I Spy! Fall In The Pollinator Garden

9-16-18 I Spy glasses-HBe & HBr copy

Walks in my pollinator garden are always “I Spy” adventures. I’m tracking which pollinators are using the plants, flowers, and extra water and food resources I’ve provided. These include two hummingbird feeders. A few days ago another group of “I spy” eyes locked onto the feeders . . . honey bees. Maybe they’re from a wild colony or domesticated bees from a neighbor’s box. Either way, a scout made it back to the hive to do its boogie, woogie, waggle dance and map out the way to a sugar fest in my yard. Continue reading

Pollinator Week 2018 ~ It Takes a Neighborhood

painted lady on sunflower 'Choco Sun'-Katy Pye

Painted Lady on ‘Choco Sun’ sunflower

It’s the middle of National Pollinator Week. We’re headed for the heart of summer and peak pollinator activity. I hope things are buzzing, fluttering, and chirping at your house these days. They are around here. Spring and early summer are my favorite seasons with pollinators scouting out and feasting on our garden and local wildland flowers. Each bloom contributes to the lives and renewal of some of the most valuable and vulnerable species on the planet. 

So, I was dismayed when my daughter told me someone was stealing sunflowers from her wildflower/pollinator patch. We decided her best response was to turn upset into an educational opportunity. She put up a poster I’d designed for an event and added a Please Don’t Steal sign. We made packets of California poppy, sunflower, and hollyhock seeds she collected last year and put them in a “Take one” box in her front yard. The neighbors were delighted. 
Continue reading

Happy Earth Day! Let’s Make Every Year a Year of the Pollinators.

Last year on Earth Day I was raising a sign for rational thought and action in the March for Science. This year, I’m spending it on my knees in my garden planting for pollinators. All pollinators: bees, birds, butterflies, moths, flies, bats, beetles – indeed all flying insects face increasing risks each year from habitat loss, pesticides, climate change, and disease. 

Last week’s House of Representative committee amendments to the proposed Farm Bill would seriously weaken the Endangered Species Act, allowing the unrestricted use of pesticides, many proven to harm or kill the species we depend on.

There are many ways to counter pollinator losses. Certainly, politically, but also by making your home, garden, and behaviors pollinator friendly. 

Katy Pye pollinator panel 4-22-18 @200

Find information on pollinators

The Xerces Society 

Pollinator Partnership

Native Bees of North America: Bug Guide

Butterflies and Moths of North America

Monarch Joint Venture

Audubon: How to Create a Hummingbird-Friendly Yard

U.S. and Canadian native plants by state and province

World Oceans Day 2015: Tackling Marine Debris – Success Stories

Marine debris ~

Man-made waste accidentally or deliberately contributed to lakes, streams, seas, and oceans.

Nels Israelson-Flikr

Nels Israelson – Flickr

Plastic pollution leads the pack of insults, but as the powerful photo above attests, derelict fishing gear (DFG) adds untold insults to mounting injuries.

Some days reading environmental news sends an emotional death ray into my hope for our planet. I end up deflated as an old tire. This World Oceans Day, I decided sharing a few success stories might put the spin back in my wheels.

Beach cleanup sponsored by Sustainable Coastlines

Beach cleanup sponsored by Sustainable Coastlines

Every year hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of people gather to reclaim from, or keep trash out of, our oceans, seas, and other waterways. Some gather for a day. For others cleanup is a career. Here are a few examples of what’s working.

The Ocean Conservancy’s annual INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEANUP

2014 Results

561,895 volunteers in 91 countries collected 16,186,759 pounds (7,226 metric tons) of trash over 13,360 miles. One of the most unusual finds was $1,680 in cash. Largest “pieces” haul – cigarette butts – 2,117,931 of them. Ick. See if you can give up any of the Top 10 Items Found. I bought glass and stainless drinking straws and re-useable bamboo picnic ware to keep in the car. They make great presents, too.

Texas beach trash-collected 2010I’m extremely lucky to live near the ocean. Our local harbor supports a fair number of fishing boats. In the winter and spring, we have fresh Dungeness crab, and salmon and  local fish during other times of the year. Crab pots and derelict fishing gear are ongoing dangers to marine life, boats, and economic livelihoods in many fisheries. Sustainable solutions often mean partnerships between the fishing industry, states, non-profits, and federal government agencies, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

CRAB POT RETRIEVAL, REUSE, RECYCLE PROGRAMS

Examples:

In 2009, NOAA’s Marine Debris Program employed off-season crab fishermen to remove nearly 3,000 derelict crab pots from Oregon’s coastal waters. The Program’s Fishing for Energy funds paid for disposal bins along the coast where fishermen could discard used gear for free. A steel company recycled and sheared the waste, and an energy company  burned ropes and nets as renewable fuel. The program was so successful, it will continue to remove additional pots through an industry-led partnership of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, state Department of Fish and Wildlife, and NOAA.

