discussion about a single calendar
year obscures the more important long-term trend of warming air
temperatures, warming and acidifying oceans along with melting ice
sheets, all of which are hallmarks of manmade global warming.
Including 2014, 13 of the top 15 warmest years have all occurred
Last year turns out to be the hottest year on record for the
Earth’s surface, according to climate researchers who analyzed
average temperatures across the globe.
The year 2014 adds yet another dramatic page to the record book,
which now shows that the 10 warmest years since 1880 have occurred
since the year 2000 — with the exception of the record year of
1998, which now stands as the fourth warmest on record.
The data were released this morning, with additional information
provided in a telephone conference call with scientists from NOAA —
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — and NASA —
the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The two agencies
conducted independent analyses of their data, coming to the same
conclusion about the record year of 2014.
Across the Earth, the average temperature in 2014 was 1.24
degrees Fahrenheit above the annual average of 57.0 degrees F, with
records going back to 1880. That breaks the previous records of
2005 and 2010 by 0.07 degrees F. It’s also the 38th consecutive
year that the annual global temperature was above average.
Since 1880, the Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed
by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit, mostly driven by an increase in
carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the
atmosphere, the researchers said. Most of the warming has come
since the 1980s.
Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space
Studies, made this comment in a
“This is the latest in a series of warm years, in a series of
warm decades. While the ranking of individual years can be affected
by chaotic weather patterns, the long-term trends are attributable
to drivers of climate change that right now are dominated by human
emissions of greenhouse gases.”
Although some skeptics have raised questions about whether
global warming has been occurring in recent years, Schmidt said any
short-term pause does not change the overall trend. In fact, the
temperature rise seen for the past year fits perfectly onto a graph
of the decades-long trend line for temperature rise.
Ocean conditions such as El Nino or La Nina can affect
temperatures year-to-year, Schmidt said. Since these phenomena can
cool or warm the tropical Pacific, they probably played a role in
temporarily “flattening” the long-term warming trend over the past
15 years, he added, but last year’s record-breaking temperatures
occurred during a “neutral” El Nino year.
This past year was the first time since 1990 that the global
heat record was broken in the absence of El Nino conditions during
the year. If El Nino conditions are present at the end of 2015, the
researchers said the chances are high that the record will be
broken again this year.
As I mentioned in
yesterday’s post in Water Ways, strong regional differences
were seen last year in the contiguous United States, with several
western states experiencing record highs while the Midwest suffered
through an abnormally cold winter. Other cold spots can be seen on
the global map, but the hot spots more than balanced them out to
break the heat record.
Much of the record warmth of the Earth can be attributed to
record heat accumulated across the oceans. The average ocean
temperature in 2014 was 1.03 degrees higher than the longterm
average of 60.9 degrees, breaking previous records set in 1998 and
Record months for ocean temperatures were seen from May through
November, with January through April each among the all-time top
seven, while December was the third warmest December on record. The
all-time monthly record was broken in June of last year, then
broken again in August and again in September. Such sustained
warmth in the ocean has not been seen since 1997-98 — during a
strong El Nino.
On the land surface, the average temperature was 1.8 degrees
higher than the long-term average of 47.3 degrees F, or the fourth
highest average land temperature on record.
Europe is expected to report that 2014 was the warmest year in
at least 500 years, according to information from the
World Meteorological Organization. Last year surpasses the
previous record set in 2007. Much of that warmth can be attributed
to the second-warmest winter on record, followed by a record-warm
According to the WMO report, 19 European countries have reported
or are expected to report that last year was their hottest year on
record. They Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic,
Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The
Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden,
and the United Kingdom.
Around the world, precipitation was near average for 2014, the
third year that near-average precipitation was measured for
The 10 warmest years on record, in order:
1. 2014, 1.24 degrees above average
2 (tie). 2010, 1.17 degrees above average
2 (tie). 2005, 1.17 degrees above average
4. 1998, 1.13 degrees above average
5 (tie). 2013, 1.12 degrees above average
5 (tie). 2003, 1.12 degrees above average
7. 2002, 1.10 degrees above average
8. 2006, 1.08 degrees above average
9 (tie). 2009, 1.06 degrees above average
9 (tie). 2007, 1.06 degrees above average
Last year, Washington state experienced its fifth-hottest year
in 120 years of records maintained by the National Oceanic and
Meanwhile, records for average temperatures were broken in
California, Arizona and Nevada, which lived through the highest
averages in 120 years. Oregon had just one hotter year on record,
while Idaho had three years with higher averages.
In Washington, the average temperature for the year was 48.4
degrees Fahrenheit, or 2.3 degrees above the long-term average.
