WPC: Blur of wildlife and reeds at Locke-Paddon Wetland Community Park

I was waiting for a phone call from my younger sister and decided to walk around Locke-Paddon park in Marina (Monterey County, California). Waiting…waiting…and little camera in hand, I walked near the pond’s edge to photograph birds.

Mallard Duck

Locke-Paddon is a community park and one of the area’s “vernal” (seasonal) ponds.  The water level fluctuates but never dries out completely. The city library is located in this park, and the pond area is an easy destination for bird viewing.

There are many mallard ducks and American coot (below) that live in the pond, as well as birds who visit to drink and bathe.

What I found interesting in the series of photographs were the blur of reeds and vegetation against the water — perfect for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge theme from Michelle W:

This week, share a photo that’s a blur. You could keep your camera out of focus to achieve a blurry photo, or take a photo of something in motion. Or go in a different direction — capture an image of an experience that would otherwise be a blur, or of something in a state of flux.

Reed Blur 2

Reed Blur 5

The blur of colors could be interpreted as a painting, don’t you think?

For more information about the park, visit the Locke-Paddon page at the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District website, here.

I never did get the phone call…so I went home, only to find out my ringer was off, and I missed her calls.  I laughed and called her right back…and was happy to have interesting photos in my collection, all while “waiting”.

Unless…Earth-Friendly Friday – Pulse of the Salinas River (and about California’s severe drought)

This post continues on the WordPress weekly Earth-Friendly challenge with the theme of water.  For the first week we learned about our watersheds.  In Monterey County and the Central Coast, our watershed is the Salinas River Watershed.

Monterey Bay in context of Region 3

The second water challenge theme included taking a “Water Footprint Calculator” developed by National Geographic.

For this week, the challenge was to learn about dams that alter the flow of our river and tributaries, and the purpose of the structure (Economic? Social? Environmental?).

P1180887

The Salinas River near Highway 1, water headed towards the Pacific Ocean.

This challenge was truly…well,  a challenge!  I did not get to the other questions to consider AFTER I learned about the dams in the Salinas river because the answer to this question was not very easy to find.

What made this challenge confusing was that the Salinas River actually covers two counties.  Searching for dams in the Salinas River first yielded information about the “Salinas Dam” built in neighboring San Luis Obispo County (South of Monterey county and where the Salinas River begins).

The contract to build the “Salinas Dam” in San Luis Obispo County was signed seven months before the Pearl Harbor attack. It took 3 years to build this particular dam, for water headed to San Luis Obispo.  I include this information in my blog post because their local paper (The Tribune) had a series of blog posts called “Photos from the Vault” that revisited local history.  Imagine my surprise when I saw a connection to the Philippines (where I grew up) on one of the headlines related to the Salinas Dam, after Japanese troops took over the Philippine capital Manila  during World War II:

Salinas Dam WWII

It is a coincidence that had me sidetracked about information that was already a challenge to research.  It brought back memories of stories told by my aunts and uncles about their difficulties during the war, when they had to hide out in the jungle and head to the mountains when our area was occupied — beginning when my mother was still a toddler.

But back to Monterey County…where, (alas!) I found California State University at Monterey Bay’s “Central Coast Watershed Wiki” and this information:

The main tributaries of the Salinas River are the Nacimiento, San Antonio, Arroyo Seco, San Lorenzo, and Estrella Rivers.

Nacimiento_River_photo via wikipedia

Nacimiento_River_photo via wikipedia

The Salinas River watershed has three large dams in its upper portion: The Salinas Dam, built in the 1940’s; the Nacimiento Dam, built in the 1950’s; and the San Antonio Dam, built in the 1960’s. The Salinas Dam is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Nacimiento and San Antonio Dams are managed by the Monterey County Water Resources Agency.

Nacimiento_River_Dam

Nacimiento River Dam photos via Monterey County Water Resources Agency

Further…

The Lower portion of the Salinas River is often referred to as the Lower Salinas River. The division of the river and its watershed in upper and lower portions is for administrative purposes only.

The Salinas River drains to both the Salinas River Lagoon and the Moss Landing Harbor in the center of the Monterey Bay.

So I will post this information for the challenge with this basic data, and will consider other questions posted for this challenge as time permits at a later time.

This information is important to learn, considering we are officially in our 4th year of drought here in California.  However, it is overwhelming and I am only beginning to understand all the organizations involved in providing water to the Central Coast Basin and their various roles (e.g., the Monterey County Water Resources Agency  and the California Department of Water Resources).

Based on the information below, sourced from government related websites…

Quality Water in Short Supply in Central Coastal Basin

…and because the area near where we live has already had seawater intrusion (I’ve posted information about this and sea level rise for the California King Tides Project) I’ll keep my blog post update for this particular challenge focused on seawater intrusion — at least for now.

Information on the California Drought

Several days ago, California’s drought conditions hit national news because our snow pack water content hit a new record low.  The annual measurement was at 5% of average, which broke the previous record of 25% of average in 1977 and 1991.

The photo below — where California governor Jerry Brown is standing at the podium — is at 6,800 feet elevation.  Normally, and for this time of the year, they would be standing on 5 feet of snow.  Instead, they are standing on grass!

California Governor Drought News

It is going to be a challenge to meet the new MANDATORY water reduction goal of reducing water use by 25%.  So, whether we like it or not, we are all going to be learning a lot more about water use, and our water sources…which makes this focus on water for the March Earth-Friendly challenges very timely.

To learn more about the latest California water content measurement (Sierra Nevada Snowpack) click here.  Excerpt:

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) found no snow whatsoever today during its manual survey for the media at 6,800 feet in the Sierra Nevada. Thiswas the first time in 75 years of early-April measurements at the Phillips snow course that no snow was found there. Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. observed thesurvey, which confirmed electronic readingsshowing the statewide snowpack with less water content today than any April 1stsince 1950.  Attending the survey with Governor Brown was DWR Director Mark Cowin, who said Californians can expect to receive almost no water from the meager snowpack as it melts in the coming weeks.
More here…

For more information on this Unless…Earth Friendly challenge, hosted by JustAnotherNatureEnthusiast.org, click here.

Who to call if you see sick sea lion pups on the beach (in Monterey Bay or California)

Sea_lion_mother_and_pup

Sea lion mother and her pup (photo via Wikipedia commons)

You may have heard about the sick seals and sea lion pups washing up on California beaches…

If you see one here on our Central Coast beach, you can call the Marine Mammal Center (in the Monterey Bay, the office is at Moss Landing) at 831-633-6298.

For other parts of California, visit the The Marine Mammal Center website or call them at (415)289-7325.

sea lion link to Marine Mammal Center

Photo via The Marine Mammal Center

The image below is from a NOAA / National Marine Sanctuaries publication — Seals, Sea Lions and Sea Otters.

Who to call if you see sick seals sea lions or otters

I spoke to Kristen at the above Monterey / Santa Cruz number for The Marine Mammal Center.

Kristen said that sometimes, the sea lions go ashore to rest or to warm up, and may go back out to sea.  If they look thin, or sick, and especially if you see pups (which she said measure between 2 to 3 feet long) please call them and they will determine the actions they need to take.

They have the ability to take the seals in, or to transport them to San Luis Obispo or the main facility in Sausalito if needed (see The Marine Mammal Center website).

The NOAA / National Marine Sanctuaries publication on Seals, Sea Lions and Sea Otters also notes:

Stay Away from sick injured or abandoned animals

Never touch or try to push sea lions back into the ocean.  There have been reports of misguided people doing this — very dangerous!

Further information from the pamphlet:

  • Sea lions, seals and sea otters are protected animals. It’s against federal law to disturb them or cause them to change their behavior.
  • You’re too close if an animal starts to stare, fidget or flee. Slowly back away and stay at least 150 feet or 46 meters away. Seals on land are especially wary and may rush into the water or abandon their pups, threatening their survival.

Last month, a New York Times article reported:

Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday about 940 sick and starving young sea lions have washed up on California beaches so far in 2015.

That compares to about 225 sea lion strandings that officials normally would see between January and April, said Justin Viezbicke, NOAA stranding coordinator for the West Coast region. Roughly 540 sea lion pups are being treated at rehabilitation centers between San Diego and San Francisco.

