There really is such a thing as a coral nursery! In fact, there are many. In the early 2000s, a man named Ken Nedimeyer discovered that he could purposefully grow and transplant coral back onto damaged reefs. In time he founded the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF). He experimented with different ways to grow the coral, ultimately settling on a tree structure anchored to the ocean floor. Each “tree” has a main trunk and many perpendicular branches; up to 100 coral fragments are hung from those branches. Many trees together make up a coral nursery! Once the coral has grown it is “outplanted” on a reef.
In 2009, CRF made history when their nursery-raised coral spawned naturally after being reestablished on the reef. It was the first documented case of this in the world. To date, CRF has seven offshore nurseries and is cultivating 11 different species of coral. They have planted more than 70,000 corals off the coast of Florida.
Admittedly, I am not a fan of winter. In fact, I am quite ready for winter to be over – for the birds to return, for the flowers to bloom, for the air to warm. That said, winter is not devoid of wonder. I’ve made a conscious effort this winter to get outside more, aside from my regular runs. I’d say I’ve been moderately successful.
This quest has set off a series of questions that could one day become a picture book. Why don’t geese’s feet freeze? Where do worms go in the winter? What do fish do when a lake freezes over? How does a marmot know it’s time to hibernate? How do rabbits find food? What do birds do during a blizzard?
I’ve also tried to focus on the parts of winter that are beautiful. On a recent snowshoe hike, on a cloudless Colorado day, I indeed found what I was looking for.
The invention of plastic certainly revolutionized the world. And slowly but surely people have found more uses for it. It’s crept into just about every aspect of life. Look around you. You’d be hard pressed to NOT find something made, either wholly or partially, from plastic within arms’ reach. Yet much of the plastic made is single-use. Much of is not properly disposed of. And 8 MILLION METRIC TONS of it ends up in the ocean every year. The thing about plastic is that it NEVER biodegrades. It simply breaks down into smaller and smaller bits. What that means is that EVERY bit of plastic ever made on the planet is still around in some form or another.
Enough is enough.
There are efforts taking place to stop plastic use. Many places are banning plastic bags. Some cities and countries are banning plastic straws. Individuals and groups are on the beaches doing clean-ups. One young Dutchman is exploring technology to actually clean up the masses of ocean debris swirling in the water. Others are developing biodegradable plastic. And I am writing.
The problem seems overwhelming, to say the least. But I think slowly, slowly we can change the way people think. I am starting with kids. I want to make kids aware of what is going on and start the hard discussions. Right now I’m fiddling with a story about too many hats – hats being the metaphor for plastic. The goal is to make it funny and a bit ridiculous. Because, well, isn’t the real mess we’ve created a bit ridiculous?
So here’s something to blow your mind – sand is a microbiome. Billions of organisms live in the sand. In fact, a 2017 study revealed that on one grain of sand there may be between 10,000 and 100,000 microorganisms!!! The organisms you find (if you have a very good microscope, of course) varies depending on the beach. Not only that, but the organisms in one part of the beach will be different from organisms from another part of the beach.
Who lives here?
The sand is very much an extreme environment. To start, there’s not much space. But these organisms are small enough to move around between the grains of sand! They are also hardy enough to withstand the constant pounding of waves. And, sometimes there’s water in the tiny ecosystem, and other ties the tide goes out and there’s none. So now, every time you go to the beach, consider the universe underfoot!