Thursday, September 27, 2007

Proud Parents

I can't believe more than a week has gone by since my last post. I understand that in the blogging world leaving your blog for that long can have devastating effects on readership so it's my hope the 20 or so regular readers of this blog will quickly recover and cut me some slack! It's not like I've had my, you know what, up my you know what but, at the same time where do people like Angelo have the time to constantly post!

I struggled with the heading for this one since, although many specific things worthy of a comment have happened in the past 2 weeks, lately I've found myself thinking of my dad more than usual and specifically just how proud he would be if he were alive today. My mom was the one who told me yesterday I had better get back on my blog because it makes her feel more informed but thoughts of my dad go much deeper than just the difficulties with keeping in touch with friends and family over great distances.

For the past few months he has been at the forefront of my mind for many reasons not the least of which is the interview and resulting story that just came out in the September issue of Island Locator.
First, what parent wouldn't be proud to see their kid on the cover of a magazine! No it's not National Geographic (yet) but it's still pretty cool. Second, recounting the making of the DVD forced me to think of him more than I do on a daily basis. I agreed to be interviewed for the story when Alexie said she wanted to take a personal angle to the DVD and how it came about. I'm not going to ruin the story but The Underwater World of Saipan is dedicated to my father.

There is no doubt in my mind that the DVD would not be what it is if it were not for his death and that it simply would never have been possible in the first place without the support of both my parents throughout my life. They have always given me the courage and encouragement to follow my dreams and the feeling of safety to reach out and strive to make them reality.

As a new Dad I'm now just beginning to get a taste of what it feels like to be proud of your creation and one of the hardest things about my fathers death was that he was taken from this world quickly and before I had the opportunity to talk to him Dad to Dad! I have so many questions for him now that it is rare a day goes by without him entering my thoughts.

Perspectives change and having a kid is one of those major paradigm shifting events in life that compares to little else. Perhaps the death of a parent but even then there is sorrow and difficulty with looking to the future while the birth of your first born conjures thoughts of future possibilities, excitement, happiness, love and yes incredible apprehension. All the emotions that make life worth living.

In addition priorities change overnight. It's now all about making a better life for your child or in his case the four of us. I can only imagine what it must have felt like for him to hear his son was going to quit his job as a pharmacist and become a dive bum! He worked his entire life for the same company at many times in a capacity he was not overly happy with but he continued to do it for us and I will be forever grateful for his dedication to his family.

As I mention in the story I often thought he must have been disappointed or upset with my decision to throw away 7 years of university education but now I'm beginning to see how, on that night, being on his side of the conversation more likely conjured up all the emotions that make life worth living. Although there was sure to be plenty of apprehension there was also love, excitement and the thought of all the possibilities that come with watching your own creation follow their own dreams. I only wish he could have been here in person to see the fruit of his life long support and hear me saying "It's done, that's it, the final version - want to watch it again, - Dad wake up!

I'll always take solace in knowing my Mom, wife and my daughter (only days old) were all there to hear those words!

Miss you Dad.

Update May 2008
Here's the full article courtesy of Island Locator. Click on the photos to enlarge.

Photos by Mark Robertson.
Correction to the Turtle Photo - it's a Hawksbill turtle!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Marianas Dive & DFW Present

On Wednesday September 19th at 7PM enforcement officers from the Division of Fish & Wildlife will give a power point presentation on the rules and regulations governing our CNMI waters. This will be in conjunction with the Marianas Dive meeting beginning at 6:30 PM at Porky's beach bar behind the McDonald's on beach road. Everyone is welcome to attend this very important meeting intended to help DFW disseminate accurate and up-to-date information to everyone with a vested interest in our waters. Since we live on an island that relies on the sea for survival in so many ways this really could apply to everyone!
Porky's owner Bruce Bateman has indicated all Marianas Dive members will enjoy drink specials and perhaps even get front row seats! If you've never been to Porky's it's a very comfortable and spacious bar with access to an outside seating area that over looks the lagoon. Not a bad place to spend an evening!
Basic Marianas Dive membership cost only $20 annually so just the specials at Porky's is worth the fee.
Just to be clear the presentation is open to everyone and does not cost a dime!
Hope to see you all there!

