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Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Mission's Metamorphosis

A debriefing~ from tip to tail...

Well, it started out as a mission to save endangered sea turtles.  Impassioned by the cruelty and stupidity of bp, and the powers that be, I threw my hat into the ring of this revolution.  You guys did too, when you helped me step forward.  Thank you so much for your support, and the endurance of your attention span.

How do you activate an activist? For me the recipe was simple; take two parts crude oil, one endangered sea turtle, baste the turtle in oil, add fire.  Ignite the turtles, ignite the kurmalliance, and small group activism.

Many of you will remember the day that they announced bp was corralling & burning sea turtles alive, in the surface collection booms.  That was all it took.  I felt like it was a sign from God. That was June 22, it happened to be my birthday.  He said, " You ready?"  I said, "No, but I'm going in anyway."  A revolution never comes with a warning.

And so... In I dive, with you by my side.  We can't be stopped!

...unless it is by a felony offense and a $40,000 fine!  The Feds issue a mandate making it illegal to step 65 ft within any boom, any oil, or any wildlife.  Only "approved" persons such as the fish and wildlife dept. are issued permits to rescue distressed wildlife.  They don't want people on the scene. bp uses this smokescreen from the federal government to slather as much chemical dispersant on to the gulf as humanly possible.  Way above the limits of what has been approved by the EPA, and beyond the limit they set as a cutoff date. (by the way, corexit, the brand of chemical dispersant used in the gulf, is manufactured by nalco.  A company subject to $164 million bailout by the federal government just prior to the spill.)  In the meantime, everything is dying.  Turtles, dolphins, sharks, baitfish, plankton, sea cucumbers and yes, even whales.  All the while, with their massive resources and infinite reach, these people are able to put together ONE turtle rescue boat.  To cover thousands of square miles.  ONE.

It has been a real roller coaster ride of scare and stall tactics as bp and the government play footsie, and sleight of hand.  Now you see it, now you don't. Fuckers!  That doesn't mean that it is not there! Do they think we are that stupid?  Problem is, we just might be.  Much of the public is buying it. Today, the story is out of the headlines, out of folks consciousness, under the rug and waiting...  surprise, strangle hold!

Is it any wonder that they treat us, let alone the oceans, any other way?  They see us as disposable. One use, one purpose.  Single serving. If it doesn't work?  To the trash!  They have no accountability.  They have no humanity.  They have no face.  They are a corporation and they don't give a shit about what is good or what is right.  We do.  And we have to stand up for it. If not now, when?  This is the tipping point.  No turning back from it.  If they can get away with this, it changes our planets future.  If we don't allow them to, it changes our planets future!

So in this spirit, I decide to continue with my mission at all costs.  Arrest me if you want to!  Two days after the unveiling of the felony offense announcement, I arrive on scene in NOLA, with my trusty navigator, Peter Lawrence on a recon mission to find out what the hell is really going on.  

Let's just be honest...  A whole lot of nothin'. The scare tactic worked.  It was a ghost town.  Every single piece of transportation, every hotel room, all the locals, on bp's payroll, and sealed up tight as a drum.  We collected enough information to figure out how to slip through the cracks and decided to return home, to regroup and recharge, see if we could raise the funds to re-charge.  My plan was to raise enough dough to buy a boat, and therefore answer to no one.  Unfortunately, We weren't able to raise enough to make this a possibility, though we did damn good guys, and I am proud and grateful for all our efforts!

