Thank you Harvard University’s Barnabas Daru for sharing your scientific knowledge on Seagrass. So grateful for everyone that came out on a snowy Saturday afternoon. I was not sure what to expect since this was my first poetryslam/seagrass event but it was brilliant. Such wonderful voices from Brockton sharing their stories and insights. The amazing questions and dialogue was truly transformative!
Thank you Cierra Peterson, Bradley Souffrant, Shyhima, Carter, Daniel hrs, Seefour Calogano, Eddy Fong Jr, Whyse Clerdonna -kenzy and everyone else that came out!!!
For some weird reason, I can’t download the video footage, so for the actual poetry and songs please check out: Poetry
Barnabas Daru’s seagrass presentation
Daniel Krs sharing his words
Interesting discussions with Kennzy, Barnabas & Jeff
Shyhima Carter and her poetry
See four Calogano singing, check out poetry link above to hear!
By the end of the day we recycled my show postcards and made them letters to congress people:
With this message:
“I urge you to support clean water, clean air and healthy communities. Please reject any attempts to weaken or dismantle our most important protections, and to oppose budget cuts to EPA and other agencies, that would threaten our water, air and climate.
Please oppose attacks on:
• The Clean Water Rule, which protects drinking water sources for more than 117 million Americans;
• The Clean Power Plan, which is vital in our fight against climate pollution; and
• EPA’s budget for putting laws into action to protect health and natural resources and responding to crises, such as lead contamination.
I urge you to stand with people, not polluters. Please oppose efforts to undermine protections for our nation’s air, land, water or wildlife.
Emails can also be sent to Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey by clicking below:
#wordsmatter #poetryslam #artevent #artshow #cleanwater #Conservation #seagrass
November 17th, 2016
What a memorable opening reception! Thank you to everyone that attended Immersed and made it an awesome event! Alyssa Novak and Barnabas Daru enlightened us with their seagrass expertise. Wendy Drexler drew visual metaphors with her beautiful poems, and the band The Sea The Sea enriched the evening with their powerful music. Sculptor Karen Meninno and Berna for the on location public art-sculpture and mural support. David Thomson from Artlery160, thank you for providing a space and technological platform for such a collaborative evening!
I have a moment and wanted to send you a message of congratulations! for a wonderful and creative opening event.
I enjoyed listening to the scientists-I now know the difference between sea grass and marsh grass!
While I was listening I kept thinking about the uniqueness of your event and how beneficial
it was for attendees. In addition to seeing your beautiful work they walked away with SO much more.
I think you have discovered a new way to have others view art and understand context and inspiration in a much deeper way than in the usual art opening.
I also had fun talking to the other guests and I hope the night left you feeling ‘job well done’!
Thank you for a terrific evening!”
WHY PLANTS MATTER:
Seagrass Is the Primary Food Source for Green Sea Turtles, Dugongs, and Manatees
Meeting Harvard Fellow & Botanist, Barnabas Daru
October 7, 2016
I met Barnabas Daru in front of the herbarium building at Harvard. As we walked towards the cafeteria, he began telling me that the most basic of all life and food source are plants. Barnabas explained “Chloroplasts in seagrasses and all plant tissues use the sun’s energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar and oxygen for growth through the process of photosynthesis. This sugar or carbohydrate in turn helps sustain the animals and people that eat them.”
We got to the cafe and sat outside on this sunny day, everything looked extra green. “No one really thinks about plants as being an important element, they are always there and really not noticed. When a Rhino gets killed the media makes a fuss, the conservationist are all up in arms. When a tree is chopped down, no one notices, it’s not as important. Yet that tree has provided nutrition, shelter and value that equals the animal life.”
SO WHY ARE PLANTS NOT THE FOCUS OF OUR ATTENTION?”
Barnabas has been trying to solve this puzzle for several years now. For grad. school in South Africa, Barnabas extracted DNA from different trees to see how they were related.
“What was fascinating was that you could visually look at trees and see similarities outwardly and assume they had to be related. However, when you looked at their DNA, it could be a different story; they could be from completely different families. It was really amazing seeing how we could be fooled by appearances alone.”
Barnabas looked at the genetic diversity of all trees in seven different countries in Africa. Sequencing DNA gave him unique insight about the distribution of trees – more exciting patterns of family (phylogenetic) relationships of the species emerged. Barnabas hopes to use phylogenetic data to help magnify the need to protect endangered plant life the same way we protect endangered animal life and in turn result in global policy change.
