Puerto Rican Parrots Endangered

Hurricane Maria’s Devastation Still Felt

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Scientists are working hard to save the remaining Puerto Rican Parrots after Hurricane Maria decimated most of their jungle habitat in the island’s tropical forest of El Yunque.

Only two out of 56 wild parrots survived the massive hurricane that struck the US island territory in September 2017.

In the 1800s there were more than 1 million wild parrots in Puerto Rico. But, over a century of forest clearing and development virtually extinguished them, leaving only 13 birds in the wild in the 1970s until a breeding program increased the population to 56. Then came the hurricane.

Now, in addition to the two parrots in the wild, there are just over 450 birds in breeding centers in the El Yunque and Rio Abajo forests awaiting release into the jungle. Before that can happen, though, scientists need to make sure that there is sufficient habitat and food to support them.

With many of the tall trees where the parrots would nest gone and the protective forest canopy of leaves and branches still thinned, it’s important to find safe places for the parrots.

Marisel ­Lopez, who’s in charge of Puerto Rico’s parrot recovery program, says of the birds in captivity, “the priority now is to start releasing them.” It’s hoped that in 2019 the first group of 20 parrots will be able to venture out.

Parrot Love Haiku

by SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti

Vibrant wild parrots

of Puerto Rico still sing.

Two against the storm.

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Wabi-Sabi

The Beauty of Imperfection

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

 

The Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi celebrates the beauty of imperfection and of things that are impermanent and incomplete.

It is the beauty of things both humble and modest. It is the beauty of things that are raw, unrefined and unconventional.

Old Levi’s jeans, a comfortable chair, a weathered fence, a tree that’s been in your yard forever, your favorite surfboard, classic cars, watches that wind by hand, the neighborhood diner.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel have been learning about Wabi-Sabi, which dates back 5,000 years, and its emphasis on self-acceptance and finding joy in everyday things as they are.

We learned that in Japan cracked vases or bowls are often repaired with gold, highlighting the flaw and turning it into a mark of beauty that represents part of the object’s history.

Originally derived from Buddhist teachings, the word Wabi refers to rustic simplicity, freshness, and understated elegance – both in nature and in man-made works.

It can describe a uniqueness or elegance, too. Sabi represents the beauty and serenity that come from age…with visible flaws and worn patina adding to its charm.

Drawing from nature, Wabi-Sabi reminds us of the simple reality that things don’t stay the same, changing from day-to-day and season-to-season with different shapes and colors unfolding through the passing of time.

Putting aside the quest for air-brushed perfection in our lives, selves and surroundings, Wabi-Sabi is a way to de-stress. To relax and slow down, to embrace each moment, the people we love and the things we have.

Rather than searching for the next new thing to buy or do, we can find something much more valuable – an inner calm and the happiness that comes from being ourselves.

Wabi-Sabi is the perfect gift to give yourself – the gift to be imperfect.

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Sharks Saving the Planet!

Predators As Protectors

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Who would have guessed that sharks – the bad guys in movies and nightmare of surfers – are actually heroes for our planet?

These fearsome, apex predators at the top of the ocean food chain keep the world’s marine populations stable. This helps to protect our oxygen supply by reducing the sea life that consume underwater vegetation that generates oxygen.

By keeping sea populations in check sharks also help to eliminate harmful algae that damages coral reefs.

Still, it’s understandable that sharks – that have rows of sharp, replaceable teeth and can be up to 60-feet or more – aren’t animals most people want to encounter up close.

But, SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel know someone who has done just that.

To meet a real shark expert and find out what makes sharks so intriguing, we are excited to introduce you to marine scientist Apryl Boyle, CEO of El Porto Shark, which gathers and analyzes shark population data for conservation purposes.

 

Boyle, a National Geographic and Discovery Channel Shark Week contributor and former Aquarium Operations Associate Director for Santa Monica’s Heal the Bay Aquarium, has quite a story to tell.

To check it out, just click on: Shark Love 

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Year of the Sloth

Life in Slo-Mo

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Move over unicorns and flamingos! Make way for the sloths!