Climate change related? The article continues…

Scientists say warmer coastal waters are forcing nursing mothers in the Channel Islands or Mexico to head out farther for food, leaving behind their young for longer than the normal two or four days. An estimated 300,000 sea lions live from the Mexican border to Washington state.

NOAA Climatologist Nate Mantua said the warming is likely a historical record for the northeast Pacific and the West Coast. The ocean is between 2 and 5 degrees warmer for this time of year due to the same high-pressure system that has the state in its fourth year of drought.

This is the third year that an exceptional number of pups have stranded or died.

Sadly, the latest numbers for the sea lions strandings are now reported at over 1,400 now over 1,800 (updated March 20, 2015).

Related:

 

  • Monterey Aquarium jellyfish exhibit 2

Post about Severe Weather and Jellyfish Blooms – related to ocean warming for the WordPress weekly challenge Earth-Friendly Friday

 

  • Sick Baby Pelican

About the Pelican Die Off — when sick baby pelicans started showing up in strange areas on the Central Coast during the summer of 2012.

 

Historic Monterey – Photos for the Monthly Photo Challenge “The Changing Seasons”

I’m participating in a monthly photo challenge called “The Changing Seasons” to practice my photography.  My first entry were photos from author John Steinbeck’s hometown, of Oldtown Salinas.

This month, I’m focusing on the historic buildings and gardens in the “old” downtown area of Monterey, as I can see a more distinct change in seasons with the lovely (and secret) gardens in old Monterey.  These photographs were taken earlier this week.

Memory Garden Wisteria

Monterey is the most well-known city in Monterey County, here in the Central Coast of California.  Right now, there are not many tourist, but in another month or two, there will be a lot of visitors converging in this area.

Many people have heard of Monterey, perhaps because of the annual Monterey Jazz Festival, or the world-renowned Monterey Aquarium, and tourist destinations like Cannery Row (immortalized in John Steinbeck novels), and Fisherman’s Wharf.  The spectacular “Big Sur” coast, the Pebble Beach and Spanish Bay Golf Courses are also huge tourist draws for the county.

The Cannery Row area is in a newer part of town, called “New Monterey” and where most tourist visit, and because it leads to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Old Monterey Buildings Details 6Less visited is the older, downtown part of Monterey, which is actually very interesting with many historic buildings, all within easy walking distance of one another.Bouganvilleas

There are homes in the area that are National and California Historical Landmarks, and buildings that combine Spanish Colonial building methods with New England architectural features.

There are also Monterey Colonial style of architecture, which features two stories, porches, a hip roof, and adobe walls.  Some of the buildings are occupied as offices by the city (including one by the City Attorney).

Here are a few examples of the buildings and homes in the area…

Building details…

There are espaliered and pollarded trees in the city gardens and streets, which I photographed so I can see them with leaves and in bloom for the next visit…

Espalier example Historic Monterey Gardens 1

 

And finally, my favorite part, the gardens, with many plants in bloom, a feast for the eyes…

 

Eventually, I will learn more technical aspects of photography…for now though, I am just pointing and shooting, and enjoying the process.  It is also fun to play tourist in one’s “backyard” through this photo challenge.

To see entries for this challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman, or to participate, click here.

Unless… Earth-Friendly Friday: My Water Footprint and about the Filipino “tabo”

This week’s Earth-Friendly challenge continues on the theme of water (last week was about our watersheds – and our watershed in Monterey County is the Salinas River Watershed).

The challenge this week asked us to take a “Water Footprint Calculator” developed by National Geographic.  I highly recommend taking this survey — I was surprised at the information learned including:

  • It takes 880 gallons of water to produce a gallon of milk
  • 1 cup of coffee takes 55 gallons of water to make (we drink a lot of coffee!)

Here are the numbers for our household:

Water Footprint Calculator

Part of why we use less water than the U.S. Average is that we live in an area with very mild climate and we do not have a typical lawn (though our neighbors do, and one in particular has installed a “fake” or plastic lawn — see photos here).

So…it takes very little water to maintain the trees and shrubs where we now live, and we also save on energy bills because no one needs an air conditioner in this area.

We are older and do not need or buy as many “stuff” as most.  And again, because of the mild climate, our clothing do not need to be washed as often as say, if we lived in the Philippines or a hot climate where clothing would be drenched in sweat every few hours and must be washed frequently.

The area we can continue to improve upon to reduce our water footprint is our diets and to eat less meat.  Though we eat a lot of chicken, I do want to eventually transition more to a mostly vegetarian diet.  Cutting out beef and pork completely (which my younger sister has done) and some form of meat is still a challenge because

  1. Jeff grew up in the Midwest and although he is a great cook and we eat a variety of styles of food, his basic go to meal consists of a plate with a “meat”, potatoes, and vegetables.
  2. Pork is a big part of my Philippine culture and celebrations — as with many Pacific / island nations — and I’m not quite there yet in terms of completely cutting that out of my diet (see post “My Germany and Philippine Connection” and you will get an idea, since a Filipino party is not a real party without our “lechon”.

The bottom line is there are always areas to improve on,  in our household’s water footprint.

I recently met two women who go above and beyond most in their water saving efforts, and I add their ideas for this blog post.

Marilyn Water Saving HeroineThis is Marilyn — a water saving heroine.

She is a retired teacher and lives in Bakersfield (Southern California) where there are water restrictions in place because of California’s continuing — and severe drought conditions.

She told me that when she takes a shower, she puts a bucket under the tub/faucet to capture water that otherwise would go down the drain, while she waits for the water temperature to warm to her liking. She also uses her washing machine “grey water” to water her garden.

She has been able to reduce her water use and bill by 50% with these new habits!

Amalia Water Saving HeroineThis is Amalia — she lives in Marina (Monterey County, California) and is also a water saving heroine.

She is mindful about saving all the water she can, including using the grey water from washing her dishes to water her plants.

She is originally from the Philippines and does something that some Filipinos still practice — in the Philippines — and that most Filipino-Americans would not think to do here in the U.S.

She uses a “tabo” (pronounced as“TAH-boh”) to bathe.

So what the heck is a tabo, you ask?  Technically, a sort of water dipper and tool for taking a tropical shower!

The modern tabos are made with plastic and has a handle.  Traditional ones were made of hollowed bamboos with a handles, or large coconut shells.

Tabo

A plastic “tabo”. My older sister and I each brought one back from a trip to the Philippines, because we had not seen anything like it (with a handle) for sale here in the states.

The tabo is also used for bathroom hygiene and cleaning, and is pretty much a fixture in bathrooms in the Philippines — in private homes as well as in public places (work places, restaurant bathrooms, etc.).

Using a tabo to bathe is actually akin to an old-fashioned “military shower” where you rinse, shut off the shower water, lather, shampoo, etc., then turn the shower on again to rinse off.

Except that instead of the shower,  the tabo is used with a big bucket (called a “balde”) or other larger container of water.  Same idea, you dip the tabo in the bucket, pour the water over your head and body to rinse…then soap, lather, shampoo, then do a final rinse.  It saves A LOT of water.

Amalia is super dedicated to saving resources not for herself but as she put it “for my children, and their children…and those living here on earth after I am gone”.  She says she often gets into disagreements with her sister and family members about her eco-habits, and they don’t understand why she takes a Filipino style bath, telling her “you are in America now, why are you still using a tabo?”….yet she proudly sticks to her water-saving practices.

While I admire Amalia’s dedication to water conservation, I’m now quite fond of the American style shower.  Though she has inspired me to check to see if the shower heads we have use the absolute least amount of gallons per minute!  Always room for improvement, right?  🙂

To participate in this timely WordPress weekly challenge hosted by JustAnotherNatureEnthusiast.org, and inspired by the Dr. Seuss book, The Lorax,  click here.