After grad school Barnabas became more excited about plants and decided to expand his research to global scale, by moving into the sea to study seagrasses and mangroves. “Both are flowering plants that live in or near sea water. Mangroves are woody plants that border between land and sea, and seagrasses live submerged in salty shallow water”, he said excitedly. Up until that time there were only “distribution data” (geographical maps). Barnabas was interested in examining the phylogenetic (DNA) tree in addition to mapping seagrasses and mangroves. Barnabas’s goal identified BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOTS for marine plants for the first time [see map pictured]. These are areas where the seagrass and mangrove species are at high risk of extinction or have unique phylogenetic diversity. To Barnabas’s surprise, the DNA data revealed that some areas thought to be rich in species-level diversity e.g. South Africa or the Mediterranean did not emerge as hotspots for marine plants. The seagrasses they found in these areas came from an abundant family lineage. The study (http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/geb.12412) instead pointed to Chile, Hawaii, Bermuda area, Florida, Southern Australia and Central Indo-Pacific as high risk areas or places with unique species. “Sadly, these newly defined marine plants hotspots are not protected by the network of Marine Reserves.”
“Ultimately I hope the scientific data will bring about awareness about the huge need for policy change. How we need conservation funds to also go to these endemic regions to help support these high risk plants that in turn feed and shelter animals. Once these plants disappear the whole food chain will be affected: the fish that lay their eggs, the dugongs that solely eat seagrass, all the life that depend on the nutrients of these plants. The rich diversity we have now will disappear.”
WHY SHOULD WE CARE?
- Seagrass is a primary food source:
Dugongs, manatees, and green turtles depend on seagrass for their nutrition. If seagrass in these threatened areas disappears, these amazing animals will have huge disruptions in the food chain. Many will die. This will have a cascading impact on the food chain: sharks, fish and so on will all be affected.
- Seagrass is a carbon sequester
With high levels of carbon dioxide in our environment, seagrass is a huge CO2 absorber. It sequesters blue carbon and can soak up to 50% of the ocean’s CO2.
- Seagrass meadows are nurseries:
Various types of fish use seagrasses as substrate to lay their eggs. If there were no seagrasses, their stringy eggs would be laid directly on the ocean floor, and can easily be swept away by underwater currents. These eggs attach to the seagrass substrate and are vital for the development of the young fish when they hatch. Not to mention all the protection they provide for shelled mollusks.
HOW CAN WE HELP:
I would say that the general public upon sighting any seagrass on the ocean’s shore, should at least take a photo and GPS locality of the specimen and consider sending it to any botanical institute e.g. the Harvard University Herbaria. Those could be clues toward understanding their distributions under the changing climate.
Marine reserves areas are marine protected areas where boating, dredging, fishing and other activities are prohibited in order to protect the species that live there. Conservation funds and efforts tend to focus on marine animals rather than plants. Barnabas noted in his study [linked http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/geb.12412] that marine plants are only incidentally included in the marine reserve system. His goal is to help expand marine reserves to protect the mangroves and seagrass too. By collecting both DNA (phylogenetic) and distribution data, he hopes to generate a scientific plea to the scientific community to help expand definitions of marine reserves to cover marine plants too. Policy makers need to become aware of the key role seagrasses play in the ecosystem. How in monetary terms seagrass and mangroves contribute $5.4 billion worth of ecosystem services.
“We need to have a holistic view to look at the global issues and then take action on both a global and local levels.”
What an amazing way to share my Friday morning, thank you for sharing Dr. Barnabas Daru!
More info on Barnabas Daru can be found:
Strong case for seagrass
Matter & Light
September 16, 2016
Talk about transforming the space! Sachiko Akiyama’s opening night was terrific, the last time I experienced an intimate opening like this was at Red Lion Theater in Islington 20 years ago(experimental theatre). The combination of Sachiko’s sculptures with a combination of performers coming through the space created a welcoming and unexpected way to experience the work- both through sound and vision.
I arrived a little late and had to squeeze through the people to look at Sachiko’s hand crafted wooden sculptures. People were scattered all over the gallery and it was fun trying to figure out where here sculptures were. Some blended in with the visitors sitting on the floor, others surprised you while you were walking through.
