The common murre, which can be spotted in Puget Sound especially
in winter, may be considered “nature’s laugh track,” according to
Bob Sundstrom, writing for “BirdNote,”
a two-minute radio show heard on public radio stations including
I wasn’t sure what he meant until I heard the call clearly, and
then I wanted to share this amusing sound with readers who missed
“The Common Murre’s guttural call carries well over the roar of
the waves, a natural laugh track, far richer than human laughter
canned for a sitcom,” says narrator Michael Stein in the following
For other amusing bird sounds, I pulled a YouTube video created
with the help of Nick Lund, who writes a blog called “The Birdlist.” This
video was posted on National Public Radio’s science program
Andy Jeffrey of
Earth Touch Network points out that the bald eagle’s
less-than-intimidating chirp may not be the strangest call, but it
may be the most surprising. For films and such, Hollywood producers
have dubbed in the screech of a red-tailed hawk to give the eagle a
more imposing sound.
We can’t leave the topic of funny bird sounds without taking
time to listen to the lyre bird, known for its ability to mimic all
sorts of sounds. And who better to sneak with us through the
underbrush and explain this odd bird than the BBC’s David
Attenborough. Check out the video.
While all of these bird sounds are amusing, who would you say is
the most amusing bird? The question is open to debate, but I always
get a kick out of the thievery of the various species of sea gull.
The compilation video below offers a sampling of this clever bird’s
antics. As you’ll see, a few other clever birds also are
An international team of taxonomists has chosen the “Top 10 New
Species of 2016” from among some 18,000 new species named in
They include a hominin in the same genus as humans and an ape
nicknamed “Laia” that might provide clues to the origin of humans,
according to information provided by the College of Environmental
Science and Forestry at the State University of New York, which
compiles the list each year.
The list also includes a newly identified giant Galapagos
tortoise, two fish, a beetle named after a fictional bear, and two
plants — a carnivorous sundew considered endangered as soon as it
was discovered and a tree hiding in plain sight, states a news
release from ESF.
The annual list of the top 10 new species was established in
2008 to call attention to the fact that thousands of new species
are being discovered each year, while other species are going
extinct at least as fast.
“The rate of description of species is effectively unchanged
since before World War II,” said Quintin Wheeler, ESF president.
“The result is that species are disappearing at a rate at least
equal to that of their discovery.
“We can only win this race to explore biodiversity if we pick up
the pace,” he said. “In so doing we gather irreplaceable evidence
of our origins, discover clues to more efficient and sustainable
ways to meet human needs and arm ourselves with fundamental
knowledge essential for wide-scale conservation success.”
The top-10 list, compiled by the International Institute for
Species Exploration, is a colorful sampling of the new species
being named by taxonomists. The list comes out each year around
Mary 23 — the birthday of Carolus Linnaeus, an 18th century
botanist considered the father of modern taxonomy.
Descriptions of the “Top 10 New Species of 2016” are taken from
information provided by ESF, which permitted use of the
photographs. Additional information and photos can be found by
following the links below.
A research team working in the Galapagos Archipelago of Ecuador
has discovered that two species of giant tortoises — not just one —
co-exist on the island of Santa Cruz. The discovery comes 185 years
after Charles Darwin noted that slight variations in the shells of
tortoises could distinguish which island they were from, which is
among the evidence Darwin used in his theory of evolution.
This particiular giant sundew, a carnivorous plant, is the
largest sundew ever found in the New World. It is believed to be
the first species of plant discovered through a photograph on
Facebook. It is considered critically endangered, since it is known
to live in only one place in the world, the top pf a 5,000-foot
mountain in Brazil.
Fossil remains of at least 15 individuals makes this the largest
collection of a single species of hominin ever found on the African
continent. Once the age of the bones is determined, the finding
will have implications for the branch of the family tree containing
This tiny amphibious crustacean, discovered in a South American
cave, represents a new subfamily, genus and species of isopod with
a behavior never seen before in its family group: It builds
shelters of mud.
This two-inch anglerfish — with its odd fishing-pole-like
structure dangling in front — was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico
by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration while
assessing natural resource damages from the Deepwater Horizon oil
spill in 2010. The dangling structure, called an esca, is home to
symbiotic bacteria that produce light in the darkness of the deep
ocean and is presumably used to catch prey.