NOTE: For this post, my explanation of the tabo is for its use as a “tropical shower”.  In the Philippines and other countries in Southeast Asia, a tabo is part of the culture — and specifically, the bathroom culture (and may be controversial or disgusting to non-Filipinos).  So if you really are curious, there is a comprehensive Wikipedia article about the Filipino use of the tabo, its history, and includes mention of a Filipino who was fired from his job in Australia for using a tabo.  Click here to read…

Related:

ecology_center_headerBerkeley, California-based Ecology Center’s Guide to Greywater-Compatible Cleaning ProductsWastewater that is discharged to the greywater system ends up in the garden soil and can either be beneficial or harmful to soil, water systems, and plant life. A common problem with improper use of greywater systems is salt build up in the soil…

2014 California ShowerMy post last year about California’s drought emergency as it relates to showers and crop production

 

baths v shower cat dog image

Which method uses less water — Bath vs. Shower? Question answered by Umbra at Grist.org

WPC Orange 2: California’s First Brick House

Californias 1st brick building Monterey State Historic ParkCalifornia’s first “fired brick” house —  part of the Monterey State Historic Park’s buildings in downtown old Monterey — also fits right in the WordPress Photo Challenge theme of orange.

The house was built in 1847.  Before construction of this brick structure, most homes in the area were made from adobe — blocks of sun-dried mud.

Californias 1st brick house 7

From the HistoricMonterey.org website:

All Monterey’s early structures were built of adobe (sun-dried mud) blocks. Walls as thick as three feet were needed to support second story floors.

Adobe buildings required plastering on exterior surfaces to keep out damaging winter rains, otherwise the walls were likely to crumble.

 In 1847, Gallant Dickerson arrived in Monterey to introduce a new building technique to California: the art of fired clay brickmaking. Fired brick’s increased strength allowed multiple-storied buildings with standard wall widths; fired brick was also water-resistant and required little or no surface treatment.

Californias 1st brick house 3

Dickerson fired thousands of clay blocks into rock-hard bricks, and with them built one of the first fired-brick buildings in California. He completed only the portion of First Brick House that stands today before moving his family to the Sierra Nevadas in search of gold.

To see other entries and interpretations on the photo theme orange, click here.

Controlling seagull population explotion with falcons

Seagull Pacific Grove

Seagull populations have exploded in Northern California, causing problems for local business, especially at waste management operations and landfills — where seagulls congregate en masse for free food.

If you live near the coast, you have probably had a seagull poop bomb you, or had food or your picnic lunch stolen by aggressive seagulls.

Tourist Photographing Seagull Pacific Grove web

Tourist photographing seagull – Pacific Grove

At one point, the Monterey Regional Waste Management District in Marina estimated having over 10,000 seagulls at their site on a daily basis, causing safety problems for tractor operators who have to get out of their vehicles to clean seagull poop off windows.

You may have seen Kate Marden from West Coast Falconry around Pacific Grove, along with her falcon recently…

Falconer at Pacific Grove web

Kate Marden from West Coast Falconry with her Sonoran Desert Falcon

The city of Pacific Grove hired Kate to scare off seagulls before the nesting season, so that they do not nest on rooftops and nearby areas.

From the West Coast Falconry website:

“Falconry based bird abatement” is the use of trained birds of prey to intimidate and scare off nuisance birds which cause loss of revenue for crop growers, health hazards in water resources, landfills, and safety concerns in airfields.

Very often the presence of the raptor is enough to deter and intimidate the prey species. Falconry works because pest birds are “hard-wired” to be terrified of Raptors – falcons, hawks and owls- that are their natural enemies. It’s a natural predator and prey relationship that evolution has programmed them to avoid.

Pest birds never get acclimated to Raptors while they will become used to noisemakers such as propane cannons, shotguns, or recorded calls.

Falconer at Pacific Grove 1 web

Kate and her Sonoran desert falcon were out yesterday (photographed in front of the Public Library) to educate the public about the program.  She will also hold informational talks at local schools.

Falconer at Pacific Grove 2

From a KSBW report:

The city came in and removed the empty nests and now my job is to keep the gulls agitated so they don’t nest here in the downtown area,” Marden said.

Marden said there’s only a small chance one of her birds will actually take flight to scare the seagulls. She said for the most part just knowing there’s a bigger bird in town is enough.

March is when the gulls build nests and then lay eggs later in spring. Once there is an egg in the nest, the nest is federally protected. So the city is hoping the nests will be built near the ocean instead.

The city said no one should feel too bad for the gulls.

According to ornithologists the birds of prey will be doing the seagulls a favor if the project works. Right now the gulls are in town because of easy access to human food, but the animal’s natural diet of seafood is much better for them and their chicks.

Snowy Plover Salinas RIver State Beach

Snowy plover at Salinas River State Beach

The seagull population boom is a problem for threatened birds like the snowy plover because gulls prey on other bird species, raiding nests for eggs and nestlings.

UNLESS… Earth-Friendly Friday: My Watershed – The Salinas River Watershed

Salinas River State Beach Sign webThere are several beaches on the California Central coast named after the Salinas river.

We visit these beaches often, but I did not think about the name, or about the Salinas River or its source, until the blogging challenge for Earth-Friendly Friday on the topic “Water – What’s Your Watershed?”.

The challenges this month will focus on WATER — and coincides with water related events during March (International Day of Actions for Rivers and the United Nations World Water Day).

To get started for the first week in March, the challenge is to think about rivers and streams, and to post photos. and take a look at watershed rivers/streams near us — and to tell a little about them.

Salinas River by Dole Facility facing east web

Photo of the Salinas RIver facing east, by California State Highway 1 byr the large Dole shipping facility near the city of Marina

This challenge is interesting because I did not know very much about watersheds — and in participating in this challenge, I learned something new!

The Salinas River Watershed

The watershed for our area is the Salinas river watershed and covers 4,600 square miles.   It turns out that the Salinas river originates in San Luis Obispo county (south of Monterey County) before emptying into the Monterey Bay — and merging with the Pacific ocean.

Information from the Sustainable Conservation website:

  • The Salinas River flows northwesterly through the Salinas valley (the valley lies in the Coast Ranges and is defined to the west by the Sierra de Salinas and east by the Gabilan Range).
  • It is 10 miles wide and 155 miles long
  • Primary land uses in the Salinas River watershed are row crops, vineyards, pasture and grazing lands, as well as urban areas, military bases and public open space

Problems Facing the Watershed

I’ve posted several articles on my blog about Monterey County’s mild weather, rich soils, and its multi-billion dollar agricultural industry.  The agricultural industry is a major source of jobs for many in this county, but is also a source of environmental problems.

Again, from the Sustainable Conservation website:

  • The intense agricultural production has created a variety of problems for the area’s natural resources.
    1. Rainfall and irrigation produce runoff that carries soils and associated pesticides and pollutants into the watercourses and down to the ocean.
    2. Clearing stream banks of vegetation has reduced and degraded habitat for avian and aquatic species.
    3. Erosion has filled the streams and reduced their natural functioning.
    4. The degradation of habitat and water quality has contributed to the steep decline in steelhead (fish) populations, and generally reduces the diversity of species and natural productivity of the area.
  • Unabated, this continuing loss of natural functioning contributes to the overall decline of California’s native plant and animal species and lowers the quality of life for our communities as well.
Salinas River by Dole Facility web

Salinas river flowing towards Pacific Ocean by California State Highway 1, facing west near Dole facility and town of Marina

The Salinas River Watershed is the 4th largest watershed in California.  Interestingly, the Salinas river is also known as the “The Upside Down River” because unlike most California rivers that flow west or south, it flows northward and has one of the largest subsurface flows in the nation.  From the Conservation Consulting website:

  • The river flows into one of the worlds most diverse marine ecosystems, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
  • The river is designated by the California State Water Resources Control Board as one of the most critical watersheds in California (more on California water resources, here)

I’m planning on visiting some river areas farther up our county this year and learning more about the Salinas river, including about the 20 wineries along Monterey County’s “River Road Wine Trail”.  I wonder…do these river road wineries follow the Salinas river or its tributaries?

Photo below from another California State Park beach area related to the Salinas river, near the town of Moss Landing, California.

Salinas River State Beach at Moss Landing 1

Photo after sunset near Salinas River State beach at Moss Landing

To take part in this challenge and to see responses.. click here.