The University of California School of Veterinary Medicine, the SeaDoc Society, and the Humboldt, CA Fishermen’s Marketing Association also have a pilot program to retrieve derelict crab pots. With i.d. info from the pot’s tag, they locate the original owner and offer  them the pots for less than half the cost of a new one. Sales support future cleanups and unsold gear is recycled. Five hundred and fifty pots were collected in just two months this year. Program video (2:39)

Fishermen in North Carolina’s Pamlico Sound (through another NOAA partnership), are collecting and re-purposing 4 to 7 tons of crab pot material into 700 linear feet of oyster reefs. The goal is to rebuild the local, Eastern oyster fishing industry.

GHOST “Legacy” NETS

Diving for Debris-Fishing net removal boat. Photo courtesy of NOAA

Diving for Debris-Fishing net removal boat. Photo courtesy of NOAA

Abandoned gill nets are made of non-biodegradable mono or multifilament line. Fish and other marine life continue to be snared in this “ghost fishing.” Their value is lost to the environment and to the fishing economy. The inland ocean waters of Puget Sound was a burial ground for thousands of these legacy nets. Over the last decade the Northwest Straits Foundation, working with professional divers, NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state agencies, and others, has removed all 5,600 abandoned and dangerous nets. Talk about success. “Diving for Debris” Program video (6:04)

THE FUN FOR LAST

I am SO stoked about the Marine Debris Tracker app. A collaboration between NOAA’s Marine Debris Program and the University of Georgia’s Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative, this free app for Apple and Android smartphones and tablets turns you into a citizen trash scientist. Download the app, track, and log your trash collection sites (through GPS), regardless of where you are in the world and whether you’re on a beach, on the ocean, your street, school, local stream ~ wherever. Your info goes into a growing global database, allowing scientists to better understand the world’s trash picture. From knowledge comes solution, right?MDT-2

This little free tool is so impressive it was included in Apple’s 25th Worldwide Developers Conference promotional video, “Apps We Can’t Live Without.” Oceans advocate Emily Penn, of Pangaea Exploration collects data on marine debris. MDT is an app she “can’t live without,” she told the Apple audience. Just think of the progress we could make if every kid with a smartphone or tablet starting tracking (and picking up) trash. 

I’m no Emily Penn, but my ipad’s loaded and a collection bag’s by the door ready for today’s test run. 

Ahh, I feel a lot better now. If you have an environmental success story (or you download MDT), please share your good news in the comments.

HAPPY WORLD OCEAN’S DAY!

Peace. Thanks for doing what you can.

P.S. The beautiful Monk seal in the opening photo was one of two rescued off Hawaii from this derelict net.

Monarch on poppy-Katy Pye

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Monarch Christmas – Part 2

Click on the ornament to go to Part 1 of A Monarch Christmas

glass christmas ball-rsFranca’s Christmas holiday

House-sitting with Marcail ~ "It feels so good to be on a plant with sunshine on my wings!" Franca

House-sitting with Marcail ~ “It feels so good to be on a plant with sunshine on my wings!” Franca

House-sitting with Marcail ~ "Here's where I sit in the bathroom. It's kind of cold in here, but this plant is the safest. I haven't fallen off of it, and none of the other animals can get me." Franca

House-sitting with Marcail ~ “Here’s where I sit in the bathroom. It’s kind of cold in here, but this plant is the safest. I haven’t fallen off of it, and none of the other animals can get me.” Franca

Katy:  What’s new, now that you’re two plus weeks in?

Marcail:  I house-sat during Christmas and took Franca with me. She liked it there because the house was warmer than mine. She also had plants to sit on. Sometimes when I got home after work, I’d find she’d fallen off the plant I left her on. Didn’t hurt her, but there were cats in the house, so I made sure they couldn’t get to her. 

Butterfly pee!

Butterfly pee!

Not everyone can say they’ve been peed on by a butterfly.

Marcail: I just started a Facebook page for Franca.

Franca's FB headerKaty:  What a great idea. Now that you are more than two weeks into Franca’s rescue, what’s your hope for her future? 

Marcail:  I don’t know how old she is, but I have a feeling she’ll make it to warmer weather. Of course I’m hoping to release her. I definitely do not want to keep her as a pet. I’m really happy with the progress I’ve seen so far. I didn’t think she would be so quick to use her legs and wings, and she’s getting stronger. I’m pretty sure she won’t die, unless it’s her time.

