Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dancing With the Starfish

On my vacation what did I see?
Dancing Stars!

Jellies Gone Wild!

and, drum roll....

Octopus on the Move!

These fabulous marine specimens are at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, Calif. It isn't an aquarium but an educational facility that teaches more than 100,000 students a year about the biology, geology, ecology and maritime history of the ocean. They have a research boat and two tall ships--replicas of an 1800's brig and schooner.
I learned that lobsters shed their skin. I saw skates and rays that looked tie-dyed, and I found out that elusive blue whales (at around 100 feet in length they are the largest creatures on our planet) have been visiting the coast off Dana Point for the last six years. It is thought that changes in the ocean have brought them in close to land to feed on krill. Gray whales, who are half the length of blues, are seen along here every year because they migrate about 12,000 miles from the Arctic to their nursery lagoons in Mexico.
My trip included contemplative moments and splashes of sunny delights. I walked barefoot in sand, scrambled over rocky cliffs, poked around tide pools, drank margaritas, made a shell bracelet, ate clam chowder and crepes filled with melted chocolate and topped with berries. Did I write, you may ask? Did I complete Sea Daughters? I didn't finish, but I did write 3,000 words and inched up closer to the end. It was a fine way to spend a week.


Faith Pray said...

Sounds like a refreshing breeze of a time! And good food for your writer's brain!

Stephanie Thornton said...

Ohlala! We have a similar facility in Alaska, but with Northern marine critters. And I think they're closed right now, it being winter and all.

It sounds like a refreshing trip- I'm glad you're inching closer to the end of your book!

Jade said...

I'm so not jealous. I mean, I've been going to work so it just doesn't compare.

Work is awesome.

Bish Denham said...

Sounds delightful. Did you know that octopuses have a very potent poison and can bite? They are also rather smart.

storyqueen said...

What a great week!

My youngest daughter went to the Ocean Institute with her class to test water quality...then they had to go back and present their findings...Great place, that is.

Welcome back.


Unknown said...

Yay for all ocean creatures! Love the pics. And sounds like you're almost there with Sea Daughters. Yay!

Sherrie Petersen said...

I can't believe that as many times as I've been to Dana Point, I have never visited the Ocean Institute. Never heard of it! But now I'll make a point of it. Thanks!

Linda Kage said...

I love the Jellies Gone Wild pictures. Looks like they're floating around the girls (they're not, are they?).

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Faith: Oh, it was such nourishment. I feel renewed.

Stephanie: I love hearing that there are more facilities like this one. I think it makes a huge difference in people's perceptions of the ocean. (I'm seeing that finish line ahead!)

Jade: Ha! Wish I could send you some in a bottle for your work desk. ;)

Bish: The docent told some interesting stories, such as the octopus in question had been found living in a soda can, so at first it was put in the aquarium in the can until it adjusted. At another facility, the employees noticed fish missing from tanks and discovered the octopus had figured out how to unlatch its tank and go fishing.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Shelley: Cool! They have so many programs that sound fabulous. I'd love to hear more about your daughter's experience. Did she go out on the research boat?

Karen: It was such a great place for me to get excited about nearing the finish line!

Sherrie: Oh, you and your children will have a wonderful time. Sunday is a good day to visit because the public is allowed to go on board the brig Pilgrim.

Linda: Ha! I wondered if anyone would think that. The jellies are in a clear tank, and the girls are standing on the opposite side of the tank from me.

Liza said...

Reading this made me smile.

Laurel Garver said...

Glad you had a great time! I'm a bit ocean-phobic because of critters like that octopus (eek), but wow, those jellies are gorgeous! I so, so wish there were critters that could move through the air like that (idea here, fantasy writers!).

PJ Hoover said...

What an awesome vacation! And you wrote! Very cool!

Davin Malasarn said...

The jellyfish are my favorite, but those skates sounds beautiful too! And, congrats on your writing!

Donna said...


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Liza: And your comment makes me smile. :D

Laurel: Oooo, neat idea--kind of like parachutes but able to undulate and move sideways and stuff.

PJ: It was made of awesome!

Davin: Thank you! I love watching jellies--in tanks, though, because I wouldn't want to get stung.

Donna: More smiles...

Laura Canon said...

It's amazing that you can write on vacation. I usually get so overwhelmed by new experiences I just try to store them all up.

sarahjayne smythe said...

Welcome back. I'm glad you had such a great time. :)

MG Higgins said...

Yay for nourishing trips! Welcome back. How exciting that you're closing in on your goal.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Laura: Well, this is the sort of vacation where I mean to write and take stuff along. But there are other kinds, with lots of traveling and art museums and other amazing diversion, where all I'd do is jot down thoughts and images.

Thanks Sarahjayne and Mel!

Tess said...

all lovely pics but that last one w/ the flowers and ocean really tugs at my heart. i want to go!

VR Barkowski said...

Thank you for sharing your vacation with us. Beautiful. I love Atlanta, but when I see these photos my heart cracks wide for the Pacific. California will always be home.

Anonymous said...

Wow those photo's are amazing! It sounds like quite a trip, and 3k words is not to be sneezed at either!

Yvonne Osborne said...

Heaven. Pure heaven. It's sad to think of the trouble our oceans are in.

J.B. Chicoine said...

Oh my goodness, what a wonderful place! I know you're thinking that I'd most want to see the tall ships, and you're right, but the clam chowder and crepes filled with melted chocolate and topped with berries are a close runner up!

I sure do miss the ocean...Thanks for sharing :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Tess: I'm so glad you like those flowers, I think they are bush sunflowers. They were so pretty that I made a deteor over railroad tracks and sand dune to get that shot.

VR: Your phrase "my heart cracks wide" is so apt. That's how I would feel if I moved away from the Pacific Ocean.

Wen: It was wonderful, but 3K does sound like peanuts whenever you post your word count. I still don't know how you do it.

Yvonne: I know! We are poisoning our seas. It is terrible to consider the consequences.

Bridget: You would LOVE those ships. And lucky kids get to spend the night aboard on field trips with crews dressed as sailors from the 1800s. Hundreds of people volunteer to do the upkeep so the ships in sailing condition. Every year in September they have a Tall Ship Festival and a bunch of them sail into the harbor.

Julie Dao said...

Sounds like you had a magical time by the sea! I love starfish, I just think they are such amazing creatures. And so are octopi... their suction cup tentacles scare me but fascinate me at the same time. Amazing pictures as always. It makes me long to walk barefoot on the shore and smell that salty sunny air.

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

oh my, an absolutely beautiful way to spend a wekk, and you got a lot of writing in. So close now!!

I laughed out loud at Jellies Gone Wild, by the way. Ha!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi Julie: I find octopi fascinating, and this one was curling and uncurling, stretching out and moving. It was showtime!

Carol: Ha, I'm glad you laughed. I was in a silly mood, for sure. ;)

Donna said...

Since I the jellyfish picture came up first and since I saw it before I read anything, I thought, oh, Tricia has wandered into a bridal shop. Look at all the translucent white hats and veils.

Unknown said...

I've said it before and I'll say it are an AMAZING photographer! Love the jellyfish in particular.

Jackee said...

How amazing! Thanks for giving me just one more place to dream about visiting some day.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Donna: Very funny the associations the brain can make!

Beth: Ah, shucks. Thank you!

Jackee: San Clemente is a wonderful small, beach town. There are so few of those left. And the Ocean Institute is just north. It is an ideal place for a visit. Hope you get there someday.