Tags Posts tagged with "Conservation"

Conservation

Ever walk into a room and wonder why you’re there? As I say to my wife when she looks up expectantly if I appear and then stop in my tracks, I get distracted by air.

We are flooded by stimuli from the bird soaring overhead, to the vibrating cellphone alerting us to an incoming message, to the lists that run in our heads. We have numerous opportunities to lose track of the principle task we assigned ourselves.

I’ve decided on a mantra to deal with these moments and others through the day: “While I’m here.” Yes, I know that’s not exactly a new turn of phrase and I know it’s a type of mindfulness, but my suggestion is about hearing and responding to the phrase.

For example, I might walk into a drugstore to buy shampoo and conditioner. I might realize, before I head to the checkout line, that “while I’m here,” I might also get some dental floss. After all, it’s not like dental floss spoils and, if you’ve seen the movie “Prelude to a Kiss,” you know the old man, once he returns to his own body, advises the young couple at the beginning of their marriage to floss. After several painful episodes with gums that had previously been a breeding ground for painful bacteria, I can attest to the value of that advice.

If you’re a suburban parent and you’re sitting at another baseball game, at a concert or at a dance recital, let’s imagine you’re waiting for the action to begin. “While you’re here” you might want to talk to the parent sitting near you and ask about his or her life or job.

“Hey, wait,” you say. “You’re in the same industry as I am? I had no idea. Of course, I’d love to write an elaborate freelance article that you’ll feature on the cover of your glossy magazine and that will lead to a long and fruitful business collaboration.”

That might not happen, but it certainly won’t if you dive deep into your cellphone to tell someone in another state that you’re not sure whether you’re going to eat the leftover salad from lunch or order chicken with broccoli from the Chinese restaurant down the street.

Maybe you’re at a job interview and you’ve hit all the talking points. You said your only serious flaw is that you take work so seriously that you won’t rest until you’ve secured whatever victories the company needs to beat its closest rivals.

“While you’re here,” however, you might also want to make sure you ask enough questions about the interviewers, so you know their career paths and so you have a better idea of the people with whom you’ll interact if they offer you the job.

Not all the “while you’re here” moments have to be of immediate benefit to you. You might, for example, be on a beach on one of the final days of summer and a strong wind might blow someone’s hat toward you. “While you’re here” you might want to help that person retrieve it. Or maybe you see a plastic wrapper heading into the water. “While you’re here” you also might want to grab this offensive litter and bring it to a garbage can so that it doesn’t damage a fish or a turtle.

If we consider a few times a day what we can do “while we’re here,” we might not only become more efficient, but we also might make that unexpected trip into the room worthwhile. The moment when we’re trying to recall what drove us into the room can transform into an opportunity … “while we’re here.”

Kids will have fun learning about the Long Island Sound this Sunday. Photo from Whaling Museum

Environmental conservation is an important, daily issue across the country. Long Island is no exception.

On Sunday, April 17, The Whaling Museum & Education Center in Cold Spring Harbor will try to do its part in spreading knowledge and awareness about humanity’s impact on the Long Island Sound. The museum is hosting SOUNDoff, a brand new event that will feature activities for marine enthusiasts of all ages including science experiments, water monitoring, art exhibits and a touch tank featuring oysters, sea stars, horseshoe crabs and hermit crabs.

Nomi Dayan, the executive director of the Whaling Museum, said that the goal of the event is to be fun and interactive for kids, while also being informative.

“SOUNDoff is [being held] basically [because] we want visitors to understand how to protect the waters around us,” Dayan said in a phone interview. “These are our neighbors that inhabit the waters.”

A press release from the museum highlighted the importance of appreciation and preservation for the large body of water that neighbors the North Shore.

“The Long Island Sound is an amazing natural resource providing economic and recreational benefits to millions of people while also providing habitat for more than 1,200 invertebrates, 170 species of fish and dozens of species of migratory birds,” the release said.

Representatives from the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Seatuck Environmental Association and The Waterfront Center will all be on hand at the event to host workshops, conduct experiments and educate visitors about the importance of keeping that water clean. They will lead mock water sample tests with kids, give a presentation on marine debris and another on storm water management presentation to name a few of the various activities in store for attendees.

“There are a lot of pressures and threats against the Sound today, so it’s really up to us to keep it clean,” Dayan said. “It is a growing problem every year, especially on Long Island. Whatever we put in the water really will come back to haunt us.”

Dayan mentioned the types of fertilizers used on lawns, avoiding facial moisturizers containing micro beads and picking up after pets as some of the every day adjustments that Long Islanders can make to improve the overall health of the Sound.

According to the release, the event was partially funded by a grant from Long Island Sound Futures Fund, which pools funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“This event is poised to have an impact through the rest of the summer months as Long Islanders get ready to hit the beaches, spend time on boats and fertilize their lawns,” Dayan said in the release about the lasting impact she hopes the event will have on those who attend.

Admission to the event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., is free. The Whaling Museum is located at 301 Main Street in Cold Spring Harbor. For more information, call 631-367-3418.

Adult glasseye snappers, collected on Cocos Island, Costa Rica, in 1928. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport is home to the largest privately assembled collection of sea specimens from the preatomic era.

Now, thanks to a $135,000 grant from The Robert D. L. Gardiner Foundation, the museum is beginning to perform crucial conservation measures on many of those rare specimens. The foundation gave the Vanderbilt  Museum the two-year grant in January. In July, the curatorial staff began working on some of the more than 1,000 wet (preserved in fluid) specimens exhibited on the second floor of the Marine Museum. An additional 600 are on display in the mansion’s Memorial Wing.

