Tag Archives: gloucester

BASKING SHARKS ON THE EDGE OF EXTINCTION

790px-Basking_SharkWhat makes Martin Del Vecchio’s drone footage particularly poignant is that Basking Sharks are reportedly on the edge of extinction. I wonder how often we’ll have witness to the world’s second largest fish feeding along the shores of Cape Ann. Truly an incredibly awesome capture.

The following is an interesting article written by David Suzuki about why these gentle giants have been driven to near extinction:

“The basking shark is huge—often bigger than a bus. As fish go, it’s second in size only to the whale shark. It has been roaming the world’s oceans for at least 30 million years. Mariners throughout history have mistaken it for a mythical sea serpent or the legendary cadborosaurus. Despite its massive size, it feeds mostly on tiny zooplankton.

These are some of the things we know about this gentle giant. But our understanding is limited; we don’t really know much more about them than we did in the early 1800s. One thing we do know is that they used to be plentiful in the waters off the coast of B.C., in Queen Charlotte Sound, Clayoquot Sound, Barkley Sound, and even the Strait of Georgia. Only half a century ago, people taking a ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island may have spotted half a dozen lazily swimming by. But now, reported sightings are down to less than one a year off the B.C. coast. All indications are that this magnificent animal is on the edge of extinction. It makes my blood boil!

Over the past two centuries, people have been killing them for sport, for food, for the oil from their half-tonne livers, and to get them out of the way of commercial fishing operations. Many were also killed accidentally by fishing gear.

In their 2006 book Basking Sharks: The Slaughter of B.C.’s Gentle Giants, marine biologist (and David Suzuki Foundation sustainable fisheries analyst) Scott Wallace and maritime historian Brian Gisborne note that the “pest control” methods used in the 1950s and ’60s were particularly gruesome. Basking sharks are so named because they appear to bask as they feed on plankton on the water’s surface. And even though they don’t eat salmon and other fish, they sometimes get tangled in gillnets, hindering commercial fishing operations. So fisheries patrol boats with large knives attached to their bows would slice the animals in half as they “basked” on the surface.”

Read the full article here: Exit Stage Right

See the NBC piece on Martin and watch his basking shark drone video here.

The first one sold out in four or five hours…

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The second one sold out on the first day. Marketing and trying to stay current, here’s to a local employee’s initiative.

Kayleigh Bishop, bar manager for Jalapenos had a hunch Paint Nite would be a good fit for Sundays.  She and a couple of friends enjoyed one in Boston. Why not here? She was right. “They have been a huge positive, selling out weeks ahead of time. They’re so much fun to work. And just to be there for it—just to witness!” For Jalapenos, at first it was mainly regulars. Gradually it began to bring different crowds of people, sometimes older, sometimes younger, some from other towns. It energizes the regular business.  Jalapenos jumped in with the new programming January 2015. “People come in early, grab a seat. We’ve tried the back room and the bar area. The instructors are funny and personable, hands on.”  The teacher, Quinn Ramini, Paint Nite artist, is a local; he grew up in Maine and now resides and works in Gloucester. He’s also a trained artist teaching this class a few times a week or month. “Gloucester has an incredibly vibrant history and colorful culture which makes Paint Nite a perfect match,” he says. “The vibe that the town exudes compliments the event…I love hosting events here!”

Jalapeno’s Bishop suggests arriving early to grab a seat and order some food before starting- “the paint area not enough room to eat where you paint.” Then sit down with drinks and music. “Everyone leaves with some fun.” Bishop likes Paint Nite’s community–someone from here– purpose.

Anything else? “Look for groupons!” Maybe they can arrange with UBER, too.

Paint Nite raised 13 million in another round of financing in February and celebrated its 3 year anniversary.

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The Uncommonly Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat Warbler ©Gloucester MA -2 ©Kim Smith 2015

Male Common Yellowthroat fluffing and drying feathers after his many baths.

Splashing, and then dashing to a nearby tree, splashing and dashing again, and then returning for yet a third bath, this little male Common Yellowthroat seemed to relish in the fresh water at our birdbath. His more subduedly colored mate stayed well hidden and close to the ground and I was thrilled to see them both. This sweet pair of warblers have been in our garden for several days now and perhaps they’ll build their nest here!

Common Yellowthroat Warbler ©Gloucester MA -1 ©Kim Smith 2015Common Yellowthroats were at one time common however, their numbers have been steadily decreasing since the 1960s. Throughout the yellowthroat’s range they are suffering from habitat degradation and loss. Because they live in wetlands and eat primarily insects they, like countless wild creatures, are adversely affected by pesticides and poor water quality.Common Yellowthroat Warbler ©Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2015

REMINDER: IMPORTANT PUBLIC ARTS CONVERSATION TONIGHT 7pm to 9pm

Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken invites interested residents of Gloucester to join with her and the Committee for the Arts to begin a Public Conversation on the Arts on Thursday, May 14th, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm in the Kyrouz Auditorium at City Hall. The purpose of this facilitated discussion is to solicit ideas on what a public arts policy should look like. The meeting is not about individual projects, works of art, or location but about what should guide the City as it makes decisions on this important subject. “I am committed to carefully and thoughtfully considering issues related to the selection and siting of public art in the City of Gloucester and the upcoming Public Conversation on the Arts will be an invaluable tool,” said Mayor Romeo Theken.manat the wheel

Fisherman Memorial Painting by Paul Frontiero

Deborah Cramer’s New York Times Op Ed: “Silent Seashores”

GLOUCESTER, Mass. — As the spring days lengthen, shorebirds have begun their hemispheric migrations from South America to nesting grounds in Canada’s northern spruce and pine forests and the icy Arctic.

