The feel-good science behind sea otter surrogacy

What a great testament to the tenacity of these otter- and ocean-loving people! Otter on!!

Conservation & Science

Surrogate-reared otter released into Elkhorn Slough by Monterey Bay Aquarium A new study reveals the Aquarium’s Sea Otter Program bolsters the local otter population. Here, a surrogate-reared otter leaps into Elkhorn Slough on California’s central coast.

Ask not (only) what you can do for sea otters, but what sea otters can do for California.

That’s one of the thoughts on the minds of Aquarium scientists in the wake of a new study, which confirms the power of sea otters to restore coastal ecosystems.

Since 2002, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has reared rescued sea otter pups for release to the wild. Female otters in our exhibit serve as their “surrogate mothers,” teaching them critical life skills like how to groom themselves and forage. The hope is that when the pups are released in Elkhorn Slough, a wetland 20 miles north of the Aquarium, they’ll be able to thrive on their own.

A newly published study confirms that these surrogate-reared pups are…

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Jellyfish?

Just read an article about the amazing number of Lion’s Mane Jellyfish appearing off the Maine coast. Apparently jellies are not that uncommon there most years, but this year most of the jelly reports are Lion’s Manes, and that’s definitely unusual. The best reading that I’ve found so far is “Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and The Art of Growing a Backbone” by Juli Berwald. Juli’s journey from landlubber to jellyfish researcher and advocate is a thoughtful and insightful tale that’s a pleasure to read. It’s also thought provoking in a way that’s becoming increasingly necessary in the age of “spin”. Juli takes you along in her search for answers about jellies, what we know about them, what we use them for, and what they do in their spare time. I was already a jelly fan, and this story has excited even more interest in the subject for me. Image courtesy of Skeeze via Pixabay When the book ended, I was left wanting more. More information, more anecdotes, more everything Jelly! I loved the way the author takes the reader along on her travels involving her fascination with jellyfish, and the way her I understanding evolves into a holistic view of the sea and the planet.  It’s long been my view that if we as a species continue to discount the value of our environment, our children will not thank us for the consequences that they’ll have to live with. What do you think? What are you doing about it? I and my husband have purposefully fostered a deep and abiding love and concern for the planet and all its inhabitants in our kids.  We encourage daily hikes, interaction with our farm animals and pets, and the whole practice of husbandry of our land and resources. It doesn’t seen like enough…

Photo Capture # 132 – Great Egret

Gorgeous birds! Anybody know if their feathers were used for those amazing crazy hats a century ago? You know, that one’s that looked like they had a whole bird, plus the entire flower garden?

H.J. Ruiz - Avian101

Great Egret


Why Not?…” I think I’ll get a turtleneck sweater for next winter…


Great Egret Great Egret –
“I think I’ll get a turtleneck sweater for next winter…”


© HJ Ruiz – Avian101

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Hedgehogs? Why?

So, you think you want a Hedgehog? They make a fabulous pet, and may be exactly what you want and need for a critter companion! First, though, let’s find out some fun facts about Hedgies and what makes them so interesting.
Image by Amaya Eguizábal from Pixabay
One of the first things to know about Hoglets is that they are naturally shy. Even if your baby Hedgie was raised by loving humans, he or she may take a while to warm up to the idea of cuddles. The key with your Hedgehog will always be patience! Treats of mealworms, boiled egg, apple bits or slices, banana and berries will go a long way to encourage your Hedgie to boldly face the world! Hedgehogs aren’t nearly as quiet as you may think! Especially as your Hoglet gets to know you and feels comfortable around you, they may make a wide variety of sounds. I’ve heard chirps, squeaks, grunts, whistles, purrs, clicks, pops, sneezes, wheezes and sniffles!
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay
Here’s another bit of Hedgie trivia: The International Hedgehog Association recognizes more than 90 different colors! What color Hedgoie do you have or want? Stuffed toys are great for your Hoglet’s mental health, especially the ones that are small enough for them to drag around. Some Hedgies like to take their stuffies on safari, and carry them all around their habitat. Others prefer their “pets” to stay in bed and keep them warm while they’re sleeping. Some Hedgehogs like to steal socks, strings or shoelaces (even if you’re wearing them)! If you let your pet have the run of the room, be very careful for both your sakes, and keep close track of where your Hog is. Try to figure out what mischief they’re planning next – this could be a fun game with an interested partner or group!
Image by congerdesign from Pixabay
Some Hedgies will use a litter pan like a cat! Some won’t though, no matter how hard you try to train them. Another interesting fact:  If you decide multiple Hedgies are the answer to your pet needs, you may only safely keep females together for any length of time! Males kept together, even brothers from the same litter, will eventually fight. Many people assume that Hedgehogs are related to porcupines, but this isn’t true. Porcupines are a rodent with quills (which are hollow). Hedgies are insectivores with spines (which are solid). Also, porkies can lose their quills without being harmed, while a Hedgies’ spines are tightly attached.
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay
Most domestic Hedgehogs are of mixed parentage! Multiple African Hedgehog breeds have been used as breeding stock, so your domestic Hedgie may be descended from several different species. This could be part of the reason that there are so many different colors to choose from. Another thing to keep in mind is that many Hedgehogs will change color as they get older, so if you’re set on a particular color, make sure you get to see their parents and older siblings, if possible! When you’re doing your Hedgie acquisition research, make sure that you find a reputable veterinarian who’s studied exotic species like Hedgies. Your regular dog and cat vet may not be equipped to handle a Hedgehogs’ particular medical needs if an emergency should arise. It’s ALWAYS best to have a vet lined up BEFORE you get any pet! I’d also recommend My Hedgehog Journal (bit.ly/Hedgehog13) as a way to research and decide if your kids are ready for a Hedgie as a pet.  Even the best critter-loving kid has a rough day now and then, so working through the Journal will give you both time to make sure that you’re ready for the responsibility!  It’s got Hedgehog facts, trivia and animal quotes to get your child actively thinking about the daily tasks associated with pet care.  There’s room in the back for veterinarian information and feeding schedules for vacation time, too. Good luck with your new spiky friend, and keep me posted! With Grace and Gratitude, LeslieAnne Hasty
Image by Ferenc Szabó from Pixabay

