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Quotes of the Week
From Last Chance to See, by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine, 1992:
--The people who do understand what we've lost are the ones who are
rushing around in a frenzy trying to save the bits that are left.
--Up until that point [the extinction of the dodo] it hadn't really
clicked with man that an animal could just cease to exist. It was as if
we hadn't realised that if we kill something, it simply won't be there
any more. Ever. As a result of the extinction of the dodo we are sadder
--We are not an endangered species ourselves yet, but this is not for lack of trying.
Coastal River Otters
Tuesday, July 30, 6:00 pm, Oak Bluffs
Liz Baldwin of BiodiversityWorks presents her research and other
insights into the natural history of our local otters. At the O.B.
Library; call 508 693-9433 for more info. Also, the following week
(Thurs., Aug. 8), same time and place, Luanne Johnson talks about the
natural history of the striped skunk.
Reptiles and Birds
Thursday, Aug. 1, 3:30 to 4:30 pm, V.H.
A hands-on learning program with Gus Ben David of World of Reptiles and Birds
. At the Vineyard Haven Library; call 508 696-4211 for more info.
Guided Walk at Caroline Tuthill
Friday, Aug. 2 at 9:00 am, Edgartown
A free guided walk at Sheriff's Meadow Foundation's Caroline Tuthill Preserve
in Edgartown, hosted by SMF staff. For more info call 508 693-5207.
Vineyard Power Annual Meeting
Saturday, Aug. 3 at 9:30 am, V.H.
Vineyard Power Co-operative's 4th Annual Members Meeting and election of
Directors is at the Katharine Cornell Theater in Vineyard Haven. Vineyard Power
is currently circulating a petition (viewable here
, reload the window after opening) to further their efforts to compete successfully for offshore wind rights.
Saturdays on Sengie
Saturdays, Aug. 3 and 10, 9:30 to 10:30 am, Oak Bluffs
A free Felix Neck program that explores a different aspect of
Sengekontacket Pond each week. From the birds above, to the creatures
below the water's surface, this program includes hands-on activities for
ages 4+. Meet at the Little Bridge (north end of State Beach).
Sponsored by Friends of Sengekontacket. For more info, call 508
Soil Sampling Demonstration
Tuesday, Aug. 6, 4:00 pm, Edgartown
Free educational program from Felix Neck on the amazing things you can
find in a sample of ordinary soil. At the Edg. Library; for more info,
call 508 627-4221.
People and Nature in the Modern World
Thursday, Aug. 15 at 7:30 pm, the Polly Hill Arboretum
Stephen Kellert presents his insights into Biophilia, the theory that
humans are inextricably connected to nature. For an introduction to the
concept, see our interview
with Dr. Kellert (a recent addition to the VCS Board) from last fall. $10/$5 for PHA members; for more info, call 508 693-9426.
West Tisbury Farmers' Market
Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9:00 to noon at the Grange
, West Tisbury.
Fresh picked produce from local farms, flowers, delicious baked goods
and prepared foods from Island kitchens and more. For more info, see website
In Season Recipe
Zucchini Oatmeal Bread
Every year, for a few weeks in the summer, I get to know a new set of
high school interns. This year's group, like many before them, has an
approach to eating vegetables that could described--to put it gently--as
apprehensive. Like one might approach an angry but nutritious
Don't let this happen to kids you know! Early intervention with zucchini
bread has been known for years to reduce the incidence of vegephobia in
children. Age 6 is good, +/- 3 years. Sure, zucchini bread isn't
particularly healthy in itself, but as a "gateway vegetable" . . . well,
it has "zucchini" right there in the name!
This, from Healthy Seasonal Recipes
is a good bit more wholesome than most recipes, but is still plenty
sweet. See the link for preparation and an explanation of the healthy
¾ cup boiling water
1 cup pitted and quartered dates
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 large local eggs
½ cup canola oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pound zucchini, shredded (about 3 ½ cups)
¾ cup rolled oats
1 cup raisins
Correction: Swiss Chard Revisited
The previous issue of the Almanac promised "Swiss Chard Demystified," but did anything but that, accidentally omitting the excerpt from Ginny Jones' cookbook, Fresh from the Vineyard. If you missed it on our website, here it is now.
|Monday, July 29, 2013
How to Handle Nitrogen Pollution at the Community Level
Algae blooms in coastal waters are often the result of excessive nitrogen.
Speaking at a recent meeting of the Lagoon Pond Association, Cormac
Collier, Executive Director of the Nantucket Land Council, presented
useful insights into possible regulatory approaches to curbing inputs of
nitrogen into coastal waters. Mr. Collier’s presentation (full video here)
was a thorough introduction to the environmental concerns of nitrogen
pollution and their scientific basis, as well as an exploration of what
solutions are available and how to get there from here.
Even the Most Resilient Species Need Protection
Northeastern beach tiger beetle (Photo by Sean McCann/Flickr)
There was an excellent story
in last week’s Gazette detailing the exploits of our Island’s
Northeastern beach tiger beetle and the scientists who study them. Well
worth a read, both for the cautionary tale of how even the smallest
animals are threatened by coastal development, but also the resilience
of this triumphant little predator. Believed to be extinct in New
England but rediscovered in 1989, the species appears to be adapted to
near-death experiences at the population level, at least those caused by
natural forces. Hurricane Bob, for example, reduced the population by
90%, but it quickly recovered.
For biological populations, there’s a sort of critical mass that must be
maintained – a minimum number of individuals in contact with each other
– or else there is a relatively high risk of extinction due to events
that are more or less random (or stochastic, see second paragraph here).
On one level, it’s just basic probability: a freakishly large storm, an
outbreak of disease, or a severe food shortage is more likely to
literally kill every single individual if there are very few of them.
But also any survivors from a catastrophic event must be able to find a
mate when the time comes, using the means of communication at their
disposal, be it song, dance, chemical attractants, or something more unusual.
And this can become impossibly difficult if a couple dozen tiny
creatures are scattered across miles of habitat. Yet another concern
with small population numbers is loss of genetic diversity: though the
species may survive some natural disaster, re-populating from a tiny
number of survivors may create a genetic "bottleneck," leading to a new
population with less genetic diversity that is not as well adapted to
survive the next catastrophe.
Fortunately, it appears that this minimal viable population number is
quite low for the Northeastern beach tiger beetle – maybe as low as a
few hundred. That’s a nice cushion (and in truth the reason the species
still exists today) but let’s try not to blow it by destroying the last
scrap of habitat to which it has retreated – their Alamo, as described
by VCS Annual Meeting speaker Paul Goldstein.
Changing Coastlines, Changing Ponds
After Dusk, by Colin Ruel (Photo courtesy of Gay Head Gallery)
The Gay Head Gallery is hosting a group art show Saturday, August 3rd from 5 to 7 pm to
benefit two Island organizations tasked with protecting our sensitive
and invaluable water resources, the M.V. Shellfish Group and Water
Alliance. Many of the paintings in the show will depict places where
erosion and storm damage have changed our coastline, and others will
celebrate the beauty of our marshes and ponds. Impacts from storm damage
on our surface waters and ponds will also be addressed. The show will
feature work by Steven Kleinrock, Elizabeth Lockhart Taft, John
Nickerson Athearn, Linda Thompson, Laura Roosevelt, Eleanor Hubbard,
Ellen Liman, and Colin Ruel (whose work is pictured above).
The Gay Head Gallery is located at 32 State Rd. in Aquinnah. For more
information, contact Gallery owner Megan Ottens-Sargent at (508)
So, This is Progress?
Natural gas platform burning off the shore of Louisiana. (Photo from CNN, courtesy Bureau of Safety and Environment)
Last week, a significant fire occurred
on an offshore natural gas drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico.
While burning for about two days, major damage was done to the rig, and a
relatively small amount of gas (compared to previous spills) leaked
onto the surface of the water. No one was injured in the incident.
The recent boom in natural gas production in the U.S. has been both a
blessing and a curse, and the debate over which we should emphasize will
continue for years. From the perspective of climate change, gas is
clearly preferable to coal and oil, producing more net energy per unit
of carbon emitted. On the other hand, the transition to natural gas
could dull the enthusiasm for adopting truly carbon-free energy and keep
our economy reliant on pumping carbon into the atmosphere further into
The recent explosion and fire in the Gulf demonstrates that natural gas
occupies a similar middle ground in regard to human safety and
environmental damage: unlike the Deepwater Horizon spill of 2010, no one
was killed, and the spilled gas will disperse more easily, doing
relatively little direct harm to wildlife. But this is
still a burning well platform that left a sheen of gas a half mile wide
on the water that we’re saying was “not so bad after all.”