This wave one on the right was one of my favorites. It was playful, whimsical almost with bright colors. A little figure riding a wave in a noodle bowl? I wasn’t sure what it was and then started thinking about whether the figure was Japanese…what was it’s identity. Did it matter…come to think of them they kind of looked Asian. Then I started thinking about the migrant experience we have globally how so many people are displaced and are dying trying to cross ocean. By this time the harp player came in and did some of her magic, transporting us to some other magical place through music. I felt like a kid in a candy store, so many exciting things to look at and listen too.
My favorite part of the Chimera performance(Boston based collective)was when what I call Philip Glass/John Cage influenced musicians performed. The lights were dimmed and all I could see was a small light on the music sheets and shadows on the floor. Sachiko’s life size sculpture on the floor had now taken on another presence. Since we couldn’t see the hand carved details on the sculpture it became a life like thing, almost scary. I kept watching it to see if it would move, luckily it didn’t and I could focus on the musicians in the dark. Well kind of, the violins made the sounds and now I was looking at the shadow. Love what sound, performance and art can do..just moves you to different space!
I was excited to chat with Sachiko Akiyama about her work and asked her about the wave sculpture. Yes, it referenced Japanese culture, made hints at Hokusai ‘s wave, and also children’s story book characters. “I want them to have many meanings and viewers’s should be able to interpret it their own way.” Most of the portraits she sculpts are family members with some sort of narrative. The delicately carved wooden objects have a warm exterior that call you close. I enjoyed the sculptures since they were both playful and thought provoking at the same time.
I was of course delighted to chat with show curator’s Nina Nielson and John Baker. I hadn’t seen them in ages and it was good to catching up. We talked of course about swimming in cold water(our favorite fall activity), Sachiko Akiyama’s amazing work and this terrific show they pulled together. So glad they are out and about sharing their special talents and organizing a terrific show. Thanks for the invite Ian an amazing evening!
September 16, 2016
I had not planned on popping into Adelson Galleries on Harrison Ave on my way home from the studio. The lights were on in the gallery and people were moving around, I decided to take a quick look, so glad I did! I was intrigued to see the large scale figurative paintings that had something mysterious going on with them.
These dark realistic figures had taken over the room. Painted in low key values, they resembled movie stills; snap shots of some larger narrative. I loved the drama in them! Then I started noticing small movement on the canvas..now I had to go up closer to see if there was a video behind the painting or something else. As I got closer, I saw almost another shadow move across the surface of the painting. That’s when I decided to look up. Yep, there was a projector- so video projections were placed delicately over the paintings to create subtle shifts in perception. So clever!
Farzaneh and Bahareh Safrani, from Tehran, Iran, have been collaborating since they were thirteen years old. I like the fact that they painted each other, created videos of each other and projected them on to these paintings of themselves. The self, as the individual coming in to question. The nudes in their paintings are barely covered in black cloth making suggestions to the burkas worn in Iran. Their work questions sexuality and identity in a refreshing way.
September 11, 2016
Just had a fantastic time hanging out with friends at Stetson Gallery, thankful!
It’s amazing how like terrestrial plants seagrass changes over the summer. With the warming water a lot more stuff has surrounded the seagrass; more epiphytes and algae on the plant. The blue green has also changed to more faded green. When we harvested and pulled the seagrass, the length was also a lot longer. Many little live animals latched onto the seagrass like tunicates. We had to clean these epiphytes off before placing the seagrass in the icebox for replanting.
Yet another beautiful morning with the Novak lab team. This time they were helping me brainstorm ideas for my November show. Very creative group..they liked the name “Immersed” for my November show. When I told them that I needed actionable easy to do ideas on how help reduce algae blooms, they had an insightful action plan:
* reduce fertilizer use switch to organic methods
* support local farmers that use good agricultural practices ( avoid large agricultural products that use tones of nitrates)
*convert lawns to wild flower gardens with native plants
*drive less, walk, bike or take public transport for less CO2 in our atmosphere
* stay away from all plastics including water bottles, even straws at restaurants
*potato chips has a lot of packaging, switch to fruits(thanks Chris)
*pick up trash where ever you find them, they all end up in the ocean
*recycle: Look at specific items your town recycles, they often will accept more than you think! Remember to bring reusable bags with you when shopping
* reduce the amount of meat you eat (go veggie one day a week!) Eating meat increases our nitrate footprint.
* be mindful of energy use less electricity, gas, etc.
*reduce manufacturing: opt for low manufacturing options, use less production energy and has lower c02s: donate old clothes/ buy second hand/ bring your mug to the coffee shop.