Bird’s ID – Long-tailed Mockingbird

H.J. Ruiz - Avian101


Long-tailed Mockingbird


The Long-tailed Mockingbird (Mimus longicaudatus) is a species of bird in the Mimidae family. It is found in dry scrubland and woodland in western Ecuador and Peru (north of Camaná).

The bird favors open habitats with scattered low bushes and shrubs, such as forest edge and young second growth, montane scrub.

It is frequently found in gardens and parks. It often feeds on the ground, running forwards on relatively long legs.

An attractive, thrush-like bird, the long-tailed mockingbird has a long, elegant tail which it carries at a pert angle whilst on the ground. Its plumage is made up of grey, cappuccino, and dun colored feathers. The outer tail feathers are broadly tipped white. Its face has been described as harlequin patterned. The juvenile is duller, with a dark iris, and is spotted or streaked on underparts.


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© HJ Ruiz – Avian101

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Fishing for genes via eDNA

Interesting work in the real world with DNA…

Conservation & Science

Just as steelhead trout migrate from saltwater to freshwater and back, Environmental Sample Processors (ESPs)—first developed by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) for studies in the ocean—have been getting a lot of use in freshwater over the last five years.

Kevan Yamahara and Doug Pargett install a pump system downstream of a fish trap in Scott Creek. The pump system feeds water to an Environmental Sample Processor to sample the DNA of fish in the stream. Photo © 2019 MBARI/Kim Fulton-Bennett

This spring, MBARI’s ESP team installed an instrument to collect samples of “environmental DNA” from a coastal creek just north of Monterey Bay. Researchers will use these samples to track populations of threatened steelhead trout, endangered coho salmon, and invasive species in the creek.

In the process, they could help revolutionize environmental monitoring and fisheries management nationwide.

The research is a joint project of MBARI and the

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What’s Up? – Look what I found…

Absolutely striking! Reminds me of our pied Zebra finches- how cool 😍

H.J. Ruiz - Avian101

Look what I found…


Two weeks ago I had the great opportunity to photograph a variety of bird species in my backyard, which most of them are or have been in my backyard previously. As I mentioned on last Monday’s post, I shot many photos… since we had excellent weather conditions favorable for photography.

After going through the photo process ( I shoot RAW mode) I happened to notice a photo of a bird I wasn’t familiar with. I knew it was a sparrow of some kind, I checked and researched and did not find it registered anywhere. However, the body from the neck down was identical to the Chipping Sparrow, and was hanging around with a group of them. I concluded that it was a Leucistic Chipping  Sparrow.

Leucism (/ˈluːsɪzəm, -kɪz-/) is a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal…

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It’s Dark Out There!!

So, we are in the process of buying an Amish house.  (For those of you not familiar with the Amish building style – we were.lucky to have running water in the house already).I

My hubby and son are the main remodeling crew.  Hubby works, son just got a part-time job, and of course I work also.  So it’s a slow moving process.  We were really excited last January when we got the electricity approved and hooked up!  We’d already been renting for a year at that point.

Anyway, now we have some lights in the main floor, the basement, and the top floor.  My room doesn’t yet have an outlet, so I have my fan plugged into an extension cord for  the next room.

I mentioned to my son today that it would be lovely if I could get a light wired in to my roo .  Clever boy, he reaches behind me and pulls the curtain back. “Voila!” he cries triumphantly!  Light!!!

I have him THAT look.

 “You know,” I said, ” That doesn’t work nearly as well at 2 a.m. “. Which is when I get up for work now.

