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Amalfi<br />

Italy’s<br />

divine coast<br />

Cape canaveral, discover Cape’s 6,000<br />

mile long shooting gallery.<br />

Hawaii, a closer look at the amazing<br />

coral reef creatures.<br />

Antartica, what have we<br />

discovered?<br />

ISBN 146-36-546-87

Contents<br />

Amalfi, the must-visit coast<br />

in<br />

Italy.<br />

The wild variety of coral reef<br />

creatures in Hawaii.<br />

What have we discovered in<br />

Antartica?<br />

Wonders of America, most<br />

important National Parks of<br />

the region.<br />

Abbotsbury Swannery, the<br />

only managed colony of<br />

swans.<br />

How rats became an<br />

inescapable part of city living<br />

with a few visits it can scare<br />

survivors into moving away.<br />

As the terriers go about their<br />

business, the human employees<br />

use hockey sticks to stop rats<br />

from fleeing the killing zone.<br />

Neighbors cheer from their<br />

windows.<br />

Despite their bad rap, rats have<br />

redeeming qualities. They’re<br />

smart—and maybe empathic<br />

too. In one study, rats freed other<br />

rats from cages, even though it<br />

gained them nothing and even<br />

when they could have gorged<br />

on chocolate instead. The<br />

researcher behind the study,<br />

neurobiologist Peggy Mason<br />

of the University of Chicago,<br />

says that typically, once the<br />

helper rat frees his companion,<br />

“he follows the liberated rat.<br />

He jumps on him and he licks<br />

him”—apparently to console the<br />

distressed animal.<br />

Still, most of us really hate rats.<br />

Is it the nocturnal furtiveness,<br />

the way rats act like they have<br />

something to hide—unlike<br />

squirrels, say, which look you<br />

in the eye as they raid your bird<br />

feeder?<br />


“It is the tail,” says Laurinda<br />

Williams, who breeds rats on<br />

Long Island and sells them as<br />

pets. “If it weren’t for the tail,<br />

everyone would have rats.”<br />

Val Curtis, a behavioral scientist<br />

at the London School of Hygiene<br />

& Tropical Medicine and an<br />

authority on disgust, says rats<br />

are considered disgusting in<br />

nearly every human culture—<br />

and it’s probably not just the<br />

tail. “We are preprogrammed to<br />

learn to avoid things that make<br />

us sick,” she says. As humans<br />

evolved, the ones who didn’t<br />

mind sharing space with rats<br />

were more likely to die of ratborne<br />

illnesses—and less likely<br />

to have descendants—than the<br />

ones who were revolted. Thus<br />

most of us today have inherited<br />

an innate revulsion, Curtis<br />

says, “in the same way we are<br />

programmed to find saber-tooth<br />

tigers scary.”<br />

In the Long Island rattery, which<br />

is a room in her parents’ house,<br />

Williams shows me animals<br />

with fancy coat colors and<br />

patterns. She talks about the<br />

complexities of keeping the rats<br />

healthy and selecting for easy,<br />

calm temperaments. It’s a lot of<br />

work. The rat room has a strong,<br />

musky smell, both sweet and<br />

foul. Her scented candle doesn’t<br />

quite overpower it.<br />

Williams walks over to a large<br />

cage and picks out a fat gray rat<br />

with an ivory belly and a split ear<br />

from a youthful brawl. His name<br />

is Dexter. “This is my heart rat,”<br />

she says. “Your favorite rat is<br />

your heart rat. You get very<br />

bonded.”<br />

I hold Dexter briefly, and he<br />

wanders around on my hands.<br />

I’m surprised to feel how much<br />

he’s trembling.<br />

Corrigan, the rat expert, doesn’t<br />

have a heart rat now, but he<br />

has owned pet rats in the past.<br />

Decades of trying to outsmart<br />

them has made him not only<br />

respect but really like them.<br />

He welcomes New York’s use<br />

of dry ice instead of blood<br />

thinners—though the city<br />

isn’t doing it just to reduce rat<br />

suffering. Hawks, owls, and<br />

other raptors are increasingly<br />

living in the city, and New<br />

Yorkers don’t want to see them<br />

dying from eating poisoned rats.<br />

Scientists these days are<br />

working on what might be the<br />

ultimate in rat control: a genetic<br />

engineering technique that would<br />

spread infertility genes through<br />

a wild rat population. If fears<br />

of unintended consequences<br />

can be overcome, this method<br />

might one day enable us to wipe<br />

out rats on an unheard-of scale,<br />

without poison.<br />

Might we miss them? Without<br />

rats, New York and other<br />

cities would have fewer hawks<br />

and owls. Tons of carelessly<br />

discarded food would simply<br />

putrefy in place, rather than be<br />

carried off by a rodent cleanup<br />

crew. On YouTube there’s a<br />

wildly popular video that shows<br />

a New York rat dragging an<br />

entire slice of pizza down the<br />

stairs of a subway station. A<br />

comment praises the animal as<br />

“a true New Yorker.”