Wow, these guys rock..would never think about consumer choices in such thoughtful ways: Love it!!!
August 19, 2016
Went to Faneuil Hall to learn about Biomimicry as a part of Boston GreenFest.
Looks like I need to do more research into this interesting subject. Sounds like biomimicry is looking at nature, structure, and patterns for ideas on strategies for designing new procedures and products. Check out:
Thought the Bird Glass created by Ornilux was fascinating. Every year millions of birds are killed flying in to windows of buildings. Spiders weave their webs that reflect ultraviolet light , which birds can sea. Arnold Glass developed a UV reflective glass coating that is transparent to people but visible to birds. What a wonderful solution!
Spirals are an ancient symbol loaded with all sorts of life related context. Here the “Moving Water Project by Pax Water Technologies put a new spin on the spiral. They created an impeller shaped in a three dimensional spiral inspired by nature. Jay Harmon created the spiral to move fluids in water tanks this way..this reduced the energy used to maintain 85% of the water quality. Before still water would sit in water tanks and get nasty with the bacteria growing on it, they would have to disinfect it with lots of chemicals. This spiral system of stirring the water in the tanks helped generate better water quality for less money and reduced the chemicals needed to disinfect the water.
The next thing I found fascinating was the Wellfleet harbor Oyster restoration project under the direction of Dr. Anamarija Frankic director of the Green Harbors Project. A single mature oyster can clean over 50 gallons of water per day. Oysters also increase biological diversity and improve coastal resilience. The project restored 5.8 million oysters in Wellfleet Harbor. How Cool!
Fog, Algae, and a Different Kind of Seagrass
with BU’s Alyssa Novak
July 6, 2016
It was a foggy morning and I was very excited to be finally meeting Alyssa Novak, from BU’s Earth and Environment program. The team was by the water’s edge in Wellfleet. Alyssa was surrounded by students as she showed the different parts of kelp she had found. It was a broad leaf semi transparent slippery thing. The water felt 10 degrees warmer than Gloucester. The terrain here in Wellfleet was sandy with colorful rocks and lots of different types of algae. The seagrass was also different than the ones we harvested in Gloucester. These were shorter, lighter in color and seemed to be doing well in shallower water. Interesting how the location shapes things that live in it.
Alyssa pulled out her first bundle of seagrass and pointed to the dot. “This is either a muscle or a clam, hard to tell at this point, we would need a microscope.” She said these shelled creatures (Mollusks) latch on to the seagrass and feed off of them. The size and shape of the seagrass is determined by the environment the seagrass grows in. Different types of wave motion, salinity, and soil all affect what the eelgrass looks like. “Is it kind of similar to the shorter trees on the Cape?” I asked. “Sure” Alyssa replied “the weather and wind affects all the plant life. The trees have deeper wider root system here and are shorter.”
It’s terrific how these ecologists help me see the landscape in a completely different way. Rather than colors, shapes, and forms, all of a sudden I was becoming more aware of smaller details and variations. Alyssa had found a small spider crab crawling up another type of algae. It was long skinny vertical strands of ochre algae and reminded me of long strawberry blond hair. I thought that algae was bad for the seagrass, I see all sorts of algae here. I asked Alyssa , she explains that algae and phytoplankton are only bad for seagrass when there is an excess amount of it and they cover plants or the water becomes turbid reducing the amount of light available to seagrass. This occurs when you have excess nutrients in the system. Under normal conditions seagrass is just as good as oysters for filtering out nitrates. (Nitrates can come from fertilizer run offs & sewage). I remembered Fred Short mentioning how we need to think of our nitrate footprint just as much as our carbon footprint.
The team started harvesting the seagrass, Hanna had found a beautiful pink crab (Ovalipes ocellatus). It had a wonderful warm pinkish color with leopard patterns on its shell. As I walked towards the shore to put my camera away the fog started rolling in and within seconds got really dense. I couldn’t see anything, so I just kept walking hoping there was less water so I knew I was heading in the right direction. I looked back the team had disappeared in this grayish white mass. The fog was so dense I could hardly see a foot away. Interesting how I had to shift from vision dependency on to using spatial knowledge..no gps, no cell phone..makes you wonder how our DNA is configured to help with navigation. I managed to find the shore (phew), put my camera away, and got back to harvesting seagrass. This type of experience would have never occurred if I had just stayed in my studio. The tactile learning that happens when you are out in the field is priceless. I am grateful for having such wonderful people like Alyssa, Hanna, and the team for sharing their knowledge with me. By the time we finished harvesting, the cooler was full of short eelgrass and the fog had rolled out. Yet another fascinating day meeting Alyssa Novak and hanging out with the crew!!!
