Science Today: Whale Strandings

Whales are washing up dead along the northern California coast at an unprecedented rate (about twice the average for this year). What might be the cause?

My colleagues at the California Academy of Sciences have investigated the cause of each whale death and in this Science Today video, you can learn about the suspected causes of these and other animal deaths along the Northern California coastline.

Also, the Science Today mobile app makes it easier than ever to stay up-to-date on the latest science news. Science Today produces original content on a wide range of topics, from Earth, life, and sustainability to space and technology—and now you can enjoy these articles and videos anytime, anywhere.


Everybody Dance!

As the largest of the college powwows, and one of the top 10 in the nationStanford University sees 10,000 visitors a day and 250 dancers for the annual Mother’s Day weekend event. This is the university’s 44th year hosting the event and it is entirely run by students who are part of the Stanford American Indian Organization, which was created in 1972 to abolish the “Stanford Indian” mascot.

The Powwow will be held in the Eucalyptus Grove at Galvez and Campus Drives.  All events are open to the public and overnight camping spaces are available. Donations for parking are welcome.

The Stanford Powwow begins on Friday, May 8 at 7:00 PM with the first Grand Entry of dancers and continues until 10:00 PM.  On Saturday, May 9, the 19th Annual Stanford Powwow Run, a 5K race and 1 mile youth run, will begin at 8:00 AM.  Registration for the run ends at 7:40 AM. Dancing will continue from noon until 10:00 PM.  On Sunday, May 10, dancing will continue from noon until 6:00 PM.  Also open throughout the three-day event are more than 100 arts and crafts, souvenir, information, and food booths.

As a proud alumnus of Stanford's Native American Cultural Center, I look forward to this annual event and hope to see you there!


Preservation and Public Service

      Map of expanded Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries Credit: NOAA

Today was a great win for preservation and public service!

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is expanding the boundaries of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (CBNMS) and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) to an area north and west of their current boundaries. NOAA is also revising the corresponding sanctuary terms of designation and management plans.

The expansion increases the Gulf of the Farallones from approximately 1,282 square miles to approximately 3,295 square miles, and Cordell Bank from approximately 529 square miles to approximately 1,286 square miles. The expansion will help to protect the region's marine and coastal habitats, biological resources and special ecological features.

According to the White House Blog, "NOAA’s action today reflects President Obama’s strong commitment to protecting our oceans and coasts. The ocean provides food, jobs, and opportunities for tourism and recreation for Americans all over the country. But the ocean is in trouble, facing serious threats from carbon pollution to overfishing. That’s why the President has taken action throughout his Administration to promote marine conservation and give Americans a voice in protecting areas of the sea that matter most to them."

In addition, today the U.S. Department of the Interior is launching a new volunteer network — thanks to a $5 million grant from American Express — that will triple the number of volunteers at national parks and bring the Department one step closer to 1 million volunteers a year on America's public lands.

According to the 50 Cities Initiative announcement, Secretary Jewell first outlined the goals of the youth initiative in a speech at the National Press Club in October 2013 where she emphasized the need to bridge the growing disconnect between young people and the great outdoors.

The program will roll out in 25 cities in 2015—starting today with New York City and continuing with the announcement of ten more cities in the following days (New York City, Miami, Atlanta, Boston, Washington, DC, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, St. Louis, and St. Paul). The remaining cities will be announced later this year and in 2016. For more information on the youth initiative, visit


A Monumental Trifecta

Above: At Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy in Chicago, the President speaks at the designation of three new national monuments on February 19, 2015.

In a monumental trifecta, President Obama protected three environmentally, economically, and historically significant places as national monuments: Browns Canyon in Colorado, Honouliuli in Hawaii, and the historic Pullman district in Chicago, Illinois. 

An important victory for the conservation community, the Presidential Proclamation of Browns Canyon, Colorado's 8th national monument, proclaimes that it has been protected for its "wealth of scientifically significant geological, ecological, riparian, cultural, and historic resources, and is an important area for studies of paleoecology, mineralogy, archaeology, and climate change." 

The proclamation also notes: "The protection of the Browns Canyon area will preserve its prehistoric and historic legacy and maintain its diverse array of scientific resources, ensuring that the prehistoric, historic, and scientific values remain for the benefit of all Americans. The area also provides world class river rafting and outdoor recreation opportunities, including hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, and horseback riding."