Katy:  How will you know when it’s time to let her go?

Marcail:  I don’t know what conditions prove that she’s able to be released, but I want to see that she’s confident walking, confident flying, and able to find her own food without me putting it in front of her face. I think that would be proof that she can live on her own. My goal is to get her to feed on her own and fly. Then she’s on her way.

Katy:  Those sound like reasonable goals. She’s done so well so far. Since she might be around for a while, are you going to make a habitat for her?

Marcail:  At this rate, I’ll probably have to get some kind of small cage or terrarium for her to live in until spring. She’s getting more confident walking around and trying to use her wings. I don’t want her to get into trouble. 

Katy:  I’ve learned a lot following you and Franca. Can you sum up your experience so far?

Marcail:  She’s a lot stronger than I thought. I was afraid she would be much more breakable and easily damaged, but she’s not. Caring for her doesn’t take as much time as I expected. I don’t take her to work, so I don’t feed her for a long time during the day. Still, she’s able to make it and keep her strength until I get home. I’m always glad for weekends or holidays where I can stay home and spend a lot of time with her. It’s a lot of time put in, but it doesn’t feel like it. A lot of times I’ll feed her and keep her warm while I’m watching a movie and I don’t notice how much time it takes. I feel like I make it work for my lifestyle and schedule. Sometimes I feel guilty about that, but she seems to be doing well anyway.

Katy:  Given fall-hatched Monarchs can live up to eight months, she might be hanging around your house another four or five. Enough time to learn a lot more about this beautiful butterfly and her species.

UPDATE: Franca’s beautiful life came, as far we can tell, to a natural end on January 25th. I’m grateful for the chance to have this closer look at the lives on Monarchs. 

Visit (and Like) Franca’s Facebook page to keep up with her. I created a puzzle, using a photo of a Monarch (female!) who stopped by my garden this year.

Monarch butterfly puzzle by Katy Pye

Monarch puzzle. Click on the link above the photo. If 20 pieces is too easy, bump it up to more. Have fun!

Thanks, Marcail and Franca for allowing me to share your story. I’ll be preparing my garden (with native milkweed and flowers) and anxiously watching for Monarchs this spring.

There is tons of information about Monarchs on the Internet. I found some unusual, fun facts. See how many questions you can answer.

Survival strategies

1) Franca got caught in a bad rain storm. What is one strategy butterflies use to wait out a storm?

2) Butterflies come in a range of colors, so why are Monarch’s orange?

3) What is a major difference between Monarchs that make the longest migration from Canada to Mexico and shorter migrations(or none), like the Western or resident Puerto Rican groups?

4) What body part(s) help a Monarch fly in the right direction during migration?

5) What is “puddling”?

Other stuff

6) Are Monarchs found in other places than North America?

7) What is the Monarch called in Australia?

8) What bird is immune to the toxin in Monarchs?

Answers

1) They hang upside down from a branch, wings folded tight, so the rain will run off their bodies.

2) The color is a warning signal to predators (like birds) that they’ll get a yucky (toxic to some species) mouthful if they chomp down on a Monarch. This is called an “aposematic” signal. Monarch caterpillars only eats milkweed, which contains a poison. The caterpillar’s body stores the poison and passes it on to the adult butterfly during metamorphosis. The Viceroy butterfly doesn’t rely on milkweed, but its color pattern mimics the Monarch’s. It probably sends the same, “better not eat me” message. A color variation where the Monarch’s normally orange areas are replaced by greyish white, originally appeared in small numbers in Australia, New Zealand, and Indonesia. A consistent 10% of Oahu, Hawaii’s population have this coloration.

Monarch on left, Viceroy on right. Note black bar across lower wing on Viceroy, absent from Monarch. Can you tell whether the Monarch is a male or female?  Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Monarch on left, Viceroy on right. Note the black bar across lower wing on  the Viceroy, absent from Monarch. Can you tell whether the Monarch is a male or female?
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

3) New research shows size matters if you’re flying long distance. Look at the difference between these Monarchs (top left one is a male-note black scent sacs on underwing and thinner veins). The larger set makes the long migration, the smaller set never migrates out of Puerto Rico. BBC Earth News article, here.