Hotter years were 1934 with 49.1 degrees; 1958, 49.0 degrees; 1992,
48.7 degrees; and 1998, 48.6 degrees. In 2004, the average
temperature was 48.4, the same as this year.
California’s record high was based on an average temperature of
61.5 degrees, with Arizona at 62.3 and Nevada at 53.1. Oregon’s
average of 49.5 degrees was exceeded only in 1934, when the annual
average was 49.9 degrees.
For the nation as a whole, the average temperature in 2014 was
tempered by some fairly extreme low temperatures in the Midwest,
stretching into the Mississippi Valley. For the contiguous United
States, the average temperature was 52.6 degrees — 0.5 degrees
higher than the long-term average and tied with 1977 as the 34th
warmest year on record, according to information from NOAA’s National
Climatic Data Center.
Despite several months of record and near-record lows across the
middle of the country, no state had an annual average that set a
record for cold or even ranked among their five coolest years.
For the contiguous U.S. as a whole, last year was the 18th year
in a row with an average temperature above the 120-year average.
The last year with a below-average temperature was 1996. Since
1895, the temperature has risen an average of 0.13 degrees F per
Precipitation across the contiguous U.S. was 30.76 inches last
year, or 0.82 inch above the 120-year average. That makes it the
40th wettest year on record. On average, precipitation has
increased by 0.14 inch per decade.
For Washington state, 2014 was the 16th wettest year on record.
The average across the state was 48.73 inches, some 6.7 inches
above the 120-year average.
Above-average precipitation occurred across the northern states
last year, while the Southern Plains and Central Appalachians
experienced below-average conditions.
Drought conditions continue in California, despite near-average
annual precipitation. Exacerbating the problem is a three-year
rainfall deficit combined with record-high temperatures this past
Meanwhile, drought conditions improved across the Midwest and
Central Plains, though both improvements and declines were observed
in various parts of the Southern Plains, Southwest and
Washington state had its fourth-wettest spring on record, while
Kansas had its third-driest spring. Other seasonal conditions can
be found on the NCDC’s “National
Overview” for 2014. The “Climate at a Glance” page can
help you break down the data by state and time period.
Global data and analyses from NCDC are scheduled to be released
J pod crossed the Canadian border and came into Puget Sound over
this past weekend, allowing Brad Hanson and his fellow researchers
to meet up with whales.
Brad, of NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, was able to
locate the killer whales from a satellite transmitter attached to
J-27, a 24-year-old male named Blackberry.
As you can see from the chart, the whales swam south, then
turned back north near Vashon and Maury islands. The researchers
met up with them Saturday morning on their return trip past
Seattle’s Elliott Bay, according to an update on the
The newest baby in J pod, designated J-50, was spotted with
J-16, according to the report from Hanson and crew. Other reports
have indicated that J-36 was also nearby, so it appears that the
new calf’s mother still is not certain. Researchers agree that the
mom is either J-36, a 15-year-old orca named Alki, or else Alki’s
mother — 42-year-old J-16, named Slick.
The researchers collected scraps of fish left behind by the
orcas’ hunting activities. Fecal samples also were collected. Those
various samples will help determine what the whales were
Orca Network published photos taken by whale observers near
Edmonds north of Seattle as well as from Point No Point in North
Yesterday, J pod headed out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The
map shows them at the entrance to the strait going toward the ocean
at 6:15 this morning.
Orca Network reports that K and L pods apparently headed into
Canada’s Strait of Georgia on Friday, as J pod moved into Puget
Sound. It sounds like the two pods missed each other. We’ll see if
they meet up in the next few days.
Meanwhile, at least one group of transient killer whales has
been exploring South Puget Sound for more than 50 days, according
to the Orca Network report. That’s a rare occurrence indeed. A
second group of transients has been around for much of that time as
I never realized how many water towers across the United States
have been disguised as other objects.
Take the giant catsup bottle in Collinsville, Illinois, for
example. The water tower, built in 1949, stands 170 feet tall and
holds 100,000 gallons.
It was originally built for the G.S. Suppinger Company, which
bottled Brooks old original rich and tangy catsup in the town.
Today, the brand is owned by Birds Eye Foods, which produces the
catsup in Canada.
Thanks to preservation efforts, the giant catsup bottle was
saved from demolition by the Catsup Bottle Preservation Group,
which restored the water tower in 1995. It was named to the
National Register of Historic Places in 2002 and is widely
recognized as a prime example of 20th Century roadside Americana,
according to a special
website all about the catsup bottle.