And we fell on the bed laughing hysterically.

Who knew that living without could invite such sarcasm?

The deep impact of microplastic

Microfiber cloth is everywhere now. Here’s where it ends up….. Sad and scary

Conservation & Science

There’s a vast ecosystem stretching far below the ocean’s surface — one where the light dims, the pressure mounts, and life takes on forms that can seem downright alien. But even there, a place that seems a world apart from human society, our plastic trash is building up.

Scientists from the Aquarium and MBARI sampled microplastic pollution in the deep waters of Monterey Bay using the ROV Ventana. Photo courtesy MBARI

In the deep sea, it’s a challenge to study where that plastic accumulates and how it affects animals. So scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and our partners at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) launched an ambitious collaboration.

The resulting study, which examined microplastic in the waters of Monterey Bay, was published June 6 in the journal Scientific Reports.

“We designed this study to answer a fundamental gap in our knowledge of marine…

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12 Tips for You and Your New Puppy

You Can Welcome A Dog Into Your Home

Dogs are truly the greatest creatures on Earth. Whether or not you agree, you must love them as you have arrived at this article which gives you many tips and tricks regarding caring for a dog. Dog ownership may not be easy, but it IS very rewarding: Read on to find out more…

Photo by Juan Gomez via Unsplash
  1. Your dog has teeth just like you, so it makes sense that he needs proper dental care. Invest in a dog toothbrush and brush his teeth often. Simply allowing the vet to do it at his regular checkups is not enough. You can also purchase treats that are specifically meant to help with your pet’s teeth.
  2. Keep your dog’s teeth in tip top condition. Just like humans, a dog can suffer from toothache, gum disease and even tooth loss. Regular brushing will ensure that that his teeth and gums stay healthy and strong. Without regular brushing, it is estimated that dental disease will affect up to 80% of dogs by the age of three. As well as dental cleaning by a vet, make sure that you brush your dog’s teeth regularly.
Photo by Marcus Wallis via Unsplash

3. Your dog needs to be secured when in a car. Not only will it make the journey safer, as it will lead to fewer distractions for the person driving the car, but in the event of an accident, it could also save your dog’s life. Look for a seat belt harness, often sold at pet stores, that you can put in your car for your pet.

4. Take your dog to the vet regularly. This may seem like an added expense that you don’t need, but when you take your dog to the veterinarian, he can screen your dog for diseases and make sure he is in the best of health. This of course prevents problems down the road.

Photo by Nordwind via Pixabay

5. When you train your dog, your home and/or yard is the right place to do it. It’s never good to try and train your pet when there are quite a few people around. They will probably get distracted and it will be more difficult to teach them even the most basic commands. Also, it’s good to train at the same time every day, perhaps just after suppertime, or after playtime.

6. Before deciding on what type of dog to get for your family, consider space. Even though you may love the bigger dogs that you can really wrap your arms around, you may not have adequate space for a large breed. Take your home and yard size into consideration, as well as your chosen breeds’ temperament, before bringing home a new pooch.

7. If you do not have any ear cleaner solution on hand, you can use a baby wipe instead. Simply wrap it around the tip of your finger and wipe the inside of the ear’s surface. Only go as far as your finger can easily fit. Do not use Q-tips as they can injure the ear.

Photo by Tao Jones via Unsplash

8. Always allow your dog to have access to clean water at all times during the day. Just like with all living beings, water is one of the most important components. The only exception is that you want to keep water from a puppy for three hours before bedtime, to minimize the wake-up calls in the night. By the time she’s about 6 months old, you shouldn’t have to bother with this.

9. Try to provide your dog with plenty of opportunities to socialize. Take him on walks to the park or beach where he will be around people and other dogs. Encourage his interactions with others and praise him for good manners. He’ll be much more comfortable in any setting and generally happier too.

10. If you are a very enthusiastic owner of a pure-bred dog, join your local AKC. They are an active social group where you can share your love for your dog, learn a lot and make new friends too. The experience can also help prepare you and your dog for entering contests and winning shows!

Photo by Kaz via Pixabay

11. If you’ve got the most well-behaved and lovable dog around, share his good nature with those less fortunate. You could bring him to visit the elderly in nursing homes or sick children in hospitals. Not only will you be improving the quality of life for those people, but your dog will love being a super-star wherever he goes!

12. When it comes to feeding your dog, make sure that you are using a reputable brand that contains proper nutrition. This is important because there are dog foods that contain “filler” like wheat or corn in the food. You want to be sure that your dog is getting the correct amount of nutrients that he needs in order for him to be healthy, and some dogs may be allergic to these filler ingredients.

Phot by Herbert Aust via Pixabay

Now that you have these tips and tricks in mind, you are ready to make your dog’s life better. It is up to you to use each tip one by one, changing your dog’s lifestyle bit by bit. The more you do for your dog, the more he’ll love you in return!

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