The ruby red seadragon, related to sea horses, is only the third
known species of sea dragon. At 10 inches long and living in
relatively shallow water off the West Coast of Australia, it is
notable for having escaped notice so long. The ruby seadragon was
first identified while testing museum specimens for genetics, then
the hunt was on for a living sample.
The scientific name of this tiny beetle, just 1/25th of an inch
long, comes from the fictional Paddington Bear, a lovable character
in children’s books who showed up at Paddington Station in London
with a sign that read, “Please look after this bear.” The
researchers hope the name for the new beetle will call attention to
the plight of the “threatened” Andean spectacled bear, which
inspired the Paddington books. The beetle is found in pools of
water that accumulate in the hollows of plants in Peru, where the
bear also is found.
An ape nicknamed “Laia” lived about 11.6 million years ago in
what is now Spain, climbing trees and eating fruit. She lived
before the lineage containing humans and great apes diverged from a
sister branch that contains the gibbons. Her discovery raises the
prospect that early humans could be more closely related to gibbons
than to the great apes.
Found near the main road in Monts de Cristal National Park, in
Gabon, this new tree species had been overlooked for years in
inventories of local trees, which tended to focus on larger
specimens. The tree grows to only about 20 feet high and is so
different from related members of the Annonaceae family of
flowering plants that it was given its own genus.
This new damselfly, called the sparklewing, is among an
extraordinary number of new damselflies discovered in Africa, with
60 species reported in one publication alone. Most of the new
species are so colorful and distinct that they can be identified
solely from photographs. The name Umma Gumma was taken from the
1969 Pink Floyd album, “Ummagumma,” which is British slang for
June is Orca Awareness Month in the Salish Sea. And, as we’ve
seen in recent years, the Southern Resident killer whales are not
around to help kick off the month-long celebration.
J pod, one of the three Southern Resident pods, typically moves
in and out of Puget Sound through the winter and into spring, but
none of the whales have been seen in inland waters since May 18,
Orca Network. On May 24, the same groups were seen off the West
Coast of Vancouver Island.
Let’s hope they are finding plenty to eat, then come home to the
San Juan Islands in time for Orca Sing at Lime Kiln State Park on
June 25, when people will gather to serenade them. Meanwhile,
plenty of other events will be held during Orca Awareness
Another annual event, planned for this Saturday, is EcoFest,
which has been revamped this year as a more active festival, rather
than a lineup of information booths. Organizers are calling the
event in Kingston “a community science and nature festival.”
A nature walk followed by tips on bird watching, solar power,
medicinal plants and green construction techniques are part of the
festivities, along with music and food. For information, download
press release (PDF 77 kb) from Stillwaters Environmental Center
or visit the Stillwaters
The following day, this Sunday, is the kickoff celebration for
Orca Awareness Month, including a Baby Orca Birthday Bash at Alki
Beach Bathhouse, 2701 Alki Ave. SW in Seattle. Live music by Dana
Water Ways, Jan. 25), face painting, orca bingo and other
activities are planned.
For the remainder of the month, activities include an
informational webinar June 9, a discussion about the toxic threat
June 16, “Orcas in Our Midst” workshop June 18, a march for
endangered orcas June 24, “Orca Sing” June 25, “Oil, Orcas and
Oystercatchers” forum June 25, and “Orca and Salmon: An Evening of
Storytelling” June 29. These and several events yet to be scheduled
can be followed on the Orca
Month website or the Facebook page.
Orca Awareness Month was started 10 years ago by Orca Network
and has been adopted by Orca Salmon Alliance, made
up of organizations working to expand awareness of the relation
between killer whales and salmon, both considered at risk of
After warmer-than-average temperatures for much of the past
year, May suddenly turned cooler across the nation — except for the
Northwest, which remained warmer than normal.
Although it seemed cool recently, at least compared to April,
Western Washington had the greatest deviation with temperatures
between 3 and 5 degrees higher than the 30-year average. See first
It seems ironic to write about cooler temperatures after last
month’s teaser headline at the top of the Kitsap Sun’s front page:
“Earth getting HOT, HOT, HOTTER!”
