Monday, May 28, 2007

Update On Whales, Delta and Dawn

It appears Delta and Dawn are now determined to return to the Pacific Ocean. After undergoing shooting streams of water from fire hoses, tissue sample extractions, and injected antibiotics, Friday and Saturday, on Sunday afternoon the pair began to move rather determinedly downstream. By Sunday evening they were spotted just east of the Benicia-Martinez Bridge area, and today they are continuing their travel and as long as they don’t veer off the proper path they should find their way into San Francisco Bay and then out to sea soon. The Coast Guard are keeping a close watch on them and I assume ready with the shooting water streams if they change direction.

It has been two weeks since they were spotted inland. I read an estimate on Delta’s size as being about 45 feet long, 60,000 to 70,000 lbs, and the calf likely to be a large one year old or a small two year old.

I’m still curious, as many are, including scientist, as to what made them swim inland and into fresh water, and then to suddenly decide to now retrace their path from the ocean. Fascinating.

Let’s hope they are able to make their way through San Francisco Bay and dodge any ships that may be there.

~ Linda

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Humpback Whales, Delta and Dawn in Sacramento

I’ve been wondering if Delta and Dawn are related to Humphrey?

If you haven’t been catching the news this past week, you may not have any idea what the heck I’m writing about. Delta and Dawn are names given to two wayward humpback whales, a mother and her calf, who have wandered inland more than ninety miles to the port of Sacramento, CA. Humphrey is the 40 foot, 40 ton, humpback whale who made nearly the same excursion in 1985. He went as far as Rio Vista, twenty miles or so south of the port of Sacramento. He wondered around the deep channel for nearly a month before swimming back to the Golden Gate area and out to sea. Then in 1990 he was spotted again inland at the Bodega Bay area. His adventure nearly ended when he beached himself in the mud in San Francisco. He was last seen in 1991. There is a plaque at Rio Vista honoring Humphrey’s Sacramento River journey. Many of the people out observing Delta and Dawn are children and grandchildren of those who saw Humphrey on his travels.

Delta and Dawn, names picked by choice of local television viewers, were spotted in the Sacramento River up stream of Rio Vista, May 14. Take a look at a map and see how amazing their journey has been from the Pacific Ocean to Sacramento. The deep channel is not very wide at all. When they arrived at the port area the other day, they swam in circles, unable to go further north because of locks. On Friday, the coast guard and marine mammal people used whale sounds in the hopes of tempting them to start a swim south but that did not work. They decided to leave them alone for the weekend and then on Sunday they started to move south and went as far as the Rio Vista bridge, but then turned around and headed north again. The Coast Guard, Fish and Game, and County Sheriff’s put a floatilla of about 25 boats in action today to discourage their movement north but by late Monday afternoon they were about five miles north of the Rio Vista bridge heading toward the port again. The experts believe the bridge may have stressed them, with the vibrations of traffic crossing, etc., causing them to reverse their course again.

Monday they had hoped to insert a tag tracking device in Delta but put that off until Tuesday. They did take a tissue sample for genetic study from her to check her health and identify what pod they may be from. They also began banging on pipes underwater from the boats to encourage their movement away, and plan to use that device again Tuesday morning.

Another question I have is what would make whales leave their migration route and stray so far from the ocean? I don’t think the scientist can answer that unless a reason is that the mammal is ill. So that leaves another possibility: maybe some time back, Humphrey mentioned his adventures and this mother had nothing else to do but do some inland exploration. Let’s hope she hasn’t got herself and her young calf into a situation she cannot get out of.

Oh, one more question comes to mind. How do the experts know that Delta and Dawn are female. They said that from the beginning of the sighting. I assume the calf swims with the mother but they have stated the calf is female. Does it have to do with coloration? Or?
For some great video of the adventures of Delta and Dawn check out the Sacramento Television station web site. They’ve had great coverage.

The natural migration of birds, butterflies, and mammals has always fascinated me. The swallows returning every March 19, St. Joseph’s Day, to San Juan Capistrano Mission; the Monarch butterflies to Pacific Grove in Northern CA; the whales; the birds. And I believe they communicate with each other. You know how it is: put out bird seed when not a single bird is in sight, and soon you have one bird, and within minutes a whole flock arrives to scatter seed!

~ Linda

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Simon and Schuster and Author Contracts

The Authors Guild (of which I’ve been a member since 1990) sent out a notice to members early this week to let us know that publisher, Simon and Schuster has made changes to their standard contracts with authors. Traditionally all major publishers follow the practice in which rights to a work revert to the author if the book falls out of print or if its sales are low. Their new contract language apparently will no longer include minimum sales requirement for a work to be considered in print, and the work would remain under their exclusive control as long as it is available in any form, including through its own in-house data base (POD) and not even available to be ordered by traditional bookstores. In essence, this would amount to an exclusive grants of right in perpetuity. And as the Authors Guild suggests, this would effectively mean the publisher would co-own the author’s copyright.

The Authors Guild, who represents thousands of writers, states this is unacceptable. And most authors and agents would agree! This is very troubling. It will mean more negotiation for an author to protect his rights. Simon and Schuster is now stating that the Authors Guild is over-reacting and that they will negotiate reversion clauses on a "book-by-book basis."

An author wants to have control of his work. Books normally have a short shelf life, sometimes as short as three or four months, unless it really catches on. In this scenario, Simon and Schuster could publish a book, and it might have a short run, and even after a reasonable length of time when rights traditionally and usually revert, they could continue to consider the book "in print" as a Print on Demand, forever.

In many cases, an author wants to take back the rights of out-of-print books so they can give their work a new life with a new publisher. That happens often. When Don Pendleton’s six Joe Copp, Private Eye novels and six Ashton Ford, Psychic Detective novels were out of print, I asked for the rights back and soon put them into print again.

Richard S. Prather is another example: his Shell Scott mystery series is available again after many years, and his 1952 novel, The Peddler, was published a few months ago by Hard Case Crime.

I’m sure we will be hearing more on this from literary agents and authors. It’s difficult enough negotiating a decent contract without having this added issue.