March 24, 2022 8 min read 1 Comment

Comebacks, Reverse Psychology, Staying Positive 

Comebacks: are awesome, both in sporting events and in life. We are approaching the four year mark since 2018‘s merciless red tide impacted all the local marine life and devastated several species. Side note; after mentally weighing those opening lines I went back and reread my August 2018 Captain‘s Chronicle. I found it very interesting and consistent that I used the word ‘mercilessly’ to describe the red tide. I was in a very passionate place and it’s an interesting read so I will include it at the end of this newsletter.

Our Nudibranch, the Florida Regal Sea Goddess wasn’t seen on our local dive trips for a couple of years after the suffocating algae bloom. Over the last couple of years we’ve spotted them infrequently, but we’re seeing more of them as of late. That’s good because they are really cool and a favorite of Instructor Dan and Melody‘s! Leopard toadfish were also waylaid and we spot them occasionally now but they do not appear to be trending upwards. Soft corals, sea cucumbers and purple sea urchins are all making significant strides. There are also a lot of angelfish and slippery dicks out there! Barracudas (my reasoning can be discussed at the dive club Friday) are more abundant than ever. The one species that we have not seen much of and that really concerns me is the southern stingray. They were virtually nonexistent last summer which is normally when they are plentiful here. We have seen a few over the winter, so fingers crossed. Comebacks are needed… Above and below the water and ultimately with the humans walking this struggling planet!

Reverse Psychology: I’m not proud of some of the things that I did in my formative years. I hadn’t learned that I was mortal despite having all of my life ahead of me. I worked my guardian angels overtime consistently! I can certainly tell a few stories about this topic Friday! I started thinking about this while talking to the mother of a young son that were doing referral dives with us. A referral is when open water students start their training at one at one place and finishes in another… We do a lot of those! It took a lot of work to even coax her to go down the descent line a few feet and she quickly pulled the plug on open water dive one. Visibility (or lack there of) may have been a contributing factor in Tarpon Bay). Her 17 year old son (an aspiring marine biologist) stayed in the water to complete the dive and she and I had an interesting conversation. She talked about potentially writing a book and I replied that I am often told that I missed my calling and should do that also. As she contemplated why she was reluctant to do the dive, her first thought was that she was mainly getting certified to support her son. Then she grinned and said, “I don’t know, I guess as I’m getting older I don’t feel the urge or desire to do extreme things anymore”. I nodded in agreement and I’ve often contemplated that thought process. It seems to me that when we’re young we should behave more conservatively… If we mess up, a large portion of our life is impacted if not eliminated! If I go crazy at 57 and have a hang gliding mishap, I’m out 25 years max and Lord only knows what my quality of life will be during that time frame. We should reverse that psychology, the over 50 crowd (very big crowd in southwest Florida currently) should be the ones going off the wall thrill-seeking! That’s especially true now given the world's current state of affairs. So settle down youngsters… My generation is going to go radical for the next 15 years or so! Does anyone have a squirrel suit I can borrow? 

Staying positive was the focal point of my red tide inspired newsletter of 2018 (see below). It hasn’t been easy and it’s taken me a few years with some input from Paul to figure it out, but I think I’ve got it. It’s as simple as 1,2,3:

1) Don’t watch or read the news. 2) Disassociate/unfriend any and all Debbie Downers.  3) Go Diving (Negativity can’t travel through water). And we all lived happily ever after…

Hope to see you Friday!  Live, Love, Dive!!  —Jeff

A note about the following newsletter. ‘Dis’ is a real person and we were good friends but haven’t spoken in a couple years. All the quotes in the story are true. I wish Dis (and all of us) well.
Captains Chronicles August 2018:
Happy 20th Scuba Marco! / My Take on How the: &;$?:-@‘ing Toxic Algae is Impacting Local Species,,,

It’s not all bad, I’m trying so hard to not go negative. There’s a ton of small stone crabs out there right now! First let’s dwell in time-space continuums:

Two decades here under the huge Guanna Costa tree Thomas Edison planted* on sacred Native American grounds stands our Mom & Pop Dive Shop. Thanks to all of you that have graced our presence and entered through our doors, watched our children grow up (some of you helped raise) and became our friends! Let’s CELEBRATE!! Details to ensue,,,Give Aways!!!

Besides the prominence of small stone crabs in our local waters there’s not much else to report on from a positive perspective lately. I believe there’s more stone crabs because there are far fewer Goliath Grouper now to gobble them up when they move around at night and bump in to the big consumption machines lying on the bottom waiting for a late night snack. Mangrove snapper sightings we’re actually plentiful as of a couple weeks ago but most other species have been thinned out,,, mercilessly.

Hard to stay positive once again as everybody knows about the red tide, algae blooms, and massive marine animal deaths throughout most of Southwest Florida’s coastline. I’m going to keep my word, but I have a friend that I spoke with this morning and he is really becoming PISSED OFF about the situation and I will gladly share his thoughts! 

“ Inhumane” is the word my buddy Dis (not his real name - short for Disgusted) used to describe the way all these creatures have perished. "All that suffering,,, it’s torture what we are doing to those animals and to ourselves, we need clean water too"!

