Category Archives: Celebrate

One Plastic Beach

Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang have been collecting plastic debris off one beach in Northern California for over ten years.

Each piece of plastic Richard and Judith pick up comes back to their house, where it gets cleaned, categorized and stored before being used for their art.

The couple make sculptures, prints, jewelry and installations with the plastic they find washed up, raising a deeper concern with the problem of plastic pollution in our seas and shores.

Original Vimeo

Beach Plastic Website, Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang

Me and You Three, Two Years, Four Artists, Eight Beaches, Part I, in Coastal Care

Me and You Three, Two Years, Four Artists, Eight Beaches, Part II, in Coastal Care

Living on the shores of Hawaii: natural hazards, the environment, and our communities


A book by Chip Fletcher, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST); Robynne Boyd; William J. Neal, Professor Emeritus of Geology, Grand Valley State University; Virginia Tice.

Publisher: University of Hawaii Press (UH Press).

Living on the shores of Hawaii: natural hazards, the environment, and our communities addresses a wide range of environmental concerns within the context of sustainability and their influence on the future of Hawaii. It traces land-use practices before and after the arrival of Westerners and the increased tempo of destruction following the latter.

It also discusses volcanoes and the risk of placing homes in locations vulnerable to natural hazards and the potential dangers of earthquakes and tsunamis to a complacent public.

Water issues, including scarcity, flooding, and pollution, are surveyed, as well as climate change and the possible outcomes of projected sea rise for Hawaii.

It then explains coastal erosion and beach loss and the problems of overfishing and ocean acidification. Later chapters assess residents’ risks to hurricanes, offering mitigation techniques, and provide a summary and some management conclusions.

The Dance of the Strandbeests

Excerpts from the BBC and Leslie Taylor, Talking Science

Brilliant kinetic sculptor and artist Theo Jansen builds ‘strandbeests’ from yellow plastic tubing that is readily available in his native Holland.

The graceful creatures evolve over time as Theo adapts their designs to harness the wind more efficiently. They are powered only by the wind and even store some of the wind’s energy in plastic bottle ‘stomachs’ to be used when there is no wind.

He lets the strandbeests go on the beaches where they move independently with the wind.

On his Web site, Theo Jansen explains some of the mechanisms his “animals” have “adapted” over time, including a wind storage system:

“Self-propelling beach animals like Animaris Percipiere have a stomach. This consists of recycled plastic bottles containing air that can be pumped up to a high pressure by the wind. This is done using a variety of bicycle pump, needless to say of plastic tubing. Several of these little pumps are driven by wings up at the front of the animal that flap in the breeze. It takes a few hours, but then the bottles are full. They contain a supply of potential wind. Take off the cap and the wind will emerge from the bottle at high speed. The trick is to get that untamed wind under control and use it to move the strandbeest.”

Strandbeest Theo Jansen
Strandbeest Theo Jansen

Talking Science Article

Youtube BBC

Artist and scientist make a natural pair: united, they are an educational force

Core Banks (NC), 48” x 35.” Batik on silk by Mary Edna Fraser

By Celie Dailey

In the minds of artist Mary Edna Fraser and geologist Orrin H. Pilkey, their two disciplines do not seem so far apart. Their first meeting in 1993 occurred when Mary Edna accompanied Orrin on an excursion to Cape Lookout National Seashore to do some “ground truthing” with his students. They soon realized that their passions for barrier islands were equal, although seated in different bodies of knowledge. Over the roar of the Duke University research vessel, they shook hands.

World-renowned coastal geologist Orrin H. Pilkey says of his pairing with the artist: “Mary Edna Fraser and I are partners in appreciation and concern for barrier islands. I come into the partnership with experience in study of the oceanographic and geologic actions of these islands and fascination with the hugely dynamic nature of these moveable strips of sand. Fraser comes into the partnership because she is intrigued by their forms, contrasts, historical significance, and beauty. We hope that together we can play a role in preserving barrier islands for future generations.”

Mary Edna Fraser is an internationally recognized master of the textile art of batik who has flown the eastern seaboard of America and many foreign coastlines in her search for pristine environments that form the basis of her art. (For an explanation of batik art, see Mary Edna’s website).

Together, Fraser and Pilkey bring an understanding of coastal geology and global change to the public in a way that is scientifically astute and visually intriguing.

North Carolina native Mary Edna Fraser’s first task for Pilkey was to photograph Core Banks as the basis for her batik on silk, seen here. Her father, Claude Burkhead, Jr., piloted the family’s 1946 Ercoupe to the Outer Banks on a mission to supply Pilkey with aerial images in February of 1995. Thus began a continuous collaboration, publishing of A Celebration of the World’s Barrier Islands in their critically acclaimed 2003 text from Columbia University Press.