PS Porky's is smoke free on Wednesdays!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Marianas Dive Lau Lau Clean Up

Lau Lau Bay received a helping hand from the Marianas Dive group today!
With Angelo and BCNMI supplying the bags and gloves, about 20 volunteers hit the beach for a clean up.

Afterwards, more than a dozen divers hit the water with mesh bags and pulled out all sorts of things that just should not be there. Batteries, beer cans, clothing, fishing line......

Bottom line is we worked up a bit of a sweat for an hour in the sun, then got to go for a refreshing splash and a "treasure' hunt. I even managed to point out a Spanish Dancer (first I've seen) to Mark who got a few shots. Then on the way back in I saw another Mark snapping more photos of it! Throw in the bait ball of Bigeye Scad and it was another great group dive. And we managed to pick up a significant amount of trash too!
Thanks to everyone who showed up including our tourist friends from Japan who found time to pitch in and to the Mister, and Khorram families as well.

Also to Captain Mike and Steven from the big ships. Then of course there are the die hards: Mark, Tammy, Dennis, Judy, Rusty, Brad, Mike & Mike (that's me), Katrina and Angelo! (not all pictured here!)
For more on the event visit Mark and Tammy's underexposed.
For more on the dive happenings around the Marianas visit the discussions at Marianas Dive.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Children of Our Homeland Project

A big thank you must go out today to the folks from the Children of Our Homeland Project and specifically one Liz Rechebei. Thanks to Liz a few extra dollars were found so my company can stay in business (a good thing) and all the kids in the public school system will have access to my DVD and the wonders that lie beneath the waters here (also a good thing). In addition, I have volunteered my time to visit some of the schools this year to speak about the underwater world and why protecting it is so important to their future! I've said it before on this blog but, one of the things I find most rewarding is watching kids watch the DVD. They are fascinated and have great questions, most of which I can answer which is also a good thing!

Out And About

This morning while emailing the passion profit regarding a project we are working on for Marianas Dive I was reminded that, "Canada, was and still is a favored
migration destination for Jamaicans".

Ya I'm well aware! Ben Johnson being one of the more famous!

We're coming up on a dark day in CND history.

I was in a pharmacy school at UBC studying the structures of drug molecules - that morning all prepared lectures were tossed and classes were spent talking about Ben as the professors tried to answer all our questions, drawing structures and going into great detail as to how steroids work. Dr. Frank Abbott who latter would become Dean of the Pharmacy School started it off with his 8:30 Pharmacology class! It was probably the most well attended few days of lectures I can remember and everyone, even us less keen in the back rows, wanted to be there and paid attention.

It was the only thing talked about on campus and Sept 28, 1988 will go down as memorable a time as any despite it being a pretty tough pill to swallow. I could even go into great detail as to the exact place and goings on at the time he actually won the medal a few days earlier and recall how good it feels to have a country come together and how proud you feel to be apart of it- even if it's just sitting your ass on a bar stool!

Isn't it also interesting how Jamaicans want to head for the cold North while Canadians want to flee south (at least in the winter) and often bring up the concept of "adopting" the Turks & Caicos Islands. Hmmmmmm All my pictures of Turks are in Canada!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Marianas Dive Lau Lau Clean Up

Marianas Dive and BCNMI will team up this weekend for an extra fun day of cleaning and diving. Throw in a BBQ on the beach and how could you miss it? In case you've been living in one of the many caves on island you know the BCNMI team has been doing weekly clean ups since, well, since ever since! This Sunday we will pitch in and do our part as divers at the ever popular Lau Lau Beach Dive site parking lot. Rain or shine members of Marianas Dive and anyone else wishing to help out will be starting the beach clean up sometime after 8AM. The plan is to get hot and sweaty for a few hours and then hit the water and comb the shallows with mesh bags collecting anything resembling trash or fishing line. Then to decompress between dives Angelo will fire up the coals and cook whatever you bring down to cook up. If it pours rain all morning he may decide to head for dryer pastures and leave us there to do a second dive on an empty stomach!