BBC Earth News 'Supersized' Monarchs

Long-distance Monarch fliers have larger bodies and wings. Photo: used with permission

4) Butterfly ‘GPS’ found in antennae The antennae and brain work together to get Monarchs where they need to go. The butterflies use “a 24-hour clock in their brains in conjunction with their “Sun compass” when they migrate. The antennal clock can sense light independently from the brain and can function independently,” while regulating the brain process. “It’s becoming…clear that the antennae have a number of functions that are independent from being odour detectors. They can function as ears, sensing sound and changes in barometric pressure, and now we can add to the list this function as a timepiece.”

5) When a butterfly takes in moisture and nutrients from damp soil and wet gravel.

6) Yes, two species are wide-spread. Populations are found in New Zealand, Australia, New Guinea, and New Caladonia. In Europe: the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira. Also India, Ceylon, Central America and Northern South America-including along the Amazon. And in Hawaii. From: Carnavora Forum.

7) The Wanderer

8) The Black-headed Grosbeak. Other birds, like orioles and jays eat select, less toxic parts of the body. Mice seem less affected by the toxin, too. 

Black_headed_grosbeak_From_The_Crossley_ID_Guide_Eastern_Birds_edited-1Please don’t plant “tropical” milkweed, as there is concern it might be contributing to health issues in Monarchs. Replace it with native milkweed, at the least, cut it back every fall, so it’s not blooming. Read about the issue, here.

A Monarch Christmas – Part 1

Stacks of multicoloured Christmas gifts C.C. lic

Eleven days before Christmas / and all through the town / shoppers aim for the store lights / none notice the ground.

Except one.

Every December Woodland, CA bustles with people, preparing for the holidays. Sunday the 14th was no exception, as my friends Marcail and her mom, Marjie, finished their shopping at a local mall.

Marjie crossed the parking lot toward her car to wait for Marcail. A flicker of color ~ not Christmas green or red, but true orange ~ caught her attention in a nearby flowerbed. A Monarch butterfly, wings spread, lay motionless on the dirt. She bent and lifted it off the cold ground, first searching its wings for a tiny identification tag. A Santa Barbara native familiar with Monarchs, she once found a tagged butterfly and retrieved information for a group tracking its migration. This downed migrant was tagless.

Behind the wheel, she cupped her palms and blew warm air over the lifeless body. One antenna moved. Marcail opened the car door, sliding into her seat. Marjie handed her daughter the butterfly. It would be up to her to figure out how to care for their new family member ~ if it survived.

Monarch rescue copyright Marcail McWilliamsIn the following days, Marcail’s friends and I fell in love with the “girl and her butterfly” story unfolding on her Facebook page. I realized how little I know about Monarchs, much less how to nurse one back to health. I thought others might benefit from her journey, so Marcail agreed to this interview. The multi-post series combines updates on the butterfly’s progress, Marcail’s photos (used with permission), information on Monarchs, and ways we all can help.

glass christmas ball-rs

TRIAL AND ERROR FEEDING

Katy: I’ve really enjoyed following the story, Marcail. I know your mom found the butterfly, but you’ve had to take care of it since. Let’s start with what you did when you got the butterfly home.

Marcail:  Somehow we knew about keeping it warm and putting sugar water on a cotton ball and letting it drink from it, which it did. This kind of care lasted for a few days, then you and our friend Greg (who knows a lot about butterflies) sent me links about getting other nutrition into it through juice or a mixture of soy sauce and juice. At first it didn’t care for this new concoction, but if I made it much more on the sweet side I could usually get it to drink some.

Katy: You had a few concerns the first couple of days. 

Marcail:  A couple of hours after we got home, it was barely moving its wings. The antennae were moving much more, but it still wasn’t standing. The wings would move when I picked it up, but stopped when I put it down. I was worried about the missing chunk from her underwing, but Greg said it wouldn’t hurt its flying.  Franco with chunk out of wing adj MMc arrow flat

I was also worried because it’s an insect, but I only saw four legs. I found out the other two are tiny and are usually tucked under the head.

I think this video shows it using the front legs to clean its proboscis.

Katy: I see there’s an apple core, maybe a piece of other fruit, in the picture above. What’s that about?

Marcail:  I’m trying to incorporate other natural fruits that could give the butterfly more vitamins and minerals than just sugar and water. I give it the juice that oozes out of overripe fruit mixed with sugar water and fruit syrup from jam. I usually put a raisin in it that gets soft as it soaks up the liquids and syrup. I’m hoping the raisins add iron because I’ve heard and read that raisins are high in iron. 

12/19: "Well, just when I think "she's not interested in eating anymore" I find something to perk her up. Some persimmon!" Marcail

12/19: “Well, just when I think “she’s not interested in eating anymore” I find something to perk her up. Some persimmon!” Marcail

Marcail’s Monarch was lucky to be found. A strong, cold storm hit a wide area three days before she crash-landed. Monarchs can’t fly if their body heat is below 86 degrees F.

