Author: DiverLaura

Underwater 360 and flat Videography.... Diving, motorcycles, climbing, hiking, travel, boxer dogs, apple computers, iphones/pods/touch, She-P North America, DUI drysuits, OMS dive kit, Megalodon CCR.


A quick reality check on the whole fish consumption thing. There is a ton of messaging flying around, but the big picture thing is this. As it stands, Puget Sound is has enough pollution in it already as to make some of our fish and shellfish unsafe to eat with any frequency. Believe me, i get the whole social justice issues and so on and so forth, but bottom line to me is how fast can we actually impact the legacy pollution. How will changing the fish consumption rate impact people who eat fish in the short term? How much of the toxin loading issue is legacy pollution? Would we have a more of an impact cleaning up superfund sites? How about polluted stormwater runoff? Changing the fish consumption rate won’t fix things in the near term, the messaging actually needs to be “hey! this fish is toxic and unsafe to eat!”

Until we get non-point source pollution under control, to me a lot of this is a moot point. We can regulate and legislate on fish consumption rates till the cows come home, but where is the current majority of pollutants coming from?


knowledge for all…

and the people gain access to more and more information and in gaining that knowledge become stronger and able to push back against warlords and dictators the world around.   Of course the warlords and dictators might see ample opportunity to try and control the stream of information and networks, but I think it will be like a tsunami.. and unstoppable force.    I look forward to a world where everyone has access to as much learning as they could possibly desire…  Be it how to wire a RC quad copter or when to plant crops for best yield or how to prevent nosocomial infections in third world hospitals…  

Wordpress randomness

It kind of cracks me up a bit when people are not straight up about using a theme for their slick website…

I mean anymore I could care less from an ‘ohmigoshyouareawesome’ standpoint, EVERYONE uses a theme, or mods an existing theme these days.  It is just amusing to stumble across the updated version when surfing themeforest.

It’s not like I’d copy you color for color 🙂  For the record, I use themes.  I love them.  I haven’t built a website completely from scratch since the 90’s.  I do change the names and colors to protect the innocent 😉

Wrist watches are the new black.

I’m sitting in an interview, or a meeting, and the person I’m talking to keeps touching the home button on their smartphone so that they can see “how we are doing for time”.

This is hands down one of the most distracting, flow breaking, creative spirit destroyer out there.

I know I know, this sounds a bit extreme, but bear with me….

Long ago “timepieces” were on a chain, in your pocket.  To check the time you had to pull it out, say “tsk tsk”, shake your head disapprovingly, and rush to your next appointment.   Enter the wrist watch.   Super awesome stealthy way to stay on time without being an obvious, distracting clock watcher.

Now, anyone who knows me well, knows I RAIL against clock watching… “take as much time as you need to do it right, doctor,  as long as I don’t have to stay more than 4 hours past shift end”,  “It takes way more time to do it over than to do it right the first time”,  etc…

So for those who have known me for a decade or two, you’ll be laughing your ass off right now, i’m sure.  “Laura? have you lost your mind? you really want people, yourself included to wear a.. wrist watch???”

Yes.  I do.

Smartphones are not subtle timekeeping devices.  They are great for all the other things under the sun, and yes, fine for setting alarms, makeshift stopwatches, location driven alerts, etc…  BUT THEY SUCK AS WRISTWATCHES.

I’ve been in 3 meetings over the past 2 weeks where multiple people were checking their phones.  Fingering their phones (forgive the crass visual). Touching them every 3-5 min to make sure we will get to everything in the allotted time.  I’ve even seen presentations where the presenter would stop, touch the smartphone, check the time, go back to yapping.  Alerts add to the mayhem.  Touch to check time… Oh look!  A push alert came through from the noise sensor in my office, that must mean the dog-sitter is there picking Lucy up <checks time> cool!  right on time!”  now what were we talking about?

Think about it, have you been talking to someone recently?  Out to dinner perhaps?  Enjoying yourself only to see them start fondling their phone.   Dog tilt head look at them “oh, no no, i was just checking the time” uh huh…  (am i boring, were they checking for text’s, emails, dog sitters, nest smoke detector?)   what were we talking about again?  you get my drift.

So, this is why I think that the iWatch will actually be a success.  I didn’t at first, i thought “what on earth are they wasting their time on this for”,  but now.. now i think i was wrong.

There is a cultural evolution afoot, and it is one that will work to put subtlety back into our lives.  In the same way we evolved from watches on chains to wrist watches…   We are constantly bombard by tech.  I’m not saying the tech has to go anywhere (i’m a HUGE fan of tech, just come visit my smart house where I can remotely use my iPhone to control temperature, lights, listen for the dog sitter, detect movement, and report back near instantly) it just needs to become more integrated and less obvious.

Starless Night

Manual entry is now available at (in addition to the Instagram hashtag option, where you take a picture, #sickstarfish with brief descriptive in the comment field and upload from the beach)

To use manual entry, locate your intended site on the map and then right click on your computer or long touch on the location on mobile to auto add the lat/long and open the manual entry field window!!!

HUGE SHOUT OUT to my dive buddy Lamont for making this possible!!!!!!

There is a text window for typing a brief description of what you observed i.e. “Almost no purple stars left at cove 1, no sunflower stars, two leather stars” or “80% of the sunflower stars are sick or dead” we are mostly looking to map disease progression here.