Then he said something that reverberated through my brain like a pinball: ‘Why don’t they just drop a nuclear bomb and put us all out of our misery?’  I told Dis that might be a bit extreme but he was having none of it; ‘IS IT??? Just think about how all those fish, turtles and dolphins suffered. It’s sickening to me and we have allowed it to get so bad and we’re not doing anything to fix the problem!’ My brain slipped for a moment and I went to a quick mental analysis: would we be better off euthanizing ourselves, is this the beginning of a slow and painful demise as a species?  I shocked myself because I couldn’t immediately shoot the notion down. 

Dis continued; ‘besides the fish kill travesty, humans are next. Look,,, we’re poisoning our water! We can’t go to the beach, we can’t even use our boats because there’s so many dead fish in some canals to our north it doesn’t even look like water. And the SMELL!!! F”&@,,, we can’t even go outdoors!!!’

Wow Dis you’re really getting worked up is all I could get out; ‘WELL ISN’T IT TRUE???’ At this point I was glad we were having a phone conversation as I imagined Dis starting to get frothy lips but it felt like he was in front of me staring into my eyes as he left the question hang? Another quick mental contemplation: all he’s done is state facts that many coastal SW Florida dwellers have experienced first hand this summer. I conceded; “your right.”

‘YOUR DAMN RIGHT I’M RIGHT!’  Then Dis went into a tirade over the sugar industry’s love affair with government and the damned south side of Lake Occochobee which stops the natural water flow south. He paused for a second but his next rampage beat the words out of my mouth; ‘F@“$ing Round Up and all the pesticides and fertilizers we use is another big part of the problem! Think about all the golf courses and pretty green manicured lawns down here. It’s that way because of all the chemicals and those chemicals get washed right into our water system when it rains’. Another pause and I managed to get out “yeah, I heard Round Up is pretty bad”

‘Bad? BAD??? IT’S TERRIBLE!!!’  Then I absorbed another Dis rant about how mis-used it use. ‘It says right on the container it’s supposed to be used one time on an area to prepare it for cultivation, not continually used as a weed killer.’ He’s also irked that the state uses it to control weeds on the shoulders of highways. ‘Right into the canals and waterways that stuff goes,,, that’s REALLY smart!’  He went on about how Dole has poisoned the soul and degraded the natural lifestyle of Costa Rica. One environmental mess at a time Dis!

I was only able to simmer Dis down by promising to do all I can to raise awareness and drive motivation to remedy our toxic discharge issue. He’s right in that there is no bigger issue confronting the residents and visitors of South Florida. Repeats of the green slime tragedy of the last two years will negatively impact all of us. ALL OF US! If the videos of all the dead sea life and poisoned water doesn’t drive us to corrective action then perhaps the hurting bottoms lines of businesses and giant portfolios will. Isn’t that truly sad?

So,,,,, HELP!!!  Marco Island has rode the fringe of the worst of the local red tide for months, but there were dead and dying fish at our 5 mile Reef this past Saturday. I saw species and witnessed phenomenons on that dive at the NW pile that I had never seen in my 30 years and thousands of dives here. Details live in person this Thursday, but I will say that I spent the last 10 minutes of that 50 minute dive crying in my mask. Not good, I couldn’t dry my eyes. Seriously, I felt ashamed to be human and a part of the problem. Let’s brainstorm Thursday, create plans of action, and get involved! If we don’t start our own activism let’s contribute our efforts to causes already in place such as Captains For Clean Water. 

So right now I’m back inside my head and I’m wondering.  I’m wondering how many of you can empathize with my tearful self on that dive? Moved to feeling ashamed and despicable for being human?  I know many of you feel me! However, I know some of you are laughing and consider me too soft or too liberal or too sensitive. Yes red tide is a ‘naturally occurring’ phenomenon. That’s true, but given the duration, intensity, and mass area of this red tide bout, I can only conclude that we are affecting nature then. The same person that says everything going on with south Florida’s water is normal and natural is the same person that says we are not impacting the environment negatively on a global level. Just a natural cycle going on here,,,,

I have a fantastic idea here how to deal with your kind! You feel as strongly that we as a species are not negatively impacting our environment as Dis feels that we are F@“$ing it up. So,,, a 10 minute Cage Fight!!! You versus Dis, forget 10 minutes, LAST MAN STANDING!!!  We could sell tickets to raise money for clean water. My money will be on Dis,,, his motivation flows from his heart and soul,,,, like all of ours should! I’m excited for and hope you can join our party Thursday. Happy Anniversary Baby!  With the help of Dis and his Warriors, may we have many more!!!

Until then,,, Live, Love, Dive!  -Jeff 

* So claims an excited arborist who burst through my front door about 15 years ago and told me that’s a real possibility. She said he loved the tree, had them on his property and drove around Southwest Florida one weekend in the early 1900s planting them. Any arborists out there??

1 Response

Mike Muck
Mike Muck

April 28, 2022

Nice job brother, spot on!

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