Right Place, Right Time … Right Whale!

An amazing discovery beyond our window on January 15, 2020!

The elusive North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis, which means “good, or true, whale of the ice”), one of the most endangered marine animals on the planet, swam right past our current abode in South Nags Head, North Carolina!

Behold his dolphin friend! We shot this photo from the shoreline in South Nags Head, North Carolina.

Once found in abundance, these magnificent creatures were hunted to the brink of extinction, and sadly, due to a number of factors—including water and noise pollution, entanglements, collisions with ships, and falling birth rates—their populations are desperately struggling to recover; by some estimates, there are only about four hundred North Atlantic right whales left on Earth.

Four hundred!

On the entire planet!

Not only is this tragic, it also underscores just how astounding it is that this gorgeous creature—a member of a species that can grow as long as a school bus, weigh up to seventy tons, and live close to one hundred years—swam right before our eyes in its natural environment, surrounded by playful dolphins, heading south to warmer waters.

Because North Atlantic right whales are so incredibly rare, marine and wildlife conservation organizations collect and analyze information about sightings to further inform their efforts. When we contacted the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and the North Atlantic Right Whale Conservation Program about our sighting and shared our photographs, representatives from both agencies immediately and very excitedly confirmed that it was indeed this exceptionally endangered creature. Within just a few hours, our sighting was cataloged into the NOAA Right Whale Sighting Advisory System website, which provides detailed information about migratory patterns and confirmed accounts of these beautiful mammals’ whereabouts.

Based upon the photographs we took from our balcony vantage point and offered to conservationists, this right whale was identified by the unique callosities on his face—and as luck would have it, he has a well-documented history. According to representatives from the Northeast Right Whale Survey with NOAA Fisheries, he is a fourteen-year-old male named Salem, born off the coast of Florida in January 2006 to a mama whale named Silt (or “Miss Silt,” down here in the South, ha ha). 

We now know from further researching the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog—which compiles aerial photographs, field notes, and other documentation of the whales—that Salem traveled from his birthplace in Florida all the way to the Bay of Fundy (where he was repeatedly sighted between August and November 2006) and then back to Florida by December in his first year alone! Over the years, while frequenting his Florida birthplace and the Bay of Fundy, he has also been repeatedly sighted in Cape Cod BayMassachusetts Bay, the Great South Channel, Jeffrey’s Ledge, the Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of St. Lawrence,  and off the coast of Georgia. The distance between the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the coast of Florida is approximately two thousand miles!

The following entries in the field notes for the Center for Coastal Studies further illustrate Salem’s travels and behaviors:

February 27, 2018: Salem’s first sighting in Cape Cod Bay was when he was a yearling in 2007, and since then has been seen here every year since with the exception of 2013!

March 12, 2018: This time he was indulging in unique behavior. He was continuously swimming on his side, slapping his pectoral flipper on the surface of the water and blowing bubbles under water. Such behavior is more common from humpbacks but getting to see some variation to the usual feeding behaviors seen in Cape Cod Bay was a treat. (See a Center for Coastal Studies’ aerial photo of his above-described behavior here.)

Salem has a friend named Fiddle with whom he sometimes pals around.

January 26, 2019: We were excited to identify the two individual right whales as EgNo 3617, Salem, and EgNo 1121, Fiddle. These are both mature males that often return to Cape Cod Bay to feed in the winter.

February 3, 2019: We kept our eyes peeled and ended up finding 3 other whales near him. Of these other three animals were Mantis, Tripelago’s 2017 calf, and Salem.

May 8, 2019: We found 13 right whales including #1204 and her calf, many juvenile animals that we have been seeing consistently over the past few weeks, and #3617 “Salem,” an adult male who we have not seen in Cape Cod Bay in a month.

For aerial photos of Salem, taken by wildlife conservationists and as provided via the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog, please click here.

Did you know that whales capture carbon and thus limit the accumulation of greenhouse gases? Protecting whales protects the earth, which protects all of us!

We are passionate about environmental conservation, sustainable living, and responsible guardianship of the natural world. Please consider learning more about safeguarding our planet.

What Is Underneath?

Gili, our goodwill ambassador, has a message for everyone today:

Summer haircuts. They’re not my favorite! My wonderfully soft fur that everyone tells me is so fabulous and adorable is mercilessly mowed down by ravenous clippers. What is underneath? A little worm? I am unrecognizable!

Before …

… and after!

I shared these sentiments with my dear friend Miss Stephanie, whom I count among my long list of admirers, and she said something really helpful and insightful:

“Mr. Gili, please understand your beauty and worth are not in your luxurious fur but in your sweet soul.”

Miss Stephanie is right, of course, and not just about me, goodwill ambassador for ScriptAcuity Studio, but about everyone. Let us all try to remember to truly see one another. What is underneath the exteriors of those you meet?

We all share this planet, and we are all trying to live a happy life. We make it easier for ourselves and one another to do so when we offer kindness first.

Let me know what you think. E-mail me at gili@scriptacuity.com.

