Thursday, May 31, 2012

Beach hoppers

Beach hoppers' tiny legs straddle the wide transition zone between salt water and dry land. And because they do, those itty bitty legs have gills.


Some folks call beach hoppers "sand fleas," though they are not really fleas--and they don't bite. They do make impressive leaps, though, earning them the comparison. But hoppers are crustaceans rather than insects, related to the pill bugs and sowbugs found in your backyard, which are a little ahead of them on the evolutionary transition to landlubbers.


Photo by ingridtaylar 
Hoppers can neither live too far from the ocean or too close to it. Those gills on their leg joints mean that the animals require moisture to breathe. But many species are poor swimmers and will drown if submerged too long. So they live on the margin, navigating the area between dry land and lapping tide.


Hoppers are scavengers, eating what the tide tosses up, especially seaweed. Picking up a piece of bull kelp on the Pacific coast can launch an explosion of hoppers.


During broad daylight or high tide, each little beachcomber is buried headfirst in a teeny den in the sand, near the high tide line. They've sealed these with sand granules, so you're unlikely to see occupied dens. But you can look for the small round holes that were their previous day's burrows, next time you're on a sandy beach. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks


Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: harpoons and museums, elephants and goodbyes, dolphins beached and freed, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is: 

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Please post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

In case you missed it...

Some of you have met Remi Parmentier (the Nasty Little Agitator) through my blog. Here on Remi's blog are two photos taken of him with the same harpoon gun--32 years apart. (By the way, one of his friends suggested that Agitator General is a title more befitting his advanced status these days! ;o)






And here is a lovely story of a send-off by wild elephants, honoring conservationist Lawrence Anthony, who worked for many years to protect them.






And this astounding video of dolphins beaching themselves--and being saved by human beachgoers--all in under 4 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekmMD8oYtJ0&feature=player_embedded




I'd posted these on my facebook page (www.facebook.com/PKLichen) but didn't want anyone to miss them!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote




By visionshare Lou Gold  
 
  
  


Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is a party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do. 
—Wendell Berry







Friday, May 18, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks


Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: coyotes, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is: 

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's a coyote

We'd just gotten off the freeway near the mall, and were near our car in the asphalt lot of a park. "It's a coyote," my daughter said, looking over my shoulder. I turned around and sure enough, in broad daylight, a coyote trotted across the street during a break in the cars, and then bounded up the slope beyond us, doing stiff-legged jumps through the high grass.

Comfy coyote
photo by SigmaEye on Flickr
There are ancient stories of the cunning of coyotes. Northwest Indians, like some tribes in other parts of the country, share stories about Coyote the Trickster. He possesses varying degrees of good or evil, depending on the tribe, but is always a brash character who tricks, bribes, cajoles, and manipulates.

There are modern stories about the cunning of coyotes. Despite bounties, trapping, poison and other "predator controls," the coyote's range has been steadily increasing. As wolves were killed off in this country, coyotes moved into their niche. As forests were converted into croplands and suburban communities, coyotes took advantage of the newly opened spaces. As dense forests were clearcut, and logging roads created links between them, coyotes learned to travel them.

And, there's at least one cunning coyote who hangs out in a park not far from the freeway and the mall.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks


Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: bullfrogs, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is: 

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bullfrog

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Why not transport bullfrogs from Eastern and Midwestern states to the Pacific Northwest and release them? Their legs are good eating, Depression-era frog farmers figured, and they were also released by state wildlife agencies as a new game animal in the 1920s and '30s.

After all, the watery Northwest seemed like welcoming habitat for bullfrogs. A little too welcoming, as it turns out.

The bullfrog has few predators here, and because it is considerably larger than our native frogs, it not only outcompetes them for territory and food but eats them as well. Where bullfrogs thrive in the PNW, you're unlikely to find any other frog. The big frog is also implicated in the precipitous decline of western pond turtles.

Really, the bullfrog will eat just about anything it can wrap its huge mouth around--the biggest ones even eat ducklings and small mammals such as mice. Like other frogs, they lack teeth, and so swallow their prey whole, using both forelegs to cram in the creatures if necessary. It even pulls its bulging eyes down into their sockets (just as it does when it blinks) and uses them to help stuff the food down its gullet.

