Monday, January 19, 2015

Lionfish The Aliens Among Us

An alien lionfish.
Most underwater creatures appear alien to scuba divers when we come across them for the very first time. I’m not sure if it is because of the weightlessness appearance or the fluid-like movement they possess. That is of course why we chose to become underwater tourists in the first place-- to explore the vast undiscovered underwater world. Another reason why scuba divers look forward to each underwater adventure is because many scuba divers enjoy fish identification, too. However, some fish are more memorable and venomous than others. That leads me to the story of when I encountered my first lionfish.

Recently, lionfish have been getting a lot of headline news. They are dangerous to the underwater environment. The lionfish, originally thought as an aquarium fish, who in some accounts were mistakenly released into ocean waters by its owners--are destroying underwater ecosystems even faster than us humans. In fact, in the Caribbean lionfish have no natural predator. Unfortunately, a reason for their spike in numbers; due to the rate they lay eggs, two million per year; and sharks tend not too want to eat lionfish because of their menacing spikes. Lionfish though venomous, can be eaten by its primary predator, humans.

Fresh lionfish for dinner. 
I still remember my first encounter with a lionfish; it’s like a scene from a movie. It was just the three of us: our Divemaster David, my dive buddy/husband Brian and myself getting to know the waters on our first exploratory dive 30-feet down in Montego Bay, Jamaica. We all were diving through some underwater canals: first David, Brian, than myself. That is when I saw it--just lurking on the side near some corral. At first, it looked like any other fish. A translucent white, with orange tiger-like stripe markings, as its fins and appendages just dangled there. The lionfish didn’t rear it’s ugly spines until Brian swam by. It erupted, like a firework underwater, and looked alien to me! The spines on the lionfish sprouted out as a defense mechanism. So, this fish was obviously not happy with us scuba divers impeding on its territory. Scared, I had two real options: (1) swim in another direction and lose my dive buddy or (2) swim by hoping nothing would happen. I chose to swim by, and I’m glad to report without incident.

Once back on the boat, I told everyone on the Ocheana crew about my lionfish sighting. Given the reports of these pesky fish, on all of our Jamaica dives after, our other Divemaster, Diesel, always came armed with a spear. He was preparing for battle against any of the other alien lionfish we might encounter during our underwater ecotourism adventures. Diesel explained to us that in the Caribbean, lionfish were equal with sharks at the number one spot on the top of the water food chain. If Diesel was lucky enough to not encounter a lionfish on a dive he would instead pick up trash. Happily we did not find lionfish on all dives, only two of our seven.

The Ocheana crew introduced us to another fact about lionfish, that they are edible, too. A fellow diver named Ralph said, “They [lionfish] taste great! Especially with coconut milk, scallions and peppers.” The lionfish captured by Diesel (pictured above) were prepared by chefs at Montego Bay’s Sandals Royal Caribbean. Brian and I were not feeling so adventurous, but some German couples on our charter did, and dined on lionfish that evening. When back in the states, we’d also find out that there are cookbooks for lionfish meals. Since sharks are overlooking this food source, the goal is to get humans a taste of this alien cuisine and create a need to fish them--so they don’t continue to overpopulate the ocean waters. Such a cookbook is available for purchase from Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), a grass-roots organization that seeks to conserve marine ecosystems by educating, enlisting and enabling divers and other marine enthusiasts to become active ocean stewards and citizen scientists. In fact, proceeds from the sale of "Lionfish Cookbook" support REEF’s marine conservation and lionfish research and removal programs.

In conclusion, there is an alien among us; however, the more scuba divers who encounter lionfish on their divecations and foodies who get a taste for lionfish, the less alien they become. Keep diving!

-population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2015 population-we, LLC 
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Monday, January 12, 2015

pop-we Reviews Darin Adams' Lights, Camera, and Passion!