Numerous exhibitions and lectures combining Pilkey’s text and Fraser’s art have followed since their meeting, beginning with “Aerial Inspirations” at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in 1994. Their current efforts are directed toward Global Change: A Primer, an upcoming publication by Duke University Press, co-authored by Orrin’s son Keith Pilkey.

Orrin H. Pilkey gives insight into Core Banks in their book, A Celebration of the World’s Barrier Islands: “Core Banks, shown here, is part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore and is a rare natural laboratory to study barrier island migration.

During Hurricane Dennis, the island migrated a foot or so toward the mainland….Most of the overwash sand penetrated only a few tens of yards, but the occasional large wave combined with a high tide and high storm surge level to push sand completely across the island and into the south behind. The net result was an island with a slightly higher average elevation than before the storm….What happened on Core Banks was a tiny step in the island’s long-term response to sea level rise. Because the ocean-facing beach retreated a bit and the mainland-facing lagoon side of the island built out a bit into the lagoon, the entire island moved landward ever so slightly.”The island that is eroding on both sides did not disappear, but instead was reinforced and strengthened.

Increased storminess, and even a subtle change in sea level rise, will certainly continue to cause economic hardship on developed barrier islands around the world. These islands continue to exist because they are able to respond dynamically to change. They have persisted through great dips and swells in sea level. In conversation on the beach, Orrin has reminded Mary Edna that erosion only becomes a problem on these islands when man’s structures become threatened. And, as we face an unstable future, it is wise to avoid building here, where the first effects of global change are already being seen.

Mary Edna takes liberties with color and design to convey the enthusiasm with which she and Orrin view the natural world. Inspired by images of Japan’s Edo Period (1615-1868), Fraser depicts the “floating world” in which she flies. Fraser hopes that their current text will reach a broad audience and, in her own words, that “…the art in this book enhances the scientific research of the authors. We live in a time where, like Newton, fact is questioned and scoffed. Perhaps the images will help open windows into minds presently shuttered. Education enlightens and our future depends on honest conversations based in empirical reality.”

Fraser and Pilkey’s upcoming exhibition, Our Expanding Oceans: The Blending of Art and Science, at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (June 2011 – May 2012) presents the largest collection of Fraser’s batik art ever on display. It will show a spectrum of history between Mary Edna Fraser and Orrin H. Pilkey with a focus on melting ice and rising seas.

Expect to see continued coverage of Fraser and Pilkey’s endeavors published by on a monthly basis.

The Beaches of Core Banks

By Orrin H. Pilkey, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Earth Sciences, Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment

Horses Outer Banks Beaches
Wild horses often emerge from the interior dunes of Shackleford Banks to wander along the ocean shore.

The beaches of Core Banks Core Banks’ beaches are a vanishing breed. They are almost purely natural with no contamination or dilution by artificial (nourishment) sand. The beaches on islands to the north (Ocracoke) and to the south (Shackleford Banks) are also unnourished although a lot of beach bulldozing has gone on at the north end of Ocracoke to protect the Highway 12. All these island beaches are pristine because they are part of the US National Seashore System.

The sand on Core Banks is primarily quartz with a small amount of plagioclase feldspar (5% plus or minus) and some heavy minerals that form the black sand patches on this beach. Occasionally there are small patches of purple sand which form when the winds are just right to whisk away the other heavy minerals leaving a concentration of purple garnet behind. There is a fair amount of ground up shell material in the beach sand (less then 10% as a rule) that gives the beach a light yellow brown coloration because the shell is stained brown from iron oxide.

The main sources of sand for Core Banks’ beaches are:
– The adjacent continental shelf, pushed up by waves.
– Longshore transport mainly from the north.

Rivers are not contributing sand at present because the sand they are transporting drops out at the heads of local estuaries, miles inland from the beaches. Sand is lost from the beaches of Core Banks as follows:
– Storm overwash when sand is deposited on the island by storm waves.
– Offshore movement of sand during large storms.
– Alongshore transport of sand in a north to south direction.

Sand is transported dominantly from north to south on the beach, eventually ending up at the tip of Cape Lookout where the sand travels seaward, out on to the Cape Lookout Shoals. Most of Core Banks’ sand does not turn the corner at the cape and continue downcoast.

Mary Edna Fraser

Flying Artist Preserves Beauty of Shifting Barrier Islands, National Gegraphic

Delete Apathy

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

50 Houses On Kiawah Sand, in Coastal Care

Black Earth, White Clay, Granite Boulder, Martha’s Vineyard; By Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy

Black Earth / White Clay / Granite Boulder / Martha’s Vineyard / 2 August 2005

By © Andy Goldsworthy

C prints
20 x 20 inches (50.8 x 50.8 cm); 10 x 10 inches (25.4 x 25.4 cm)
© Andy Goldsworthy

Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York

Accompanying the unique photographic work is a ‘text panel’. The ‘text panel’ is often smaller in scale and includes an image of the work taken from further away, setting the work within the context of the larger landscape, and includes a hand written inscription by the artist.