Come on down and pitch in, meet some fellow divers and keep our dive sites clean for everyone to enjoy and tell their friends about!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


It's here and The Underwater World of Saipan has hit the shelves! Mytenda is a new online store designed by a couple of local fellas who saw the need to provide a service. The store is making it easy for anyone looking to purchase products unique to the Marianas. For more info see the Tribune article here. Now I wish someone in Canada would do the same, I miss my Smarties (Canada's version of M&M's) and my Twizlers.

I'm excited to have partnered with this concept as I'm sure the DVD will provide all those who've moved abroad with a good taste of home, although it may make them wonder why they left in the first place!

If you have not already done so check out

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Marianas Dive Day

It's here, just under a few hours before the group takes the plunge at Lau Lau Bay.
2PM is the meeting time. Dive plan - non really except be safe and dive within your limits.
Angelo had a good description of the event on his blog here.
Then it's off to Porkys beach bar for the social event. Owner and underwater historian Bruce B will be putting on the BBQ style, live music (two bands) and drink specials along with a diving conversation. Doesn't get much better than that.
Hope to see you all today.
Check out the forum for Marianas Dive for news on what's going on here. Lots of good conversation, join in and help make this a better place to dive!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Carnival of the Blue Comes to Saipan

No it's not a cruise ship!

It's an amazing way to connect all those with a passion for our planet and specifically our oceans. According to this months host, Angelo over on the Saipan Blog, Carnival of the Blue is a roundup of a month's worth of the best ocean blogging on the Internet. Each month someone hosts or makes a post containing all the links to stories submitted to the Carnival over the previous month. I still have not gotten through all the links to the stories Angelo has posted but there is some very interesting stuff and I'm honored that my blog has been included in his write up.

The emphasis of this blog is to use video as the medium to showcase and illustrate points about the diving here on Saipan and the Marianas in general. You'll find an opinion or two here and there as well as a few posts on the topside attractions and the photos I've taken along the way but primarily it focuses on our underwater world and the impact we, as divers, may have on the environment. If you have the time to check out some of these videos you'll see that we have some amazing things here and a trip to these islands is well worth the effort!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Diversity - Land, Sea & Culture

Speaking of branding!

How about playing on the word diversity! I'm a diver (duh) so the diver thing is a no brainier and since diving (including water sports) makes up the biggest part of the economic engine that will get the economy back on track, why not.

Now lets look at following that up with Land, Sea & Culture.

With the island chain stretching as long as it does and with the differences in the composition or make up of each island this is also a no brainier. Images could easily show the diversity of the Land from black to white sand beaches. From Rugged untouched coastlines to the businesses and "city" of Garapan. From Lime stone caves to very long runways and expansive grassy fields... you get the picture. This does not even touch on the diversity of activities available on land here. Golf, trecking, shopping, historical site seeing, museums, go carts (I like go carts) etc.
Diversity of Land

The same can be said for the terrain below the ocean's surface and the life that calls these waters home. The fish and coral species is, well, a no brainier too. I've heard from a scientist type that we actually fall within the "coral" triangle, which includes Indonesia along its bottom arm and the Marianas at the top point. The coral triangle being the area where the largest diversity of species exists in the ocean, not hard to show diversity there! Add in the multitude of activities available on the surface and you've got diversity other islands would salivate over. Besides the usual stuff like snorkeling, fishing, jet skies and banana boat rides we also have windsurfing and kyteboarding (from beginner to advanced conditions) even Triathlons must be added here- they do swim.
Diversity of Sea

The key, however, to the Marianas becoming a truly un-matchable experience to even the seasoned traveler is the diversity of culture one can experience here. Many who live here may not see this or they may not be willing to accept it but IF each of the varied cultures calling these islands home were allowed to flourish we would quickly become the envy of all competing nations within the region.