For technical terminology:
For volunteering contact Hanna Mogensen:
Meeting Fred Short & The Lab Tour at UNH
July 5th, 2016
What do you ask a seagrass guru when you meet him for the first time? Probably more intelligent things than “can you eat seagrass?”. Fred Short the author of “World Atlas of Seagrass” was terrific at keeping a straight face while answering my funny question. “No not really..the rhizomes are eaten in some countries, the kids in Thailand like the sweet taste of the roots. In some places in Mexico they make bread from the seeds, but we don’t really eat them here.” Fred Short is the director of seagrass.net a global seagrass monitoring program as well as a research professor of natural resources at UNH.
Fred explained to me that there are now 72 different types of seagrass globally, that they are flowering plants and need sunlight in clear water to survive. However due to high levels of nitrates and phosphate from fertilizers and sewage run-offs, algae blooms occur. These algae blooms block light and seagrass needs light to photosynthesize. When the seagrass dies, all the marine life surrounding and feeding off of it also disappear. “We need to be thinking of our nitrogen footprint as well as our carbon footprint.” The seagrass ecosystem is a threatened costal resource.
Fred short took me on a tour of his work space. The Jackson Estuarine Lab is a part of UNH located on the Great Bay Area. From most of the rooms in the building you can see the ocean, how cool! Then we visited Fred’s office which was long and narrow but a little bit difficult to get into with the paddle board, snorkeling gear and other equipment. I was impressed with how organized his bookshelves were, and how he could pull out books or files to show things.
Next, we visited the lab where Fred presented me with a jar of water- where inside a little Jellyfish was swimming around. He was sampling the Jellyfish for a scientist friend in Florida, his friend wanted to compare it with the Jellyfish they found in Florida. We walked towards another workbench with something that looked like a large cookie jar. It was a contraption that helped dry the eelgrass so when they weighed and took measurements the moisture level would not be variable. The seagrass was labeled and put in to brown paper bags. They compared how healthy the Eelgrass was by measuring the weight from previous years. Who would of thought simple brown paper bags and a system for documenting them, how fascinating!
We walked downstairs and checked the outside lab, more contraptions, Kayaks and experiments happening. One of his colleges was growing dune grass, another was studying oysters, there were cages with green crabs. We walked out to the pier where Fred pulled out some seagrass and showed me the seeds. He explained that the seagrass has both male and female components on one plant. The water helps pollinate the female seeds with other seagrass plants. He also showed me the rhizome root structure, apparently seagrasses can connect to one another from these nodes.
What a great way to spend a Tuesday afternoon touring the facilities at Jackson Estuaries Lab. with Fred Short! Thank you for the wonderful work you are doing with seagrass restoration, seagrass mapping, and helping us better understand how climate change and nitrogen loading impacts the world we live in.
Working in Morning Light
More field work with the BU Novak Lab Team
July 8, 2016
There is something all consuming about being in the water early on a fresh July morning. The warm morning breeze trails across the water’s surface creating gentle ripples. It is low tide and the ocean looks surreal, yes this morning could be from one of Dali’s landscape paintings. Yet the rich blue-green vibrant color is something I have never seen before. The BU Novak lab team pull up into the parking lot at the beach around 6:30am. Hanna greets me with her cheery upbeat voice.
Today, we were out to harvest eelgrass up in the North Shore. Harvesting and planting, all these new words are very exciting. I follow the team into the water. I look at the eelgrass and it is dense, long, and packed in. This is what healthy eelgrass is supposed to be like. The seagrass feels silky, smooth and cool at the same time. Hanna shows me how to harvest seagrass. You find a healthy plant that does not have seeds or fruits. (Those ones need to be left alone so they can multiply. ) “You follow the grass all the way down to the base, and then gently dig around the root. Once it wiggles you give the seagrass a little tug and pull it out” Hanna makes it look natural.
