Did you know…
That the bright iridescent blue, yellow, and orange markings that span the velvety black body of the Navanax sea slug represent aposematic coloration and serve as a warning to potential predators.
Or that …
A closer look at the surface of a bat star’s colorful, mottled skin reveals a mosaic of course, scale-like structures. Without proper gills or lungs, bat stars rely on these small projections to aid in diffusion of oxygen from the water for respiratory exchange.
Or better yet…
That octopus maintain hundreds of highly sensitive suction cups that allow them to explore and smell their environment through touch and chemical receptors. With over 300 million peripheral neurons running through their arms, octopus use an elaborate muscle regulatory system to control each suction cup individually.
Nature showcases a unique geometry of living forms. Shape, structure, color, and pattern each play a complex role in ecological function. From large-scale ecosystems to microscopic beings, there is a unique magnificence in the complexities driven by evolution and necessity. In collaboration with nature photographer Michael Ready, Cabrillo National Monument is proud to showcase “Art Forms in Nature” for its FINAL week of exhibitory.
Through his work, Ready’s collection of images seeks to reveal the diversity of life and particularly its smaller and lesser-known forms. While possessing a background deeply rooted in natural history, Ready’s vision is divergent from typified nature photography. With an eye for rich colors, abstract patterns, and compositional mystery, the resulting images bring a sense of wonder and connection to the wild — and to the idea that nothing is outside of nature.
“Art Forms in Nature” highlights the interplay between form and function through an artistically scientific lens. From the symmetrical rosette of the Agave, to the unique dermal scales of shark skin, each Art Form is specifically crafted for utility and efficiency. For more on Michael Ready Photography, visit www.michaelready.com.
Our next exhibit will be “3D Cabrillo,” which showcases 3D biomodels created by two – six grade classes. See my previous blog to learn more it.
Water quality is an important vital sign for parks health assessment. I was able to participate in water quality monitoring sampling with the Gulf Coast Network (GULN) at two different parks: Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve (JELA) and Big Thicket National Preserve (BITH). In this blog, I will tell you about my experience at JELA.
Joe Maine is the network hydrologist responsible for the methodology and analysis of the long-term water quality monitoring. For more information about our reports and analysis, please go to: “https://science.nature.nps.gov/im/units/guln/monitor/water_quality.cfm.”
Whitney Granger, the network data manager, is responsible for the water quality sampling at JELA and BITH. At JELA, we use a boat to navigate through the canals of the Barataria Preserve, The monitoring started in July 2008, and it is measured at five sites: Bayou Bardeaux and Whiskey, Pipeline, Tarpaper and Millaudon Canals.
In the picture below you can see me recording the measurements of the field parameters, air temperature, water temperature, specific conductance (SpC), pH, dissolved oxygen (DO) and turbidity, and flow condition. We also collect water for lab analysis for Escherichia coli (E. coli), nitrate, nitrite and phosphorous.
At the same time as Whitney and I were doing the water quality sampling, Jane Carlson, network ecologist, and William Finney, the field biologist, were doing the amphibian monitoring at JELA. We met for lunch and then we went to the visitor center of JELA to freshen up and do some more work. This was an unusual sample trip, not only we did water quality and amphibian monitoring, but we also investigated new sites to be added on to the amphibian monitoring protocol.
I had a great time being on the boat and enjoying the beautiful views of the Barataria Preserve. I also learn a lot from the assessment we did on the possible new site for the amphibian monitoring. However, the most interesting part of this trip was when Whitney shared an interesting fact with me. In the picture below, you can see a lone cypress tree at the far right, when he was a teenager the marsh went all the way to that tree. If you never heard before, I will tell you now, land loss in Louisiana is a real issue.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s most recent analysis in 2011, Louisiana lost an average of 16.6 square miles of land a year from 1985 to 2010. Louisiana’s land loss involves at least three main factors: reduced sediment flow from the Mississippi River and its tributaries, subsidence, and sea-level rise. This is a very hot and complicated topic, I will not get into details. However, to have someone pointing out these changes in such a visual way, made my jaw drop lower than any published paper have ever done.
The Santa Cruz River is rich with history and natural resources. Many people have been attracted to the area because of its landscape and the flowing river. Early archeological evidence suggests that the Santa Cruz River basin has been inhabited for 4,000 years. The Hohokam left behind canals in central Arizona (lower Santa Cruz) indicating advanced agriculture technology. The Hohokam utilized the rivers resources for food and drew water from wells. The later O’odham people did as well and the river continued to flow as the first Spanish explorers arrived in 1540.
The Spanish explorers saw the river’s value for agriculture and raising livestock. They began establishing visitas, and missions along the river where many Native Americans had their villages. The Santa Cruz River would soon support an increase in population, agriculture and livestock adding demand on the river. Yet, the river continued to flow and provide people with needed water. The Spanish settlers and Native Americans shared a common view of the river as central for life.
The river brought people to its floodplains and the history of the area is enriched because of its presence. In Tumacacori an adobe church stands reminding its visitors of history, culture, and a river that nourished many communities over the years.