Non-native? Yup.
Invasive? Uh-huh.
Here to stay? 'Fraid so.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote



You have to be able to appreciate these things. How many people can say it was a full moon last night and appreciate it?
~ Sandy Miller

Friday, May 4, 2012

Weekend Haiku and Limericks


Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days, like civil disobedience, jail, The Shining, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Remember the pattern of a haiku is: 

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The first time I was arrested... Greenpeace days

Okay, it occurs to me that is an odd title for a blog post, but let's forge ahead anyway. The first time I was arrested was in 1980, in San Francisco. The Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior had been seized by the Spanish navy in international waters, and we wanted her back, thankyouverymuch.

Spanish Navy aboard the Rainbow Warrior, in port.
Scurvy dogs!
The crew of the Warrior had been out in small inflatable boats, placing themselves between Spanish whaling ships and the whales. That nation was killing well over its "quota" of whales and secretly shipping the meat to Japan. Spanish warships showed up in the international waters, and navy crew members boarded and seized the Rainbow Warrior, and escorted her to a military port in Spain.

Eight of us in the San Francisco office decided to protest by engaging in civil disobedience; in addition to this show of solidarity with the ship's crew, we also hoped to gain some attention in the US media to add pressure for the Warrior's release.

We made a huge U-shape out of plywood, painted it in bright rainbow colors, and took it to the Spanish Consulate. We set the rainbow over the courtyard door, and walked through it into the Consulate.

We explained to the staff why we were there: their nation had our ship, and we wanted Spain to release her. And then the eight of us sat down to wait until Spain did so.

When the police arrived, they did their best to persuade us to leave. "Otherwise we're gonna have to arrest you," the nice officer explained. "So why don't you just go? You've made your point." But we hadn't. We needed to be arrested to do that.

My friend Rusty Frank launched into an impromptu and impassioned explanation of the history of civil disobedience, a time-honored way for those with little power to stand up against those who wield it. She talked about the rights of citizens to peacefully protest injustice, and their responsibility to accept the legal consequences of that protest. Rusty started with Henry David Thoreau, referred to Rev. Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail, called on Ghandi's protests, and invoked Rosa Parks. The police officer seemed interested in all this, genuinely so. Then he arrested us.

We rode in the back of a paddy wagon to the San Francisco jail, where the four guys went off to the men's unit and Rusty, Genie, Annie and I went to the women's. Fingerprinting, mug shots, all that. We were put in one of the cells, where we were soon joined by a lively, loud exotic dancer called Danielle and her boss, a more staid woman called Indian Summer. Danielle explained that the police had been busting their place of business regularly, and they'd get paid for their time in jail. She was in a chipper mood.

Danielle had recently watched "The Shining." When I said that I didn't intend to see it (too scary!), she proceeded to tell me the entire plot of the movie, in detail. This took quite a while, but we had nothing but time. I remember sitting on the top bunk, leaning against the wall, and Danielle standing with her hands gripping the edge of the mattress, looking up at me, her eyes wide. Redrum, Redrum! I'm still sure that Danielle's dramatic retelling in the San Francisco jail was better than the movie itself.

Butch looked like this...kinda ...
All of us tried to avoid eye contact with the woman in the cell across from ours. She scared us, even Danielle and Indian Summer, who'd had more experience with the seamy side of life. The decades since 1980 have taken all the shock value from the description I'm about to give, but try to harken back a couple decades: the woman in the other cell had a crewcut and wore a man's white sleeveless T-shirt, and--most unbelievable of all--she had a tattoo! Yes, a tattoo! Right on her arm! And her name was Butch! (Okay, I know...but back in the day? Crazy scary!)

We were glad Butch wasn't in our cell. Then came dinner time when we were all herded into a common room for hot dogs and beans. Despite our attempt to keep to ourselves and attract as little attention as possible, Butch sauntered across the room toward us. "She's coming over here! She's coming over here!" whispered Danielle, hunching down in her seat. Butch thumped down next to Annie and drawled, "So...what ya in for?" I sent telepathic messages to Annie: Say arson say robbery, say-- "Trespassing," chirped Annie.

Butch said an expletive. We were too scared to ask what she was in for. Anyway, we'd quickly learned that everyone else we talked to in the cell block was innocent. Apparently only us four Greenpeacers, and Indian Summer and Danielle, were guilty as charged. Butch seemed to like us anyway, and stayed with us until we were herded back to our cells.

It was after midnight when the four of us were released, and met up again with the four guys, in front of the jail.

And the Rainbow Warrior? We never did convince Spain to release her. In a feat of derring-do four months later, the Warrior would slip from port in the middle of the night and outrun the Spanish navy.



(Want to read more about Greenpeace days? Click on the "Search this Blog" box to the right and enter the word Greenpeace.)