Also, please post follow up dives. If you go back and there are changes for the negative OR positive, “die off seems to have stabilized” or “baby sunflower stars at Titlow” or “sick in the shallows, but healthy deeper than 130′”. We want YOUR anecdotal observations… Make a post for every time you visit the site, noting the changes.

Same for beach walking. For example, at cove 1, there are no more ochre or mottled stars in the intertidal zone pipeline rocks. This is a change from 2 weeks ago when we could go out on a low tide and count a 8-12. Things are still in flux and we still need to track whats going on.

Starless night

Saturday night was a bit of a departure from our regular survey dives. A researcher up at the Port Townsend marine labs has 30 healthy stars and was ready to do an experiment to help understand the transmission of the disease, but was having a bit of a hard time getting some sick subjects. Pycnopodia (the sunflower star) like the ones that we helped collect up at Mukilteo all die too fast once they are infected. So it was up to us to find some either _very_ freshly sick pycnopodia (who could make it to the labs) or more likely some of the purple stars (pisaster) that we’ve been videoing at cove 1. Luckily I’ve learned to recognize the early stages of the illness in the Purple stars and also the Orange colored mottled stars. Each has its own subtlety and can only be seen when you have spent some time studying the healthy counterparts side by side with video of the sick.

My concern on this dive started early, there were no sea stars in the shallows on the intertidal rocks (where i was expecting to be able to pick up a few easily) only bacterial stains where they had once been. So far the intertidal had been showing lower mortality compared to the pilings and it was rather disarming to see them completely barren. I thought about all the tidepool walks that will be impacted, without the cheerful orange and purple constellations that we take for granted as quick and easy crowd pleasers.

As we swam to the pilings next to Salty’s, it was a veritable wasteland. Just months ago this same area was a teeming galaxy, sunflower stars all sizes scavenging, hungry morning sun stars chasing the occasional rose star, mottled stars, brittle stars, vermillion stars, blood stars, striped sun stars, with the occasional Red Spiny star and Leather star interspersed. We swim by them so many times that we take them for granted. It wasn’t until reviewing hours of footage (looking for healthy star images) that I realize just how unaware i’d become of their presence.

Arriving at the first set of pilings it seems my concerns were justified. Two weeks ago there were clusters of purple pisasters, groups of 6-12 still hanging on the shallower sets of pilings, seemingly weathering the storm. On this night, those clusters were reduced to a single star here and there. Pilings that held 100’s of stars before the outbreak were now almost completely barren. The remaining few were in various states of disease, from damaged arms to ‘protecting’ the lesions (when they are all twisted up) and the in-between stages of wasting, losing grip on the pilings, etc.. We were able to collect the requested 8 or so stars by visiting 3 sets of the pilings. It was quite poignant for me as I shot video and continued to document the pilings, because even though I _knew_ that the stars we were collecting would likely perish anyway and at least this way they could be helping us understand more about the process, it broke my heart a bit to see the pilings left empty or with only one star.

Joining us as we made our way back to the entry point were a pair of joyous and frisky harbor seals. The seals are always a welcome respite, as they never fail to lighten the mood and draw you into their world of fish chasing, curiosity and what appears to be a slightly wicked sense of humor as they sneak up from behind and blast in out of nowhere, startling the divers (we know they are there, we just don’t know where they are coming from next!) leaving a cloud of silt and laughter in their wake. Surfacing to a view of the city lights never gets old, its a reminder of how lucky we are to have dive sites so close. While we were taking off our fins and getting ready to head up the beach, we noticed a bobbing head several feet away, cruising around looking at us as if to say “Hey man, where are you going with my dinner lights! I was just getting warmed up!”. Following a long slippery slog up the rocky beach, I made a quick call to make sure we were still “on” for the delivery before packing up and hurrying over to the ferry dock. The hand-off went without a hitch, stars safely packed into coolers for their trip to the lab. Driving home, I felt a bit like a we’d just done something clandestine, albeit a far cry from the normal ‘deals’ that the viaduct likely sees. Now we wait… Even though I know that we can’t ‘stop’ this disease, I look forward to hearing the root cause, as calling it the Zombie-sea-star-apocolypse, although an appropriate description, probably isn’t the most scientifically accurate 🙂


Music teachers should let you listen to a good recording of the music they want you to learn. 

An early memory of piano classes, my teacher wanted me to sight read/play Clair De Lune and for many years I never knew how beautiful a piece it could be. I could always play things much better if I heard them first, but then I imagine that would have been like cheating or something. Years later after I quit her classes (and took up other instruments, and just played piano for fun) I heard it and was like “THAT is what I was trying to play?? No wonder she thought I sucked so badly…”


Sometimes it feels like I’m in a fishbowl.  Not a bad fishbowl mind you, but a fishbowl, none-the-less. 

People look in, and they assume a lot of things based on what they see, but they really have no idea who/what/where of anything.  

I saved one of my hermit crabs tonight.  He/she IS in a fishbowl and one of my creation.   I made a general assumption that if said crabby wanted to move they’d hop out of their shell, grab the shell, and sort it out.  To give you a visual, the hermit crab was stuck upside down against the side of the glass.   Making the best of it, a bit of algae on the shell for lunch etc… 

I cleaned the tank tonight and since i was already messing with things, i flicked the little hermit over.  

Now i’m watching the hermit back up on the top of the coral, gobbling up the hair algae like its the best buffet ever.  

Shame on me for thinking he’d just give up his home to save his life.