The Whole Picture

Did you take these for just some stunning water colors? Well, these are hard data on climate change. An artistic expression of an ugly, oft overlooked truth. Jill Pelto, the artist, who graduated in December from the University of Maine with a degree in earth science and studio art, created these paintings based on graphs of data on the environmental effects of climate change.

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Traveling by Water

Many are the memories created on the banks of rivers, in the middle of the sea, and along ocean tides. PHOTO: Abrachan Pudussery

Many are the memories created on the banks of rivers, in the middle of the sea, and along ocean tides. PHOTO: Abrachan Pudussery

At Xandari Riverscapes, water is everything. Sharing the Kerala backwaters with all those who choose to travel with us has always been about sharing stories of the waters. Of the paddy fields that hug the river banks, canoes that transport groceries and construction material to the hinterlands, women and children fishing and splashing around near their waterfront homes, fishing boats, and more. And so this soulful piece on water’s incredible power to flow by memories resonates with us all through:

Water is great. We tune ourselves to it, to its murmured song of ebb and flow, of wave and ripple, in seas, rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, ponds, snows. We drink it, we bathe in it, we stare at dark clouds praying for their sudden moment of release of it. “Take me somewhere magical,” my favorite cousin once said. So I did, to sail the sea. By the third day our ship was completely out of sight of land, nothing but water curving with the horizon.

“Oh,” she said. “Oh. That’s exactly what I needed.”

Below us, the swells rolled, allowing us to dance with them until our very steps were full of the lift of waves. In our own small way, our steps lifting with the waves, we were tuning the ocean as we sailed—and it, in turn, was tuning us.

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Helping the Ocean Clean Up

The Ocean Cleanup started tests in 2014 to see if the floating barriers are a feasible way to remove garbage. PHOTO: The Ocean Cleanup

The Ocean Cleanup started tests in 2014 to see if the floating barriers are a feasible way to remove garbage. PHOTO: The Ocean Cleanup

Dutch engineering student Boyan Slat announced in a 2012 TEDx talk that he had invented a way for the oceans to rid themselves of plastic with minimal human intervention. About 8 million tons of plastic enters the ocean each year. Part of this accumulates in 5 areas where currents converge: the gyres. At least 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are currently in the oceans, a third of which is concentrated in the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Slat’s idea is to building a stationary array with floating barriers that would filter and collect floating plastic using the ocean’s natural currents.

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Citizen Science in Belize: Part 2/2 – If You Can’t Beat’em, Eat’em

Photo by Alexander Vasenin

Lionfish sushi – Photo © World Lionfish Hunters Association (click on photo to visit their website)

In Part 1 of this post I talked about the lionfish invasion that is threatening coral reef and other marine ecosystems throughout the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and Southern Atlantic Seaboard of the United States.  Scientists, environmental groups and governments that are studying the problem have all come to the conclusion that it is probably impossible to eradicate lionfish in the Atlantic – they are here to stay. Continue reading

Citizen Science in Belize: Part 1/2

Photo © ReefCI

Photo © ReefCI

It might seem strange to accompany a posting about marine conservation with a photo of a fish on a spear, but in this case, it is entirely warranted.

I recently returned from the Sapodilla Cayes Marine Reserve in Southern Belize, where I spent two weeks working as a volunteer with ReefCI, a NGO dedicated to coral reef ecosystem conservation. Located 30 miles off the coast of Belize on the southern tip of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (the second largest in the world, after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef), the Sapodilla Cayes constitute a unique ecosystem.

Along with other volunteers, I assisted the ReefCI marine biologist with population surveys of conch, lobster, and commercial fish species, as well as coral reef health checks. At least one, and sometimes two surveys were carried out each day. The data collected is provided to the Belize Fisheries Department as well as to other cooperating NGOs.

Now about that fish on a spear. One of ReefCI’s projects is lionfish control. Spears Continue reading