Under the Sea

“Water and air, the two essential fluids
on which all life depends,
have become global garbage cans.”
Jacques Yves Cousteau

Researchers are creating images of coral reefs along the lush and steep windward coast of the Hawaii island of Oahu.

Why? Because the coral reefs are in danger of dying due to the ever-increasing temperatures of the ocean waters.

These high-definition 360-degree panoramic images of the reefs are being used to monitor and study the health of corals over time. Scientists are concerned about how much coral off the coast of Hawaii already is beginning to bleach, especially because it’s the second such event in two years.

Coral bleaching occurs when ocean water temperatures rise and cause the coral to lose key nutrients, turning the normally colorful organism white. If bleaching recurs or is severe, the coral will eventually die.

The researchers use GPS tags and facial recognition technology to help identify and organize individual reef systems. As part of the project, the survey team has partnered with Google and uploads the images to Google Street View, allowing people to explore the underwater ecosystem via the Internet.

The Hawaii reef mapping is part of a larger project by the XL Catlin Seaview Survey research team to make thousands of images of reef around the world. These researchers are trying to understand why certain species of coral are more susceptible to bleaching than others, and they hope to find organisms that can adapt to warmer waters and remain healthy.

If you want to learn more about what’s happening to our oceans, check out Global Reef Record and explore a whole new world, under the sea.

Shine On


“He who can no longer pause
to wonder and stand rapt in awe,
is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”
Albert Einstein

For the past two decades, scientists have been studying the emotion called, awe. Growing research suggests that experiencing awe may lead to a wide range of long-term benefits, from happiness and health to perhaps more unexpected benefits such as generosity, humility, and critical thinking.

The research also suggests that taking the time to experience awe, whether through appreciating nature, enjoying art or music, or even watching YouTube videos, could be a way to improving your life and relationships.

Did you know that experiencing awe can improve your mood and make you more satisfied with your life? You don’t even need to take a trip to Tahiti to get the job done. You can experience awe by watching slideshows or videos of Tahiti to induce awe. It’s also possible that awe can even bring people together. Research tells us that awe helps us feel more connected to the people in our lives and to humanity as a whole.

What I found interesting about these recent studies is that people who experience awe more often, had a better understanding of nature and science and were more likely to reject creationism and other scientifically questionable explanations about the world. Importantly, these people didn’t have greater “faith” in science; they just understood better how science works.

In 2020, seeking awe should be a high priority. The power of awe may be a simple remedy to improve our outlook and have transformative effects. With increasing interest among psychologists and the public in the study of awe, the future looks bright. Maybe even awesome.

 Shine On

African Violets

“Keep calm and grow African Violets.”

If you live in a small home or apartment, there’s a compact plant that is easy to care for and can cost under $5.00. This colorful flowering plant with clusters of small, fuzzy-leaves originated in East Africa. Thanks to Baron Walter von Saint Paul-Illaire discovery around the 1890s of the Saintpaulia ionantha, now known as the African violet, it grows in homes and offices around the world.

Hardy enough to grow outdoors, the African violets are grown almost entirely as houseplants. There are approximately 10 different species. A full-sized plant typically measures 6 to 9 inches in both height and width. With dark green, thick fuzzy leaves and star-shaped blossoms of white, pink, purple or blue, the African violet makes a boring shelf, coffee table, credenza or desk top more joyful.

African violets are fairly easy to grow. They prefer nighttime temperatures of 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. While daytime temperatures should be in the 75- to 85-degree F range. They can also bloom continuously as long as they are healthy. Just be sure to pinch off wilted flowers at the stem to encourage blooming.

The water needs of this hardy plant are simple. Although, over watering can kill this delicate little plant. I prefer to plant it in a container that has drainage holes at the bottom. Then, I place that container in a shallow tray or decorative pot and fill the pot with about an inch of water, allowing the water to gradually move its way up through the soil. I also never water the top of the plant, to avoid letting water touch the leaves, as this will cause leaf spots and weaken the plant’s system.

During hot summer months, I check to be sure the plant has plenty of water. Usually, I only add water as it evaporates from the bottom.

With minimum care, my African violets blossom throughout the year. Currently, I have three plants and they are one of my favorite indoor flowering plants, the African Violets.

Shine On