Trend-spotters have anointed this reclusive creature that lives in the tops of tall trees as this year’s soon to-be pop culture favorite.

Native to Central and South America, sloths have the distinction of being the world’s slowest mammal. It can take them a minute or more just to climb 6 feet.

And talk about laid back, sloths spend up to 20 hours a day sleeping. So, it’s a rare sight when you see one on the ground.

 

SurfWriter Girl Patti & hubby Greg spotted some sloths in Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio National Park near Jacó, a beach town on the Pacific known for surfing, when they were on a trip there.

“You had to look really closely because they blended into the trees,” says Patti.

Sloths eat a diet mainly of leaves and have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years. Plus some sloths have two toes and some have three.

 

Why does everyone like them so much? Maybe it’s because in today’s fast-paced, always on-the-go world sloths dance to a different tune.

 

Movies like Zootopia and Ice Age have helped to give them star power, too. So, get ready to channel your inner sloth.

But, take your time. There’s no rush.

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Ansel Adams – Photographer, Environmentalist

Nature Brought to Life in Black-and-White

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

 

Winter – when tourist crowds are gone – is the perfect time to enjoy California’s natural beauty.

California’s raw coastlines and majestic forests are not only breathtaking to see, but through the lens of master photographer Ansel Adams, they are immortalized for all to enjoy.

Working primarily in black-and-white, Adams’ use of light and shadow and his fine eye for composition and detail turned nature’s landscapes into unsurpassed works of beauty.

Growing up, one of his favorite spots to wander was in San Francisco’s still-wild Golden Gate area and the nearby sand dunes along Lobos Creek. As a teenager, armed with a Kodak Brownie camera, he first discovered the wonders of Yosemite in 1916 and would spend a lifetime capturing all the facets of its beauty on photographic plates.

Starting in 1927, with his portfolio of photographs of the High Sierras, Adams launched a career that would encompass creating iconic images of Yosemite, San Francisco, Monterey, and other points throughout the Northwest, including Glacier National Park, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon.

Though he preferred black-and-white photography because it gave him more control over the finished picture than the limited options of the emerging color photography of his day, Adams did experiment with the new color medium – and got some amazing results.

A son of the West, who was born in San Francisco in 1902 and died in Monterey in 1984, Adams was an avid environmentalist and used his photographs to help build awareness and support for preserving natural landscapes. He also served as director of the Sierra Club from 1934 to 1971.

Once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price.

– Ansel Adams.

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The Year of the Bird!

Migratory Bird Treaty Act Centennial

 Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

A-well-a ev’rybody’s heard about the bird… B-b-b-bird, b-birdd’s a word

Get ready to sing the 1963 hit song Surfin’ Bird! Exuberant and full of life, it will put you in the mood to celebrate the 100th anniversary of one of the world’s most important treaties – the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Enacted between the United States/Canada and Great Britain in 1918, the Act, which now includes Mexico, Japan and Russia, makes it unlawful to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, or sell migratory birds.

At a time when many bird species were threatened by the commercial trade in birds and bird feathers, The MBTA was a landmark act and one of the first federal laws to focus on the environment.

The importance of this act, that’s done so much to protect migratory birds, is so great that the National Audubon Society, National Geographic and over 150 organizations jointly declared 2018 The Year of Bird.

David Yarnold, Audubon’s President and CEO, says, “No other law on the books helps protect birds as much as the MBTA. The Snowy Egret, Wood Duck, Tricolored Heron, White-winged Crossbill, and Audubon’s Shearwater have all been saved by the MBTA.”

 

Yarnold notes that the Snowy Egret’s brilliant white feathers were in such demand by 19th and early 20th century hat makers to use in women’s hats that the bird was in danger of being hunted to extinction.

 

William Hornaday, Director of the New York Zoological Society, says, London at that time was “the Mecca of the feather killers of the world.” During a nine month period, London’s fashion market made use of the feathers from close to 130,000 egrets and tens of thousands of other birds.