This new blogging event is inspired by prophetic words written in 1971 by Dr. Seuss in his book – The Lorax …” UNLESS . . . someone like youcares a whole awful lot,nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Story of the whole valley web Related: Oldtown Salinas photos and post about author John Steinbeck for WordPress Photo Challenge.

The Salinas River is mentioned in many of Steinbeck’s novels.

Quote below from his 1952 novel,  East of Eden…

“The Salinas was only a part-time river.  The summer sun drove it underground.  It was not a fine river at all, but it was the only one we had so we boasted about it –how dangerous it was in a wet winter and how dry it was in a dry summer.”

WPC Reward: The longevity of author John Steinbeck – photos from his hometown

Yesterday. February 27, was the author John Steinbeck’s birthday (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) — a good occasion to post my Oldtown Salinas photos and submit my 2nd WordPress Photo Challenge on the theme of Reward, for the reward of longevity.

Longevity: long life – the fact of living for many years – length of life – the length of time that something or someone lasts or continues (Definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary)

Story of the whole valley web

Steinbeck’s words carved into stone at entrance of National Steinbeck Center

Among the rewards for a life well-lived is physical longevity and what is left, well after death.

John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, Monterey County, California.  He wrote 27 books and won both a Pulitzer and the National Book Award for his novel, The Grapes of Wrath.  He also won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962 (controversial at the time) for “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”  and “realistic and imaginative writing, combining as it does sympathetic humor and keen social perception”.

Salinas is the largest city in Monterey County, and the county seat.  It has a population of 155,000 and is located 8 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

The mild weather and rich valley soil is why the area is called “the salad bowl of the world”.  It is the only county in the United States that produces more than $1 billion annually in vegetable sales.

Salinas Valley Fields web

This was taken last week…really! The weather is so mild here, that there is something growing in the fields most of the time.

 

Much of Steinbeck’s writing is set in Southern and Central California, particularly the Salinas Valley and the Central California Coast.

The photos below are from “Old Town” Salinas, location of the National Steinbeck Center.  The house where John Steinbeck was born is a few blocks away from Oldtown. 

Steinbeck Center

Buildings in the Victorian style of architecture dot the old town Salinas downtown area.

Here are some examples of the buildings, walking out from the National Steinbeck Center…

Old Salinas buildings 5 web

Some of the building details in Oldtown…

And some interesting tile work on a few of the entryways…

And finally, some scenes from  the stores and restaurants in Oldtown…

Steinbeck Statue at Salinas Library web

 

The old town Salinas library is a few blocks away and is named after John Steinbeck.

There is another of the rock (like the one in front of the Steinbeck Center) carved with his quote, outside the library…

 

Books Best Friend Quote web

In addition to tips learned on the WordPress Photo Challenges, these series of photos were also inspired by Cardinal Guzman’s new photo challenge The Changing Seasons “to train your eye”.

This is my first attempt at taking a series of photos of one place, and it certainly made me look up/down and check out details, which I think in general makes me a better observer of what is around me…of life.

I’m inspired by photography that captures a sense of place and people, especially vibrant photos from The Third Eye Mom (see Lesson in Street Photography), and intricate nature photos, and great landscape photography from Just Another Nature Enthusiast (see the EcoRegion series).

In our digital era and through our blogs, we all have the opportunity for the “reward” of longevity — since our words and photos will be around long after we are gone, right?

==========================================

To see interpretations from the WordPress blogging community or to join in the Weekly Photo Challenge, click here.

To participate in the new monthly photo challenge, The Changing Seasons, hosted by Cardinal Guzman, click here.  NOTE: I’m also including these photos as my first attempt and as practice 🙂 for this monthly challenge (though late, and more photos than suggested) since I like the idea of capturing sets of photos for different seasons — plus these photos are not archived, or published elsewhere, but taken last week. 

Seeing amazing photos from the WordPress blogging community is always inspiring, and tips are always appreciated from seasoned and professional photographers.

UNLESS…Severe Weather and Wildlife Well-being: Jellyfish Blooms

This post is in support of the new weekly WordPress blogging challenge Unless…Earth-Friendly Friday. This week’s topic is about severe weather and wildlife well-being.

Severe weather — from climate change that lead to ocean warming as well as excess carbon dioxide that increase ocean acidity levels — impact marine wildlife.

It may not be obvious to most of us because we can’t see what is happening, but severe weather changes are already affecting our marine wildlife.

Monterey Aquarium jellyfish exhibit

Jellyfish Exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – photo Lolako.com

Warmer ocean waters contribute to jellyfish blooms.

The problem?

While jellyfish are fascinating and beautiful, and abundant jellyfish is a great food source for giant Pacific leatherback turtles that migrates from Indonesia to the Monterey Bay, sea turtle populations have declined at an alarming rate — so there are not as many turtles to keep the jellyfish population in check.

Moon Jellyfish at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Moon jellyfish exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – photo Lolako.com

A combination of the decline in sea turtle population that feed on jellyfish and increasing jellyfish blooms creates an imbalance and a serious problem because  among the food jellyfish (like the Pacific sea nettle) eat as they drift in our oceans are small fish and fish eggs.

You don’t have to be a scientist to figure out that this overabundance of jellyfish eating fish eggs results in fewer fish for other ocean creatures to eat (not to mention less fish for human beings to eat).

Watching jellyfish exhibit at Monterey Aquarium

My grandson, Jun, mesmerized by the amazing Jellyfish exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

From an article on ThinkProgress.org on Why Aquariums are obsessed with Climate ChangeNote — Sarah-Mae Nelson, quoted for the interview is the Climate Change Interpretive Specialist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Jellyfish are another invasive intruder that can proliferate under warming ocean temperatures. These “weeds of the sea” have become more common in the Monterey Bay over the last decade, according to Nelson.

“We always had sea nettle jellyfish here in the late summer,” Nelson said. “But in the last eight to ten years we’ve been having huge blooms of them periodically — so much so that they’ve actually collapsed our water intake filters.”

Standing in a room lined floor to ceiling with jellyfish tanks, it was easy to imagine these boneless, brainless creatures expanding out from the aquarium and far into the ocean, decimating native species in their path.

Monterey Aquarium jellyfish exhibit 2

Pacific Sea nettle jellyfish exhibit at Monterey Bay Aquarium – photo Lolako.com

Beyond the Monterey Bay, jellyfish blooms are creating problems in other parts of the world….from a power outage at Sweden’s Oskarshamn nuclear power plant caused by water intake systems clogged by jellyfish, to fishing boats in Japan capsized as a result of fishing nets inundated with jellyfish (more info here).

Severe weather will continue to impact all of us, in our interconnected world.

To take part in this blogging challenge or to see photos and articles for the challenge click here.

This new blogging event is inspired by prophetic words written in 1971 by Dr. Seuss in his book – The Lorax …” UNLESS . . . someone like youcares a whole awful lot,nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

 

leatherback_scottbenson_noaa rd

Photo by Scott Benson via U.S. NOAA website

 

Related post on LolaKo.com:

Monterey Bay and our connection to endangered Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtles

 

 

Vellela jellie like creatures washed up on California beaches wb

 

Post about Vellela Vellelas washed up on Central Coast beaches last year (these are also called sea raftby-the-wind sailorpurple sail, and little sail).

From hunting whales to celebrating whales in Monterey Bay

IMG00581Among the photographs posted the year I began my blog in 2011 were images from a beach walk that turned out to be remnants of an old pier in Moss Landing, California.

IMG00580

We were still new to the area so I did not yet know the history. and I noted that “from this angle, it had a sort of mysterious, Stonehenge feel about it” on the blog post, and asked if anyone had information.

I immediately received comments from my friend Jean, who grew up in Santa Cruz, as well as Monterey County native Melanie Mayer-Gideon informing me that the items jutting out from the beach were indeed remnants of the pier that once stood there.

I also learned the pier was used by whaling ships — and the area’s beach landed and processed whales, which may explain my Stonehenge comment, since Stonehenge was a burial ground in its early history.