12/17 "Well, I only fed her in the morning, didn't have time after work and my next thing, now I can't get her to eat. feeling frustrated. She probably needs to eat! She does like hanging out near a warm mug of tea though."

12/17 “Well, I only fed her in the morning, didn’t have time after work and my next thing, now I can’t get her to eat. feeling frustrated. She probably needs to eat! She does like hanging out near a warm mug of tea though.”

They won’t survive freezing temperatures, especially if they are alone. This butterfly is part of the smaller, Western group whose members live, reproduce, and travel west of the Rockies. They can be found as far north as British Columbia, but they don’t migrate into Mexico, rather only as far south as San Diego. That’s what happens when you leave your passports at home.

Fall Migration Map." Monarch Butterfly. US Forest Service, 3 May 2013. Web. 18 Jan. 2014.

Fall Migration Map.” Monarch Butterfly. US Forest Service

The butterfly would have hatched in the late summer or early fall, like its cousins in the Eastern migration group that move from Eastern Canada, through Texas, to Mexico each fall. A small number of the Eastern group fly to Florida where they stay for the winter. The large, Mexico-bound group over-winters in the oyamel fir trees of Michoacan, Mexico. In the spring, all groups start the search for nectar to eat and milkweed plants on which to lay eggs and nourish the caterpillars when they hatch.

One of Marcail’s original concerns was the butterfly was not standing. It took a awhile, but on Day 6 it was ready for Strength Training! Can sprint flights be far behind?

12/20 "Practicing our grip this morning. She did her first official (small) flutter of her wings last night. Very exciting. I'm glad for a weekend so I can spend more time with her and feed her more often." Marcail

12/20 “Practicing our grip this morning. She did her first official (small) flutter of her wings last night. Very exciting. I’m glad for a weekend so I can spend more time with her and feed her more often.”  Marcail

Marcail (on her Facebook page): I think I’ve got a name for her: Franken Flutter (Franca for short) because I keep thinking, “She’s alive!” 

Katy: How did you figure out she’s a female, or did you just decide to make her a “sista?”

Marcail: Our friend Greg told me the females have thicker veins in their wings. I compared her to pictures online, and her veins are definitely bigger.

The other main differences are the males tend to be slightly larger and they have a black spot (the “androconium,” a scent gland used to attract girl Monarchs) on each hindwing. Can you see them in these comparison pictures?

Female Monarch Photo: Creative Commons

Female Monarch
Photo: Creative Commons

CC male Monarch

Male Monarch Photo: Creative Commons

 

 

 

 

 

Marcail and her mom are both fabric artists. Here’s a collage Marcail put together showing the butterfly wing skirt she made in high school. I think Franca (can you see her?) approves.

Marcail's butterfly skirt

Marcail’s butterfly skirt

My interview with Marcail and Franca continues in Part 2, along with some unusual, fun Monarch facts. I‘m off to make a Monarch paper airplane. (see update below)

Monarch rescue resource sites

I haven’t cross-checked all the information on the sites I visited for this series. I suggest looking at more than one site, particularly ones backed by universities and researchers studying butterflies. A serious Monarch health issue is linked to the increased use of “tropical milkweed.” For now, don’t plant it or spread the seeds, only use plants native to your area. If you already have it, consider replacing with natives or cut it back in the fall.

Wing repair ~ Live Monarch Hospital   Marcail used info on this site to keep her butterfly’s legs from sticking together when it got carried away in its food dish.

Feeding ~ Butterfly Rescue International   Butterflies smell with their antennae and taste with special receptors, called tarsi, on the bottoms of their feet (who knew?).

12/25 – Christmas flutters! Marcail (on her Facebook page): Here’s a video of Franca doing some pretty rapid wing flutters. Of course right after I take this she does one 10x more impressive. I was telling some friends tonight about her personality, how she’s not much of a morning girl and I’ll be like, “hurry up and eat so I can go to work!” But she just farts around with her food like she’s not hungry.

I don’t know for sure, but this looks like the kind of wing “shivers” butterflies do to warm up.

glass christmas ball-rsUpdate: My Monarch paper airplane. Flew pretty well, considering I accidentally tore off what would be the short tail. Helps to follow the instructions.

UPDATE: Finished the airplane. Printed on both sides of the paper. It didn’t quite match up, but worked okay. I accidentally tore off the short tail the instructions say to leave. Flew pretty well anyway, but I’ll try again with the tail intact.