I believe that our lives can be filled even more with natural highs. I am grateful that I have discovered diverse passions that bring me so much satisfaction. When I watched a talk show host interview Darin Adams, author of "Lights, Camera, and Passion!," the interview caught my attention. I have a huge wish list of books and unfortunately there are many that I will never purchase. It was a no brainer to buy Adam’s book that resonated with me and goes so perfectly with the mission of population-we, LLC.

The book shares what Adams has observed as an award-winning television personality with more than 30 years in the business about passion. He also shares his personal philosophies and experiences while quoting from wise people sold on the importance of enthusiasm and passion.

Adams beautifully tells the stories of inspirational people who have followed their hearts. Adams seems to feel that passions are often more about the heart than the head. Be prepared if he is ever seated in your dental chair or perhaps you in his home repairing electrical work or he is next to your seat on an airplane--as he will probably pose a question that keeps burning in his heart and mind. “What’s your Passion?” (He asks) “You know your favorite thing that makes you excited about life. The thing that you would want to do if you could do anything in the world.” It’s okay if you have a blank stare. He has had a lot of those. He has also helped a lot of people realize their latent passions or rekindle forgotten or formerly forsaken passions.

Adams came across as very down to earth. He said that people started asking him to give speeches because there is a demand for his message. His message really is meant for young and old. He happened to be at a meeting at one of his children’s schools when someone recommended his book in order to help children find their passions; the speaker did not seem aware that the author (Adams) was in the audience.

The book is filled with Adams philosophies and “Darin isms” about passion. I have pondered a lot about passions since seeing his interview and reading from his book. I wholeheartedly agree with him that it is okay for our passions to change in life but we should never stop finding new passions. He puts it best when he says, “Passions change. They don’t vanish.”

He shares his insights about what he believes passions are and what he believes passions are not. From what I understand from his book, a passion is not the same as a talent or skill. You may love something deeply and not have any real talent. You may never have any talent. That does not mean it can be a source of something good for you.

He teaches that passions are an investment in oneself. He also relates how we can oftentimes benefit others with our passions. Adams emphasizes what passions are. He is emphatic that passions are important to us because they help us feel energized and alive. People sacrifice for the sake of their passions.

Adams believes that passions are power. They give people the power to persuade.

Adams also talks about finding pleasures in simple things in life. Those little things that we enjoy doing are passions too. He has a long list of his little passions. We do not share a love for standing in long lines for those ultimate bargains. Yet, it was sweet to see how excited a good sale makes him on Black Friday.

Adam’s family and my parents and I have shared a love for American Idol. I am jealous that his work sent him to the Kodak Theatre to cover American Idol. In recent years, his family seems to focus more on the auditions that he finds to be highly entertaining. As the season goes by, I love getting to know the youth who really are a mix of raw talent and passion. I watch for those moments that take me to a higher plane. Those moments are seldom fast tempo songs. Give me a sweet ballad. They don’t have to do vocal gymnastics. A sweet melody sung in pitch does go a long way. I have gone on record saying: "the American Idol Finale is my Super Bowl!"

The book is designed to help people little and big passions. In some cases, these passions can be very personal and unique to you. Adams encourages feedback from those he has helped match with passions.

It has been years since my heart first told me that I wanted to learn to weave. It was a real yearning but I put it off as other expenses seemed more important. Well, it is a really humble beginning, but I recently purchased my first loom. Don’t laugh that it is meant for children to make pot holders. I tried to do it for the first time yesterday and couldn’t quite figure it out. Maybe I will graduate to bigger looms. My dream would be to weave on an immense loom with original designs. My desire is to weave without a hook as I love the thought of feeling textiles with my hand. Through the years, I have had fleeting designs in my mind from time to time that were gone way to fast to capture. I have wondered if there was a purpose in all of this. Maybe the images in my mind’s eye will turn out to have nothing to do with learning to weave. I have never been good at art. Time will tell if this will amount to anything. But the important thing is that weaving is a currently a little something new to keep me motivated. Writing, networking, and promoting literacy are three of my biggest passions.

What are you passionate about?

-population-we™ blog post by Barb Bohan
© 2015 population-we, LLC 
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