Then there is the Leaning Tower of Niles, located about 15
minutes north of O’Hare International Airport in Niles, Illinois.
The tower was built in 1934 by businessman Robert Ilg to disguise
water-filtration equipment for two swimming pools used by employees
of Ilg’s air-ventilation company, according to an article in the
Chicago Tribune. The story says the tower is in need of
additional restoration work. Photo courtesy of Lawrence
The “House in the Clouds,” as it is called, is a structure built
to disguise what residents considered to be a hideous 50,000-gallon
water tank on a hill in the community of Thorpeness, Suffolk,
England. The bottom of the steel structure also was enclosed to
provide living accommodations. In 1979, the metal tank inside the
structure was removed piece by piece and lowered to the ground,
according to the website “House in the
Clouds.” Today, the entire five-story
structure can be rented out as a vacation home. Photo courtesy
Several other websites show all sorts of crazy water towers. One
of the best is
“12 Weirdest Water Towers on Earth,” which gives a brief
history of each one. If you need more detail, an Internet search
will provide historical details for most of these.
The title of the book “War of the Whales” comes from the
“cultural war” between the Navy, which is primarily interested in
national security, and environmental advocates trying to protect
whales, according to author Joshua Horwitz.
“You have these two groups that care about the whales but for
different reasons,” Josh told me in a telephone interview. “One
group is trying to save the whales; the other is trying to get a
leg up on the Cold War.”
As I described yesterday in
Water Ways, “War of the Whales” is really several stories woven
into an exquisitely detailed narrative. I found the biography of
Ken Balcomb, who served in the Navy, especially compelling within
the full context of the Navy’s involvement with marine mammals.
Horwitz was successful in interviewing retired Navy officers,
who explained anti-submarine warfare and put the Navy’s viewpoint
“I have a lot of respect for the Navy,” he said. “None of these
guys are villains. This is a totally different story from
‘Blackfish.’ The Navy is a lot more complicated.”
While SeaWorld, the subject of Blackfish, and other aquariums
exploit marine mammals for commercial purposes, the Navy has our
national interest at heart, Josh said, adding that some Navy
officials failed to understand the full implications of the harm
they were doing.
“They hate to see their reputation sullied as good stewards of
the environment,” he noted. “They do care, and it almost tears them
up that they have gotten a black eye.”
Through a series of lawsuits, the Navy was forced to confront
the effects of its testing and training exercises with sonar, Josh
“I think the Navy has come a long way on what they do on ranges
on our coasts,” he said. “They are taking the process much more
seriously now. But they still aren’t doing that on the foreign
New lawsuits have been filed by NRDC based on potential impacts
to marine mammals, as revealed in a series of environmental impact
statements dealing with the effects of Navy training.
“I really do feel that it is important to keep the pressure on
the Navy and the government on all fronts,” Josh said. “There is a
limit to what the courts can do. And there are enough good actors
inside the Navy.”
One lawsuit, which Horwitz followed closely in “War of the
Whales,” focused on violations of environmental and administrative
law — until the Navy pulled out its “national security card.” The
U.S. Supreme Court seemed reluctant to put a hard edge on its
ruling, thus allowing uncertain security threats to trump potential
harm to marine life.
Josh contends that responsible parties from all sides should sit
down together and work out reasonable procedures for Navy training.
They should include exclusionary zones for the deployment of sonar
and live bombing in areas where whales go, at least during times
when whales are likely to be there.
More could be done with computer simulations to train Navy
personnel, he said. The other armed services are doing much more in
terms of simulating and responding to conditions that may be
encountered in real life.
“I have heard from well-placed people in the Navy that there is
room for vastly increasing the amount of simulation training,” he
“We know you can’t land an aircraft on a carrier (with
simulation), but if you can reduce the amount of live training, it
would be a win for everybody,” he added.
Simulations would not only reduce the impact on the marine
ecosystem, it would reduce the Navy’s cost of training, its use of
energy and its overall carbon footprint.
One thing is for sure, he said. Government oversight into the
Navy’s operations is nothing like the oversight into private
business. The National Marine Fisheries Service is so outgunned by
the Navy in terms of “political muscle” that the agency is
relegated to approving practically anything the Navy wants to do.
“I hope that comes through in the book,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Navy has developed the technology that could help
quiet commercial ships and reduce the noise and stress on marine
life throughout the world, he said.
“The Navy could take the lead and wear the white hat and save
the ocean from noise pollution,” Josh told me. “When you mitigate
for noise, the pollution goes away. It’s not like plastic pollution
that will still be there for a very long time.”