Whalefest LogoLast month, the annual festival called “Whalefest” took place in Monterey’s Old Fisherman’s Wharf.  The festival promotes the Monterey Bay as the “Whale Watching Capital of the World”.

The festival is in its 5th year and celebrates the migration of whales, the Monterey Bay’s marine wildlife, and raises funds that benefit local marine conservation and non-profit organizations.

While this festival is a positive one and educating the public on whales and wildlife conservation is important, I think it is also important to explore and look into the history of whales in this area…before “Whalefest”.

A publication from the state of California Fish and Game Commission titled “A History of California Shore Whaling” provided information, starting with early accounts of whales on our coast from 1602:

Perhaps whales were first mentioned on our coast by Sebastian Vizcaino in the year 1602, though this is of purely literary interest, for we do not need to be told that whales were on the coast as long as there have been such things as whales.

The following translation of Vizcaino’s voyage is given by Venegas in his history of California in 1758:

“This bay also had been already surveyed by the Almirante [one of Vizcaino’s ships] who gave it the name of Bahia de Belenas or Whale Bay, on account of the multitudes of that large fish they saw there, being drawn thither by the abundance of several kinds of fish.”[1]

Carmel Whaling Station

This was in Lower California, but farther on in the same account in writing of the Bay of “Monte-rey” he includes among the animals of the bay “huge sea wolves [or sea lions] and whales.”

Venegas himself says: “But the most distinguished fish of both seas are the whales; which induced the ancient cosmographers to call California, Punta de Belenas, or Cape Whale; and these fish being found in multitudes along both coasts give name to a channel in the gulf, and a bay in the south sea.” “Cape Whale” refers to Lower California, “both seas” to the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California.

California SealThe report (by Edwin C. Starks, Stanford University and printed in 1923 by the California State Printing Office) discusses whaling methods, from conventional ship whaling to “shore whaling”.

The shore whaling part is where the Moss Landing pier history comes in.

Included in the report were historical photographs of the operation at the same beach where I took my photos in December, 2011.

Whaling Station at Moss Landing

Humpback at at Moss Landing Whaling StationHumpback at at Moss Landing Whaling Station 1Humpback at at Moss Landing Whaling Station 2

Early societies used whale oil processed from whale blubber to light oil lamps as well as for soaps and margarine.

When kerosene (also known as paraffin)  was invented and more economical vegetable-based oils became available in the mid 1800s, the demand for whale oil declined, and the whaling industry — including shore whaling operations —  started to cease operations.

Whale hunting policies also changed after the signing of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling in 1946 to “provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry”.  The regulation governed the commercial, scientific, and aboriginal subsistence whaling practices for its fifty-nine member nations.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was set up as a result of the 1946 agreement, and in the 1980s, the IWC adopted a moratorium on commercial whaling.  From the IWC website:

Uncertainty over whale numbers led to the introduction of a ‘moratorium’ on commercial whaling in 1986.  This remains in place although the Commission continues to set catch limits for aboriginal subsistence whaling.

Today, the Commission also works to understand and address a wide range of non-whaling threats to cetaceans including entanglement, ship strike, marine debris, climate change and other environmental concerns.

It is interesting that the invention of kerosene, a by-product of petroleum, most likely saved some species of whales from extinction.  Yet, another modern petroleum-based material — plastics and nylons used in marine nets, ropes / ship rigging — is now contributing to the trash problems plaguing our oceans and threatens whales.

I wondered why whales have been on my mind recently…and the purpose for this blog post.  Maybe a combination of the disturbing news last week on the new study of the enormous amount of  plastic trash entering our oceans had me thinking about marine life, and, as I am nearing my 4th year blog birthday, I am looking to see if older posts need updates, including one that had my Moss Landing pier photos (What Low Tide Reveals) .

As it turns out, this blog post exploring the history of whales in the Monterey Bay, from hunting them to now celebrating them in a whale themed festival  —- is actually one of hope for me…

It is validation that although we human beings can create suffering and havoc, we are also capable of change, that we can invent something — or come up with solutions to address the mess that we create (I am thinking about our current oceans plastics mess here, too!)

The same beach area once used to land and process whales is now home to the  Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institue (MBARI)…

…a world center for advanced research and education in ocean science and technology, and to do so through the development of better instruments, systems, and methods for scientific research in the deep waters of the ocean

MBARI building photo

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) building now stands in the area previously used for whaling operations

And from their website on “Why MBARI is located in Moss Landing?”

Monterey Bay is one of the most biologically diverse bodies of water in the world. The Monterey Canyon, which bisects Monterey Bay, is one of the deepest underwater canyons along the continental United States. MBARI’s facilities at Moss Landing are located within meters of the head of Monterey Canyon, allowing researchers to reach waters 3,600 meters deep within a few hours of leaving port.

Last night, the new series EARTH: A New Wild aired on PBS.  Among the stories featured (focused on our oceans) was about turning a slimy, industrial wasteland at New York City’s Pier 29 back into an ocean habitat.  They are doing this through helping oysters repopulate the area.  The oysters and muscles filter the water, and quite quickly, it becomes clean enough for other species to move in.

Why do Whales sing image

Click on image to learn why whales sing….

If we can implement a way to clean the ocean water near a metropolis like New York City…well, why not other places?  Again, hopeful! 

The program is well produced, and I will try to catch the rest in the series.

Click on the whale photo to learn more, and to see the article about why whales “sing”.

Have you heard whale songs?  When I was 15, my art teacher played whale songs in the background as inspiration during a week when she encouraged her students to create art, or write poetry about whales.

You see how teachers can inspire?  Here I am now…a grandmother…who loves whales.  Maybe that is the point of this post too…inspirations, and to always have hope.


 

Further reading:

A History of California Shore Whaling – BY Edwin C. Starks, Stanford University,  California State Printing Office, Sacramento 1923

Whaling Controversy – Article on Wikipedia about the international environmental and ethical debate over whale hunting.

Related post on LolaKo.com:

What does whale baleen feel like?

What does whale baleen feel like?

 

Monterey WhaleFest at Old Fisherman’s Wharf

Photos and blog post  from a visit to WhaleFest with my grandsons Jun and Gabriel

 


 

UNLESS…Earth Friendly Friday PLASTIC WASTE REDUCTION – Ideas to reduce plastic and food packaging waste from 3 citizens at the Marina, California Farmers Market

This post is in support of the new weekly WordPress event inspired by prophetic words written in 1971 by Dr. Seuss in his book – The Lorax

” UNLESS . . . someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”

The topic for the week is about plastic waste, and this blog post highlights 3 ideas from local citizens at the Marina Farmers Market (Monterey County, California) to reduce plastic waste and divert trash from going to landfills.

Fortress Micro Farm Eco Coffee web

Pictured from left, Michael – who works in Marina, Darrell, coffee stand employee and student at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and Amelia, business owner of Hidden Fortress Micro Farm in Royal Oaks, California

 1.  Bring your own coffee cups and take out containers, whether buying  from your favorite coffee shop or at the farmers market.

Michael, pictured at left, brings his own mug when buying coffee to reduce plastic waste (because even coffee shops that offer non-plastic cups often use plastic lids).

Bringing his own coffee mug is part of his daily habit — and started about 3 years ago.  He now works in Marina and originally studied Environmental Science at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), so already knew about the amount of plastic trash individual consumers contribute to our waste stream.

2. Support practices that reduce waste and diverts trash from going to landfills.

Darrell, pictured at center, is a student at CSUMB.  In addition to working at the farmers market coffee stand (Hidden Fortress Micro Farms), he also works at the university’s coffee shop, where he reports that along with recycling bins, they have ordered portable, easy to maneuver compost bins to further divert trash from going to landfills.

Michael and Darrell brought up that Marina mayor, Bruce Delgado brings his own food containers at local restaurants when ordering “to go” …a great way for town leaders to set an example of small things we can do to reduce trash.

3.  If you own a business that offer “to go” food and beverages, encourage customers to bring their own containers by offering discounts.

amelia_tasting2Amelia, pictured at right,  owns this Eco-friendly farmers market coffee stand.  Her company sells coffee and teas at several Monterey and Santa Cruz County farmers markets.