Thanks to two women – Boston socialite Harriet Lawrence Hemenway and her cousin Minna Hall – the deadly bird trade would eventually come to an end after they invited their friends in Boston’s social register to a series of tea parties in 1896 and implored them to stop wearing hats with feathers.

Along with this, they asked the women to join in an organization to protect egrets and other birds. Over 900 women agreed and this organization became the Massachusetts Audubon Society – one of the leading environmental groups that worked to bring about legislation to protect birds and ultimately the enactment of the Migratory Bird Trade Act.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel are amazed by what Hemenway and Hall accomplished. During an era when women weren’t allowed to own property or vote they went against the fashion of the time and helped save millions of migratory birds from death and entire species from extinction.

For that, we say, “Hats off!” to the two women from Boston!

Come Join in the centennial celebration!

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California’s Coast – A Novel Experience

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

California’s iconic coast has been the setting for some of the most classic novels in American literature, inspiring literary greats Jack London, John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac, Richard Henry Dana, and others.

Oakland

Acclaimed adventure author London, who wrote The Call of the Wild and White Fang, grew up in Oakland and spent much of his childhood in the waterfront area now known as Jack London Square.

His book The Sea Wolf, written in 1904, is set here and will put you in the mood to explore the harbor, which was filled in mystery and intrigue in London’s day.

Located on the scenic Oakland/Alameda estuary, the square is a year-round gathering area for shopping and dining, bicycling and kayaking. Be sure to check out the farmers market when you’re here.

Monterey Bay

No one brings the magic of Monterey Bay to life better than Nobel Prize-winner Steinbeck, who has placed many of his stories there, including Tortilla Flat, Cannery Row, and Sweet Thursday. Picaresque and energetic, these three novels capture the quirky feel of Monterey and the unconventional people who live there.

Marine biologist Doc, a central character in both Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday, is based on Steinbeck’s friend Ed Ricketts, a key person in the life of Monterey. The influence of Ricketts, who wrote the pioneering ecology book Between Pacific Tides in 1939, is still felt in the community.

Steinbeck writes: “Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.” Monterey is still steeped in Steinbeck’s prose and you’ll feel it, too, exploring the streets, Fisherman’s Wharf and world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Big Sur

Kerouac, the post-WWII Beat Generation writer known for On the Road – the 1959 novel that inspired countless readers to hit the open road in search of adventure – also focused his attention on Big Sur. His novel Big Sur captures the idyllic feel of this stretch of undeveloped coastline South of Carmel that’s often been described as a national treasure.

Raw and majestic, the section of Highway 1 that runs through Big Sur is one of the most scenic driving routes in the world. And, thankfully, no billboards or advertising are allowed.

Dana Point

Dana, whose 1840 novel Two Years Before the Mast recounts his voyage on a merchant ship from Boston to California, paints a vivid picture of early California’s coastline from San Diego to San Francisco.

Dana Point, in Orange County – one of the stops on his journey – is named after him. It’s a local spot for SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel.

With a beautiful harbor and shops and restaurants to visit, it’s picturesque with a hometown feel. Visit the Ocean Institute when you’re here and you can explore the ocean’s underwater world and maritime history.

 

Traveling along California’s coast you’ll see how these timeless novels came to life. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself drawn into the stories.

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End of an Era

VW Bug Says Good-Bye

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

The world’s love affair with the VW Bug is coming to an end. Volkswagen recently announced that it is discontinuing the long-lived Beetle in 2019.

First introduced in Germany in 1938, the Volkswagen (“people’s car”) was quickly nicknamed the Kafer (German for “Beetle”) because of its small, round shape.

Developed by lead engineer Ferdinand Porsche to utilize Germany’s new road network, the Beetle soon proved that it could go anywhere and do anything, winning over the hearts of people around the globe.

Durable, intrepid and able to travel on practically a thimble of gas, the nimble Bug had an eight-decade-long run (including two-updated versions in 1997 and 2003). More than a car, it was a symbol of individuality, appealing to intellectuals and the free-spirited, alike.

The Bug’s creative “Think Small” ads helped to build it’s unconventional image and get people to buy a different kind of car than the large, flashy cars that other car companies were selling.