We did however raise enough for a second deployment, this time for a longer and more action packed stint.  In the time spent at home, I was able to cultivate alliances with key players in the gulf.  The first was with the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, and most notably my main man, Dr. Chris Pincetich. Don't let the doctor part fool you, this dude is a bro, and a fearless ambassador for the sea turtles.  We spent hours bantering back and forth, cooking up hair brained schemes of how we could put an end to the hundreds upon hundreds of sea turtle deaths that occur from drownings in the shrimper's trawl nets.  My kind of guy!  Besides that, dude's a genius.  It was a pleasure to spend a week working alongside him, learning some of the scientific method for sampling water, and sargassum, to test for toxicities in the home environs for many species of sea turtles. Our third member on this crew was Cap'n Al Walker.  A true champion and hero of the gulf.  Chris and I are actually going to make an action figure of this dude, to give to his son. We want his son, and everyone around, to know of his tireless dedication to the sea turtles, and his home waters.  Al is a world class spear fisherman, and has forgotten more about fish, their behaviors, their history, and their habitat, than I ever even knew in the first place!  Suffice to say, I learned a lot from Al, and not the least important was how to handle a power catamaran in rough seas.

The second alliance that I had the good fortune to stumble upon was with renaissance lady, Bonny Schumaker.  At this point Bonny probably has a more indepth eyewitness, & birdseye view of the gulf oil spill than anybody on the planet.  That's because she spends most of her time off the planet, hovering above it in her souped up cessena, called Bessie.  She has logged hundreds of hours flying low and slow over the gulf and witnessed the spill from the first horrifying days, through the transitionary stage of the dispersant debacle, to the current period of observation and inquisition into the effects of this tragedy on the wildlife and the gulf at large.  Bonny has an organization called, for which she uses her aircraft to help critters in need.  That ranges from ferrile cats in so cal, to whales in the Antarctic.  She is also a  sublime tango aficionado, a rocket scientist for NASA, and last but not least an officer in the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

It is to that end that we connected.  I have always held Captain Paul Watson, and all Sea Shepherds in high regard, so I was honored when Bonny asked me to join in Operation: Gulf Rescue.  Through the beginnings of this op, it was up to us to keep Sea Shepherd's involvement in the gulf under our hats, as not to raise too many eyebrows, and maintain a low profile. Hence the hush hush, and minimal disclosure.  Sorry 'bout that.  But our mission was a tremendous success! and I can now let you know that we were able to collect boatloads of water samples, ocean bottom samples, mud samples, sargassum samples, shrimp and oyster samples, and wildlife observations up and down the gulf coast.  I was given the responsibility of trailering a small twin vee boat, (whom i affectionately dubbed Vievey)... launching her from different points along the coast to gain a smattering of information taken from waters in which bp claims "no oil is present, and no dispersant exists"!  We will get the results back from the lab in about one week.  Brace yourselves...

A summary and layout of reports and information that I collected in the field can be found on  My good friends at Trimble Outdoors created a very useful tool to help document and log GPS coordinates of any field findings, along with pics, notes and video, directly onto a central database straight from my iPhone!  Genius! I was able to use the gps chip in my phone to log data even when I was off the cellular grid. Thanks so much to Kris and Aly at Trimble. The app proved invaluable to me, to Sea Shepherd, and hopefully to the rest of the world as we try to light a fire of truth under some very high falutin bp and governmental ass.

While flying the Sea Shepherd flag, the crew (5 very stand up fellas btw, Rex, David, Charles, Kevin, and our very own yogi, Dean!) and I had the good fortune of hooking up with the Gulf Coast Research Lab. Pioneers in the study of whale sharks!  Most of you know that aside from my fond affinity for sea turtles, sharks are very tops on my list!  So suffice to say that I was stoked to get out into the water and commune with the big guys.  Bonny flew her plane Bessie to spot sharks from the air, as the boat crew scoured the seas for an opportunity to tag a whale shark. The truth is that we know very little about the big kahunas. Any information we can garner about migration, mating habits, social interaction, or effects of the oil spill would be absolutely priceless.   They are some of the most challenging fish in the sea to study.  Good news is, we were able to locate about a dozen or so whale sharks!  Bad news is, it wasn't in the cards to tag any of them on this particular mission.

