“There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath…” – Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
The song of the Siren. As much a part of sea life as sharks, seaweed, and dolphins. It’s seduced many a wanderer, curious about the hidden world just beneath water’s glass-like surface. The song teases the adventurous, coaxing us to come and play. To explore. To wander.
Each melody is different, unique for each soul in search of adventure. My Siren song is sung by whales. The large, yet gentle creatures that rule the ocean. They’re the protectors. The intelligent. The curious. The royal beings of oceanic hierarchy.
So when the dynamic duo behind Wander approached me about creating my own adventure using their platform, I naturally jumped at the chance. An opportunity to answer the song and visit my friends in sea.
My friend, Morgan, joined me on the adventure and we immediately booked a trip through Wander’s website. Santa Barbara was the destination of choice for a weekend filled with outdoor adventures and whale watching. The best part of booking adventures through Wander? With every trip booked, they donate a percentage of their profits to one of five charity partners and you get to choose which one. We chose The World Wildlife Foundation, as it perfectly aligned with our weekend’s theme.
Just two hours from Los Angeles, the drive to Santa Barbara was beautiful, thanks to a season of heavy rain. The hills were adorned in all shades of green – a rare experience in our desert climate. As we got closer, the smell of salt water grew stronger.
Our hotel, Pacifica Suites, was beyond expectations. It came complete with a sitting area, a book filled with favorite local restaurant recommendations, bikes to borrow, and a king size bed. Morgan’s favorite was the decadent robe. Mine – the hot breakfast we had waiting for us the next morning
We went to bed early that night, after adventuring around on borrowed bikes, excited for the what the next morning had in store. Best. Night. Of. Sleep. Ever. It’s what I imagine it would feel like to sleep on a cloud.
The next morning. We woke up; lingered over our hot breakfast (super delicious, by the way). Then we packed up and headed off in search of our Siren song.
Stearn’s Wharf was our next stop. We explored, visiting all the cute local shops on the pier. The song of the Sirens slowly got louder. Finally we boarded our ship and headed out to sea.
Full disclosure, our whale friends were not super anxious to come out and play. Early in the adventure a mama and her calf would tease us, breaking the surface only to slip back below seconds later. And as silly as it may be, I really had my heart set on seeing more than just an occasional glimpse. I mean, I know wasn’t going to get full Discovery Channel breaching, but still….their shyness made me sad.
As we toured the seas, my mind wandered and questioned. Why were they staying away? What made them want to hide from us? And then I remembered a documentary my friend (and former WCW Spotlight) Tracy shared with me. She’s one of the smartest people I know and also one of the most caring when it comes to the environment (she does work for the NRDC after all).
The documentary touches specifically on noise pollution in the ocean and the effects it has on our aquatic mammal friends. As we learned early in life, whales, dolphins, and other oceanic mammals communicate through sonar. A sound I affectionately refer to as my Siren song. However, as we more freight and military ships enter the ocean, the noisier it gets.
Over the past several years ocean noise produced by humans has increased exponentially, causing two very big problems for our friends in the sea. The first, it’s making it harder for them to hear each other and confusing them – what are all these new sounds and what do they mean? Second, it’s creating a ton of stress on these majestic creatures – the noise never stops. Never. Animal produced sonar is used for specific communication needs, it is not something continuous. Man-made sonar is constant. Perhaps that is why they are staying away. They merely want some peace and quiet to just be. That is something I more than understand.
All in all, my trip was everything I was hoping it to be, and more. I did get to see whales, which is better than not seeing any. It was a pretty great adventure. I’ll be back on Wander soon enough, booking my next adventure.
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