Working Backwards: Clearwater film and fog

Thanks to a connection made by Eric Becker, over the past year I’ve had the honor of working with some amazing filmmakers, Tracy Rector and Lou Karsen from Longhouse Media.

They are making an beautiful film called “Clearwater:  written in the hearts of our people”, a nonfiction film about the health of the Puget Sound and the unique relationship of the tribal people to the water. Join us as we meet geoduck divers, listen to elders, travel with fishermen, learn from biologists and explore with the youth as we come to understand the beauty of the regions culture and the impending impacts of ocean acidification.

You can view their kickstarter here.

I feel like Clearwater is a perfect addition to the other films I’m working on, part of a larger story arc that can either be watched stand alone, like an episode of Doctor Who, or if you watch all the pieces you will have a over-arching view of not only the pollution that is causing some of Puget Sounds primary issues, but a more global view of its impacts.

Because of this feeling of kinship I donated some of my footage to the project and have henceforth been lucky enough to do a bit of work as their Underwater DP / Underwater videographer.   The experience has been immeasurable, I have dove with tribal geoduck divers, shared that video with the elders, and in turn, listened to poignant stories from those same elders describing loss of habitat and livelihood.

Most recently my assignment was to capture some kelp footage for a vignette in the story…  We’d planned for months, passed up on the crummy visibility summer months, waited until juuuust the right time, when vis was getting good….

Only to run into a fog bank.

<deep sigh>

We stuck to the non-foggy side, shot a bit of underwater footage at Huckleberry Island and then searched for Kelp to no avail.   The boat I got to dive off of was pretty cool, a landing craft of sorts research/survey boat so very shallow draft and was able to drive the bow right up onto the beach.    This was cool, gear up on the boat, walk off onto the beach, shore boat diving all in one!

We headed west, towards the islands, to see if the fog was going to let us sneak in, but no joy.

The searching for kelp beds in areas that they ‘should have been’ reminded me of the importance of the film I was working on.   One of the stories from the elders was about the loss of kelp beds in the mid and south sound.   He pointed on a map where beds had been…  Sadly most if not all are gone.

Why are they gone?   Habitat destruction, shoreline armoring, pollution, all of the above…

Is there hope?  Go take a walk down at the Sculpture park, look out into the water.  This area was restored,  huge stormwater outfall capped, and a little bit of shoreline opened up.   Its not  back to original by a long shot, but what you will see is a little kelp bed forming.  I know this shoreline well, my dive shop used to be on pier 70, and that area was a dead zone.

Given half a chance, nature recovers.


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