The big story earlier this month was that worldwide temperatures
had broken all-time heat records for 12 months in a row, and
April’s record-high temperature was a full half-degree higher than
the previous record.
The average temperature hasn’t been below the 20th century
average since December 1984, and the last time the Earth broke a
monthly cold record was nearly a century ago, in December 1916,
according to NOAA records.
“These kinds of records may not be that interesting, but so many
in a row that break the previous records by so much indicates that
we’re entering uncharted climatic territory (for modern human
society),” Texas A&M University climate scientist Andrew
Dessler wrote in an email to Seth Borenstein of the
El Niño, which is now fading, was blamed in part for the
unprecedented heat worldwide. But climatologists say the onward
march of global warming lies in the background. Last year turned
out to be the hottest year on record, easily beating 2014, which
was also a record year.
The first four months of this year were so much hotter than 2015
that 2016 is still likely to set another record. NOOA’s
Climate Prediction Center says La Niña conditions are on the
way, with a 50 percent chance of La Niña by summer and a 75 percent
chance by fall.
Summer temperatures are expected to be above average except in
the Central U.S., while both coasts are expected to be the most
likely to exceed normal temperatures. Check out the second map on
Speaking of the onward march of climate change, computer
graphics developers keep coming up with new ways to show how global
temperatures are increasing in concert with rising greenhouse gases
in the atmosphere.
Climate Central has combined data sets from NOAA to produce the
orange graph,which shows the advance of a trailing 30-year
temperature average from 1980 through 2015. To put it simply, we
continue to adjust to a new normal.
Others have used animation to depict temperature change. One
graphic (below) received a lot of attention this month. Temperature
change is represented as the distance from a “zero” circle starting
in 1850. Each month, a line moves one-twelfth of the way around the
circle, completing 360 degrees each year. The line gets farther and
farther from the center and really jumps outward in 2015.
Ed Hawkins, professor of meteorology at the University of
Reading near London, created the animation. He credited an
associate, Jan Fuglestvedt, with the idea of a spiral.
Jason Samenow, chief meteorologist for the Washington Post’s
Capital Weather Gang, called it “the most compelling global
warming visualization ever made.” His blog post also includes some
other visual depictions of climate change.
Another animated graph, by Tom Randall and Blacki Migliozzi of
show similar data depicted as a moving line graph.
Visualizations plotted temperature differences at various
locations on a world map. Over time, it is easy to see how the
Earth has gotten generally warmer, accelerating in recent
One of the most intriguing graphics, in my opinion, is one that
purports to show the various factors that affect global temperature
— from volcanic activity to man-made aerosols to greenhouse gases.
The designers, Eric Roston and Blacki Migliozzi of Bloomberg,
ask viewers to judge which factor they believe leads to global
Since this is a blog about water issues, I would probably be
remiss if I didn’t point out that the consequences of rising
greenhouse gases is not just an increase in the Earth’s
temperature. We can’t forget that a major portion of the carbon
dioxide is being absorbed into the ocean, causing effects on marine
life that are far from fully understood.
Baby river otters appear to be reluctant swimmers when they
enter the water for the very first time. As you can see in the
first video, the mother otter pulls, pushes and practically
wrestles her offspring to begin a swim lesson at Columbus Zoo in
The second video, from Oregon Zoo in Portland, features otter
keeper Becca VanBeek, who provides us some details about the life
of a young otter. Shown is a baby otter named Molalla. The mom
seems a bit rough with her baby, but she’s just trying to teach a
diving and breathing pattern.
If we want to be formal about it, what should we call a baby
otter? A baby walrus is called a calf, and a baby sea lion is
called a pup. So a baby otter is called a ______? If you said pup,
you are right.
Now for the parents. If a male walrus is called a bull and a
male sea lion is also called a bull, what is a male otter called?
The answer is boar, but please don’t ask me who comes up with this
stuff. Correspondingly, female walruses and female sea lions are
called cows, while female otters are called sows.
Thirteen kinds of otters exist in the world. Some, such as the
sea cat of South America, are so endangered that almost nothing is
known about them Read about all 13 on the h2g2 website.