But you know me, I don't give up easily, and neither do any of the other cats involved in this wingding.  So there are plans beginning to hatch, aiming toward one more joint Gulf Coast Research Lab/Sea Shepherd whale shark tagging rodeo.  Bonny is trying to wrangle me into being onboard. I'd very much like to be there.  My challenges lie in the sustainability of leaving my life, my work, and my lovely and supporting wife, one more time in such an immediate proximity. Remains to be seen...

Regardless, kurmalliance is a major and permanent factor in my life now. In fact, it is my way of life.  What started as a humble and necessary mission to save sea turtles has culminated into a new purpose and a new direction...  A new way to use my practice, and my training, to cultivate a revolution, and to create positive change.  Wanna join an army?  Kurmalliance is all about yogactivism and oceaniconservation.  Rest assured, that whenever I can, I will step up to rescue sea turtles, I will dive in to save sharks, and I will rise to fight for the ocean. Because I simply can not bear the thought of living in a world where we can not swim in the sea.

So glad to have you onboard!

With gratitude, Brock

The majority of these amazing photos were shot by my brotherfromanothermother, Jerry Moran.  He became a very vital part of our crew, as well as a key hitter in the smashing of bp's bullshit pinata.

Please check his website at for the full Monty.


Sent from my edge of the Revolution!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A whale (shark) of a weekend!

Shoowee sweeties!

Out of the last 48 hours, We have spent 37 of them at sea. Man, that was awesome.

The good news...  We had multiple whale shark sightings.

The bad news...  We failed to tag any of them.  They were shy yesterday.  When we would get close, they would dive.  I just couldn't quite seem to keep up!

The hopeful news... We might get another crack at it tomorrow, if we can raise the right boat!  And get all the pieces to line up.  My fingers are most certainly crossed...

Most of you know that whale sharks are some of the coolest, high vibration fish in the sea. They are most certainly the largest.  They are the big dudes, and one of my favorite fish to swim with.  They will sit and meditate with you, if you are chill. Whale sharks are filter feeders. They survive on a mostly vegetarian diet of plankton, and tend to follow the bloom, showing up in certain spots at the same time every year. Otherwise we know very little about them. Their mating habits, their migrational routes, what they do for fun on a Saturday night, all pretty much a mystery. I aim to find out more.

It is hard to say what effect the oil spill has had on these dudes.  We don't have enough historical data on their activity in the gulf to make an educated judgement, but I have to say, it was really encouraging to see these guys out there! Although one thing that has us a bit concerned, is that their diet seems to have changed to be more concentrated on bait fish. This has also altered their eating habits a bit.  Typically, they swim horizontal style and scoop massive amounts of plankton through their filtration system.  Over the past days, we have observed them feeding vertically on the bait balls, and letting the tiny bait fish jump into the gaping hole of their mouth. We are worried there might not be enough plant bloom food to sustain their typical diet. Send me some of your juju to get some tags in place tomorrow!  We would sure like to learn more.

And the most exciting news of the day...  I got a sweet kiss right on the mouth from a tiger shark!  She cruised directly up to me, was very curious, gave me a little peck, and then turned and bailed.  Aside from the kiss I am going to receive from my smokin hot wife that I will really enjoy when I return home later this week, it was one of the most exciting kisses of my life.

Pucker up, xoxo Brock

Sent from my edge of the Revolution!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A rather LARGE development

Oh my my, my homeys,

So sorry I have been incommunicado, been up to my gills in missions, and trying to make good happen... but 'twill be worth it! I have many stories to relay, many alliances to devulge, many new insights and philosophies to spin, visions from the frontlines and love from the trenches to send your direction, but alas... As we say down ona bayou, y'all gonna hafta wait on a minute. Because a 4am wakeup call is looming on the horizon! And guess why? We are on a mission to find, observe, study, tag, and love whale sharks for the next two days!  Oh hell yes.  Stay tuned.

Massive love, Brock

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Subsurface Investigations

Lowandbehold rockandrollas!

