Tag Archives | environment


Mystery of the Red Tide

I stood with my feet buried in sand, staring at the ocean waves as they touched the beach. It was mid-October. To my untrained eye, the Monterey Bay shoreline looked like a child’s bubble bath. To California Fish and Wildlife scientists, it was a terrible déjà vu. Nine years ago, an algal bloom wreaked havoc—and…

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Olive ridley sea turtle hatchlings on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. Photo by Sukee Bennett.

How does one turtle’s tale promote ocean conservation?

I watched nearly 2,000 baby olive ridley sea turtles hatch while working on a sea turtle conservation project in Costa Rica. Most of them were born in our human-made hatchery from wild eggs we had relocated— each hatchling crawled and tumbled upon dozens of siblings in a sheltered plot, eager to be free. Others were…

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Peter Gleick: top water scientist doggedly pursues conservation

The man in the shirt and tie with thin-rimmed glasses, a graying beard, and slightly tousled hair spoke with confidence and carefully chosen words. He was being interviewed on “Inside Story,” a TV news program on Al-Jazeera America, at its San Francisco studio. The segment, called “Poor People’s Water,” aired in late January and focused…

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A fog collector waters chard on top of a campus building at California State University, Monterey Bay. Photo: Dan Fernandez

Trees Capture Fog — So Why Can’t We?

[This is cross-posted from Bay Nature. Thanks to Alison Hawkes for editing assistance.] A gauzy marine layer regularly envelops California’s Central Coast, wafting waves of misty air over the landscape. Even during a crippling drought, all that water, albeit airborne, is all around us. What if you could capture it? It’s an idea that’s been…

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“Monarch in May.” Image credit: Kenneth Dwain Harrelson via Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 3.0. http://bit.ly/1CbXgQf

Long Live the Monarch, an Ambassador for Nature

Monarch butterflies always take me back to elementary school. I remember watching and waiting for weeks as bright green caterpillars munched on milkweed plants in our classroom terrarium, then wound themselves overnight into snug chrysalises. Just writing ‘chrysalis’ makes me feel like I’m 10 again and peering at the dangling little insect sleeping bags, wondering…

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A sea otter in Prince William Sound, Alaska
(Photo by Laura R

A bacterial blight on Alaskan otters’ hearts

Whiffen the sea otter passed away on May 10 during an MRI scan at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. Three months earlier he was found stranded on a beach, his hind flippers injured. According to the aquarium’s veterinarian, Whiffen was likely infected with Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite from cat feces that finds its…

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Coyote mint
Monardella villosa subspecies villosa
Henry W. Coe State Park, Santa Clara County
© 2009 Barry Breckling

The lumping and splitting of California’s treasures

On African savannas, poachers have forced black rhinos nearly to extinction. Closer to home, poaching, poisoning and habitat loss threaten California condors. Yet nearly 60 percent of all endangered species in California are plants. With more than 6,000 native plant species, the Golden State is so rich that Conservation International calls it a biodiversity hotspot….

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The ATHLETE vehicle at one of its fuel cell charging stations. Credit: JPL/NASA

Fuel Cells…in Space!

When it comes to exploring strange new worlds, NASA’s ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) is one tricked-out rover. The robotic vehicle (pictured) has six wheels attached to six spider-like legs that move independently to traverse the bumpy surfaces of Mars, the Moon, asteroids and beyond. The whole setup acts as a giant platform for whatever…

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But is it Eco Art?

Environmental art pioneers Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison have an exhibit at UC Santa Cruz’s Sesnon Gallery this quarter. It’s part of a larger focus on environmental art, including a series of lectures on Wednesday nights. I’m in Mountain View on Wednesdays and couldn’t attend the lectures, but the guests are an intriguing mix of…

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