of habitat that the birds can<br />

expand into. Wellington families<br />

now spend weekend afternoons<br />

acting as rodent death squads,<br />

setting and clearing rat traps.<br />

For the first time in generations,<br />

birds such as the North Island<br />

saddleback, or tīeke, can be<br />

heard singing their sweet songs<br />

in the city center.<br />

Some New Zealanders,<br />

however, have doubts about the<br />

Predator Free 2050 campaign,<br />

which also plans to eradicate<br />

stoats and Australian possums.<br />

Biologist Wayne Linklater of<br />

Victoria University of Wellington<br />

calls the plan “unachievable”<br />

and says the poisons being<br />

used are too cruel. The whole<br />

thing is a distraction, he says:<br />

Many native species are<br />

more threatened by<br />

overgrazing and<br />

habitat<br />

loss than by predation.<br />

Criticism comes also from<br />

members of the Ngātiwai, a tribe<br />

of Maori on the North Island.<br />

Their Polynesian ancestors<br />

brought the kiore, as they call<br />

the Pacific rat, to New Zealand,<br />

and they consider themselves<br />

guardians of the rats—which<br />

they still eat occasionally.<br />

Ngātiwai Trust Board CEO Kris<br />

MacDonald describes the kiore<br />

as “half the size of a New York<br />

sewer rat, all nice and fluffy and<br />

tasty looking.”<br />

Off the northeast coast of the<br />

North Island, the tribe manages<br />

Zealandia’s mirror image: a<br />

steep but beautiful rocky islet<br />

called Mauitaha, which may be<br />

the world’s only rat sanctuary.<br />

It’s not exactly teeming—on<br />

an overnight visit there, hoping<br />

to eat a rat, I failed even to<br />

spot one—but<br />

someday it may be the only<br />

place in the country where<br />

kiores persist at all.<br />

Hori Parata, a Ngātiwai<br />

environmental resource<br />

manager and my guide on<br />

Mauitaha, tells me a story about<br />

bringing a kiore in a cage to a<br />

social gathering. An old man<br />

approached and started talking<br />

to the rat, tears wetting his face.<br />

He had thought they were all<br />

gone.<br />

One summer night in Washington,<br />

D.C., photographer Charlie<br />

Hamilton James and I go rat<br />

hunting with a company called<br />

Unique Pest Management,<br />

which uses trained Patterdale<br />

terriers to dispatch rats that are<br />

bothering people.<br />

In the Adams Morgan<br />

neighborhood, rich in<br />

restaurants, we watch the<br />

dogs work as a team to kill 31<br />

rats in a single alley—a<br />

small fraction of the<br />

population, no<br />

doubt, but the<br />

company<br />

claims that

The Beautiful<br />

Coast of<br />

Amalfi<br />

Amalfi is the town that<br />

gives its name to the<br />

whole coast as well as<br />

one of the most famous<br />

tourist destinations<br />

in the world for its<br />

history, monuments<br />

and natural setting that<br />

allowed to be declared<br />

by UNESCO World<br />

Heitage Site. In the<br />

coat of arms it is written<br />

“Descendit ex patribus<br />

Romanorum”: the origins<br />

of Amalfi date back to the<br />

Roman time, as evidenced by<br />

the discovery of a nymphaeum<br />

belonging to a Roman villa built<br />

under the Emperor Tiberius.<br />

The place name also has Latin<br />

origin, deriving from Melfi, a<br />

Lucanian city whose refugees<br />

landed here, or from the<br />

“gensAmarfia”.<br />

It was bishopric since<br />

596 and was part of the<br />

Romanesque-Byzantine duchy<br />

until 839, when it became<br />