I can see more clearly now. I have had an opportunity to dive beneath the bullshit that lives on the surface.  The truth of the matter is that the ocean has taken a massive hit.  A sucker punch straight to the neck.  But she is strong, she is gorgeous and proud, and with a little support and intervention, she can get back on her feet; with some active retaliation, she may be able to thrive again.  To regain her glory and her confidence.  It is essential...without her, were all goners.  Her fate will remain to be seen.., depending upon how many jump in to kick her when she is down, or how many jump in to come to her rescue.

I jumped in yesterday, and went scuba diving on an exxon/mobil oil rig out of southwest pass, offshore of Venice, Louisiana.  These rigs, aside from being the bastards that rape the ocean, also strangely enough, provide structure to create an artificial reef system.  Corals and barnacles attach to the pilings of the rig, and provide some habitat and shelter for the ecosystems of the Gulf.  This was the first time that I have dove in the Gulf of Mexico, and the first time that I have dove an oil rig, though I have well over 500 dives under my belt.  So truth is, I don't really have any thing in my repertoire to compare this dive to, nor a baseline to judge it against.  But I do have to say, that I was quite shocked at the amount of sea life swirling in and around the rig.  I half expected everything to be dead or dying.

The first 15-20 feet were a brackish murky green/brown layer of freshwater, as it sits on top of saltwater. Freshwater is less dense than saltwater, and therefore floats on top.  There is typically a layer of freshwater in this vicinity due to it's proximity to the Mississippi River.  This year in particular they released a lot more water out of the mouth of the Mississippi, to create a flushing effect, and push the oil back away from the shoreline and wetlands as much as possible. This is not without it's own set of problems. But I digress...  As always in this fiasco, there was a layer of surface shit to excavate, before the blinders come off.

Once beyond the 20 ft mark, I began to see the structure of the rig unfolding before me, and was immediately entranced by a blacktip reef shark. Most of you know that I have a real fond affinity for sharks!  Damn, it was good to see him!  I followed him as quickly as I could to a depth of about 70 ft, till Cap'n Al started banging on his tank to hail me back in.  I reluctantly turned around and made my way back up toward 50 ft.  We proceeded through the rigging and observed a good amount of fish life, a couple a barracudas, and ah! At last! A Kemp's Ridley sea turtle!  My first sighting in the gulf. She appeared to be healthy and was zooming around, looking cute as a button.

As it became time to surface we had to levitate through the shit layer to come back to the real world. I took a few moments on my safety stop to observe the sediment, and other strange detritus floating in the brackish layer.  I noticed traces of oil and some dispersant looming in the water table.  I felt a minor irritation on my skin, and surfaced with a small headache, but both quickly passed, and I feel fine. 

Cap'n Al and Scott Porter, both local hardcore divers, informed me that they typically would see a lot more turtles on this dive site, and that the sea life and reef have suffered a pretty large blow, but they are noticing a marked increase in water clarity.  ...If not water quality.  We took several samples of the water, and I am anxious to send them off for analysis.

Isn't it funny how I'm starting to sound more like a scientist, hanging out with these dudes all the time?!  Don't you worry!  I'll be back to my ol' swagger in no time, because my main homey Dr. Chris Pincetich, lead turtle biologist and organizer of this stage of the mission has got to return to Cali tomorrow and start applying his findings.  I'm gonna miss him alot.  I have learned a ton from him, and will carry the torch in his honor.

Thanks for listening.  Your support means everything to me.  Try to find new ways to use less fuel, and cut plastics out of your daily routine.  There is always an alternative, it may not be the most convenient, but it is worth it.  This is how we come to ma oceans rescue!

 ~ If we were logical, the future would be bleak, indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope, and we can work. ~ Jaques Cousteau
Everything worth anything lives beneath the surface.  

Love, Brock

Sent from my edge of the Revolution!

