Sound Waters offers 'one day university for all'
By DAN PEDERSEN
Whidbey News Times Contributor
January 4, 2010 · Updated 9:28 AM
Nearly 90-feet down off South Whidbey Island, diver Jon Gross meets the welcoming committee and it is not happy.
“The male lingcod is guarding a clutch of eggs from predators. This particular fish is living in an old wreck a mile off Possession Point. Only the male is on egg-guarding duty and he is very bold,” Gross said. “Lingcod will stand their ground against intruding photographers.”
Gross takes his pictures quickly and leaves, letting the lingcod win this encounter with the alien from above.
Getting to the right place for a photo like this can be a challenge, Gross explains. “Locating the spot and then dropping through almost 90-feet of water can be a little hit-and-miss, especially if there is a lot of plankton in the water.”
In his many years of undersea photography, Gross has taken thousands of stunning images of marine creatures and plants in the waters of Island County, Puget Sound and the coasts of Washington and British Columbia. He sells them for scientific, editorial, commercial, fine art and display use from his website, www.jongrossphotography.com.
Gross will share some of the best on Saturday, Feb. 6, when he presents “Kelp to Crab,” one of 60 classes for which the public may register in the day-long Sound Waters event at Coupeville Middle and High Schools.
To register, mark your calendar for Monday, Jan. 4, and visit the Sound Waters website, or call WSU Extension at 679-7327 for a printed copy of the registration booklet. Cost to register for the full day of any three classes, plus keynote address, is $35. Lunch may be pre-ordered for $7.
Year-after-year, Sound Waters attracts a capacity crowd of some 600 attendees from the community. Early registration is encouraged, since favorite classes fill fast.
“Sound Waters provides a great opportunity to share insights about the environment we love,” Gross says. “Since it is so difficult to get to this underwater world, I enjoy showing people what lives in that murky green water. The sizes and colors of the animals and seaweeds living here are always a surprise.”
Gross says he hopes to help people understand that their day-to-day activities really matter. “When you dump bleach into the sink, for example, you are affecting the lives of these animals.”
In addition to his class, others will run the gamut from sustainable building to ocean acidity, orcas, Coast Salish peoples, wild mushrooms, Rosario tidepools, gardening and wildlife, septic system care, safe harvest of shellfish, wildlife art and photography, bats, Penn Cove Shellfish, fly fishing, earthquakes and tsunamis, kayaking, building green and much more.
Keynote speaker will be Nat Scholz, a Whidbey resident and scientist at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. He’ll be discussing the ecological impacts of toxic stormwater runoff and what to do about it.