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

Awesome

“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

H is For Hawk

 

“We carry the lives we’ve imagined
as we carry the lives we have,
and sometimes a
reckoning comes of
all the lives we have lost.”
Helen Macdonald

 

h-is-for-hawk

 

Recently I read Helen Macdonald’s book, H is For Hawk.

The book is about the author’s inconsolable grief after the death of her father.

In an effort to heal her soul and regain a connection with her father, she sets out to find and train a hawk. Not just any hawk, a Goshawk.

That is just one of the beauties of her story. She writes about nature and the healing process of her grief through nature and bonding with her Goshawk.

If you are intrigued by birds of prey, as I am, you will enjoy this book immensely. Not only for its behind scenes life of a falconer, but the history of the hobby. Helen Macdonald writes beautiful prose about her life and struggles with depression and how her Goshawk helps her through a difficult time in her life. This book definitely deserves all the attention it has received and I give high marks to H is For Hawk.

Shine On

Bird Man of Our Century

 

“A bird’s experience is far richer,
complex, and thoughtful than I’d imagined.”
David Allen Sibley

 

Birdman of the New Millennium
In a previous blog post I wrote about The Bird Man of America, John James Audubon. However, it appears there’s a new bird man of America artist that has been painting and studying birds for over 50 years. He has been called the most important illustrator of birds since Audubon.

David Allen Sibley, ornithologist, self-taught artist and author was born and raised in Plattsburgh, New York. His love of birds began at the age of eight years old while hiking with his father, Fred Sibley, famous ornithologist at Yale University.

Often after hiking with his dad, David would sketch all the different birds he had encountered from memory. His bird-watching hobby became a life-long passion. Much so, that he dropped out of college at Cornell University to pursue the study of birds.

Through the past five decades, Sibley has drawn and painted thousands of species of birds. His love of birds and painting them has never wavered. It was his goal to one day publish a field guide book for other bird watchers. With encouragement from his wife, also an ornithologist, he spent 14 years traveling, researching and painting birds for the book.

His hard work paid off and his goal was achieved in 2000, when his first book, The Sibley Field Guide to Birds was published. Shortly after publication, his first volume was on the New York best seller list and David followed up that book with numerous other popular guide books.

Even after half a century of bird-watching, David Sibley continues to study and learn new things about his favorite topic. When he did research for his recent book, What’s It’s Like to Be a Bird, he became convinced of something he had not previously anticipated: “Birds routinely make complex decisions and experience emotions”. In this book, he also covers such topics as; Do birds have a good sense of smell? Where do birds go at night? Where do they sleep?

With over 8.7 million species of birds throughout the entire world, I’m pretty sure his latest bird book won’t be the last for this bird man of our century.

Shine On