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Monday, August 23, 2010

What lies beneath?

Man oh man.  Well, we found oil out there guys.  But we didn't find any sea turtles. ...Yet.

As we left the mouth of the Mississippi river to head out into the gulf, we fell in behind a rather large cargo ship.  I'd say it's propeller was churning at a depth of about 20 feet.  Directly in it's wake was a trail of brown sludge that totally freaked all of us out.  The best explanation is that there was a pocket of subsurface oil that was being drawn up in the ships prop wash.  Wow!  Again, as always in this fiasco, there is something devastating hidden just beneath the surface layer. All it takes to reveal it, is a bit of churning, a bit of investigation.

A bit further out we ran across a frothy snot line of dispersed oil. It was really weird to behold, guys.  This is the stuff that will give me nightmares.  As I have told you before, the oil is toxic, the dispersant is toxic, but when combined the toxicity increases exponentially.  You may remember the video I posted earlier of the sample of seawater, crude oil, and dispersant exploding the test tube that contained it.  Combustible!  I wonder what it would do to the soft tissue surrounding a turtles mouth, or a dolphins blowhole?  Or Obama's kids?

Not to far away from this site, we encountered a pod of extremely friendly dolphins. The good news is they seemed quite healthy and happy.  I am really hoping they steer clear of the snot line!

Aside form the disappointment of not encountering a single sea turtle, the most devastating information came from a conversation with my main man, Cap'n Al Walker.  You may remember him the from earlier posts.., he was the dude that finally finagled the go ahead out of bp to assemble the turtle rescue navy. His plan was to start with five boats, and then ramp up to twenty.  As he embarked on this process, he was directed to interact with a makeshift board of directors and phd's.  They were placed in charge of the funding and resources that Al needed to make his mission possible.  Somehow they decided that the best use of these resources was to put together one boat comprised of the "right" people.  For fux sake, you already know my position on this!  We need every single possible boat in the water.  We need every pair of able hands getting dirty.  We need every mind working on possible solutions.  And we need everybody involved.  We need to do our best to find and rescue endangered wildlife.  Bad news is, it might be to late.  One boat?  Give me a break!

The good news is Capn Al's a scrapper, and he is not willing to give up without a fight.  He wants to take down the people that have impeded his attempts to save the lil dudes.  He wants to bring to light the willful murder of hundreds and hundreds of sea turtles. All because a board of directors didn't want to ration out and share the contracts and funding to make rescue viable.  He wants to sue these people so they can never be held as credible in a position like this again.  I'll tell you what, Ive got his back, and I hope you do too.  People like Al are the true coast guardians.  It doesn't take a blue uniform. Will you guard our coasts?  Pretty please?     

Mad love, Brock

Sent from my edge of the Revolution!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Back in the ring. Ding ding!

Top o the morning to you, amigos!

Well here I am, back in the saddle, riding down to Venice, Louisiana.  It has been a wild ride to get back down into the thick of things, but I made it, thanks to you guys! ...And the support of the yoga community at large. Awesome!  I really can't thank you enough for getting involved.  It is such an important time, as the media and the government tells us that the spill is over, all is well.  Move along.  (Cough, cough, bullshit.).

I promise to tell you the truth, and nothin' but the truth, as I see it.

I have been so lucky to make some fine alliances.  Team turtle now is comprised of oceanic ambassadors from all walks of life!  We have turtle biologists, boat captains, an airplane pilot, a navigation company, yogis, and activists.  Most importantly we have you!  

Yesterday, was my first opportunity to get back on the water.  We cruised Barataria Bay. I had an opportunity to see Pelican Isle, and the degradation of our fine feathered friends habitat.  I met a pod of super enthusiastic and sweet dolphins.  Luckily, they seemed pretty healthy. I got a chance to see oil in the marshlands, on the grasses and on the shoreline.  As we got in close to the barrier islands, the boat prop churned up some mud bottom, which also churned oil and brought it to the surface!  That was interesting to me, and this is our mission. Bringing the truth to light.

Today, we get to focus on the motivating factor of this mission.  We get to go offshore, and search for sea turtles!  Yes!  I have been waiting, for what feels like my entire life, for this day.  I'm excited!

I will let you know how it goes.  I'll send you some pictures and all that jazz later... but I just wanted to break radio silence, let you know I am back on the scene.  Wish me luck!  Time to get on the boat!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Well Played Chess Match.

Touché bp!

From their perspective, everything is working out perfectly. Not only have they got a cap on the well, but they have successfully capped all real information, imagery, upheaval, and unrest in the gulf. They have succeeded in doing this by calculating very intelligent moves, well thought out in advance, to throw dispersant on the story, and kill it before it spreads. Either that, or they are just damn lucky.

Their first order of business was to sneak a chemical dispersant past officials, and start dumping it directly into the ocean at an alarming rate. Btw, this chemical, Corexit, is manufactured in association with bp, but has been banned in the UK. They have stockpiles of it that they could not even use in many places. Somehow, they slid it past the EPA? Makes great financial sense for them to slather the gulf in it. This chemical effectively breaks up congealed crude oil on the surface, sinking it down into the water table, where it can not be seen, and has a greater tragic effect on all forms of life in the ocean. We know the effect of crude oil on wildlife and the environment, shabby to say the least. We do not however, know the outcome of crude mixed with this chemical. But here is a link to video of gulf seawater, including this mixture, exploding within a test tube!

This dispersant tactic is socially akin to the brilliant move of buying up every hotel room in the area. As I told you before, there are no vacancies anywhere near the ground zero sites of Venice, or Grand Isle, LA. People can not get close to get the scene, and bp wants to keep it that way. Another genius strategy was to drum up some bunk felony charges, $40,000 fine, a no fly ceiling of 3000ft, and media ban, to bury the story. Have you heard of anyone actually being arrested? No, because no one is even down here! It effectively scared everyone off the case, and to my knowledge no one has pushed it. Hell, it nearly scared me off as well. I half expected to be followed and questioned, and have my camera confiscated, and be involved in some cloak and dagger weirdness. Maybe I watch too many movies... But maybe we all do, because it is quieter than a graveyard down here. In the same vein, bp has commandeered nearly every boat and captain in the area and put them on the payroll, in a program called vessel of opportunity (VOO). Of course, this could be seen as kindness, seeing that the fisherman's jobs and livelihood have been ripped out from under them, and they have got to feed their families. An alternative way to view this, is that this action is an undercut to keep them fat and happy, and from making too much noise. Many of these dudes became fishermen in the first place so they would not have to answer to anyone, they could be their own boss, and live life on their own terms. Not so anymore. Making a paycheck, and afraid to rock the boat, because they might get kicked out of the handout line. Also, it prohibits people from getting out into the water, again effectively sealing the scene. You can not get a boat chartered to save your life, ...without paying a boatload of money. It is a logistical nightmare down here, and bp wants it that way.

We all know bp has deep pockets. They are throwing tons of money at the situation to keep it quiet.

What they don't want you to know...

The story has been drawn out long enough that people are starting to lose interest. bp wants to sweep it under the rug. I really hope that we do not allow them to do this. We are strong enough and have enough endurance to continue to stand for what is right. This is why we practice.

I love you guys, and I just thought you should know... These are my reflections from my time in the gulf. These, nor any other obstacle, will deter me from my mission to get into the water and rescue sea turtles. We have made massive headway on launching the Team Turtle Navy. We hope to have the operation underway within a couple of weeks.

I will be home on Thursday. I hope I get to see you! Please keep the fire alive. Continue to raise vibe, awareness, and if you can, even some dough. Talk it up, forward it on. Be a revolutionary.

Wanderlust next week! See many of you there!

Much love from the trenches, Brock