I was a little nervous at first..was I stepping and disturbing the beds? What if I didn’t dig deep enough and yanked out the stalk? What is underneath all this grass, what about the crabs? Was there jellyfish? I had to stop thinking..Well here goes, just like Hanna said, find a seagrass follow it all the way down, get the sediment loose and gently pull. I pulled one out and examined the roots “Look it has nodes!” Hanna said. I looked and there were these little bumpy things with small extensions. Nodes are the places on the plant that grow. Apparently these nodes can attach on to other nodes and the seagrass can grow through the root as well as from seed. Fascinating! I looked across the water, it is fantastic the shimmering light, the wide range of blue- gray hues and patterns, everywhere. I checked out what the team was doing, they already had large bundles of seagrass in their hands. There was a meditative quality about the whole process. You had to focus on the task at hand, and after a while you lost track of time. You kind of have to slow down and pay attention.
In Water, Oil on Panel, 20″x 16″, 2016
Once I got a little more comfortable, I started to dig a little deeper. The next eelgrass I pulled out was a surprise. I was so excited to pull out a seagrass that had a chunk of squiggly things on the bottom, it reminded me of one of my paintings called In water. “This is below-ground biomass, its great when the roots create this extra layer of stuff..the vegetation eventually will raise the bed higher up.” Hanna explained. Hmm I thought, I’ve been painting”below-ground biomass” without even knowing!
For more info check out:
For technical terminology:
For volunteering contact Hanna Mogensen:
Kelly with the crab, Erica, and Hanna with Audrey, super cool ladies!
Opening Night @Artlery160 Tuesday June 28th, 2016
To Thirty More Years
June 8, 2016 to July 12, 2016
What an exciting way to spend Tuesday evening @artlery160. Having the privilege of exhibiting with fellow USEA artists in this new hip and happening galley made a somewhat ordinary evening fantastic!
The gallery is located in the historic Art Deco building at 160 Federal street in Boston’s financial district. Andre Reibling and David Thomson did a wonderful job with the installation with lots of breathing room allowing viewers to take in each piece of art one at a time. As people started coming in to view the work, I noticed that this was no ordinary reception. Many people had their cell phones out and were using Artlery’s high tech app to get details of the work. A sensor was placed near each art work so when you were close to the pieces the geo tagging or some kind of tech thing happened and it communicated with the Artlery app on your phone. So you could actually get real time data on each art work. David Thompson, the gallery owner was super excited showing all the different features this app. Eventually, David explained that this app could track your art way after it had sold and resold, and give you all sorts of info. Check it out: https://artlery.com. This cool app in a strange way made the reception more interactive for the attendees, at least it gave us more to talk about and made us move!
Thank you USEA co-chair Hope M Ricciardi for getting all of us organized. I was thrilled to be a part of the celebrations with Edith Bowers, Uschi Bracken,Marian Dioguardi, Marjorie Kaye, Ella Nicole, Julia Purinton, Ellen Rolli, Sloat Shaw, and Charyl Weissbach beautiful works of art!
Marine Biology Lab, Woods Hole, Falmouth, MA
“Ernst Haeckel’s Romantic Biology”
Robert J. Richards, University of Chicago
June 17th, 2016
Sitting in a corner of my studio is a thin book by Ernst Haeckel called “Art Forms from the Ocean”. I love the magical illustrations of organic shapes, symmetries, and Haeckel’s ability to capture detailed variation of marine life. When I heard about a Haeckel lecture at the Marine Biological Lab in Woods Hole, Falmouth I was curious and of course had to go.
Robert Richard’s lecture was thought provoking, weaving together Haeckel’s personal life with his work. I have always looked at the illustrations in awe and thought of Haeckel as a great artist. It turns out he was also a scientist and had studied medicine before focusing his energies on biology and nature. His portfolio was published during 1899 and 1904. Haeckel supported Darwin’s theories of evolution and his illustrations became so popular that he sold more than Darwin’s “ On the Origin of Species”. Haeckel were good colleagues. Early on in his career Haeckel had mailed Darwin hand drawn images of Radiolarians which initiated their friendship.
I had no idea there was and still is so much resistance to the evolutionary theory behind Haeckel’s work. He was depicting a form of “Darwinism” with his images which was in direct conflict with the Catholic church. Today Haeckel’s images are still controversial and have naysayers. During his lifetime and today, some scientists are trying to call him a fraud. For example in one of his books, Haeckel used the same wood print to show how similar animal embryos are at early stages. The same woodblock print was used to show a dog, chicken and turtle embryo. His opponents pointed out that he used the same image three times and this was fraud. So in his next book Haeckel only used the embryo illustration once and wrote that these embryos all look similar at early stages.