In the Northwest, many people confuse the sea otter with the
river otter. Both are related to the weasel, and both have webbed
feet and two layers of fur to maintain their body temperature in
cold water. But there are many differences:
River otters spend more time on land than water. Sea otters
almost never climb up on land.
River otters live in freshwater and marine estuaries. Sea
otters live in seawater, including the ocean.
River otters generally grow to 20-25 pounds, sea otters to
River otters swim with their bellies down and expose little of
their back. Sea otters generally swim belly-up and float high in
the water because of air trapped in their fur.
River otters have rounded webbed paws, front and back. Sea
otters’ rear paws are elongated like flippers with webbing going to
the end of the toes.
Below is one of the two live cameras in the sea otter exhibit at
Seattle Aquarium. The cameras are in operation from 9 a.m. to 6
p.m. Visit the aquarium’s Otter Cams webpage
to see both cams and read about the otters.
Monterey Bay Aquarium also has a live otter cam, which is in
operation from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visit the aquarium’s
Sea Otter page for feeding times, when the otters are
introduced to the audience and a live discussion takes place with
“Sonic Sea,” which will air Thursday on Discovery Channel, will
take you down beneath the ocean waves, where sounds take on new
meaning, some with dangerous implications.
Humans spend most of their time in air, a medium that transmits
light so well that we have no trouble seeing the shapes of objects
in a room or mountains many miles away. In the same way, water is
the right medium for sound, which shapes the world of marine
mammals and other species that live under water.
The hour-long documentary film reveals how humpback whales use
low-frequency sounds to communicate with other whales across an
entire ocean and how killer whales use high-frequency sound to
locate their prey in dark waters.
“The whales see the ocean through sound, so their mind’s eye is
their mind’s ear,” says Michael Jasny of the Natural Resources
Defense Council, an environment group that produced the film with
the help of the production company Imaginary Forces.
“Sonic Sea” opens with Ken Balcomb, dean of killer whale
research in Puget Sound, telling the story of how he learned about
16 beaked whales that had beached themselves in the Bahamas, where
he was doing research in 2001.
“Animals that I had grown to know over a 10-year period were now
dead,” Ken says during the movie, recalling the horrifying day when
one whale after another was discovered dead or dying. “They were
trying to get away. I was driven to find out why.”
Thanks to Ken’s presence during that stranding incident, experts
were able to prove that Navy sonar could be deadly. It took two
years for Navy officials to overcome their denial.
As I watched the film, I wondered if people would identify with
the idea that hearing to marine mammals is like sight to humans.
Would people see how much humans have invaded the underwater world
with noise from ship traffic, oil exploration, military training
and shoreline construction?
“I listen to the world, and to me song is life,” said Chris
Clark, a bioacoustics expert at Cornell Lab of Ornithology,. “It is
the essence of who we are, and it joins us all. The problem is, in
the ocean, we are injecting enormous amounts of noise, so much so
that we are acoustically bleaching the ocean. All the singing
voices of the planet are lost in that cloud of noise.”
This type of human invasion is different from wiping out habitat
as new construction changes the land, but the effect can be equally
devastating to some species.
In September of 2001, a group of researchers on the East Coast
were collecting fecal samples from right whales to check for stress
hormones. Stress levels were running high among the whales, except
for a few days when the levels dropped dramatically. That happened
right after Sept. 11, when ship traffic in the area was shut down
following the bombing of the World Trade Center. It still isn’t
clear what that constant stress is doing to the animals, but it
can’t be good. See
Duke University press release.
The good news, the film tells us, is that ships can be made
quieter, with an important side benefit: Quieter ships are more
efficient, which makes them cheaper to operate. Ships can also
reduce noise by going slower, saving on fuel. Beyond shipping,
people can find ways to operate in the ocean with less sonic harm
to sea life.
The Navy’s viewpoint, as represented in the film, appears to be
a more enlightened approach that I have seen until now. Of course,
protecting Navy ships against enemy attacks is the priority, but
the need to accommodate marine life seems to be recognized to a
“It comes down to what we value,” Clark said. “We value a living
ocean. We are putting the ocean at risk. And if you put the ocean
at risk, you are putting all of us at risk.”