Iceberg and Bloom, Images from NASA Earth Observatory

Icebergs along Princess Ragnhild Coast, Antarctica: NASA Earth Observatory

By Michon Scott, based on image interpretation by Ted Scambos, National Snow and Ice Data Center

NASA Earth Observatory image created by Jesse Allen

Each December, while darkness engulfs the Arctic, Antarctica enjoys round-the-clock sunlight. The light arrives at a low angle, however, as the Sun makes a daily circuit around the horizon, and icebergs cast long shadows over the surrounding sea ice.

Acquired on December 13, 2010, this image from the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite shows icebergs along the Princess Ragnhild Coast in East Antarctica. Besides distinguishing between icebergs and thinner ice, the low-angled Sun highlights the differences between the icebergs themselves.

Near the top center of the image, two large icebergs sport smooth surfaces. The iceberg next to them, and others along the left and right edges of the image, have mottled surfaces resembling druzy. The differences in texture indicate different histories. The icebergs with rough surfaces likely broke off from the coast, far from this area, and spent time bobbing over the open ocean. Wave action applied pressure to the bottoms and sides, and the pressure propagated up through the ice to the surface. Weak spots fractured, and bits of snow and ice fell into the cracks, widening them further. The icebergs you see above likely bear scars from such jostling. By contrast, smooth icebergs likely originated in this area and have not yet traveled far.

Surrounding the icebergs are two kinds of ice: sea ice and fast ice. Along the left edge of the image, the sea ice is thinner, with gaps that reveal the dark ocean below. Clinging to the shore, fast ice is thicker, although not nearly as thick as the icebergs.

Stirring Up a Bloom off Patagonia: NASA Earth Observatory

By Michael Carlowicz, NASA Earth Observatory

Patagonia NASA
NASA Image created by Norman Kuring, Ocean Color Web

The most interesting art often arises from the convergence of different ideas and influences. And so it is with nature sometimes.

Off the coast of Argentina, two strong ocean currents recently stirred up a colorful brew of floating nutrients and microscopic plant life just in time for the summer solstice.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image of a massive phytoplankton bloom off of the Atlantic coast of Patagonia on December 21, 2010. Scientists used seven separate different spectral bands to highlight the differences in the plankton communities across this swath of ocean.

The milky green and blue bloom developed in an area known as the Brazil-Falklands Confluence. It’s where the warm salty waters of the subtropical Brazil Current flow south and meet the colder, fresher waters brought north from the Southern Ocean by the Falklands (Malvinas) Current. Where these currents collide along the continental shelf, known to oceanographers as a shelf-break front, turbulent eddies form and pull nutrients up from the deep ocean. Also, the Rio de la Plata runs off the land and deposits nitrogen and iron-laden sediment into the ocean just north of the area shown in the image.

Add in some strong summer sun, and you have a bountiful feast for the microscopic, floating plants, phytoplankton, that form the center of the ocean food web. Those plants become food for everything from microscopic animals (zooplankton) to fish to whales.

Though it is impossible to say for sure without direct sampling of the water, most of the phytoplankton blooming in this photo are likely coccolithophores, single-celled plants that form calcite scales. (Calcite is a carbonate mineral often found in limestone chalk.) Blooms of coccolithophores are common in those waters in southern hemisphere’s spring and summer. Diatoms might also be in the mix.

Original Article

Paradise Cove, California; By Dominick Guillemot

Vague, Dominick Guillemot

16 X 20 Platinum print.
Series of 12.

By © Dominick Guillemot

“This photo is taken at Paradise Cove, Summer 2010. The shot to me represents the strength and fragility of the ocean. I am always rejuvenated and inspired after spending time in the ocean. This is my neighborhood beach and I love the depth of feeling this beach evokes.”

Dominick Guillemot is a busy fashion photographer based in Santa Monica, California. Born in Brittany, France and schooled in Paris, Dominick feels fortunate to have been brought up in an artistic family. His sisters are painters in the south of France and his mother is a renowned art historian. Dominick has two boys age 16 and 6, a wife of 18 years and is he an avid kite-surfer and yoga lover. He is always working and lately can be found photographing for his numerous clients in his sprawling and fantastic ocean view garden.

Oceania’s seafaring ancients make journey to Paris

Lapita, Ancêtres Océaniens. Affiche de l’exposition Lapita au Musée Branly, Paris.Photo source: ©© Eric Fortin

By Emma Charlton, AFP

Ancient seafarers who launched one of the world’s swiftest migrations, settling the virgin islands of remote Oceania 3,000 years ago, have brought their story to Paris for an unprecedented new exhibit. The Lapita, as the ancient Oceanic people are known, were all-but-unheard of just a few decades ago…

Read Full Article, AFP

Musée du Quai Branly