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Beautiful, breathtaking... and a haunting reminder of the potential impact of climate change on all of us. Check out this upcoming episode of Nature on PBS!

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A recent article in the prestigious journal “Nature” documents the dramatic impacts of warming on Australian reefs we’re been hearing about for a while.

Terry Hughes, lead author, says in the March 15th NY Times “we didn’t expect to see this level of destruction to the Great Barrier Reef for another 30 years”.

The greatest coral loss (about 50-90%) is north of Cairns. In contrast, the reef hundreds of mile south is hardly impacted.

Corals “bleach” and become white when they eject their symbiotic zooxanthellae which give corals their color. Corals do this because the algae excrete toxins when the water is hot. 2016 globally is the warmest on record, in part because it was an El Niño year.

The corals likely won’t become locally extinct because new reefs will become established in cooler water toward the southern pole. But C. Mark Eakin, NOAA reef expert in Silver Spring MD says “I don’t think the Great Barrier Reef will ever be as great as it used to be – at least not in our lifetimes.”

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I discovered a very perceptive review of Birdie which perfectly captures the approach and the challenge of reading it. Five stars to both the book and this review!

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Wow. This was incredible - best short film I've ever seen. Dust is a stunning fantasy story about nature's resolve and survival with a powerful message about people and the environment. Produced by the geniuses at +Ember Lab, it's a must watch for all fans of nature and/or fantasy.

Description: A Sci-Fi, fantasy inspired by anime and classic horror, Dust is set in a harsh and unpredictable natural environment where people have isolated themselves in an ancient city behind a massive wall. A socially marginalized tracker teams up with a black-market merchant to save the society that has rejected his way of life.

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"With his latest book New York 2140, he stays close to home in time and space, presenting a near-future Manhattan adapting to climate change, flooded by a 50-foot rise in sea level and turned into a canal-filled New World version of Venice. The action centers around the residents of a single, semi-submerged apartment building in Madison Square."

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BEING UNDERWATER

I absolutely love being underwater – either snorkeling or on scuba. On the Galapagos trip we snorkeled many days, sometimes twice, in a marine wonderland.

It’s hard to explain the experience to people who’ve never ventured below the surface. An excerpt from my upcoming book – “Demon Spirit, Devil Sea” – might help. Here, Mara (oceanographer protagonist) is in Haida Gwaii, an archipelago fifty miles off British Columbia. It’s a world-class dive destination because the kelp forest is so extraordinary. Mara is diving with scuba gear and has just slipped below the surface.

“The everyday sounds of Haida Gwaii—voices, birds, and slapping water—were gone in an instant. I’d left the airy world and entered the muted, dense undersea domain of fish, kelp, and seals.

At first, my own in-and-out “Darth Vader” breathing swamped all other senses. I took a moment to make sure seawater didn’t seep into my mask, blinked, and looked around. Just a few feet below the surface, I was in a realm utterly foreign and immediately treacherous. Light—bright, warm, friendly—had morphed to muted greens and blues...

An astounding abundance of creatures lay below and beside us. Carpeting the wall were bright yellow sunflower stars, huge blue-top snails, orange-peel nudibranchs—big snails without shells—that look like dragons, and beds of plum-rose anemone. But it was the larger animals that most drew our attention. We trailed a giant octopus until it slithered into a crevice impossibly small for its bulky body. A grunt sculpin looking like a dwarf striped pig tiptoed across the rock, a cartoon ballet dancer. We floated above an old man’s face that stuck out of a hole—the wolf eel, a long eel-like fish with an enormous head. The creature demonstrated the terrible crushing power of its jaws when it grabbed and clamped down on a good-sized sea urchin. Urchin spines really hurt, something I knew too well, so I cringed as the fish munched on its prey. But it simply swam away, spines spilling out between its teeth.”

The Galapagos marine critters – amazing diversity and abundance of fish in every color and shape, sea lions, turtles, penguins, starfish and all the rest – are no less astounding.

And, even better, it’s warm (about 80 degrees F this time of year)!

Thanks to Steve Skalak for the underwater photo of me. It took several tries because I kept floating away!
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