650 Books!

Today, we began work on our 650th book!

Interestingly enough, a quick peek at our records reveals that Sara received her very first manuscript to edit exactly ten years ago today—May 8, 2009.

Said another way, that is 650 books in 520 weeks. That equates to an average of 1.25 full-scale books every single week for ten consecutive years.

Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash

Active and Passive Voice

In books, classes, or seminars that teach writing techniques, writers often hear this tip:

Use active voice rather than passive voice.

While this is frequently recommended, as with many other writing suggestions, there are cases when writers disregard it.

Before we discuss those cases, it’s important to understand the difference between the active voice and the passive voice.

As the name implies, the active voice refers to writing where the subject of the sentence performs the action. Alternatively, passive voice refers to writing where the subject of the sentence is acted upon by the verb.

For example, observe the comical slogan on this Piggly Wiggly T-shirt, which demonstrates the active voice:

In this case, the subject (I) performs the action (dig) on the object (pig).

In passive voice, however, the sentence could be written thus:

The pig is dug by me

In this case, the subject in the sentence (pig) remains passive and receives the action (dug) by the object (me).

According to The Chicago Manual of Style (5.115 in the sixteenth edition; 5.118 in the seventeenth) and other sources, active voice should be used over passive voice, but not in all circumstances. What are some of those cases?

Here is one example from Chicago:

The choice between active and passive voice may depend on which point of view is desired. For instance, the mouse was caught by the cat describes the mouse’s experience, whereas the cat caught the mouse describes the cat’s.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Writing Center provides another example, to keep the subject and focus consistent:

The data processing department recently presented what proved to be a controversial proposal to expand its staff. After long debate, the proposal was endorsed by …

(Source: https://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/CCS_activevoice.html)

Do you have other examples of passive voice or situations where passive voice can be beneficial? Drop us a line and tell us!

Happy Winter Solstice!

We are all in for a treat this year—in addition to the winter solstice, the moon will be very nearly full—a confluence that, according to many sources, will not happen again until 2094—and the Ursid meteor shower is expected to simultaneously dazzle overhead. For many who love the night sky, it is inspiring and feels rather magical.

As we have noted in the past, solstices possess a unifying characteristic—everyone in the world experiences them more or less simultaneously, and they connect us with the celebratory traditions of countless cultures around the world. Perhaps consider borrowing one to welcome the lengthening days  … or simply sip some cocoa, toast your toes by a cozy fire, and rejoice in the start of the return to the light.

And, as a special treat, for our readers who celebrate Christmas, Gili, our goodwill ambassador, sends his special love and holiday greetings!

(Gili loves fan mail and always happily responds; he invites you to e-mail him at gili@scriptacuity.com!)

Happy Winter Solstice and Happy Holidays!

600 Books!

Today marks an exciting day here at ScriptAcuity Studio! We have received our 600th full-scale manuscript!

Many, many thanks to Hanna Kjeldbjerg, creative director with Beaver’s Pond Press, for this honor! (Hanna, this is redeemable for one free stay with us wherever we happen to be!)

This is technically our 839th editing project when we account for some of our very short projects such as children’s books, web-based educational content, résumés, and the like since the company’s founding.

We have also surpassed the 43,000,000-word mark. This is of particular note given that we conduct multiple rounds of edits on every manuscript, meaning that those same 43 million words have all been edited multiple times.

Help us celebrate!

First Official Week on the Job

Gili’s first official week as our card-carrying goodwill ambassador has been quite a success. Prior to this week, he’s had a good go at meeting and greeting the many diverse people of the Charlottesville area. In addition to handing out a handful of his cards, he’s also stopped for several photo opportunities, including with Kim at Thistle Gate Vineyard:


Gili is looking forward to exploring many new places and revisiting some of his favorite haunts to share more of what we refer to as Gili’s Plan: “Love and be loved.”

Introducing Gili’s Work!

We have an exciting and important announcement.

“I’ve joined the ScriptAcuity Studio team!”

Gili has officially joined the ScriptAcuity Studio team as our goodwill ambassador.

Gili works hard and travels far and wide to find people in need of goodwill.

It is an important role, and he takes his work very seriously. He steadfastly champions our mission of creating excellent work in a positive, productive, efficient, and healthy environment, and he regularly reminds us of the importance of a meaningful work-life balance.

Additionally, his work extends beyond our office to the world around him as he travels with us and encounters others in need of goodwill. His diligent efforts add immeasurable value both to those he meets and to ScriptAcuity Studio.

Gili fortifies his strength and indulges in some self-care after a day of spreading goodwill.

Please join us in welcoming him to his important new position. Gili invites you to reach out to him at gili@scriptacuity.com.

Quill & Ink Spring/Summer 2018

We hope you enjoy the latest issue of Quill & Ink, in which we discuss many of the places we’ve been in our first year on the road, as well as the challenges and losses we’ve faced. As always, thanks for reading!

(Please click the image to view the latest issue.)

Please enjoy, and drop us a line with any questions, comments, or suggestions!