Navigating Nature

A globe-trotting activist communicates science and the environment



Chile Part 3: Two Weeks South

During the second half of July, I headed to Chile’s beautiful southern lake region, about halfway between Santiago and Punta Arenas. An inspiring landscape of volcanoes covered in snow, rushing turquoise rivers, green coastal cliffs, and deep blue lakes, it was my first taste of a very different Chilean landscape. I’ve been learning and talking a lot about how many different ecosystems Chile has along its 4,000-km length, but it was amazing to experience it first hand. In my two weeks south, I explored the outdoors, learned about the history of the region, discovered more about my family heritage, and got a taste of the culture of the south. Continue reading “Chile Part 3: Two Weeks South”

Palau Part III: The Traveler’s Dilemma

My Palau adventure has sadly come to an end, but I had an amazing last week in this beautiful place. I was in Palau for a 3-week research seminar on coral reefs, and if you missed my first two posts about this trip you can read them here and here. We were hosted at the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC), Palau’s top research institution, which also runs the Palau Aquarium. It was great to meet PICRC’s CEO Yimnang Golbuu and interact with many of the researchers there. The seminar was taught by two Stanford faculty members, Rob Dunbar and Stephen Monismith, and a faculty member at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Bob Richmond. Continue reading “Palau Part III: The Traveler’s Dilemma”

Palau Part II: Quadrats, Taro, and Monoliths

It’s been a busy week here in Palau, and we’ve been doing a lot of science and cultural immersion over these last few days. I’m in Palau as part of a 3-week research seminar on coral reefs, and you can see my first post about it here if you missed it. My research project is about tourism pressure on coral reefs, mainly in the form of physical damage to the reefs caused by snorkelers. My group has been hard at work this week visiting popular snorkel sites and sampling for evidence of physical damage to corals. Continue reading “Palau Part II: Quadrats, Taro, and Monoliths”

Plunging Into a Palauan Paradise

Greetings from Palau! After Stanford at Sea, I spent one week in Kauai with my family, and now I am onto my next adventure: a 3-week field seminar in the beautiful island nation of Palau. Palau is located at 7˚ N, to the east of the Philippines and Indonesia:

Map of Palau in relation to Oceania

Palau is the definition of a tropical paradise: hundreds of gumdrop-shaped islands completely covered with lush green jungle, clear warm water that looks to be a million different colors at once, and intricately mesmerizing coral reef communities. One of the really special things about Palau is that it contains a huge variety of different ecosystems. In one country, there are volcanic islands, limestone islands, and coral atolls, as well as four different kinds of reefs. Continue reading “Plunging Into a Palauan Paradise”

Stanford at Sea: Reflections on the Open Ocean

A week ago, I stepped off the Robert C. Seamans for the last time. This beautiful ship, which had been my home for the last five weeks, had carried me safely from Tahiti to Hawaii, along a stretch of open ocean traversed by few others, and dotted with islands that most people haven’t even heard of, much less would visit in their lifetimes. I was on this voyage through a program called Stanford at Sea, which sent 21 students on a journey to explore and research the ocean. Continue reading “Stanford at Sea: Reflections on the Open Ocean”

Splintering the Seafloor: The Grave Consequences of Deep Sea Mining

Until quite recently, the bottom of the ocean was thought to be barren, devoid of life, and utterly insensitive to human impacts. As land dwellers and air breathers, it is hard for us to imagine what life in the ocean must be like, especially at depths where light no longer penetrates. In 1960, Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh took a submarine to the deepest part of the ocean in the Mariana Trench, and observed an extensive ecosystem teeming with diverse life. The Mariana Trench is in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which sits on a plate boundary, so there is a lot of volcanic activity there. Continue reading “Splintering the Seafloor: The Grave Consequences of Deep Sea Mining”

My Upcoming Ocean Adventure

In one week, I will be starting one of the most exciting adventures of my life. For the past four weeks, I have been studying at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station (which you can learn more about by reading one of my past posts here) in a program called Stanford at Sea. The program is associated with SEA, Sea Education Association, and it teaches students about the ocean in a very practical, hands-on, and immersive way. We have one more week of the shore component, in which we have been taking classes and preparing for the sea component, which will start during the first week of May. Next weekend, I will be flying to Tahiti and boarding our ship, SSV Robert C. Seamans, in the capital city of Papeete. Continue reading “My Upcoming Ocean Adventure”

Conglomerate Coastline: The Geology of Big Sur

Two weeks ago, I went down to Big Sur for a camping trip, and stayed in Andrew Molera State Park. Big Sur is a 90-mile section of Highway 1 that stretches from Carmel down to San Simeon. The area features beautiful California coastline, famous views, and numerous state parks and national forests. In Big Sur, the Santa Lucia Mountains rise to 5,000 feet within two miles of the ocean – the most abrupt rise in elevation along the Pacific coast.  Continue reading “Conglomerate Coastline: The Geology of Big Sur”

Ocean Acidification: A “Hidden” Impact of Climate Change

The impacts of fossil fuels and greenhouse gases on our atmosphere and global temperature are widely publicized. And while these changes are crucial to understanding the science and translating it into policy, there are other impacts of climate change that are not talked about nearly enough. The one that I’d like to focus on in this post occurs in our oceans. Through a process called ocean acidification, the release of greenhouse gases, namely carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere is affecting the chemistry of our oceans. Continue reading “Ocean Acidification: A “Hidden” Impact of Climate Change”

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