The first video on this page is the trailer to “Sonic Sea” as
provided by the producers of the film. The second is the trailer
provided by Discovery Channel.
A major study of ocean acidification along the West Coast is
underway with the involvement of 17 institutions, including 36
scientists from five countries.
Based aboard the NOAA Research Vessel Ronald H. Brown, the
researchers are taking physical, chemical and biological
measurements as they consider a variety of ecological pressures on
marine species. They will take note of changes since the last
cruise in 2013. To obtain samples from shallow waters, the
researchers will get help along the way from scientists going out
in small vessels launched from land. Staff from Olympic National
Park, Channel Islands National Park and Cabrillo National Monument
The cruise started out last Thursday from San Diego Naval Base.
Researchers have been posting information about the trip and their
work on a blog called “West Coast Ocean
The month-long working adventure is the fifth of its kind in
areas along the West Coast, but this is the first time since 2007
that the cruise will cover the entire area affected by the
California Current — from Baja California to British Columbia. The
video shows Pacific white-sided dolphins as seen from the deck of
the Ron Brown on Monday just west of Baja California.
As on cruises in 2011–2013, these efforts will include studies
of algae that cause harmful blooms, as well as analyses of pteropod
abundance, diversity, physiology, and calcification, said Simone
Alin, chief scientist for the first leg of the cruise.
“We are pleased to welcome new partners and highlight new
analyses on this cruise as well,” she continued in
her blog post. “For example, some of our partners will be
employing molecular methods (proteomics, genomics, transcriptomics)
to study the response of marine organisms to their
“We also have scientists studying bacterial diversity and
metabolic activity in coastal waters participating for the first
time. New assays of stress in krill and other zooplankton —
important fish food sources — will also be done on this cruise.
Last but not least, other new collaborators will be validating
measurements of ocean surface conditions done by satellites from
To learn how satellites gather information about the California
Current, check out
With rising levels of carbon dioxide bringing changes to waters
along the West Coast, researchers are gathering information that
could help predict changes in the future. Unusually warm waters in
the Pacific Ocean the past two years (nicknamed “the blob”) may
have compounded the effects of ocean acidification, according to
Reading the cruise blog, I enjoyed a
piece by Melissa Ward, a doctoral candidate in the Joint
Program in Ecology from UC Davis and San Diego State University.
Her story begins:
“As I prepared to leave for the West Coast OA research cruise,
many family and friends skipped right over the ‘research’ part, and
jumped straight to ‘cruise’. But to their disappointment, the
photos of me sitting by the pool drinking my margarita will never
“The Ron Brown, our research vessel, does have two lounge chairs
on the main deck, but they are strapped down to keep them from
flying off as we go tipping back and forth with the ocean swells.
Immediately after boarding the ship for departure from San Diego to
Mexico, you have to start adjusting to this never-ending sway.
After some stumbles and falls (which I’m certain the crew found
entertaining), you get used to the motion, and can at least
minimize public clumsiness.”
Brandon Carter, mission scientist on the cruise, provides a
delightful primer on the pros and cons of carbon dioxide in a
blog entry posted Tuesday, and Katie Douglas , a doctoral
student at the University of South Florida’s College of Marine
Science posted a
blog entry yesterday in which she discusses the CTD rosette, a
basic piece of oceanographic equipment used to continuously record
conductivity (salinity), temperature and depth as it is lowered
down into the ocean. The remote-controlled device can take water
samples at any level.
In celebration of national Endangered Species Day on May 20,
students from across the country were invited to create artwork
about species that could be headed for extinction. Although the
number of entries was somewhat limited, I have been much impressed
with more than a few of these pieces.
The Saving Endangered Species Youth Art Contest is sponsored by
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Coalition,
Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and International Child Art
Foundation. The contest was established to encourage students to
learn about threatened and endangered species and to express their
understanding and feelings through art.
Judges included Wyland, the well known marine life artist; Jack
Hanna, host of television shows featuring wild animals; David
Littschwager, a freelance photographer and contributor to National
Geographic magazine; Susan Middleton, a photographer and author who
has produced several books of nature photography; and Alice
Tangerini, botanical illustrator for the Smithsonian Institution.