Monarch paper air plane top Katypye.com http://wp.me/p2dkY1-Nj

Monarch paper air plane top
Katypye.com http://wp.me/p2dkY1-Nj

Monarch paper air plane underneath Katypye.com http://wp.me/p2dkY1-Nj

Monarch paper air plane underneath
Katypye.com http://wp.me/p2dkY1-Nj

 

Young People Power Ahead on Climate Policy Change

iMatter Movement

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 10.08.59 AM

MONDAY 12/15/14 4 p.m. PST — HBO iMatter Movement video“Saving My Tomorrow,” features youth involved in the fight for climate change. Here’s the Trailer.

My May 2012 post on the iMatter Movement shared about kids (and adults), first marching to protest climate change, then relying on the public trust doctrine to sue the federal and states governments. The public trust is “a legal doctrine that imposes a fundamental, fiduciary obligation on all governments to protect our shared natural resources.” The goal of the suits is to force governments to create the recovery plans necessary to turn around or weaken the direction of global climate change.

Government isn’t the only focus. The Movement’s Youth Council, 3 Step “Revolution” for Change asks us all to change the way we Think, Live, and Act. The Movement’s website lets the children tell their stories in video. Stunningly beautiful and moving.

single turtle flip fleuron

COP 20 Lima, Peru

Opening ceremony COP20 Wikipedia image

Opening ceremony COP20
Wikipedia image

“I believe in order to get change we need to have massive mobilization. …governments are not going to move by themselves, they’re not going to choose to place people over profit. They’re not going to choose to align their policies with humanity, unless they are pushed to do so.” Emily Williams, California Student Sustainability Coalition * Interview “What Now for Climate Change? Youth Movements from Lima to Paris”

A broad coalition of California students are challenging public and private university fossil fuel-related investment practices. Radio KGNU interviews Emily Williams, Campaign Director of the California Student Sustainability Coalition about the nature of campaigns for change, particularly divestiture and sustainability. Just this week, California’s Chico State University became the first public university to commit to fully divesting all investments in fossil fuels within four years.

The 2005 United Nations (UN) Climate Change Convention (COP 11 or COP/MOP 1) spawned the concept of an International Youth Climate Movement(Wiki). Every year, the number of youth organizations attending the conference and working for climate change back home grows. Here are a few: Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Indian Youth Climate Network, UK Youth Climate Coalition, Kenya Youth Climate Network, Climate Youth Japan, China Youth Action Network. 

I want to grow in a world where all these young people, and many more like them, are in charge.

If you are an environmental youth group working on climate change, add your website and mission in the comments. And tell us how it’s going.

“Live as if our future matters.”  Alex Loorz, founder iMatter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

World Oceans Day ’14 ~ aka “Primal Parent Day”

Breakers M. Cst

Photo: Katy Pye

Interconnected seas form our parent ocean — to my mind, the most critically endangered species on the planet. We are undeniably linked: biologically (from whence we came), for sustenance (food, water, air), and emotionally (see “Blue Mind”-Wallace J. Nichols). We all know our parent is in trouble. What we do on land, and in the air and water can help or hurt. I’m always looking for ideas.

Yesterday, Marinebio.org posted a terrific education and action tool. “101 Ways to Make a Difference: Take Action for Threatened and Endangered Species.” Arranged by category, and not just about ocean issues, it’s easy to find a topic that warms your heart, makes your blood boil, or both. The deepest and most long-lasting changes — individually and for the planet — launch from a single passion, then often spread.

My top 4 (with links in green) are:

sea turtles ~ Turtle Island Restoration Project and Seaturtle.org (a primary resource for all things sea turtle)

over-fishing  ~ MarineBio.org-“…a solvable problem.” World Wildlife Fund “More than 85 percent of the world’s fisheries have been pushed to or beyond their biological limits.”

ocean pollution ~ National Geographic and NOAA (“Eighty percent of pollution to the marine environment comes from the land.” I include plastics as a form of “run-off.”)

the atmosphere ~ If you click on only one thing in this post, choose this one. iMatter: Young people are taking governments to court in a fight to protect the atmosphere. These powerful, passionate, and eloquent kids are using society’s highest tools to force the top game-changers to uphold and act under the law. Their stories and presence touch, educate, and empower. Expect goosebumps, smiles, maybe a touch of “parental” pride.

After rain photo by Katy Pye

After rain
Point Cabrillo Lightstation Historic State Park
Photo: Katy Pye
All rights reserved

We’re in this together. Feel free to share your favorite “primal parent” links, suggestions, and stories in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by, peace, and do what you can.