At the start, Horwitz was not sure what kind of story would
develop. It began with a meeting with Joel Reynolds, the lead
attorney for NRDC. At the time, Josh had just taken his 13-year-old
daughter on a whale-watching trip to Baja, Mexico. Like many of us,
he got sucked into one whale story after another, and he came to
learn about the Navy’s long and complicated relationship with
Horwitz has been involved in the publishing industry since the
1990s. He calls himself a kind of “midwife” for new books, which
involves putting writers together with characters who have a great
story to tell. He initially planned to “package” the story of the
whales by working with a professional journalist, but his wife
encouraged him to forge his passion into a book of his own.
Josh had co-written a handful of books in his life, including
some children’s books, after he graduated from film school at New
York University. But this was the first time he had tackled a
project with the breadth and depth of the story that became “War of
the Whales.” The project took seven years to research, write and
craft into a full-length, hard-bound book. Now, a paperback version
is in the works.
During the early part of the project, Josh continued part-time
with his publishing business. Over the final two years or so, he
devoted his full effort into the writing and follow-up research. To
pay the bills, he supplemented his publisher’s advance with money
raised through The Ocean Foundation.
By the time the writing was done, several editors who originally
expressed interest in the book were no longer in the business, he
said. As luck would have it, one interested editor had risen in the
ranks to publisher and was able to help him complete the project
and get the book into print.
Josh and his wife, Ericka Markman, live in Washington, D.C.,
with their three daughters, ages 20, 18 and 13.
In the book “War of the Whales,” author Joshua Horwitz reveals,
in exquisite detail, how Ken Balcomb played a central role in
showing how Navy sonar was killing and injuring whales around the
Ken, who we know as the dean of orca research in Puget Sound,
has not been alone, of course, in the quest to get the Navy to
better protect marine mammals. Horwitz introduces us to a variety
of people, each with his or her own interest in saving the
Frankly, I was surprised at how much I learned from the book,
given that I have been covering these same issues as a reporter for
many years. What really gained my admiration for Horwitz was how he
was able to weave scientific and historical aspects of the story
into a gripping tale that reads like a detective thriller.
I consider this book to be several stories woven into one.
First, there are the personal biographies of two key players in
this conflict with the Navy. The lives of Ken Balcomb, of the
Center for Whale Research, and Joel Reynolds, of the Natural
Resources Defense Council, became intertwined with each other after
the NRDC sued the Navy over its use of sonar around whales.
Next, we are given the history of the Navy’s sonar technology,
developed to track stealthy submarines. We meet many of the Navy
officials involved, including some who became emotionally involved
with marine mammals, flipping to the other side, as Horwitz
The Navy has long controlled much of the research involving
marine mammals — the original models for sonar. At times, whales
and dolphins were even trained as military combatants, with mixed
Last, but not least, we are shown the legal arguments related to
environmental law versus the need for national security. As a
result, we see how the Navy has become more open today about the
risks to whales from its testing and training procedures.
Horwitz paints intimate portraits of many of the characters,
especially Balcomb, the biologist, and Reynolds, the lawyer. He
sees the pair coming together from different backgrounds and
uniting in their effort to protect the whales against the Navy’s
single-minded approach to national security.
“Ken was such an extraordinary character,” Horwitz told me in a
telephone interview. “He was a reluctant activist. Activism wasn’t
The story begins in the Bahamas, where Balcomb was doing
research when a mass stranding of beaked whales took place,
practically at his doorstep. Navy sonar had been suspected of
killing whales in other areas of the world, but Balcomb was able to
secure fresh tissues — essential evidence to understand how their
injuries were caused by sound waves. Balcomb also observed that the
Navy was conducting exercises in the Bahamas at the same time, and
he made the connection to the dead whales.
From there, other researchers and policy officials became
involved, but Balcomb kept pushing to keep the incident from being
swept under the rug.
“Ken’s investment was immediate,” Horwitz explained. “One night
the Navy just plowed through and decimated this population of
We learn from the book about Ken’s serendipitous life. As a
young biologist, he collected whale lungs for research by going to
a commercial whaling station still operating in California. He
later signed onto a research crew as a dishwasher, but his skills
with a shotgun earned him the lead job of tagging whales.
Balcomb joined the Navy during the Vietnam War and became a
pilot. A series of circumstances led him into Fleet Sonar School
and the Navy’s highly secretive Sound Surveillance System, or
SOSUS. At the same time, his compatriots in graduate school became
some of the top marine mammal experts for the Navy and the National
Marine Fisheries Service. His later interactions with these folks
revealed something about their past and present positions in
Horwitz ties all these pieces of the story together in a
compelling narrative that kept offering me new and surprising
tidbits of information. It took the author seven years to complete
“He kept asking over and over the same questions,” said Ken,
somewhat amused when I asked him about it. “I didn’t know if he had
confused notes or what.”