She uses compostable cups, lids and coffee bags to reduce plastic waste, and beyond that, she also promotes habits that reduce trash by offering a discount of $.25 per cup of coffee if you bring your own coffee mug to buy beverages from her farmers market coffee stand.

Hidden Fortress Solar Powered Coffee

Amelia set up her business with earth-friendly actions in mind.  From the Hidden Fortress Micro Farms website:

…Our coffee operation is entirely solar-powered. We have a mobile solar generator (mounted on the farm’s pickup truck) that provides power for our coffee bar. Our coffee roaster, located at the farm, runs on propane and solar power.

Fortress Micro Farm Eco Coffee booth sign web

The group agreed that just as we are all accustomed to bringing our cell phones with us when we leave our home, we can also make a habit to bring our reusable containers when we head out for the day.

This is a habit I am working on, and my goal this year to keep a set of reusable food containers in the car.  I hate ending up with food packaging and containers — especially polystyrene / styrofoams which some towns allow, but typically cannot be recycled — when I order “to go”. 

Gayles Bakery Reusable Bag

Photo credit: Gayle’s Bakery web site

Note: Another local business — Gayles Bakery & Rosticceria — communicates via their web and radio advertizing to bring food containers for take-out orders to reduce food packaging trash.

To encourage a shift in habits, they offer a weekly $100 gift card drawing for customers who bring their own bags, food containers or mugs for take-out food.

I recommend viewing their environmental policy page to get ideas of how businesses and consumers can work together to reduce plastic and food packaging waste.

Most of us order food “to go” or take home leftovers from restaurants.  Shifting our habits when we buy our coffee or bringing our own food containers for take out can make a big difference in reducing, and eliminating plastic waste.

“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”

— quote from Marian Wright Edelman, founder of Children’s Defense Fund

To take part in this timely WordPress challenge topic and to see other submissions for the theme click here.

Thank you to JustAnotherNatureEnthusiast.org for creating a place to share ideas about “resources and actions…for nature’s sake”.

WPC: Symmetry in nature and rice fields

This week, the theme for the WordPress Photo Challenge is…

Symmetry (noun): the quality of something that has two sides or halves that are the same or very close in size, shape, and position; the quality of having symmetrical parts.

…For this challenge, share an image of symmetry. Don’t limit yourself to architecture — you can bend this theme in any way you’d like.  A portrait of your twins? A window grille? The yellow lines of a busy road? A row of sharp points along a metal fence? Let the world inspire you.

It is easy to find symmetry in nature…

Symetry Plant Leaf web

Symetry in nature web

And in how we create our fields and plant our food, from rice fields in the Philippines…

Rice Field Symetry web

To lettuce fields in Monterey County, California…

Monterey County Fields

And in how we construct our spaces indoors…

Restaurant BW web

Image of carved wood entryway at a local Vietnamese restaurant…

To see submissions for this theme from the WordPress blogging community click here.

UNLESS…Earth-Friendly Friday: Book Recommendation – Plastic, A Toxic Love Story

book_plastic_greyThis post is in support of a brand new weekly WordPress blogging event created and hosted by JustAnotherNatureEnthusiast.org.

The theme for the first challenge is Plastic, and I’m submitting a book recommendation.

The book Plastics – A Toxic Love Story, by science writer Susan Freinkel is comprehensive, and a fascinating read about the history of plastic and products familiar to all of us.

I highly recommend if you want to understand our love/hate relationship with plastics. For local residents, it is available at our Monterey County Public Library system.   Introduction below:

Here is an excerpt from a post on my blog right after the book was published:

Ms. Freinkel chooses eight objects to help tell the story of plastic:  The comb, the chair, the Frisbee, the IV bag, the disposable lighter, the grocery bag, the soda bottle and the credit card.

She examines how these objects are made, the history, the culture of plastics, and how synthetics affect our health and environment.

A speaker from a plastics manufacturer’s conference in 1956, is quoted as saying “Your future is in the garbage wagon”.

How true…and it turns out that today, the average American throws away 300 pounds of packaging a year — and this mountain of containers and wrappings accounts for about 1/3 of the municipal waste stream.

Initially, we had to be taught to throw away plastic items — especially after the depression era culture of “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”.

But it did not take long for us to absorb the lessons — especially because everyone was becoming more prosperous — at the same time when many disposable products were entering the market.  Life magazine dubbed this (then) new era “Throwaway Living” .

To take part in this timely WordPress challenge topic and to see other submissions for the theme click here (http://justanothernatureenthusiast.org/2015/02/06/unless-plastic/).

This new blogging event is inspired by prophetic words written in 1971 by Dr. Seuss in his book – The Lorax

” UNLESS . . . someone like you

cares a whole awful lot,

nothing is going to get better.

It’s not.”

WPC: Depth — King Tides and flooded paths at Elkhorn Slough

Last Wednesday, we had super high tides in our area.  These high tides are also called “king tides”, and can damage property as well as cause erosion in coastal areas.

I went to Elkhorn Slough the day of the high tide to take photographs and take part in the California King Tides Project.

Elkhorn Slough Viewing Area web

Outside of San Francisco Bay, Elkhorn Slough harbors California’s largest tract of tidal salt marsh.

It is home to more than 135 aquatic bird, 550 marine invertebrate, 102 fish species, sea lions, harbor seals, and California sea otters.  It is also a temporary home to hundreds of bird species that use the slough during their annual migrations.

It is a treasure in this area of California, and a special place to see wildlife up close — and a safe place to kayak (weather permitting of course!)

Elkhorn Slough web

Here is a little about the area from the Elkhorn Slough.org website:

Dunes and broad stretches of open sandy beach characterize the inner curve of Monterey Bay.

The expansive beaches are interrupted only by the outlets of the Pajaro and Salinas Rivers, and the entrance to Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing Harbor.

The protected waters of the slough and its associated mudflats, wetlands, and nearby dunes provide a haven for a wide variety of birds, fish and unusual marine life.

This remarkable variety of habitats provides visitors a rare opportunity to explore and discover nature’s secrets.

Elkhorn water web

The tide for the area is normally around 5 feet.  During the king tide, the tide rose to over 6 feet and flooded walking paths, as well as the parking area of Kirby Park, one of the launching points for those who want to kayak in the slough.

For a comparison, here is a photo of my grandchildren walking the path at Kirby Park, taken on a foggy day in 2009.

Elkhorn path no flooding web

And below are photos I took from my phone camera on January 21, 2015, one of the “king tide” days…

Elkhorn flooded path 1 webThe tide reached its peak while a family was at the viewing bridge, and they had to pass the flooded path to get back to the parking area.

Some waited for the water to recede, including me!  I do like to keep my feet and shoes dry, and was not willing to walk on the logs that lined the path (I’m not good at balancing…and pretty sure I would have ended up with more than wet shoes).

Elkhorn flooded path web

Parts of the path have already eroded…

Elkhorn water eroding path web

And those who parked in the launching area to kayak may have been surprised to see water near their vehicles upon their return.

Kirby flooded parking area web

Parts of parking area near launching ramp flooded…Kirby parking and docking area web

We will see if these tides get more severe, meaning many coastal areas, and even small parks like Kirby will need funding to repair and raise walking paths and parking areas.

Documenting the differences will hopefully help in budgeting and planning for these changes in our environment.

This post is part of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.  The theme this week is Depth, from Ben Huberman:

This week, share with us your take on “depth” — you can take it literally, like me, by showing something (a dense forest, your lawn after a blizzard) that suggests volume, a distance between surface and bottom. Or go with a more figurative approach: use a deep color palette, play with your image’s depth of field, or highlight a person, a place, or an object to which you feel deeply connected.

More information: California King Tides Project – Snap the Shore, See the Future 

The California King Tides Project help people visualize how sea level rise will impact their lives.  Via smartphones and social media, we invite you to document “king tides” – the highest high tides of today, which will be the average water levels of the future.

The pictures that you take help scientists and managers better plan for future flood risks, and give you a way to participate directly in the science that will drive decisions in your community.  Everyone is welcome to participate!

gw-sewater-intrusion2

One of the side effects of salt water intrusion is contamination of freshwater sources.  Graphic Source: Blog post from (Journalist and Photographer) Sabrina Doyle’s website.  Click on image to visit website and for more information.