Nesting Kemp's ridley Photo: Adrienne McCracken

Nesting Kemp’s ridley
Photo: Adrienne McCracken

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. It’s sea turtle nesting season in many places and all 7 species are threatened or endangered. To avoid extinction, they need to up their reproduction rates. Please report any turtles or nests you find to appropriate local groups. Seaturtle.org lists 228+/- sea turtle groups in 63 countries. Follow local requirements or best practices, such as turning off outside lights at night. Don’t interfere with, or distract adults or hatchlings. Know how your fish and seafood is caught and whether laws to protect sea turtles from drowning in shrimping nets are being followed. Louisiana defiantly refuses to enforce federal fishing laws that protect sea turtles during shrimp trawling.

World Turtle Day: Interview With a Real Teenage Ninja Turtle Rescue Dude

American Tortoise Rescue created World Turtle Day fourteen years ago to heighten public awareness of tortoises and turtles and their habitats around the world.

Celebrating turtles is always fun and exciting, but today I have particular cause to cheer. This blog post is my first (and very special) guest interview. 

Gordy is a turtle and tortoise rescue champion. When his mom, Bronwen, wrote to tell me he was reading my novel, Elizabeth’s Landing, she mentioned he had saved a turtle and a tortoise. I had to know more about that! And Gordy. He agreed to share his story. It was so inspiring, I wanted to share it with you.

Gordy 1

 

Continue reading

6 Ways to Celebrate-and Help Save-Pacific Leatherbacks Join Their Conservation Day 10/15/13

Numero Uno~
Watch this beautiful video of Lula by filmmaker, Boombaye

author tuttle for .28 hi

The Ancient Past

Leatherbacks are the largest sea turtle species (up to 6 ft long, 2000 lbs), arguably not the prettiest, but certainly the deepest divers. While not as old as sharks at 320 million years (here even before trees), leatherbacks, like all sea turtle species, are ancient creatures–over 100 million years on the planet.

Archelon skeleton, an ancient sea turtle. Photo from the Peabody Museum at Yale. 80.5 million years old

Archelon skeleton, an ancient sea turtle, 80.5 million years old. Photo Wikipedia, from the Peabody Museum at Yale.

The ancient Archelon above, believed to be a direct ancestor to the leatherback, was swimming the oceans in what is now South Dakota.

Fast forward–skidding toward the cliff?

Here we sit 100 million years later, staring into the barrel of extinction for the glorious, ponderous Pacific leatherback. Important Western Pacific nesting sites have dropped 78% in 30 years. Higher global temps warm nesting sands, leading to male-only hatches.

Leatherback_sea_turtle_CC-ryan Somma

Leatherback sea turtle
Photo: Ryan Somma, Creative Commons

Recognizing the Pacific leatherback’s peril and the importance of jellyfish feeding grounds off the Golden State (a stunning 7,000-mile migration), legislators placed restrictions on fishing practices and created fishing exclusion zones along the California coast. Oregon and Washington adopted similar restrictions in an effort to protect and extend loggerhead migration and feeding territory. In 2012, California designated the Pacific leatherback our State Marine Mammal. The annual celebration day, October 15th, is a chance to remember they’re here, but more importantly to recognize their escalating decline and double down on conservation efforts. Nothing short of rapier-sharp vigilance, hard work, and strong education efforts will ensure the Pacific loggerheads’ future.

Let’s start with the fun (subtext: cheerful education leads to action).

Celebration ideas: 

Leatherback hatchling Photograph: Scott Benson NOAA

Leatherback hatchling
Photograph: Scott Benson NOAA

2) Spread the word! Visit Sea Turtle Conservation Program’s list of celebration ideas. I’ve taken the pledge, visited, “Liked,” and shared the Leatherback’s Celebration Facebook page. Read, share or gift books about sea turtles. Fiction or non-fiction, there’s something out there for all ages.

3) Collect and cut out the plastic! Plastic and beach debris collection is paramount to keeping litter out of the mouths and guts of sea turtles (leatherbacks are particularly prone to eating any plastic, including balloons, that looks like a jellyfish). Beach debris can block hatchlings from reaching the ocean and make them more vulnerable to predators.

   A challenge: try going without plastic for 1 week. track how much and what plastic you avoided using or buying. Post what you learned here, your own blog, Facebook, etc. What can you turn into permanent changes to your plastic use? My Plastic Free Life is an encouraging and practical blog (and book) to make the shift a whole lot easier. Here are two products I’ve adopted. Eliminated plastic shampoo and cream rinse bottles and plastic floss container. Love both products.

Almost plastic free. Floss roll is in a little plastic bag to keep the mint oil fresher, longer.