Entries were submitted in February and March.
The painting of Southern Resident Killer Whales was created by
17-year-old Christopher Chen of Oak Grove, Calif. The artwork was
named a semifinalist in the endangered species art contest. Of
course, those of us who live in the Puget Sound area are at least
somewhat familiar with the three pods of Southern Resident orcas, a
population listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
See NOAA’s Species
in the Spotlight.
Seven-year-old Rachel Yang of Belmont, Calif., was named the
winner among a much younger group of students, those in the
kindergarten-to-second-grade division. Her picture of yelloweye
rockfish should also spark interest for Puget Sound residents, as
these fish are listed as threatened in the Puget Sound region. See
“Rockfish in Puget Sound/Georgia Basin.”
The picture of Atlantic salmon, third on this page, by Katrina
Sharonin, 12, took first place among the sixth through eight
graders. I thought the hourglass was an important element,
something to show that the species may be running out of time.
Although we think of Atlantic salmon as farmed fish on the West
Coast, remnant populations of wild Atlantic salmon can still be
found in central and eastern Maine. Once abundant along the East
Coast, Atlantic salmon are now one of the most endangered species
in the U.S. See NOAA’s
Species in the Spotlight. By the way, Katrina is another
student from Belmont, Calif., which had a large number of excellent
Elizabeth Kiernicki, 17, of Pingree Grove, Ill., was the
first-place winner among the students in grades 9 through 12 with
her picture of the northern spotted owl. The spotted owl, listed as
threatened, was once found in forests from Southwest British
Columbia through Western Washington and Western Oregon and as far
south as San Francisco Bay. Now, remnant populations are in decline
in scattered areas, primarily remaining segments of old-growth
forests, while a significant population survives on the Olympic
Peninsula. See U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service webpage.
Other semifinalists include Matthew Lei, 11, of Portland, Ore.,
with his portrait of a mother gray whale and her calf, and Michelle
Chang, 7, of Centrevile, Va., with her picture of a mother polar
bear and her cub waiting on a chunk for broken ice.
Endangered Species Day will be celebrated with events organized
by groups around the country. You can find registered events on the
Endangered Species Day,” although you may need to do an
Internet search for details.
It’s not hard to find information about the Endangered Species
Act or individual species with an Internet search engine, but the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gives you a place to start with its
Species Day website.
Endangered Species Day was designated by
U.S. Senate resolution in 2006 to encourage teachers across the
country to spend at least 30 minutes “informing students about
threats to, and the restoration of, endangered species around the
world” and to encourage organizations and business to help produce
As far as I can tell, a
2012 Senate resolution was the last time that Congress
officially recognized Endangered Species Day, although it has
continued with the support of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
I was quite impressed when I watched this video of a diver
cutting away a thick rope that had been slicing into the flesh of a
massive whale shark. The animal, spotted 300 miles southwest of
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, remained calm throughout the operation.
Daniel Zapata, dive team leader aboard the Solmar V cruise ship,
said the divers knew it might be dangerous to cut the whale shark
free, but it was heartbreaking for them to watch while the animal
“We talked about it for some time between dives,” Zapata said in
question-and-answer interview with Joanna McNamara of Project
Aware. “When we saw the whale shark again, I knew I had to help. It
felt so good to cut this whale shark free. I found a thinner
section of the rope and cut through it. I unwrapped the rope from
each side of the whale shark and finally she was free.”
The action may have saved the life of the pregnant female and
her unborn offspring, according to observers.
This video was featured on the Smithsonian Channel as part of
the latest series “Secrets of Shark Island.” The “secret,”
according to promotional material, is that the Revillagigedo
Islands, some 200 miles from the Mexican coast, is home to one of
the greatest concentrations of fish in the world.
“This is the only natural juncture for miles in an otherwise
empty Pacific Ocean and a crucial area for migrating sharks and
other apex predators,” states the
Smithsonian Channel website. “Enter a world where whitetip
sharks, giant lobsters and moray eels share living quarters,
humpback whales breed, and mantas and tuna feast on bait in this
land of plenty.”
