Today is Endangered Species Day!

Today is Endangered Species Day, a day to bring awareness of the many vulnerable creatures around the world who are losing their habitats due to human actions. More and more species are being affected by our actions: acidifying oceans, melting sea ice, forest logging and warming temperatures, and extreme weather. 20170519_framedcondorToday however I’d like to highlight a success story: the California Condor. I wrote a blog post about a month ago; I sketched the condor because I wanted to bring awareness to this bird, and because I think the shape of the head contrasting with it’s black plumage is very dramatic and beautiful. Now in celebration of Endangered Species day, I’m offering this sketch for sale as a print.  It’s available framed and unframed. Remember 10% of the purchase price always goes to NRDC to help endangered animals, wild places, and combat climate change.

For more information and ways to help endangered animals, here are some links.

http://www.endangered.org/action/

https://www.nrdc.org/get-involved

 

 

Send a Special Note to Mom and help Monarch Butterflies!

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Mother’s Day is this Sunday; you can send your favorite mom a special note, and NRDC will plant a milkweed plant for each note you send. Milkweed is essential to Monarch butterfly larvae: the larvae eat milkweed, and due to less milkweed available, some populations of monarchs are in decline. This Mother’s Day, NRDC and Monarch Watch are joining forces to plant more milkweed for monarchs. Visit this site, and simply enter the email address of your favorite mom or mother figure and she’ll receive a special email. For each email sent NRDC and Monarch Watch will plant one milkweed plant!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and caretakers out there. Nothing happens without you!

Visit to Marine Mammal Center

On Sunday we went up to the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands, just north of San Francisco. It was a warm and sunny day, which in my experience of the Marin Headlands, is rare. Here is our view looking back at San Francisco.20170507_SFview

We wanted to see the seals at the Mammal Center; it’s pupping season, so all the baby seals that get separated from their moms end up there. We were also told that if there are storms, which we’ve had a lot this winter, the likelihood of separation is higher, so it’s a busy time for the center.

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These are the baby elephant seals. In the center right now, over half the patients are baby elephant seals. When the seals are separated from mom too early, they don’t yet know how to get food and come into the center severely malnourished. The center rehabilitates the seals, and when they are healthy again, releases them into the wild. Elephant seals were nearly hunted to extinction; after whale numbers dropped drastically in the early 1900’s, hunters then turned to elephant seals for the blubber to make lamp oil. It’s estimated numbers were down to 100 animals living off the coast of Guadalupe Island in Mexico. Numbers now on the west coast are at 150,000.

Volunteers at the center told us that baby elephant seal vocalizations are the sounds of the orcs in Lord of the Rings, and the sounds of the dragons in How to Train your Dragon. Their barks are a combination of a sharp bark and a sort of eerie whine. They are also very loud!

The center has an adopt a seal program, in which you can (symbolically) adopt a baby seal. Some of the seals eat up to 1,000 pounds of fish per day!

We took a small hike down to the beach and on the way found a whale skeleton. The bones were laid out in the size and shape of the whale.

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Here is a closeup of the baleen at the head.

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Marin Headlands are a beautiful place to hike and I loved seeing the baby seals, so if you ever get a chance, definitely a great place to visit!

Jackrabbit Print

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I’ve been painting jewelry for about 3 years, and after a trip this summer to visit relatives who run an apartment gallery, I was inspired to delve back into soft pastels. I studied oil painting and lithography in college, and at the end of my college career started to play with soft pastels and really liked them. They have qualities I love about oil paints: easy to layer color; deep rich hues; easy to work and smear with your hands. They also are easier to store and transport and are less toxic. So I decided to take some of my most popular jewelry designs and create pastels drawings.

The first of the drawings was the Jackrabbit print. You can read more about my inspiration here!

In the next few months, I’ll be introducing some new prints and I’m very exited!

My Jackrabbit print is available from the store here.

American Bison are Awesome

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The American Bison is the iconic image of the American West. Vast herds of 40,000,000 used to roam the plains of America. Bison is a crucial part of the plains ecosystem.

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Bison were almost hunted to extinction as white settlers moved west in the 1800’s. Today most bison are kept on private lands, with a few small herds roaming free. Yellowstone Park is the only place where bison have lived continuously in the wild.

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Fortunately today there are several groups striving to move bison to the prairie and reintroducing bison to tribal lands.

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Read more bison facts here!

Inspiration behind the Rabbit

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I designed the Jackrabbit necklace 2 years ago. The idea was a Predator | Prey series: the prey are very fierce and the predators are kind and gentle. The concept of the series was to challenge our stereotypes of what it means to be the prey (weak, scared, bad) or the predator (powerful, strong, good); the reality in nature is both the predator and prey rely and depend on each other. Neither survives without the other; this is balance in nature.

I had been painting the necklaces for over a year when, in the fall of 2016, I started working on original art based on my most popular jewelry pieces; the first piece was the Jackrabbit.

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The second necklace in the series is the Grey Wolf.

People ask me if I have a rabbit, and the answer is no. However I do have a 24 pound cat that does look like a rabbit.

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The Small Jackrabbit necklace is available in my store. The Jackrabbit pastel drawing is also available as a print.

Grey Whale Migration Being Mapped by Robots

Whale_20170426Scientists are using robots off the western coast of Canada to figure out what whales are doing. Sometimes they stop in their migration, and linger in what is called “hot spots,” and the scientists would like to discover what it is about those spots that cause the whales to hang out. In a similar study, scientists were able to adjust shipping lanes to reduce encounters with whales and ships, improving the whales natural habitat. You can read more here!

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Condor Sketch

When I was reading last week about the attempt to save the nearly extinct vaquita porpoise, I was reminded of the huge conservation effort for the California condor. As a kid growing up in California, the effort was well publicized; many thought the birds would become extinct. There were so few left, all the wild birds were captured to start a captive breeding program. No one knew if it would succeed. When many chicks started to be born in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the program was determined successful; later chicks were released into the wild to continue a wild as well as a captive population. Today there are only about 400 condors in the wild, and there is still work to do to protect the species, but this program worked to save this beautiful and important bird.

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The historic range for the condor used to be all over the southwest, from California to Texas. Condors were often shot or poisoned by early settlers, and their habitat was reduced due to human development. More recently, pesticides and lead in bullets (condors are carrion feeders and consume lead in animals that have been shot) have lead to their decline.

Click here for more info on the Condor and past conservation efforts.