an autonomous republic (the<br />

first of the Maritime Republic<br />

in Italy) ruled first by Counts<br />

elected every year, then<br />

by Prefects and finally by<br />

Dukes who transformed it<br />

in a kind of ducal monarchy.<br />

From that moment there<br />

was the supremacy of<br />

Amalfi in maritime trade with<br />

the East and in the whole<br />

Mediterranean basin, through<br />

a<br />

network<br />

of<br />

settlements in the main ports.<br />

It was bishopric since 596 and<br />

was part of the Romanesque-<br />

Byzantine duchy until<br />

839, when it became an<br />

autonomous republic (the<br />

first of the Maritime Republic<br />

in Italy) ruled first by Counts<br />

elected every year, then<br />

by Prefects and finally by<br />

Dukes who transformed it<br />

in a kind of ducal monarchy.<br />

From that moment there was<br />

the supremacy of Amalfi in<br />

maritime trade with the East<br />

and in the whole Mediterranean<br />

basin, through a network<br />

of settlements in the main<br />

ports. The merchant ships<br />

of Amalfi, laden with timber,<br />

sailed off to the North-African,<br />

Syrian, Palestinian coasts and<br />

Byzantium, exchanging it with<br />

gold,<br />

spices, precious stones<br />

and fabrics. Amalfi traders soon<br />

became very rich, attracting<br />

the attention and enmity of new<br />

and emerging competitors,<br />

such as Pisa and Genoa.<br />

The arsenals, used for the<br />

construction of the hulls of<br />

the galleys, the maritime code<br />

called “Tabula de Amalpha” and<br />

the tradition of the invention of<br />

a different story: Polynesian<br />

explorers sailing from Tahiti<br />

and other islands intentionally<br />

brought them along in their<br />

canoes—as food. They cooked<br />

them in their own fat to make<br />

rat confit; they made beautiful<br />

cloaks of the fur.<br />

As the Polynesians colonized<br />

various Pacific islands, tiny<br />

rodent explorers settled with<br />

them. In fact the rats’ genetic<br />

family tree has been used to<br />

shed light on when and in what<br />

order various islands were<br />

discovered. Between 1200<br />

and 1300, Polynesians and<br />

their companions reached New<br />

Zealand—which until then had<br />

no mammals at all other than<br />

bats.<br />


On some small, remote islands,<br />

rats have done as much damage<br />

as human invaders. On Easter<br />

Island they’re<br />

suspected of having wiped out<br />

palm trees by eating all the nuts.<br />

On other islands they threaten<br />

seabirds by eating eggs and<br />

chicks.<br />

The ecological consequences<br />

can be far-reaching and<br />

surprising. One study found<br />

that by massively reducing<br />

bird numbers on some<br />

islands in the Indian Ocean’s<br />

Chagos Archipelago, rats also<br />

interrupted the flow of bird poop<br />

into the ocean, where it fertilizes<br />

ocean plants. As a result, planteating<br />

damselfish were smaller<br />

and grew more slowly around<br />

the islands with rats than the<br />

islands without.<br />

Fighting back, conservationists<br />

have been trying to eradicate<br />

rats with ambitious poisoning<br />

campaigns, targeting larger<br />

and larger islands. At 1,500<br />

square miles, South Georgia,<br />

near Antarctica, is the current<br />

record holder: In May 2018<br />

it was declared rat free<br />

after helicopters<br />

dumped 330<br />

t o n s<br />

of poison in five years on its<br />

stark landscape, at a cost of<br />

$13 million. With the rats gone,<br />

