Ocean One Blog

An ongoing series of informational entries


October 2, 2017

     An illustrator helps to bring a story to life.  Coupled with the text, the illustrations communicate the story that the author wishes to convey.  Although my illustrator, Sue Lynn Cotton, and I have never met, she was wonderful to work with while developing the final product, Ocean One: Only One Ocean, Only One Chance.  To help Sue Lynn in creating the illustrations that I envisioned for the book, I sent her copies of photographs that I had taken while I was stationed on Kure Atoll.  For example, the cover depicts a Hawaiian Monk Seal entangled in derelict fishing line.  The seal's mournful eyes seem to not only cry for help to get untangled, but cry for help in cleaning up our ocean so these unfortunate events do not continue to occur.

     The backstory to the photograph/cover illustration is that I had actually helped (along with a fellow Coastie) a Hawaiian Monk Seal that I found on the beach.  Even while I was stationed on Kure, we were told not to get too close to the seals, especially the female seals with pups because they could get very aggressive (think about a protective mama bear and her cubs, only worse!).  I encountered the seal in my photograph while walking the island.  He was laying on the beach looking so sad that it broke my heart.  I ran back to the barracks to get help and a knife to cut the fishing line that was tangled around his neck.  I also convinced someone to come back with me to help the seal.  It did not take long to free the seal, who happily wobbled back into the lagoon.  I was always so happy that we helped him that day.  

     Here's a challenge: for those who have read Ocean One, go back and find an illustration that may be tied to one of my original photographs.  Contact me with your guess about the story behind it.  You will receive a special surprise for participating!

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