Adult glasseye snappers, collected on Cocos Island, Costa Rica, in 1928. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum
Adult glasseye snappers, collected on Cocos Island, Costa Rica, in 1928. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

Among the marine life William K. Vanderbilt II found on oceanic collecting expeditions during the early 20th century were 67 new discoveries.  Stephanie Gress, the museum’s director of curatorial services, said the finds — not previously identified — are called “type specimens.” Most of the 40 ocean fish and 27 marine invertebrates have been on loan to the American Museum of Natural History since the 1990s.

Gress said the Gardiner grant is invaluable to the future of the marine collection, as many of the specimens have not been touched since the last major conservation-restoration project in the 1990s. The project is “very time- and labor-intensive,” she said.

“Cracked seals on the specimen jars and containers let in air, which evaporates some of the preservative fluid,” she said. “That exposes fish and other creatures to possible deterioration. Air leaks also make it easy for infections and mold to develop on the specimens.”

Gress said she and her colleagues prepared a manual with step-by-step procedures and careful protocols for working with the specimens. Conservation includes opening the containers, cleaning them, gently treating infected specimens, replacing the fluid (alcohol and water), resealing the containers with fabric tape and melted beeswax and affixing new labels.

Vanderbilt had the museum’s seamless specimen jars and containers custom-made in Germany nearly a century ago, and they are irreplaceable, Gress said.

An intriguing project detail is the creative reuse of the original calligraphy from the 1930s specimen labels. “We took samples of each hand-calligraphed letter to create the alphabet for a typeface for the new labels we’re making,” Gress said. “With the original calligraphy as a model, curatorial assistant Kirsten Amundsen fashioned a nearly identical typeface by using existing, computerized calligraphy pen strokes in accurate proportions,” she added.

The marine collection was the first aspect of what became Vanderbilt’s larger natural history museum. He built the single-story building he called The Hall of Fishes in 1922 and opened it on a limited basis to the public. By the late 1920s, after more oceanic expeditions, his marine collection outgrew its original space. He added a second floor by 1930.

The two largest marine specimens are a 32-foot whale shark — the world’s largest example of fish taxidermy — and a manta ray with a 16.5-foot wingspan. The shark, caught in 1935 and restored in 2008 with a federal Save America’s Treasures grant, is the centerpiece of the habitat animal-dioramas gallery. The ray, which Vanderbilt called the Sea Devil, was caught in 1916 and recast in the late 1990s. It is exhibited prominently on the first floor of the Marine Museum.

“The Vanderbilt [Museum] is the only Long Island destination with a world-class planetarium and natural history collections that rival those at major urban museums,” said Lance Reinheimer, executive director. “In addition to thousands of rare marine specimens, the Vanderbilt collections range from an Egyptian mummy and 18 wild-animal dioramas to ethnographic artifacts from Africa and the South Pacific, fine and decorative arts and centuries-old furnishings.”

Nearly a century after Vanderbilt found those 67 new type specimens, his museum still receives inquiries about some of them. “A marine biology doctoral student contacted me recently about a particular invertebrate, whose common name is the Elegant Coral Crab,” Gress said. “I told him he’d have to call the American Museum of Natural History,” where Vanderbilt’s type specimens are housed.

“Mr. Vanderbilt is credited with the discovery and identification of the first of each of those species,” Gress said. The type specimens were published in editions of the Bulletin of the Vanderbilt Marine Museum, prepared between 1928 and 1938 by scientists Lee Boone and Nicholas Borodin. “Mr. Vanderbilt and his associates had the fun task of naming the new specimens,” she said. “Some were named for his wife, himself or his scientific team.”

Vanderbilt added marine specimens to the second-floor gallery chronologically, she said. When the restoration is complete, the specimens will be put back into the tall display cases in taxonomic order, in which like specimens are exhibited together. In the Invertebrate Room of the museum’s Memorial Wing, wet specimens are arranged by complexity of the organism.

The Vanderbilt marine collection of 13,190 specimens, housed in the Marine Museum, Habitat and Memorial Wing, includes wet and dry specimens and dry marine invertebrates (shells and corals).

For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Beyond-Words-Jacket-wThe Bates House, 1 Bates Road, Setauket, will host a reading and book signing by Carl Safina on Thursday, Aug. 6, at 7 p.m. Named one of 100 Notable Conservationists of the 20th Century, Safina has authored seven books including “Song for the Blue Ocean,” which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, “Eye of the Albatross,” “Voyage of the Turtle” and “The View from Lazy Point.”

Safina is founding president of The Safina Center at Stony Brook University, where he also co-chairs the university’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. Winner of the 2012 Orion Award and a MacArthur Prize, his work has been featured in National Geographic, The New York Times, CNN.com, The Huffington Post and Times Beacon Record Newspapers.

On Aug. 6, Safina will speak about and sign copies of his latest nonfiction landmark book, “Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel,” sharing some astonishing new discoveries about the similarities between humans and animals. There will also be a Q-and-A.

Carl Safina. File photo from SBU
Carl Safina. File photo from SBU

Discover Magazine said the book is “a beautifully written, provocative case for seeing animals through their eyes,” and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of “The Hidden Life of Dogs” said “‘Beyond Words’ is a must-read. Animals think, mourn, dream, make plans, and communicate complex messages in much the same way that we do. Readers who knew this already will rejoice, others will learn the truth and the more of us who capture the message, the sooner we will change the world.”

Don’t miss this special event. For more information, please call 631-632-3763 or visit www.carlsafina.org.