Sea Slugs

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Lighthouse Field State Beach II

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I enjoyed walking here for a bit before volunteering at Natural Bridges.  This evening someone in the grocery store said she saw me walking there and remembered me because she thought my outfit was cute!  I passed on  the good vibes on by complimenting another woman I saw in the store.

Volunteering was nice.  I am slowly getting more comfortable talking to visitors about the monarchs as I memorize more information.   Then I headed to oceanography class where I learned about features of the sea floor, then oceanography lab where I studied paleomagnetism, then geology lab where I studied plate tectonics and more paleomagnetism.   There is much overlap between these classes.

This evening I finally figured out how to chop up a fresh  pineapple and was in heaven with its perfectly ripe taste and aroma.  I miss my grandfather,  who I last saw in Hawaii a year ago before he passed on a few months later.

Monarch Life Cycle

I resumed volunteering at Natural Bridges State Beach this morning, talking to visitors about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly at a milkweed exhibit at the visitor’s center entrance.  I love meeting new people this way.  There was a woman from San Jose who was happy to learn that she could help support the monarch population by planting milkweed.  Milkweed is the only plant monarch caterpillars will eat so it is the only place where eggs are laid.  It doesn’t grow well here in Santa Cruz where the monarchs migrate for the winter so it’s much needed in the bay area where urban sprawl and herbicide use in the orchards have wiped out much of it.  In between talking to visitors, I snapped some photos of different stages of development in the chrysalis.

It appears as though the chrysalis is green but the outermost layer is actually transparent, slowly taking the shape and color of a monarch butterfly underneath.  The little golden specks align with the tips of the wings and aid the development somehow but no one knows the mechanism.  We do know that if they are covered up, the butterfly won’t develop and they’re thought to detect light.

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Sea Level Rise

This quarter at UC Santa Cruz I’m taking an introductory course in oceanography because I’m very interested in studying how climate change will affect California’s coastline and I need this course as a prerequisite for higher level courses in ocean science.  A course  I took in climate change last quarter ignited a deep concern for how sea level rise will alter the beaches I know and love here in California.  Then I learned about a grant recently awarded to UC Santa Cruz (and the UC system at large) for the purpose of studying how climate change will affect the local ecosystems of California.  I approached my professor today to ask if he can point me in the direction of my interest and he suggested I take his course in coastal geology offered next quarter.  It is an upper division course so it will be at an appropriate level for me and it will go toward my degree in environmental studies while also furthering my specific interests.  Win!  Usually the courses of the following quarter are a mystery until a month before they start so it’s great to know at least part of what I will be taking.

Pine Cones

Phoebe has helped me collect these around the Santa Cruz area:

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Douglas Fir

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Coast Redwood

The smallest one produces the tallest tree of the bunch.

I’m still trying to figure out for sure what some are…

Ballerina Scientist

Phoebe spotted a mossy branch the other day and pointed it out.

“Yeah,” I said, “You can take that home and examine it with your magnifying glass.”

“What does ‘examine’ mean?” she asked.

“To look closely and make observations.  You know what observations are,” I replied.  “You’re learning a lot of scientific terms.”

“That’s because I am a scientist,” she asserted.  “I’m a ballerina scientist.  Do you know what ballerina scientists do?”

“No, what do they do?”

“They dance all around through the forest and when they spot something interesting, they stop and take it home and observe it.  They do that again and again and again.  That’s what they do.”

Phoebe’s sycamore leaf

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Phoebe is really excited about keeping a journal of her observations while adventuring.  Here she draws a depiction of the sycamore leaf, a tree native to California.  Yesterday she asked to bring materials to draw the koi in the pond, too.  It’s great.  Art is about refining your ability to see deeply into things.  When a child (or an adult for that matter) is asked to draw what they see in their own way, they notice small, beautiful details previously missed.  This is how I feel when I practice macro photography of wildflowers; the camera enables me to exalt the tiniest of features.