San Francisco Bay is RISING.  There is an educational video on the California King Tides website about sea level rise and global warming.  I highly recommend viewing if you have an interest in the environment, ocean warming and resulting sea level rise as it relates to the Bay Area and beyond.  See below or link here: http://california.kingtides.net/what-is-sea-level-rise/

And if you are interested in more LolaKo.com photos and posts related to Elkhorn Slough, click here.

Is the area where you live affected by these super high tides?  What is your opinion on climate change?

WordPress Photo Challenge – resting dragonfly shadow

I enjoy WordPress photo challenges and continue to pick up great tips — in addition to seeing stunning photographs by fellow bloggers — through these challenges.

The theme for the second challenge in 2015 is Shadowed, from Jen Hooks…

For this week’s Photo Challenge, find the shadows. You can choose a literal interpretation and shoot an actual shadow, or you can play with the light and dark, and create a moody scene, or capture your subject in a rich and interesting way.

Dragonfly Shadow web

I have yet to experiment with shadows and low lighting, so I am submitting my shot of a dragonfly and its shadow, resting on a Native Leaf wine bag (which I posted on the NL blog).  Excerpt:

Dragonflies are ancient insects and there are 28 species of dragonflies and damselflies in the San Francisco Bay area.

Looking at the Wildlife of the San Francisco Bay Area website, it looks like this particular one is a Blue-eyed Darner – Rhionaeschna multicolor.

I remember chasing after vibrantly colored dragonflies when I was a kid growing up in the Philippines.  There was a house near us with an abandoned pool and what must have been perfect breeding grounds for them, as dragonflies and damselflies begin their lives living underwater for a year of more as nymphs (eating lots of mosquito).  No wonder there were so many dragonflies in that area!

Of course back then, we did not worry that one of our playmates might fall in the algae, leaf-filled tannin brown (and rather deep) water…we just had fun and ran after the shiny dragonflies.

Why save a dragonfly

Information from the US Fish & Wildlife website Endangered Species Fact Sheet

Did you grow up seeing dragonflies and where there myths about dragonflies in your culture?

Do you still see them where you now live?

Santa’s new ride

Maybe Rudolf and the rest of the flying reindeer needed a break, or it was a quick trip and Santa wanted to try out his other environment friendly ride…

Santa on a Segway web

Whatever the reason, this put a smile on my face, and Santa certainly delighted shoppers at the Old Town Monterey Farmer’s Market last night while riding around on his festively lit Segway.

Santas New Ride

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all the best for the New Year!

Celebrating Filipino-American History Month in Monterey County: The Asian Cultural Experience Pop-Up Museum

1920s photo via FANHS website

1920’s photo via FANHS website

The first record of Filipinos in the continental US was during the month of October in 1587.

In November, 2009,  the United States House of Representatives and Senate passed laws officially recognizing October as Filipino American History Month in the US.

From the FANHS – Filipino American National Historical Society website…

October’s significance as Filipino American History Month is due to the first recorded presence of Filipinos in the continental United States when on October 18, 1587, “Luzones Indios” came ashore from the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Esparanza and landed at what is now Morro Bay, California.

In November of 2009, both the United States House of Representatives and Senate passed laws – House Resolution 780 and Senate Resolution 298 respectively, officially recognizing October as Filipino American History Month in the United States.

Various states, counties and cities in the U.S. have since followed suit and have established proclamations and resolutions declaring observance of Filipino American History Month in their regions. Continue reading…

If you live in the Monterey Bay area, check out the pop-up museum this afternoon, organized by the Asian Cultural Experience on Filipinos in Salinas Chinatown and Monterey County. Details:

  • When: Saturday, October 18, 2014, 2:00 pm–5:00 pm Cost: FREE
  • Where: John Steinbeck Library, 350 Lincoln Ave., Salinas, CA
Filipinos in Salinas Chinatown 1920s Wellington Lee Collection

Filipinos in Salinas Chinatown 1920s Wellington Lee Collection

Information from ACE…

Salinas Chinatown was founded by Chinese merchants in 1893. Filipinos first arrived on the California coast on Manila Galleons. During the early 20th century, the 12 square block area was home to many closely-knit Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Mexican, and African American families. In the 1920s, Filipinos migrated to the Salinas and Pajaro Valleys to work in the agricultural fields, and some settled in or near Chinatown. Another wave of Filipinos migrated to the area following World War II.

This Pop-up Museum (the third in a series focusing on Salinas Chinatown), sponsored by Asian Cultural Experience (A.C.E.), Salinas CA, in collaboration with the John Steinbeck Library, explores the history of Filipinos in Salinas Chinatown, Salinas Valley, and Monterey County, and invites your participation:

  • Are you part of a Filipino family that lived in Chinatown or in Monterey County?
  • Did you have friends in Salinas Chinatown, or did you know any Filipino families in the area?
  • How did you, or do you view the Chinatown community? Did you ever walk or drive through Chinatown, talk to the people, or take photographs? Did you have friends in Chinatown, or do business there?

We invite Salinas and Monterey County residents and visitors to come and share their experiences and knowledge of Salinas Chinatown and the Filipino experience; in the process we will explore our differences as well as our common ground. Bring one or two objects or photographs, and especially your stories, to share with us. For the period of the pop-up, we will provide temporary exhibit space and labels for your items, and people who are interested in hearing your story. We look forward to seeing you!

FANHS Monterey Bay

Photo from FANHS Monterey Bay website

Related Links:

California the first U.S. state to ban single-use plastic bags

California Flag

The California State Flag, adopted in 1911.

California is the most populous state in the U.S….and its citizens use a whole lot of single-use plastic bags — about 14 billion bags yearly.

Thanks to a new bill signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown today, we can at least dramatically cut our plastic bag use and prevent single-use plastic bags from going into our landfills (since most bags are not recycled) and more important, decrease (and eventually eliminate!) escaped plastic bags that mar our beautiful landscape.

Having a statewide ban protects the environment of the state of California from this needless trash, and now, smaller cities / municipalities do not have to create their own ordinances…it’s done, and the entire state is covered!

The bill — SB 270 — is the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bag.

“This bill is a step in the right direction – it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” said Governor Brown. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”

More from the Governor’s website:

The legislation, authored by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), prohibits grocery stores and pharmacies from distributing single-use plastic bags after July 2015 and enacts the same ban for convenience stores and liquor stores the following year. It will also provide up to $2 million in competitive loans – administered by CalRecycle – to businesses transitioning to the manufacture of reusable bags.

…“I applaud Governor Brown for signing SB 270 into law. He continues to lead our state forward with a commitment to sustainability. A throw-away society is not sustainable. This new law will greatly reduce the flow of billions of single-use plastic bags that litter our communities and harm our environment each year. Moving from single-use plastic bags to reusable bags is common sense. Governor Brown’s signature reflects our commitment to protect the environment and reduce government costs,” said Senator Padilla.

California coast from above web

Southern California coastline. Photo LolaKo.com

“The California coast is a national treasure and a calling card for the world, helping us attract visitors and business from around the globe. Removing the harmful blight of single-use plastic bags, especially along our coastline and waterways, helps ensure the kind of clean and healthy environment we need to have a stronger economy and a brighter future,” said Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins.  Continue reading…

This is the start of what will hopefully be a nationwide ban on single-use plastic bags.

California coast web

My grandsons Jun and Gabriel walking on the beach this summer. We spent a lot of time on the beach this summer!

The California coast covers 840 miles (1,350 km), and 15 of California’s 58 counties directly face the Pacific Ocean.  This statewide plastic bag ban is a major step towards protecting our environment and the ocean’s creatures that ingest plastics by accident — like the Pacific leatherback turtle mistaking plastic for jellyfish and other food.

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6 degrees pictogram via Ocean Conservancy — No matter where you live, trash can travel from your hands to storm drains to streams and to the sea.

Proud to live in California right now with this first ever statewide plastic bag ban.

