Being a dive bum, I don't have a lot of money to buy fancy presents for all my friends... whether they celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza or some ancient Druid winter ritual. Of course I'd like to because I'm a pretty giving guy, but I need to save my pennies to pay for the air fills required to bring back my stories to write about. As a reader of this week's column, you are probably familiar with this weekly labor of love. It does bring in a small pittance, too. However, some of my Catalina-based followers and most of my international readers may not be aware of my cable TV shows.
For many years Catalina Cable TV and Charter Communications on the mainland have been offering my first show, "Dive Dry with Dr. Bill." More than 130 30-minute episodes feature highlights from my dives in chronological order. Although these episodes have cost me a substantial amount to produce, they have not generated a red cent (or even a copper one) of revenue. No, the cable networks aren't being greedy. This show is a public access show and therefore free to any provider willing to air it. Thank you to Catalina Cable and Charter Communications for doing so.
Over the past three years I've focused on a completely different type of show, "Munching and Mating in the Macrocystis." This one is a much more structured show, focusing on the natural history of the many species resident in our giant kelp (Macrocystis) forests and the ecology of this and other SoCal ecosystems. The introductory episode describes the show as an attempt to present the stage for the ecological play (the kelp forest), the "biographies" or profiles of the actors in that play (the natural history of the critters themselves) and the script (the interactions between these characters that comprise the ecological and evolutionary story).
I have completed more than forty episodes of this new show. Each one is 22 minutes long. Why so short you ask? Because with this show I intend to make my fortune just like Jacques Cousteau! That's right... this show leaves room for a whopping eight minutes of commercial interruptions... standard format for a 30 minute TV time slot. I had to give my loyal viewers time to go to the bathroom or fix a snack. Seriously, my plan is to actually sell this series to regional cable TV markets to air with ads for SCUBA shops, gear manufacturers, dive boats and anyone else with more money than brains (unlike me who has more brains than money).
As viewers, you will see episodes on giant kelp and why it is so important ecologically, and economically... not to mention how it helped the Allies win World War I. Other shows will look at various groups of fish such as the wrasses, basses, damsels (oh la la) or sharks (without the sensationalism of Shark Week). Invertebrates including the echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins and their relatives) and cephalopods (squid and octopus) not to mention the plankton (oops, I just did) will also be part of the show. Even marine mammals such as sea lions, whales and dolphins will be featured. And consistent with the series title, munching and mating (two of the three most critical functions of any species) will be featured for each of the characters!
Once the cast of characters is revealed, the series will shift into episodes that discuss the ways in which these species interact with one another. In essence this will be a mini course in ecology so people will better understand the connectedness between living things... including Homo sapiens. You will learn about food webs, trophic levels, the recycling of matter, the flow of energy (including the Laws of Thermodynamics... aren't you thrilled?), population dynamics and other aspects of ecosystem functioning. Evolution will also be touched upon since it is critical to understanding how species, and ecosystems, adapt (or don't, ask the dinosaurs) over time. Finally there will be shows that focus on some of the most serious impacts on the health of our oceans such as invasions of non-native species, pollution and over fishing.
But wait, Dr. Bill... you said this was a gift. If it's a commercial show, how can that be? Well, for our island residents and visitors the show will be offered on Catalina Cable TV during my normal time slot (Monday through Friday, 10:00 AM, Channel 29) so if you already have even basic cable you will receive it. That makes it a gift from me and Catalina Cable TV (thanks Ralph!). For mainland readers, you may have to help me with a little legwork of your own. Write or call your cable TV provider and DEMAND they air my show. They'll probably reply "Who the heck is Dr. Bill?" so send them to my website page about the show . Tune in, turn on (the TV) and drop... under the water, while staying warm and dry. I think you will like it. If you don't, I'll give you back your money!
© 2010 Dr. Bill Bushing. Watch the "Dive Dry with Dr. Bill" underwater videos on Catalina Cable TV channel 29, 10:00 AM weekdays and on Charter Communications Cable channel 33 at 7:30 PM on Tuesdays in the Riverside/Norco area. Please help me climb out of self-imposed poverty... buy my DVD's (see this link). Yes, take Dr. Bill home with you... we'll both be glad you did!
To return to the list of ALL of Dr. Bill's "Dive Dry" newspaper columns, click here.
Munching and Mating in the Macrocystis with your host, Dr. Bill
This document maintained by
Dr. Bill Bushing.
Material and images © 2010 Star Thrower Educational Multimedia