Image courtesy of Frantic Gallery
Macoto Murayama diagrams flowers. He buys his specimens from flower stands or collects them from the roadside. Murayama carefully dissects each flower, removing its petals, anther, stigma and ovaries with a scalpel. He studies the separate parts of the flower under a magnifying glass and then sketches and photographs them.
Using 3D computer graphics software, the artist then creates models of the full blossom as well as of the stigma, sepals and other parts of the bloom. He cleans up his composition and adds measurements and annotations so that, in the end, he has created nothing short of a botanical blueprint.
MAUNA LANI REEF, Hawaii — After a long, cold swim in the dark, we spotted it on the night reef with our dive lights: Octopus ornatus, the ornate octopus, a foot-long creature in an amber shade of orange with bright white spots and dashes along all its arms.
It sat stolidly in the light of the camera, 30 feet below the surface, unfazed by the attention. I reached out a finger and it touched me with its suctioned tentacles. When it scuttled in the other direction, I herded it between my cupped hands as it watched me attentively with searching golden eyes.
As if levitating, it smoothly lifted off and tried to jet over my head, but slowly enough that I could catch it gently in midair — like handling a large bird, albeit one with eight sticky tentacles. Holding it at eye level, I looked into its eyes. I felt connected, sort of an octopus whisperer.
Then a tentacle slapped the front of my mask. The octopus crawled up my arm and vanished into the night.
. . . We are on a quest to lure these elusive and delicate invertebrates in front of the camera lens.
Our inspiration springs from an unlikely source: a collection of 570 superbly wrought, anatomically perfect glass sculptures of marine creatures from the 19th century.
. . . Our quest is also to use the Blaschka collection as a time capsule, to take a snapshot of change.
How many of these creatures that were so common 150 years ago can still be found today?
The oceans are changing rapidly, with a 30 percent increase in acidity in the last 200 years, lethally stressful warming in many tropical seas, and significant coastal pollution and overfishing just about everywhere. If ever there was a time to compare the plentiful past with an ocean in jeopardy, that time would be now.
C. Drew Harvell is the associate director for environment at the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell, and curator of the Cornell Collection of Blaschka Invertebrate Models.
Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton PRA (1830 – 1896)
Leighton made this on-the-spot study in Capri. He records on the sheet ‘buds pink violet’. Although blossom of this kind appears again and again in his paintings this drawing was made in order to extend his understanding of the details of the blossom and their relationship to each other . . .
The Victoria and Albert Museum
Sharp Decline of the Monarch Butterfly
A new census found this winter’s population of North American monarch butterflies in Mexico was at the lowest level ever measured. University of Kansas insect ecologist Orley R. Taylor talks to Yale Environment 360 about how the planting of genetically modified crops and the resulting use of herbicides has contributed to the monarchs’ decline.
Taylor talked about the factors that have led to the sharp drop in the monarch population. Among them is the increased planting of genetically modified corn in the U.S. Midwest, which has led to greater use of herbicides, which in turn kills the milkweed that is a prime food source for the butterflies.
“What we’re seeing here in the United States,” he said, “is a very precipitous decline of monarchs that’s coincident with the adoption of Roundup-ready corn and soybeans.
The glyphosate used in agriculture has tripled since 1997, when they first introduced these Roundup-ready crops. The developers of these crops not only provided the seeds that were glyphosate-resistant, but they also provided the glyphosate — the Roundup. And, boy, that was a pretty good system. You could make money on both, right?
It’s a collateral damage issue. And one of the things that we’re worried about now is that it looks like there’s going to be a lot of collateral damage from the use of various herbicides and pesticides coming down.’
In fact, insects such as butterflies, moths, bumblebees and mayflies have been disappearing for a long time, although hardly anyone except specialists has noticed or cared . . . http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/michael-mccarthy-this-isnt-just-about-bees-ndash-it-affects-everything-2189269.html