I’ll end this post with this quote about the ban from Nathan Weaver of Environment California :

“This important step forward shows that we can achieve lasting victories for ocean and environmental health,” said Nathan Weaver, Oceans Advocate with Environment California. “Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our ocean for hundreds of years.”  

Monterey Bay Birding Festival and Family Day Activities September 27th and 28th

Monterey-Bay-Birding-Festival

Monterey Bay is a popular destination for tourists…but did you know it is also home to one of the most spectacular birding and wildlife sites in North America?

September is the best time to see wintering shorebirds and is the peak of fall migration for many bird species…which is why the Monterey Bay Birding Festival is held during the month of September.

The 10th annual Monterey Bay Birding Festival is happening now through Sunday, September 28th. For more about the birding festival, visit the festival’s website, here. Excerpt:

Word Class Birding

From soaring golden eagles, effortlessly gliding California condors, cheeky bushtits, gorgeous Townsend’s warblers, scampering snowy plovers, to thousands of sooty shearwaters streaming along the ocean’s surface, few places can match the diversity of species as the Monterey Bay region.

September marks the peak of fall migration, with wintering shorebirds arriving en masse. Warblers and other passerines are doing the same, and we even start seeing the first appearances of wintering ducks and other waterfowl. Meanwhile, just a few miles offshore, jaegers, shearwaters, and alcid are present in good numbers. There’s no better time to visit the Monterey Bay area to see the greatest number of species or to find a rarity.

Extraordinary Presenters 

This year’s lineup of nightly speakers, headed by author, artist, naturalist and conservationist Kenn Kaufman, simply soars.  Continue reading…

Photo gallery above, my amateur, first attempts at taking photos of shore birds taken at Moss Landing, with my NOT fancy camera.

So far, and as of today, September 26th, 2014, birding festival attendees have spotted most of the birds on this year’s festival checklist.  Wow, and there are still 2 more days to go!.

Birding Festival 2014 bird sightings web

In conjunction with the festival, there are also terrific (and free) family community events happening this weekend including a Habitat Festival and Native Plant Sale organized by the Watsonville Wetlands Watch.

Watsonville Wetlands Watch poster link

For more information on the native plant sale, click on the flyer above, and for more on the nature activities, bird watching and exploration walks for Family Days at the Watsonville’s Nature Center, see / click on the Family Days flyer below or call 831.768-1622.

Family Days poster

Native Leaf will exhibit at the Birder’s marketplace on Friday and Saturday. Visit Native Leaf’s website (news and blog page) for more details on hours and marketplace location.

Spectacular nature photographers (like Ooh Look Photography) as well as authors and artists specializing in exquisite bird, nature and wildlife art are also exhibiting at this year’s marketplace.

Plastic: Now available in your…beer?

Beer now available with plastic

Beer…now available infused with plastic bits!

Plastic trash is found even at remote locations on our planet.  And now, a new study finds that little bits of plastic — perhaps remnants of our trash — can be found in beer, too!

Note: The study was conducted in Germany, a country where beer is a huge part of the culture and culinary history.  The Germans have brewed ale style beer for over 3,000 years.

From the Grist article, Beer: a magical mixture of hops, barley, and tiny pieces of plastic: Excerpt:

…This is how the study worked: Researchers lab-tested samples of 24 varieties of German beers, including 10 of the nation’s most popular brands. Through their superpowers of microscopic analysis, the team discovered plastic microfibers in 100 percent of the tested beer samples.

Reads the study:

“The small numbers of microplastic items in beer in themselves may not be alarming, but their occurrence in a beverage as common as beer indicates that the human environment is contaminated by micro-sized synthetic polymers to a far-reaching extent.”

It’s not breaking news that plastics don’t just vanish into the ether when we’re finished with them. Unless you haven’t heard, in which case … BREAKING NEWS: The plastics we use today will stick around longer than your great-great-great-great (and then some) grandchildren. 

Grandchildren at beach summer 2014

My grandsons enjoying the beach while their Lola (grandmother) enjoys the sunset, summer 2014 on the central coast of California

Sadly, it is not surprising at all to learn about the findings of this study. We already know about the plastic and trash vortex (now the size of Texas) in the North Pacific and of the trash contaminating the deepest of our planet’s oceans.

We are careless about plastic trash.  So why wouldn’t plastics eventually end up in our beverages?

All you have to do is look outside your car window the next time you are stuck in traffic. See that plastic bottle on the side of the road?  And look above…see that plastic bag up on that tree branch…plastic trash dot our landscape, no matter where we live.

And if you live near the water, that trash you saw by the roadside can end up in our waterways, and eventually turn into tiny particles that end up right back into your water source. Yummy!

Please be mindful of plastic trash….recycle, use alternatives, bring your reusable bags to the store, and most of all, let’s all do our best to control our plastic trash and not let it get into our oceans.

Let’s fix what we can for the health of our planet…and for our grandchildren.

Also see LolaKo.com post:

On thFrancis-Malasig-photo-philippine plastic trash probleme burden of civilization’s excess

About plastic trash problems in the Philippines (river of trash photo after typhoon by Francis R. Malasig via 5gyres.org)

 

plastic trim on walis tambo broomFrom the Native Leaf blog, post on when plastic use is totally unnecessary

…Before the advent of plastic strapping materials and plastic trim, these brooms were made entirely from natural materials — and the entire broom would have been biodegradable.

book_plastic_greyLolako.com post Plastic Rich / Plastic Poor on Susan Freinkel’s book, Plastic, A Toxic Love Story. Foreign editions in Australia, China, Korea, Spain and Taiwan – Link to Ms. Freinkel’s website, here.

Lola Jane’s post excerpt: I am part of this plastics generation — and problem — and feel propelled into doing something, before it is too late.

The question is…what can I do…how do I get the word out?

 

Purple blue jellyfish-like creatures (related to dangerous Portuguese man o’ war) stranded on Central California beaches

Earlier this week, we noticed these purplish blue jellyfish-like creatures stranded at the Moss Landing – Salinas River State Beach (Central California coast)…

Vellela jellie like creatures washed up on California beaches wb

My 9-year-old grandson, Jun standing next to a Velella — a sort of close cousin to jellyfish, and closely related to Portuguese man o’ wars.  Photo Lolako.com

We have not seen these before, and they looked very interesting, with a blue, disc-shaped purplish bottom on one side and sliver of jelly-like material and flap on the other side.

Vellela jellie like closeup washed up on California beaches

Velella velella – photo by Lolako.com

At first we saw one or two every 5 to 10 feet….but then, as we walked further down the beach, we started to see hundreds of them.

Vellela jellie like creatures washed up California beaches wb

Velella velella stranded at Central California beaches. Photo by Lolako.com

We found out they are a close cousin to jellyfish and are called Velellas.

They are also known as sea raftby-the-wind sailorpurple sail, and little sail. They are found in most of the world’s oceans, and live on the surface of the water.

The top, jelly part acts like a sail and floats above the water, and the bottom blueish part is actually a colony of polyps with tentacles that catch prey like plankton, fish eggs and small shrimps.

Though quite small, these creatures are closely related to Portuguese man o’ wars.

But unlike Portuguese man o’ wars with tentacles of up to 160 feet (50 meters) that are venomous and dangerous to humans (even the ones washed up on the beach!) the much tinier Velellas’ are generally harmless to humans.  Still, the website Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) recommends not touching one’s face or eyes after handling Velellas.

Everything else you would want to know about Velellas is on the EOL website, which is where we also found this terrific video.

Velella – Planktonic Vessels from Parafilms on Vimeo.

Colonies of polyps transported by prevailing winds, velella drift at the surface of warm seas.   Plankton Chronicles Project by Christian Sardet, CNRS / Noe Sardet and Sharif Mirshak, Parafilms.  See Plankton Chronicles interactive site: planktonchronicles.org

Because Velellas cannot propel themselves, they are at the mercy of prevailing winds, and explains why they can sometimes wash ashore, stranded on beaches by the thousands.

Shore birds did not seem interested in eating the washed up Velellas…so they’ll just decompose or get washed back to sea at next high tide.

Have you seen Velella before or know more about these creatures washing up and stranded near where you live?

More Moss Landing beach related post from Lolako.com: