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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