Friday, May 31, 2013

World Oceans Day: June 8

The Earth's dry land covers just 30% of the planet. Conversely, the ocean covers 71% and is home to 99% of the world's inhabitants. One mouthful of ocean water can contain millions of bacterial cells, hundreds of thousands of phytoplankton and tends of thousands of zooplankton. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on Earth and the blue whale is bigger than any dinosaur that ever walked on land.

Why you should help protect the ocean:
-generates most of the oxygen we breathe
-provides fish and other seafood to feed us
-regulates climate by absorbing carbon dioxide
-naturally recycles and cleans water; 86% of the water we drink comes from the ocean
-offers potential medicine

In honor of World Oceans Day next Saturday, June 8, we encourage you to get involved, and get educated about our ocean!

What you can do to help protect the ocean:
Use reusable grocery bags and always choose paper over plastic. The United Nations Environmental Programme estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. Plastic debris causes deaths to over a million seabird and 100,000 marine mammals every year.

Global climate change has an impact on the oceans. Curve energy consumption by turning off lights when your not in the room, unplugging electronics when not in use, riding your bike or walking when you can (fun fact: 40% of car rides are less than 2 miles!), take the stairs, switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, and open windows or bundle up instead of oversetting the thermostat.

Respect the Beach and clean up after yourself when you go. Don't interfere with wildlife, or remove rocks and coral. And participate in beach clean ups in your area! They're fun, only a few hours, and you can't beat the view!
**Click here to view events in your area. Events happen all year round!

Make safe, sustainable seafood choices. Some fish species are being overexploited due to demand, habitat loss and fishing practices. Know which fish are good to order and shop for. Eat lower on the food chain
**For help on what seafood is best to eat, and which to avoid go to this Seafood Decision Guide here.

And most importantly, educate yourself about the ocean and it's marine wildlife. The more you know, the more you will want to help protect it because after all, which ocean do you prefer?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Curbing Light Pollution

Most of us live in urban areas, comprised of streets, homes, offices, parking lots and other buildings. We use artificial light to brighten our homes and path ways in the dark. Rarely do we see stars. Maybe only a handful of them, and they seem to be few and far between. We plan vacations around being in the openness of the desert, mountains and valleys to soak up the beauty of the world's natural nighttime light.

As civilizations arise into industrial societies, artificial light is necessary to live, work and play. However most of the lights are being used improperly, compromising both the night sky as well as other inhabitants of the wild. Birds rely on night for proper mating and hunting, and turtles are distracted by artificial light and don't hatch eggs properly. While the necessity and use of lights are not in question, their design most certainly is.

All cities have ordinances preventing the incorrect use and design of lights. However, we've still tried to find a house for the first time and the porch lights are illuminating the garage or a tree instead of the address. We've all had to squint from the glare produced by lights to see if someone was on the other side of the door, car, or tree because drastic shadows were preventing us from seeing someone instead of allowing us to see that person.

There is a solution to light pollution, angle lights down towards the path you wish to illuminate, and create shields from preventing the light shining on the sky.

The International Dark Sky Association is the only non-profit created to preserve and protect the nighttime skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. It has created a program for communities, parks and reserves to aspire to be included in, for all who achieve this association are exceptional in their efforts of limiting light pollution.

For practical products and tips:

Guideline for Residencial Lighting.

Search approved fixtures.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Amazing Animal Profile: Octopus

Many of you may know Octopus as calamari, yet it's talents far exceed a seafood dish. The octopus has several defense mechanisms including, expulsion of ink, deimatic behavior (any pattern of threatening of startling behavior such as suddenly displaying eyespots), ability to jet quickly through the water, ability to hide and camouflage. Check out the octopus blending into the algae! I would never have guessed it was there!

Octopus weigh on average 110 pounds (50kg) and measure 16 feet (5 meters) from the tip of one arm to the tip of the opposite arm. One was recorded at an astonishing 600 pounds (272kg) and measured 30 feet (9.1 meters).  If an octopus looses an arm, it is capable of growing it back.

There are 300 species of octopus. The octopus lives in all of the world's oceans, but most commonly found in tropical and temperate waters. The common octopus is considered to be the most intelligent of all invertebrates. Giant Pacific Octopus are also very intelligent, they can mimick other creatures, open jars and solve mazes in labs.

Octopi can live as little as 6 months, but the average life span is 3-5 years. Reproduction is the main cause of death. Males live only a few months after mating and females die shortly after their eggs hatch. Female octopus fail to eat in the month following the hatch of their eggs, eventually dying of starvation.

For an incredible, short video on octopus camouflage and more miraculous under the sea visuals, watch this TED talk here.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Grassland Art and Preservation

Grasslands by Patrick Korch
"Grasslands" by Patrick Korch represents the Grasslands Preserves located near Ramona California in the Santa Maria Valley just behind San Diego, Ca. This area is nearly 7,500 acres of  land protected for animals that human developers are encroaching on with developments. 

Images of this sculpture as a "Marquette", a smaller version of a monumental sculpture that would allow children to play in and around. 

The artist's hopes? That children would get familiar with the animals of the "Grasslands" and their plight in the hopes that in the children's  future they would recognize the need to "preserve" lands, thwart and ward off developers of all of our precious lands. Some of it must be kept sacred for the future.  

The sculpture includes mountain lions lions, eagles, owls, squirrels, frogs, mice, rabbits, chameleons, lizards, butterflies, dragonflies, ducks, raccoons, and more.  It is a story of their interaction with each other. The full, monumental version will  include many stairs and slides (internally and externally)  that would allow the children to climb, slide, and interact with the sculpture and become familiar with the animals. 

Can you find all 22 animals?

Patrick Korch the Art Director of Little Critterz.  A nationally recognized and award winning Painter and Sculptor.  This recently completed bronze sculpture,  measures 42" x 24" x 22" and is finished with subtle coloration patinas.  It is a very complex sculpture with over 22 animals represented.  

Only 6 limited edition sculptures are to be released.  Should you be interested in one of the limited editions please contact Mr. Korch directly through Little Critterz.  Again, there are only 6 available.  You can see his other award winning works at  

Thank  you for your support and belief in wildlife preservation.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Smithsonian Bear News!

Congratulations to the Smithsonian Zoological Park for the upcoming debut of the Andeans bear cubs born in December! We're very excited to watch them play and grow, and for you to be able to share this joy with the community!

For the first month, mom Billie Jean, and cubs were being monitored solely by camera in order to most closely resemble events in the wild. No keepers entered the private den, nor did Billie Jean bring the cubs to the main den. Slowly Billie Jean began bringing the cubs out to the main den one at a time, but only for a few moments and would then return to the private den. It wasn't until late their second month that the cubs were separated from their mother, with her approval of course, to do their first veterinary exam. The mortality rate of Andean bear cubs in the first year is 40%, it's no wonder she is cautious.

Like all bears, Andean bears can resorb the fetus at any stage during pregnancy, resulting in one or no bear cubs. Newborn cubs weigh between 10-18 ounces at birth and are practically toothless, bald and blind.

Andean bears are listed as vulnerable, estimated about 2,000 Andean bears exist in the wild. They are the only bear native to South America, and as their name suggests they live in the Andes Mountains.