The Bug was even a film star in movies, starring as “Herbie” in The Love Bug movies, appearing in Footlose as Kevin Bacon’s ride, and holding its own alongside Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal in What’s Up Doc? In that movie it showed that it could even survive a plunge into San Francisco Bay. Unlike other cars, it floated.

 

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel are sorry to see this iconic car for the ages disappear from the world stage.

 

However, like super-spy James Bond, the VW Bug may still return one day.

Asked if Volkswagen would ever bring back the beloved Beetle, VW of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken said, “I would ‘never say never.'”

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Low Tide Aliens

They Come in Peace

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

Invaders From Mars. Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It Came From Outer Space. The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Think of all the science fiction movie classics that kept us glued to our seats in darkened theaters watching aliens from other planets landing on Earth.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel wondered What if that really happened? Would the space aliens be like us? Would they be friend or foe?

At the beach one day we got a glimpse into that when we had a close encounter with the Low Tide Aliens.

Fortunately, they came in peace.

Like the gangster-style, sunglass-wearing Blues Brothers, who turn out to be musicians, these aliens are artists – Laura, Leslie, Darla, Kaitlyn and Mila –  and their goal is “to bring joy and beauty into the world.”

Twice a month, when the tides are lowest, the artistic team heads to Newport Beach to draw mandalas – Hindu and Buddhist spiritual patterns – on the sand.

It’s a way to express themselves and to connect with the earth and ocean. Creating the mandalas is also a way to meditate and heal. Toward this end, the Low Tide Aliens have launched a Sand Art for Causes charity to help others.

Even though the tides inevitably erase their creations, the artists aren’t sad. “It’s actually a very beautiful and humbling experience to do art for the sake of art alone,” they say.  “It’s a practice in letting go and allowing nature to take her course.”

You never know where the Low Tide Aliens are going to show up! At the Surfrider Foundation’s International Surfing Day in Huntington Beach this summer there they were.

“The event was abducted by our good friends from the Low Tide Aliens,” Tony Soriano, Surfrider’s HB chapter advisory board director, told SurfWriter Girls. “We love their artistic beach talent.”

 

While they were there, the beach artists even made a Surfrider surfboard to commemorate the day.

 

Wherever they land, beach-goers are invited to watch the sand art take shape or to sign up for a session and join in the experience.

So, don’t be afraid if you encounter the Low Tide Aliens.

Just say: “Take me to your easel.”

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Tiki Time!

Join the Party!

 Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel


Who can resist those smiling tiki gods luring you to join the party?

Tiki art, tiki mugs, tiki shirts, tiki bars. When you add the word “tiki” to anything it just becomes more fun.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel are big fans of all things tiki. Growing up in SoCal, there were lots of tikis to see in shops and restaurants, on clothing, and more.

Classic Polynesian restaurants Don the Beachcomber, Trader Vic’s, The Islander, Kelbo’s and many others celebrated the tiki lifestyle with their island decor and exotic drinks.

Deified by the early Polynesians, it was thought that Tiki was the guardian of the entrance to the underworld. By the 1950s tikis were pop culture icons. With their smiling faces and gleaming eyes, they represented fun and adventure, beckoning us to an alternative lifestyle unburdened by convention.

 

Today the mysterious and mischievous Tiki is still part of the scene and showing no signs of letting up.

Tiki artist Doug Horne told SurfWriter Girls, “Tiki culture is alive and well! I think it’s still growing.”

 

Artist Josh Agle (better known as Shag) is a fan of the irrepressible tikis, too, and often includes them in his swinging, mid-century motifs.

To celebrate the tiki culture for yourself, why not check out one of the many tiki bars out there and feel the vibe? SurfWriter Girls came across this list of the Ten Best Tiki Bars in the World compiled by Critiki, a travel guide and historic archive of Polynesian Pop culture hotspots around the world. Nobody knows tiki better than the crew at Critiki.

To find your own little slice of tiki paradise, click: Tiki Ten

Then let the party begin!

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