It is true that when we talk about diversity of culture here we are speaking mainly of Saipan. With the indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian peoples followed by Spanish, German and Japanese rule before the end of WWII when the Americans took over, multiculturalism is already taking hold. Throw in a longstanding guest worker program with folks from the Philippines, China, Bangladesh, and various other Asian nations and you end up with a melting pot of culture. Add tourists with the same diversity of origin; Japan, Korea, Russia, China and it's a, you guessed it, no brainier. Diversity of culture.

When people think culture for vacation. You know like… "Honey where should we go on vacation this year" - "oh I don't know maybe somewhere with some culture". They are usually thinking indigenous culture and here too the Marianas excels. Even if the multitude of nationalities and shear size of the population has "watered down" the Chamorro and Carolinian Cultures on Saipan they are still very much present and in the forefront on Tinian and Rota. So we have the best of both worlds to offer especially to those who stay a little longer to experience the whole package.

As mentioned this diversity must be allowed to flourish before it becomes an unbeatable asset. From a multitude of authentic restaurants offering a sample of the worlds cuisines to various festivals that feature each unique aspect of the individual culture - tourist will eat it up. Done without conflict and prosperity will follow since stability and respect will drive consumers to the land of happy friendly people, all people! You can't get that in very many places around the world and unlike Mother Nature it is in our hands to control. We've been blessed with beautiful white sand beaches, green tropical jungle and warm sunshine but these alone will not make our islands stand out- the people will!
Diversity of Culture

Diversity- Land, Sea, & Culture

Lets all just get along - you heard it here first.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


Today this video I posted on Youtube hit 50,000 views!

It's nothing fancy and the number of views certainly does not say anything about it's entertainment value. The title on youtube is "Cruel Death" from many of the comments one could argue that most people are looking for something exciting to die - like a pit bull or a human and are disappointed when it's just a starfish. On the other hand many are hell bent that this species is a threat to mankind and should be stopped no matter what the cost.
"if that was a crown of thorns star fish then your a dumn shit--- they destroy reefs"
Still others believe strongly that it's just another tool in Mother Nature's arsenal to keep the balance! My original post on this blog is here.

This was a comment on the post left by Greg Moretti.

Thanks for posting this video and your comments. Regardless of where you stand on the COTS issue, it is illegal in the CNMI to kill starfish without a special permit that would allow you to do so. There are also biological implications of well-intentioned people who are not educated about the marine environment taking "control" measures into their own hands. Often times divers attempt to kill Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS) by methods such as cutting them into pieces or the method you show in your video. As Brad mentioned, there is a "prefered" method of control that involves injecting them with a poison. This is because research has shown that other methods simply do not work or actually make the problem worse. When radially symetrical invertebrates such as starfish are cut up into pieces, the pieces can each regenerate into new individuals. So people think they are killing one and they are actually making more. I have also read that when the starfish are stressed/threatened they may release their eggs into the water, making the issue even worse. I suppose one could argue that the COTS would have released eggs at some point regardless... but the point is that if you don't know what you're messing with, there may be unintended negative consequences. If you have concerns about COTS or want to start a discussion about control measures and their pros/cons, talk to the biologists at CRM, DEQ, or DFW. Specifically, John Starmer at CRM, Pete Houk at DEQ, or Mike Trianni at DFW. The CRM/DEQ guys are coral reef biologists, while DFW has management authority over the marine critters. I'd like to see these guys at some of our diver get-togethers!

What do you think?
I've started a new thread on the Marianasdive forum to poll the users about this issue. Should be an interesting debate.
Speaking of debates there are a few others raging over there on that new forum. If you're even remotely interested in the world of diving here this is a must for you to take a look at.
Joining is free!