They are among Earth’s longest long-distance fliers, traveling thousands of miles back and forth every year. I have watched them at various stops along their routes: calico-patterned ruddy turnstones flipping tiny rocks and seaweed to find periwinkles or mussels; a solitary whimbrel standing in the marsh grass, its long, curved beak poised to snatch a crab; a golden plover pausing on a mud flat, its plumage glowing in the afternoon sun.

I used to think that sandpipers flocking at the sea edge, scurrying before the waves, were an immutable part of the beach. No longer. This year, as the birds come north, one of them, the red knot — Calidris canutus rufa — will have acquired a new status. It is now listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. It joins four other shorebirds on the government’s list of threatened and endangered species.

Sadly, it is unlikely to be the last.

Read Deborah Cramer’s complete New York Times opinion editorial here: Silent Seahores

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Deborah is the author of The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab, and an Epic Journey, Yale University Press, 2015. Visit Deborah Cramer’s website here to order a copy.

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 Advance Praise

“The Narrow Edge is at once an intimate portrait of the small red knot and a much larger exploration of our wondrous, imperiled world.”
Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction

“In the face of global warming, is our big brain connected to a big enough heart that we might preserve the beauty of the earth we were given? Heart is no problem for the red knot”
Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth

“I have a compass, GPS, and radio,” [Cramer] writes. “The birds have—what? By the end of this journey I am more in awe than when I began.” Follow her graceful writing for the full 9,500 miles and you will share in that awe.”
Laurence Marschall, Natural History

“A superbly written and gripping account…more thrilling than the Kentucky Derby.”
Thomas E. Lovejoy, National Geographic Conservation Fellow

“A book so multidimensional, yet somehow so admirably succinct, I wish I’d written it…”
Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel

“Perhaps the red knot should replace the canary in the mine as the harbinger of impending changes that are good neither for birds or people . . . essential reading for anyone interested in conservation.”
Joel Greenberg, author of A Feathered River Across the Sky

“An eloquent exploration of our relationship to nature.”
Nancy Knowlton, author of Citizens of the Sea

“A remarkable tale of science, nature, and humanity.”
Susan Solomon, author of The Coldest March

“Cramer brilliantly presents us with an ecosystem of many parts.”
Don Kennedy, Pr

 

Thanks to Lise Breen for mentioning Deborah’s op ed piece and new book!

How to Tell the Difference Between Geese and Ducks

During a recent podcast we were talking about the wonderful influx of Brant Geese that have been seen all around the coves of Cape Ann. Joey asked a great question, “how to tell the difference between ducks and geese?” Ducks, geese, and swans all belong to the Anatidae family and I could only answer that size is the predominate difference between duck and goose. If you are out on the water or onshore and trying to id whether duck or goose I think the surest way to tell is that geese are larger, with longer necks and bodies. I was curious to learn more and google led to interesting differences, some obvious and correlate to what we observe in our region, and some not so obvious.

Geese are generally white, gray, or monochromatic and both males and females are the same color. Ducks are multicolored and there are obvious pattern differences between the males and females.

Geese migrate further distances. We have seen that this past year with our Snow Goose visitor, a bird that breeds in colonies on the Canadian tundra, as do the Brants.

Another quick way to determine whether goose or duck is by what they are eating; geese generally eat grasses and grains; ducks eat fish and insects. The Snow Goose that visited Good Harbor Beach this past winter foraged for sea grass alongside the Canadian Geese.

Snow Goose Juvenile Canadian Geese Gloucester Massachusetts Essex County  ©Kim Smith 2015Snow Goose and Canadian Geese Foraging for Sea Grass

Photographer and fisherman Brian O’Connor reported that a fisherman mentioned to him that Brants are observed in an area when there is a heavy crop of sea “vegetables” and that is precisely what is occurring in our region–the “green” waves. Sea lettuce is a staple of the Brant’s diet and it is sometimes referred to as “Brant lettuce!”

Brants Cape Ann Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015Brants in Sea Vegetable Heaven

Please let us know if you see any Brants, where and at what time. Thank you to Zefra for writing last week about Brants at Lighthouse Beach. And thank you to Bill Hubbard who wrote to say that during the 40s and 50s hundreds were often seen, less so beginning in the late 50s.

Snow Goose Juvenile Gloucester Massachusetts -4 ©Kim Smith 2015

Juvenile Snow Goose Good Harbor Beach Gloucester
Cosmos ©Kim Smith 2014  --8

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