Almost plastic free. Floss roll is in a paper box, but uses a little plastic bag inside to keep the mint oil fresher, longer. Unflavored floss and non-plastic toothbrush next on the list.

Celebrating=balloons, right? WRONG! Balloons and their ribbons deplete scarce and dwindling helium supplies (critical to medicine and science), drift for miles, and end up as deadly trash for sea turtles, mammal marine life, and birds. Balloons Blow has festive, safe alternatives and more information.

4) Food fun. Bake dinner rolls, breakfast treats, or breads in the shape of sea turtles to give to friends and family with info about loggerheads and the Celebration Day.

Boudin Bakery Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, CA © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons.

Boudin Bakery Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco, CA © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons.

How about turtle cupcakes to give out in class with a note asking people to reduce plastic use and to learn about sea turtles. Give them a link or three to your favorite leatherback websites, photos, or articles.

     Healthier alternatives? Make a turtle-shaped fruit bowl from a watermelon. Invite the neighborhood in. Here’s a charming, and edible, fable about how land turtles went to the sea (complete with carved vegetable and egg turtle characters and curry recipe) from VegSpinz.

5) Artistic Fun. Halloween’s coming. Carve a turtle image into your pumpkin and hand out info on how balloons can turn into real-life “ghouls” for wildlife.

see link above for more ideas, or create your own

see link above for more ideas, or create your own

6) Donate. Leatherback sea turtles, like every endangered species, hugely depend on us human beings stepping up to solve problems driving them to extinction. Species celebration days are reminders of our part and our responsibilities.

Give, if you can, money, time, and/or talent to your favorite sea turtle organizations. Two that work for Pacific leatherbacks are Sea Turtle Restoration Project, Sea Turtles Forever and See Turtles (eco trips to work with leatherbacks).

Re-post this blog or find others. Then reach deeper and farther. If petitions cross your social media or e-mail, ones asking governments to enforce turtle protection laws, please read and consider signing because…

Threats to leatherbacks (and many other sea turtles) continue to grow:

Egg and turtle predation: by humans and animals. Poaching (with increasing links to drug use and trafficking) in third-world countries tops the list of species decline. Quasi-legal egg collection is sometimes part of agreements between locals and turtle conservationists who share the eggs for mutual benefit (80%/20% for example in Guatamala). One group for livelihood and food. The other for hatch and release. 

Longline and shrimp bottom trawl shrimp fishing (pelagic longline fishing is now banned off CA, OR, and WA coast).

However, “Spiraling loggerhead deaths (are) linked to fishing gear off Baja California” October 2, 2013. “This year, 705 dead loggerheads were reported by officials”… in two months. “Scientists say the official numbers are far below the reality.”

leatherback caught in long-line fishing gear. Photo by Philip Miller Creative Commons via Seaturtle.org

leatherback caught in long-line fishing gear. Goes from being a turtle to being “by-catch” of the fishing industry. This turtle was cut free and returned to life as a turtle. Photo by Philip Miller Creative Commons via Seaturtle.org

Up to half the leatherback turtles each year are caught and killed or injured in longline fisheries. They continue to drown in shrimp nets due to lack of Turtle Excluder Device rule enforcement and low fines. Longline targets migratory fish species: tuna, swordfish, and halibut and the rapid reduction in the numbers of Pacific leatherbacks may be telling us current regs and practices aren’t working.

Marine pollution: After fishing, THE MAJOR CAUSE OF DEATH among adult leatherbacks: plastic bags, styrofoam, and other marine debris that mimic their food–jellyfish. Entanglement and drowning in fishing gear, oil spills, and boat strikes also take their toll.

Beach development: Increased erosion and night lights disorient hatchlings who head toward the brightest light, their guide to the horizon and water. They end up in someone’s patio or mired in dune grass instead.

Sea Turtles Forever has “established a Sea Turtle Hotline for people to report sea turtle sightings in the Northeastern Pacific foraging areas. Please call 1-503-739-1446 or e-mail us at info@seaturtleforever.com to report a sea turtle sighting in the Northeastern Pacific Ocean or on any Canadian, Washington, Oregon or California Beaches.”

Other information sources used in this blog.

Marc Carvajal, San Francisco State University (The Biogeography of Leatherback Sea Turtles); Sea Turtle Restoration Project (“Amazing Facts About Leatherbacks” pdf download); Wikipedia.

________________________________________________________________

For a true-to-life sea turtle and family saga, visit Elizabeth’s Landing: a novel by Katy Pye

Ages 10 to adult. Widely available in paperback and e-books.

I donate part of book sale profits to sea turtle conservation programs. 

//