According to a blog post by The Wilderness Society, "Browns Canyon is an outdoor recreation mecca and one of Colorado’s most treasured landscapes. The area is well known for its whitewater rafting, fishing and hiking. This spectacular outdoor playground generates more than $55 million per year in economic activity for the local economy... It's no wonder why 77 percent of Coloradans support protecting Browns Canyon as a national monument.

The President also designated Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii and Pullman National Monument in Chicago. According to a statement by The Wilderness Society:

"The Honouliuli camp on the island of O'ahu was the last, largest and longest operating internment camp during World War II. By acknowledging past injustices, this site honors the experiences of those interned and allows us to enlighten future generations.

The historic Pullman district in Chicago honors a unique, shared legacy that is integrally connected to the push for fair labor conditions and civil rights. The community represents the first model industrial town in America."


Postcards from Cascadia


Protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Published on Jan 25, 2015

President Obama announces that The Department of Interior released a revised Comprehensive Conservation plan to better sustain and manage Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This far northern part of Alaska is known to Alaska Native communities as "The Sacred Place Where Life Begins."

In the video below from The Wilderness Society, Princess Lucaj, Former Executive Director of Gwich'in Steering Committee, Arctic Village calls for Congress to continue protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.


Happy Winter Solstice

I took this photo at the Indigenous Peoples' Annual Thanksgiving Sunrise Gathering on Alcatraz Island on November 27, 2014. The picture was taken from the Agave Trail on the island's southeastern side. 


Protect the Sacred

I'm proud to serve on the board of directors of Honor The Treaties (@honorthetreaties), an organization dedicated to amplifying the voices of Indigenous communities through art and advocacy. The organization was founded by Aaron Huey (@aaronhuey), a National Geographic photographer and a Contributing Editor for Harper's Magazine, to fund and promote collaborations between Native artists and Native advocacy groups so that their messages can reach a wider audience.

In collaboration with artist Shepard Fairey, an American contemporary graphic designer and illustrator of Obey Giant (@obeygiant), Aaron and Shepard are releasing a limited edition series of Protect The Sacred prints to raise funds to support a visual campaign with the same message by dozens of artists across the country. Watch for this message in many forms on billboards, bus stops, and street signs near you soon! Follow @protectthesacred for updates. #ProtectTheSacred #HonorTheTreaties 

I hope you'll consider purchasing one of these prints—now available! Again, all of the funds raised will support a visual campaign with the same message.


Rebel Music: Native America

Watch the trailer for Rebel Music's premiere episode on Native America, featuring Frank Waln, Inez Jasper, Mike Cliff a.k.a. "Witko" and Nataanii Means! Follow the lives of four Indigenous musicians and activists as they incite change in their communities through their art. The full episode will premiere exclusively on the MTV Facebook page on Thursday, 11/13/2014 at 4pm EST. Watch at

Rebel Education also provides a lesson plan  that focuses on a deeper understanding of some of the key historical events that have shaped the story of indigenous peoples in North America, and offers a fresh perspective through the eyes of a new generation of Native Rebels who are determined to inspire their communities. This curriculum meets Common Core State Standards and is recommended for grades 9-12.


Racing with Copepods

Racing With Copepods - Trailer from Bazooka Mama Productions on Vimeo.

One of my fellow Rocky Shore Naturalists, Barbara McVeigh, has produced a video about 12 middle school youths in a one-week race sailing course where they learn about the fastest animal on earth: copepods. In Racing with Copepods, they connect with the natural marine world and become advocates for its well-being.

You can follow the production on Twitter or Instagram @bazookamama for updates and screening locations.

trailer editor CARLOS GRANA

Major funding provided by 11th Hour Racing, a program of the Schmidt Family Foundation. Special thanks to Sailing Education Adventures, Romberg Tiburon Center and S/V Derek M. Baylis. Copepod photograph by Dr Richard Kirby,

Here's my review of the film: 

Racing with Copepods is a natural and nautical adventure of self-discovery and scientific exploration that illuminates the fundamental link between people and planet. The students and scholars featured in the film portray an inter-generational, inter-connected perspective on environmental education that uses concepts such as sense-of-self and sense-of-place to evoke key lessons in responsibility and sustainability. The film powerfully and urgently reminds us that that we’re all on a race and need to tack before it’s too late.”

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