Richard’s lecture was fascinating in how he compared the fraud accusation images with science today. How the discrepancies the naysayers found are minimal in comparison to fantastic observations Haeckel was depicting. Hmm a lot of info to digest on a Friday night, but well worth the trip!
Hope to go to some more of these cool lectures:
Gardening In the Water
Conomo Point, Great Marsh, Essex, MA, June 8th, 2016
It feels amazing to be able to hold seagrass in my hands. I’ve been painting seagrass for two years now without actually going outside. In the studio, I created over 70 abstract paintings that relates to seagrass ecology using Edmund Green and Fred Short’s book “World Atlas of Seagrasses” for inspiration.
On June 8th, for the first time I was introduced to the real thing: Eelgrass. I also helped plant the Eelgrass at Conomo Point in Essex, how exhilarating!!!! I am not sure exactly why these plants are so magical for me; they are full of potential, diversity, and life. They are powerhouses for feeding and sheltering all sorts of animals. They bring eclectic members of crabs, starfish, seahorses and fish to an area that otherwise just sand. Seagrass also helps protect our shorelines from erosion by holding down sedimentation. For me seagrass symbolizes clean air, an abundance of sea creatures, and home. It is hard to think that we are loosing 1.5% seagrass globally a year, about two football fields of it an hour.
So there I was holding the Eelgrass out in Great Marsh in Essex. It felt cold, smooth, and slick from being in the cooler. I tried to retain my excitement as Alyssa Novak’s team from BU’s Earth and Environment department were being encouraging. Hanna Mogensen explained that they had been harvesting and transplanting the grass since the full moon. The tides are apparently lower which helps with the planting. They had four coolers of seagrass which they had harvested the day before and the seagrass had to be planted within 48 hours. Everyone got a handful of Eelgrass, a metal rod and went in knee high to dig holes for planting. “There was no grass here before, it was just sand” Hanna explained as she planted some seagrass. Their efforts from last year were paying off, the seagrass they had transplanted had increased in size and area. Best of all, she was thrilled at seeing all kinds of “Spats”, scallop larvae that attach to the surface of the seagrass. New populations of marine life were settling among the seagrass beds; crabs, starfish, sand dollars, seahorses and more…this was great I couldn’t wait to get started.
For planting you have to get about five Eelgrasses, position the metal spoke and create a hole in the sand, just like gardening. Then you turn the roots so they align the long way, secure the metal rod and cover up there roots. Voila- first planting done! This Eelgrass restoration site was made possible with the Hurricane Sandy Grant the Novak team received.
After two hours of planting we hopped back on the boat and headed back to the pier. “This has all eroded” Hanna explained as she pointed to the banks of the marshes. I looked at the cross section of layers, it looked like a chunk had been chopped off. I keep hearing about sea levels rising and climate change, but here I could actually see the effects. Coastal erosion, restoration and preservation are new words for me. It is amazing to think about how seagrass can help with sedimentation to prevent more erosion.
Rain or shine, or even if the tide is out at 3am, these committed scientists are out in the field harvesting and planting Eelgrass. Lindsay Peter, Molly Sullivan, Audrey Michniak, and Hannah Mogensen thank you for sharing your gardening tips with me!
More info about these great conservationists and their work can be found at:
Eelgrass growth expanding since last years planting
Hanna showing little seeds on Eelgrass
Molly Sullivan and Lindsay Peter with harvested Eelgrass ready to plant
Eelgrass, metal spoke ready for digging
Hanna Mogensen digging holes and planting
Conservation work at Great Marsh
A terrific day out with the habitat restoration crew!
Just visited the National Gallery in London last week and stumbled on “The Ambassadors”, 1553 by Holbein again. All of a sudden my childhood memories came rushing back, we had gone to the museum on a school trip and I had become mesmerized by this large painting. Why on earth would this painting make such an impression on an eight year old? For sure it wasn’t the charming looks of the two chubby fellas hanging out by the table. The clothing and textures were fantastic..I noticed how the floor was different than the fancy carpet draped over the stand. The colors, patterns, and objects were all telling a story. Of course I had no idea what the painting was about, I just kept wondering why would the painter go to all this trouble of creating such a beautiful stage and then stick a huge skull in the foreground. It was Holbein’s skull that first got me thinking “wow art is cool!”I found this great little video about “The Ambassadors”
Check out the National Gallery #nationalgallery
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