Horwitz was seeking an extraordinary level of precision and
accuracy, so that his telling of this true and controversial story
could not be assailed.
Balcomb said he could find no errors, except for the conscious
decision by Horowitz and his editors to describe two overflights by
Balcomb in the Bahamas as a single event.
Most surprising of all was the account from Navy officials,
whose story about underwater warfare has rarely been told, except
perhaps in novels by Tom Clancy and others. Horwitz said
active-duty military officials were no help to him, but he got to
know retired Admiral Dick Pittenger, who opened doors to other
“He (Pittenger) was a total career Navy guy, but he was
skeptical about the way the Navy was handling some of these
matters,” Horwitz said, noting that the admiral spent days helping
him understand anti-submarine warfare.
Pittenger wanted the story told right, and he must have been
satisfied with the result, since he offered this comment in
promotional materials for the book:
“‘War of the Whales’ is an important book about a major
post-Cold War problem: the often conflicting goals of national
security and environmental protection. The author presents this
very complex and multidimensional story with great clarity.
“I’m certain that no one who has been involved with this issue
will agree with everything in this book (I don’t). But the topic
is, by its nature, so emotionally charged and controversial that I
doubt anyone can read it without a strong personal response. The
importance of this book is that it tells the ‘inside’ story to the
wide reading public in a compelling way.”
In my mind, Horwitz did a remarkable job of capturing the
relevant facts for this complicated story. He then seamlessly
joined the pieces together into a coherent and dramatic story — one
especially important to those of us living in an area where the
Navy maintains a strong presence among an abundance of marine
Check back to “Watching Our Water Ways” tomorrow, when I will
describe more of Josh Horowitz’s personal views about his book and
what he learned along the way.
Thanks to a baby photo from Jane Cogan, the newest killer whale
in J pod has been identified as a girl, according to Ken Balcomb of
the Center for Whale Research.
We still don’t know whether the mother is 42-year-old J-16,
known as Slick, or Slick’s 16-year-old daughter J-36, known as
Alki. At moment, the family group, which consists of J-16, her
three offspring plus the new calf, are sticking close together.
“It may take a little time for us to sort it out,” Ken told me,
but the mother should become apparent within a few weeks, if not
sooner, because the calf must be getting milk from the mom. From
all indications, the little one is doing fine.
Initially, the calf was thought to be the offspring of J-16,
because J-36 was some distance away. But now it seems just as
likely that J-16 was babysitting while J-36 got some rest, Ken told
Yesterday, Jane and Tom Cogan of San Juan Island took an
overnight trip up north into British Columbia, where J pod has been
swimming near Texada Island since the beginning of the new year.
Jane sent back a good photograph of the baby’s underneath side.
According to Ken, it is not unusual for mothers to roll their
babies near the surface of the water.
Female killer whales have a more rounded pattern in the genital
area, while males have a more elongated pattern of coloration. A
good photo is all it takes to tell a boy from a girl. For
comparison, see Questions
& Answers at Center for Whale Research website.
I talked to Tom briefly this afternoon. He told me that J-50 was
acting playful at times, like young whales will do, with some tail
slapping and porpoising.
“I would say it looked healthy,” he said. “It was following J-16
a lot of the time, but all of the family was in the area, and they
would group up at times.
“We’ll show Ken our pictures and debrief him when we get back,”
In its annual “Ten Best Ads of 2014,” Adweek magazine praised an
eclectic assortment of commercials featuring unusual topics and/or
While I found no overtly water-related ads this year, a couple
of them came close — and I liked them — so I’m featuring them in
the two video players on this page. As you’ll see, they are quite
different from each other in style.
Adweek’s top winner is sort of a noncommercial, because it is a
description of a Super Bowl ad that would have been produced if
only the sponsor, Newcastle Brown Ale, had enough money to buy a
spot during the last Super Bowl. I featured this ad among other
“ads that never were” in Water Ways back on Feb. 10.
You can watch all 10 ads chosen by
Tim Nudd of Adweek in his annual review of television
commercials for the magazine. As he notes in his story:
“Four spots came from outside the U.S., and a fifth was made
without an agency at all. Also, there’s not a single traditional
30-second spot in the bunch, as if we needed more proof that the
shape of advertising is changing.”
It’s worth noting that these ads are chosen for their
creativity, not for their success in selling products.
If you’d like to view other clever or creative commercials, I’ve
put together some additional lists from 2014: