Point Lobos

Last month on a Saturday following a business trip to Monterey, California, our host took us on a walk at Point Lobos State Reserve, some 550 acres of shoreline and over 5 square miles of submerged reserved lands at the northernmost reach of “el pais grande del sur” (much better known nowadays as Big Sur):

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And it’s probably, at least to my mind, the most beautiful place on the planet, as you can see from the aforelinked photos. This cellphone snapshot of mine uglies it up somewhat, but, well, you get the idea:

We went [...]

Florida's marine terraces

In an article last year about Montana de Oro state park in California, I discussed how the land there includes a series of uplifted marine terraces. Those terraces are formed by a combination of geologic uplift at periodic intervals and the eroding action of the shoreline.

Well, here in Florida we’re pretty conversant with the eroding action of the shoreline. But for most of the east coast, at least, the forces of erosion and deposition are pretty much balanced. What the waves take away in the winter, they deposit in the summer, or vice versa. And in parts of the [...]

Elkhorn Slough

Ever since I first saw it back in 1988, I’ve been captivated by the rugged beauty of the California coastline from the Monterey Bay south into the Big Sur area. Over the past couple of years I’ve been able to make periodic trips to the area; a day here, a weekend there, squeezed in around business. My wife’s family lived in Pacific Grove for years, and I suppose I’ve developed a vicarious sense of home there. Certainly the scenery there corresponds to some sort of ideal in me; I can’t help but feel at home there, even when I’m just [...]

Marine invertebrates, part two

Jellyfish and hydrozoans are only one type of animal that gets washed up on the beach during our easterlies. During our explorations last weekend Marcella ran across a colony of goose barnacles that had washed up as well:

They’re attached to an orange substrate that reminds me of a sponge, but I know next to nothing about poriferans, so I can’t get much further with that (I had thought it was an agglomeration of red sponge, Haliclona rubens, but the color is wrong and they’re usually more fingerlike than clumpy).

But there are other, more readily identifiable organisms [...]

Marine invertebrates, part one

Springtime in south Florida generally means onshore breezes around the clock on the Atlantic coast. These steady breezes tend to push ashore large numbers of Physalia physalis, known as the Portuguese man o’ war, as was the case last weekend at Red Reef Park in Boca Raton:

According to my Witherington guide (Florida’s Living Beaches), April and May are the peak months for both size and abundance of these washed-up siphonophores. Even though it’s not a true jellyfish, the fact that both this animal and the true jellyfish can deliver a painful sting makes the distinction irrelevant in [...]

Parallel worlds

There aren’t very strong geologic, climatologic, zoologic or botanic parallels between my two “home” states of Florida and California. True, both states have endemic scrub-jay populations (the Santa Cruz island scrub-jay and the Florida scrub-jay), and many of the plants and animals of Florida’s “ancient islands” (scrub habitat) have western affinities, but beyond that, there’s not a whole lot linking the two places.

Oh, sure, there are some superficial parallels. I mean, when I was going to grad school at UCLA, I rode my bike through palm tree–lined streets, dodging expensive cars, with the sights and sounds of the ocean [...]

Pro(toc)tista redux: the Phaeophyta

I’d already been planning a follow-up of my recent post on that oddball eukaryote kingdom, Pro(toc)tista, just to discuss a couple of phyla that interest me [the brown algae, which include kelp and seaweeds, and the Bacillariophyta, which include diatoms (if you were in and around swimming pools as much as I was when I was younger, you'd probably wondered what diatomaceous earth was made of)], but before I got very far on the draft, I actually received my second nonfamily nonfriend comment, this time from a student in Canada who goes by the name Psi wavefunction* and obviously knows [...]

Monterey Bay pelagic birding

I took a very brief business trip to California last week. Flew in late, had a late dinner at the best Chinese restaurant in the world (Golden Willow in Concord, if you’re curious). Met clients in the SF Bay area on Thursday morning, then drove down to Monterey for Friday morning meetings. The entire trip was very short; I had only 45 minutes at Moe’s, and barely enough time for dinner with Mom coming and going from SFO!

Despite feeling rushed throughout, and having a mild case of sinus congestion and cold symptoms, there was no way I would have [...]

More books

Berkeley’s best book store, Moe’s, is probably the best book store in the world. I’ve been to many a book store, in London, Los Angeles, Edinburgh, Chicago, Paris, Boston, New Delhi, Portland, and New York, and I still think Moe’s is the best. The Strand in Manhattan may be bigger, and Powell’s, in Portland and environs may have more branches and a better web presence, but I always seem to come back more heavily laden from Berkeley than I do from anywhere else in the world. From this latest haul (trip report still to come):

Seabirds of the World: The [...]

Fish oil

First, thanks to all of you on Facebook for wishing me a happy birthday; I did indeed enjoy a wonderful day. Seeing all your good wishes brought a smile to my face; I understand that’s somewhat out of character for the traditional man turning 40. So be it. I’m smiling, so thanks, y’all! Now, yesterday’s post was about WD40, which is NOT made of fish oil. So today’s post needs to be about, well, fish oil.

What is it good for? Everyone knows, nowadays, that fish oil is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which apparently we need in order to [...]