Tag Archives: wildlife

Road Trip: Sea Lions and Sea Otters on the Northern California Coast

19 Oct


 

 

 

I’m a total sucker for cute animal videos, and a while ago I came across this video of a sea lion that falls in love with a woman on the beach.  I’m not sure where it was filmed, but I thought of it when I spotted sea lions while road tripping down Highway 1.

Even cuter than sea lions, though, are sea otters, which are also native to that magnificent stretch of Northern California coastline.  Unfortunately, the lives of sea otters have been in danger due to disgusting toxins flushed into the ocean.  The Sea Otter Alliance is a good resource for finding out more about these adorable animals.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers helpful information on California coastal protection, sustainable seafood, and saving sea otters.  According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium website’s sea otter page:

Southern sea otters once ranged from Baja California to the Pacific Northwest. But by the 1920s they were considered extinct due to intensive hunting. They were listed as “threatened with extinction” under the Endangered Species Act in 1977. But despite decades of federal and state protection, the population of southern sea ottersAnimal Guide(Enhydra lutris nereis) which resides along the California coast, struggles to survive at a fraction of its historic numbers, estimated at 16,000-20,000 animals. No one knows why the population isn’t recovering. Pathogens and parasites, possibly linked to coastal pollution, can weaken otter immune systems. And the risk of a major oil spill remains a serious threat.

 

Jack Kerouac obsessed over the death of a sea otter in his novel Big Sur.  After On the Road became such a huge success that fans were literally arriving on Kerouac’s doorstep, the author retreated to nature, staying at his friend Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s cabin in Big Sur.  Kerouac was a man who loved animals, going to the extent of putting out food for wildlife.  He was drinking heavily at the time and the novel documents a dark period in his life.  Death becomes a constant threat, and foreshadows his own premature death, as he sees animals all around him die.  One in particular is a sea otter that washes ashore, which he mentions time and time again in the novel.

 

 

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Your Home Can Smell Like Big Sur

9 Jul

Busy poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who is still active at ninety-three years old, moved out to San Francisco and founded City Lights in 1953.  More than just the independent bookstore of Beat pilgrimages, City Lights is a book publisher, and in 1956, Ferlinghetti was arrested on obscenity charges because he had published and sold Allen Ginsberg’s Howl.  He was later found not guilty of a crime.

The year after Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti made the papers, Jack Kerouac finally found fame with On the Road.  The fame was overwhelming, though.  Talk-show hosts invited the naturally shy author on their show.  Wanderlust kids, winos, and dogged readers showed up unannounced at his home.  Fame took a toll on his mind, body, soul.

Ferlinghetti had a cabin, a refuge, out in the wilderness of Big Sur.  He could escape the hustle and bustle of San Francisco for respite along the coast of central California.  After the fame wore him down, Kerouac escaped there too, living for a brief time in Ferlinghetti’s cabin in the woods.  The result of this experience is the 1962 novel Big Sur.

Juniper Ridge now has a room spray called Big Sur.  According to their website, it smells of “wild ginger, burnt honey, salt, damp ground.”  The ingredients are plucked from the deserts and mountains of the West, and 10% of the $20 spray bottle goes back to protecting western wilderness.  They also have a Big Sur soap, essential oil, and sachet.  For $50 you can give the gift of Big Sur, which includes the items already mentioned, plus wild huckleberry jam (perhaps reminiscent of Neal Cassady, whom some have said is Huckleberry Finn incarnate).  The gift comes gift wrapped with real pine cones!  And, like the others, 10% of the profit goes to protecting wilderness.

Not Hunting the Grizzly

25 May

On this day in 1975 the Grizzly bear was classified as a “threatened” species.  Even though President Theodore Roosevelt wrote Hunting the Grisly, he actually worked with John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club, to protect America’s wildlife and landscape.  I address this in my introduction to the reissue of this classic book, which is available in both paperback and ebook format.

Sadly, there are likely less than 1,000 Grizzlies in the United States today.  Find out more about Grizzly bears and other endangered animals at the Wildlife Conservation Society, where you can even send letters to Congress about protecting animals.

Happy Birthday, Teddy Roosevelt!

27 Oct

Happy birthday, Teddy Roosevelt!

On October 27, 1858, Theodore Roosevelt was born right here in New York City.  I had the opportunity to visit his birth home a few years ago and write the introduction to his classic book Hunting the Grisly and Other Stories, published by the Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading.

I am opposed to hunting for sport, and in my introduction I highlight the fact that although Roosevelt was a hunter he was also a conservationist who set up fifty-one wildlife refuges.

Roosevelt’s Hunting the Grisly is available for purchase in both paperback and ebook format.