The Smithsonian Channel has been going a little crazy over
sharks the past few years. But it isn’t just about sharks. It’s
about the people who love them. Two years ago, we were introduced
to “Shark Girl” aka Madison Steward, who grew up around sharks on
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and is as fearless as they come
around the sharp-toothed creatures. See second video on this
“Sharks are misunderstood like no other creature, to the point
where it is actually contributing to their slaughter,” Madison told
Gerri Miller of
Mother Nature Network. “I think it has a lot to do with media,
but also that people cannot go and see them for themselves and
learn the truth.
“Sharks are NOT what you think,” she continued, “and myself and
many other people spend hours in the water with large sharks and
feed them at ease on regular occasions. They are the apex
predators, and nature doesn’t make animals like this for no reason.
They are essential in our oceans. In previous years, the decimation
of the shark population has caused the surrounding ecosystem to
collapse. They are truly the ‘boss’ of our oceans.”
The third video is something of a personal manifesto from
Madison Stewart, spoken in a voice-over as she swims in an
awe-inspiring underwater world with ethereal music playing in the
The U.S. Postal Service today released an image of the “pane” of
National Park stamps that will become available for purchase on
June 2. (Click image below to enlarge.) People may mistakenly call
this group of stamps a “sheet,” but a sheet is actually much larger
— usually nine panes as they come off a printing press.
Four of the images on the 16 National Park stamps were provided
by the National Park Service. They are the oil-on-canvas painting
“Scenery in the Grand Tetons” by Albert Bierstadt (first row,
second from right); the chromolithograph-on-canvas “Grand Canyon of
Arizona from Hermit Rim Road” by Thomas Moran (second row, far
left); the three-masted, steel-hulled, square-rigged ship
Balclutha, which can be seen at San Francisco Maritime National
Historical Park (third row, far left); and the pastel-on-paper
“Administration Building, Frijoles Canyon” by Helmuth Naumer Sr.
(fourth row, far left).
Images on the other stamps are the work of independent
photographers, and the center of the pane comes from a 1-cent stamp
of Yosemite National Park issued in 1934.
To celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, the
U.S. Postal Service has commissioned 16 new Forever stamps with
scenes from 16 different national parks.
The first-day issue ceremony will take place June 2 in New York
City as part of the World Stamp
Show NY-2016, an international event for stamp collectors held
once every 10 years. Related events are planned in or near the
national parks depicted on the stamps.
“These stamps celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National
Parks and depict the beauty and diversity of these national
treasures,” Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan said in a news
release. “They serve as an inspiration for Americans to visit,
learn and to write cherished memories of their trips to these
Jonathan B. Jarvis, director of the National Park Service,
added, “This set of stamps will take people on a journey to some of
the most amazing places in the world. We are thrilled that the 16
national park stamps issued in ’16 for the centennial depict the
variety of parks that collectively tell the story of our
The star-trail photo of Mount Rainier, the first stamp on this
page, was taken by Matt Dieterich of Pittsburgh, Penn., who worked
as an intern in the National Park Service’s
“This night was one I will never forget,” said Dieterich, quoted
in a news
release. “After working with visitors at the Mount Rainier
astronomy program on June 22, 2015, I noticed there was an aurora,
so I drove down to Reflection Lake to capture it. The location was
perfect as it contained a view of Mount Rainier and water for
“To create this star trails image, I took 200 photos in a
two-hour window between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. with my Nikon D750 and
24mm lens set at F/1.4 and ISO 5000. Since the Earth is rotating,
each 8-sec. exposure shows stars at slightly different locations.
When the photos are combined into one image, the stars create a
circular pattern around the North Star, which is just out of view
at the top of the image.
“The pink aurora spread throughout the background sky.
Mountaineers can be seen with their white headlamps climbing Mount
Rainier on the right side of the volcano.”
The photo of Glacier Bay was taken by Tom Bean of Flagstaff,
Ariz. Glacier Bay National Park encompasses 3.3 million acres of
mountains, glaciers and coastlines in Alaska.
To see the full set of stamps, go to the National Park Service
page for Centennial
Stamps. The following list will take you to a description of
each stamp by the Postal Service. For a better image of the stamp,
click on “PDF” in the upper right corner of the page below the