This is a very personal and inspiring story about how caring for very small creatures can lead to a very big change in someone’s life. Meet Roger Hanson and his amazing friends.
My name is Roger Hanson. I am a retired school teacher, age 67, and tho I live 75 miles away, ten times a month, I drive to see my seahorse family in Long Beach, CA. (photo – Mark Rightmire)
This journey all started in 2015, when I built a city on the bottom of the ocean in 2015, to save mother octopi. In January of 2016, I was checking my octopi when a rare and unusual visitor roved in due to the warmer waters brought on by El Nino. First came one seahorse, then another, and another, Pacific Seahorses (Hippocampus Ingen) not normally seen this far north.
A Voyage of Discovery Into What is Really Important!
Locating these rare creatures brought local television knocking at my door. Stardom went to my head. My own egocentric quest got the best of me. I acted the fool, becoming the Pavioratti of seahorses and the Ingen turned their backs on me because I was becoming a pest. Then, their gentle love and beauty transformed me. (photo – Roger Hanson)
For five months I put down the camera and I studied seahorse behavior, learning that each Ingen had its own idiosyncrasies and personality. I threw out the old me and adopted a new persona, one that filled the ocean with the genuine Christian love I had been taught. I became compassionate, as if directed by a great force. By July of 2016, the Ingen had colonized. This time they knew my heart and it was pure. Now I was a welcomed member of their community.
Meet Bathsheba, Kenny, Deep Blue, and Daphne,
Winter came and little by little their weed beds died away, leaving them no cover from violent winter storms or predators. Desperate to help my friends, I built underwater biomes, 100% biodegradable, seahorse condominiums from branches and evergreen limbs. I watched, observed and took notes. The Ingen loved it. And so, in a bay in Long Beach, CA a beautiful symbiotic relationship developed between myself and Bathsheba, Kenny, Deep Blue, and Daphne, all inhabitants of the remarkable communities we are building below the waves.
During my second year of research two local professional dive instructors, Ashley Arnold, and Jake Fitzgerald, of Seal Beach joined my ranks. Both Ashley and Jake have made fast friends of the four seahorses, so much so that we have seen the Ingen for 469 consecutive dives. Since Ashley and Jake are ocean advocates and cherish life and living species, the seahorses immediately benefited from their positive love and attention.
Valuable Insight into Seahorse Behavior
By studying each biome, we are learning valuable information about Ingen mating customs, migration, as well as their daily interpersonal communication and feeding habits. The city of Long Beach has granted us a pass to study, videotape and photograph the colony during after-curfew ocean hours, when we hope to document rare, perhaps never-before seen footage of Ingen life.
We three divers have become a team. Ashley and Jake represent the next generation of young, enthusiastic educators and their presence inspires community members to take action and to love, appreciate and preserve the ocean environment and its dwindling resources.
I have spent the last seventeen months of my life living in a seahorse colony. It is my desire to continue until I have two full years in the colony, and then I will share my heart as to what it has been like to be adopted into another creature’s world.
Oh and by the way, I am a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, MA Reading and English, BA Elementary Ed, I am married to the most darling wife in the world, no lie! Her name is Carla, and she is the love of my Life. Me: PlatinumPro5000 2016. Retired PADI MSDT 90230. Live in Moreno Valley. CA
By Roger Hanson, Blue Ocean Network contributor
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