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Almanac Archive for Feb 13, 2012

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Public Meeting:
Offshore Wind Development

Monday, Feb 13, 5:00 to 7:00 pm, Katharine Cornell Theater, Vineyard Haven
The MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs is holding an informational meeting about the federal government's recent decision to open a large area off the sourthern shore to wind energy development. Members of the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, who is responsible for the decision and evaluating the applications for development leases, will be in attendance to explain the process (see here, 3rd column, for the details) and take public comments.
Quotes of the Week
“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”
Ernest Hemingway

"I will not eat oysters. I want my food dead. Not sick, not wounded, dead."
Woody Allen

Another Mystery Photo

So, this one's not so much a question of "what" (click the photo for a close-up, or see this one). "Why" is probably a better question (though "I was hungry" maybe says it all). So, instead, let's go with "how" -- any guesses? One well-oiled chickadee?
Conservation Calendar
That's right folks, it's February and there's not a lot happening. Got a conservation-related event, announcement, or just an interesting photo? Send it in to almanac@vineyardconservation.org and take advantage of our off-season rates: FREE (just like in-season, and shoulder-season)

Winter Kids' Programs

Nature Program for Home Schoolers
Tuesday, Feb 14 (and 21), 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, Sassafras, Aquinnah
Spend the day outside, doing activities and playing games that build a connection to nature and each other. For ages K-8, $45 for walk-ins. Bring a lunch and water bottle. See website for more information.

Alpaca Junior Discovery
Sunday, Feb 19, 9:30 to 11:00 am, at Island Alpaca, OB
Feeding, barn chores, and more. For ages 8 and up, $25 ($20 for accompanying adults). Pre-register at 508-693-5554. For directions and more information see islandalpaca.com.

Little Farmers
Monday, Feb 20, 3:30 to 5:00 pm, at the FARM Institute, Katama

Join Meredith every Monday to collect eggs, visit the sheep and make a healthy snack. For ages 5 - 7, $15. Call 508-627-7007 x103 to register.

In Season Recipe

Grilled Oyster Shooters

Looking for a home-cooked alternative to spending Valentine’s Day out, but a little too busy to shuck your own oysters? One easy option is steaming them in-shell until they open, just like clams, though that does sacrifice a little of the romantic mystique of the oyster-on-the-half-shell. Grilling over an open fire adds a bit of that back, and for good measure, nobody has to get stabbed in the hand.

Local oysters (both Katama and West Tisbury) are currently available at The Net Result.

  • 12 fresh oysters, in shell
  • juice of two lemons
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • hot pepper sauce
  • salt
  • Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.
  • Place whole oysters on the hot grill and cook until they open, 5 to 10 minutes
  • Remove the oysters from the grill, and pry off the top shell. You may want to wear some heavy gloves to protect from the heat. Slide a knife between the oyster and shell to disconnect.
  • Top each one with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce and salt to taste. Serve in the shell while still warm.
Adapted from allrecipes.com

Monday, February 13, 2012

Local News

Featherstone Walk Rewards the Intrepid

Richard Toole leads a small, hardy band through the Southern Woodlands. Sunday's weather was described "perfect," though the assortment of hats on display suggests "perfect for the situation."

By David Nash
Twenty-nine brave souls met at Featherstone for a wintry walk through the nearby Southern Woodlands. Richard Toole, who led the walk, spoke passionately about the history of the area from a conservation lands perspective, including the unique and often contentious efforts to protect these properties from development. 
Birds were hard to find, but our volunteer experts, Rob and Wendy Culbert and Margaret Curtin, added their expertise to the walk and offered many interesting comments about the transition of the woodlands and its impact on both the forest make-up as well as wildlife. The multi-trail property gave the walkers a chance to see habitat in a state of change, including increases in lichen and moss growth, and nature’s reclamation of the old campgrounds. 
Featherstone Gallery Director Ann Smith was a gracious host, offering a warm reception after the walk and inviting everyone to view the newest art exhibit at the gallery. Thanks to Ann and all who attended, and we look forward to seeing you at our final walk next month!
Note: If you missed it last time, see here, 2nd column, for more on the history and ecology of the Southern Woodlands

Stranded Marine Animals: Correction

Our story on dolphin strandings in the last issue of the Almanac contained incorrect instructions for what to do if you spot a stranded animal on the Vineyard (or Nantucket). The rescue process works best when calls go directly to the New England Aquarium’s hotline at 617-973-5247, who will then coordinate and dispatch the volunteer rescue workers. Thanks to Dave Nash, himself a volunteer with the NE Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Team, for the correction and explanation.

Other News

Six of One, a Twelfth of a Dozen of the Other

They're all good swimmers, right?

A recent study (also see Reuters) by scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder is providing possibly the firmest answer yet to one of the most elusive questions of climate science: Just how much ice is actually melting due to recent (and ongoing) global warming? Using data collected between 2003 and 2010 by a satellite system call GRACE, the researchers were able to measure the mass lost from all of the Earth’s vast bodies of ice (see video from NASA). From their orbit 300 miles above, the satellites measure minute changes in the gravitational field of the planet – changes small enough to be caused by local changes in the mass of, for example, a glacier. The take-away: the huge ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica are losing about 385 billion tons of ice annually, and the ice caps and glaciers elsewhere are collectively losing 148 billion tons. The surprising result was that there was much less ice loss in Asian mountain ranges (such as the Himalayas) than previously thought, a fairly trivial change in terms of sea level rise, but good news regarding concerns about flooding and/or freshwater availability in those regions.
The bottom-line numbers from their analysis aren’t surprising, and don’t really change the recent predictions of global sea level rise that attempted to incorporate all sources of ice melt (through less-than-certain means, a practice scientists are loathe to do). The GRACE data on melting is consistent with the observed rise of 3.5 mm per year in recent decades, of which about half is due to melting ice (the other half coming from the expansion of liquid water as it warms). What makes the new study so important, though, is that it provides much more certainty that the numbers are real, and to a lesser extent, helps us refine the estimate of those numbers. Following the standard set by the IPCC’s last report in 2007, due to an inability to accurately measure polar ice melt, cautious scientists have since answered the big sea-level-rise question with “about three feet by 2100, but it could be a lot more, since we can’t say anything about large portions of the Earth’s melting ice.” Maybe this will be the last nail in the coffin for caution, freeing the scientific community to refer to the more accurate – but alarming – recent estimates when explaining climate change to the public: at this point, six feet seems much more likely than three.
For an alternate (and, I believe, strange) take on the same study, see the Guardian. At first glance, one might assume the headline trumpeting the lack of ice loss in the Himalayas is just the all-too-typical disconnect between headline and article that today plagues newspapers everywhere. But reading further, this is in fact the emphasis of the story. To some extent, it’s understandable, as the finding that previous estimates of Himalayan melting may be wildly inaccurate is more literally “news” than is the strengthening of the consensus regarding total sea level rise. However, taken as a whole, the article seems to put a slight “climate skeptic” spin on the study (which is, to be fair, completely out of character for the Guardian, which typically has strong environmental coverage). For example, immediately following a quote in which climate scientist Jonathan Bamber says that the new data will have only a small impact on estimates of sea level rise is a statement that such estimates “range from 30 cm to 1 m.” Not only does this subtly imply that Dr. Bamber endorses that statement (which is unknown), but the actual reference is to a previous article in the Guardian, which itself presents one meter as the best estimate, with one estimate as high as 1.9 m!
Submit your conservation news to: almanac@vineyardconservation.org

Copyright (C) *2012* *Vineyard Conservation Society* All rights reserved.

Original content by Jeremy Houser unless otherwise noted.