conservationists expect to see<br />

an explosion in the number<br />

of albatrosses, skuas, terns,<br />

petrels, and South Georgia<br />

pipits and pintail ducks.<br />

The island nation of New<br />

Zealand is thinking even bigger.<br />

It plans to kill all the rats in the<br />

country—with traps and poison<br />

baits spread over some 100,000<br />

square miles—to try to save its<br />

rare native birds, including the<br />

iconic flightless kiwi.<br />

In Wellington, the capital city,<br />

I visit one of the first rat-free<br />

oases, a 556-acre sanctuary<br />

called Zealandia. Surrounded<br />

by a seven-foot metal fence with<br />

a mesh too tight even for a rat to<br />

wriggle through, the sanctuary<br />

is home to such odd birds as<br />

the hefty, flightless takahe and<br />

the manic hihi. In the global<br />

urban landscape, Zealandia<br />

is a triumphant anomaly—“a<br />

reversal of the idea of the city<br />

as a biodiversity wasteland,”<br />

says Danielle Shanahan,<br />

the sanctuary’s conservation<br />

manager.<br />

As the populations of native<br />

birds have increased inside the<br />

sanctuary, they have spilled<br />

over the fence. In response,<br />

bird-loving New Zealanders<br />

have formed citizens’<br />

groups to trap rats and<br />

other predators in parks<br />

around Zealandia. The<br />

aim is to create a “halo”

for more than local or temporary<br />

success. After rats are poisoned<br />

in an area, Corrigan says, the<br />

survivors simply breed until the<br />

burrows are full again, and the<br />

new generations still find huge<br />

mounds of trash bags set out<br />

on the sidewalks of New York<br />

every night. Until cities radically<br />

change how they deal with their<br />

trash, Corrigan says, “the rats<br />

are winning this war.”<br />

In New York, when you see<br />

smoke-colored streaks on the<br />

sidewalk, chances are you’re<br />

crossing a rat thoroughfare. The<br />

oil in their belly fur stains the<br />

concrete.<br />



Brown rats likely originated<br />

on the Asian steppes,<br />

where they first learned<br />

they could eat well<br />

by hanging out with<br />

humans. They<br />

spread with trade<br />

along the Silk<br />

Road, and were<br />

established in<br />

parts of Europe<br />

by about 1500.<br />

(The misnomer<br />

“Norway rat”<br />

may have<br />

arisen when<br />

an infested<br />

ship that<br />

happened to<br />

be Norwegian<br />

docked in<br />

an English<br />

port.) They<br />

colonized today’s United States<br />

before it had that name, by the<br />

1750s, and apparently from<br />

both the east and the west.<br />

Brown rats along the East<br />

Coast are descended mostly<br />

from European ancestors, but<br />

West Coast rats are a mix of<br />

European and Asian genetics.<br />

Roof rats—Rattus rattus,<br />

also known as black rats—<br />

are a global species as well.<br />

They may have originated on<br />

the Indian subcontinent and<br />

adapted to human settlements<br />

millennia ago, when<br />

humans invented<br />

agriculture.<br />

T h e y<br />

reached Europe by A.D. 300,<br />

in time for the decline of the<br />

Roman Empire.<br />

Black and brown rats alike<br />

traveled with explorers and<br />

traders, then settled down to<br />

eat our trash and steal our food.<br />

Today in Africa the median farm<br />

still loses 15 percent of its yield<br />

to rats. In Asia rats and other<br />

rodents eat enough rice each<br />

year to feed 200 million people.<br />

Pacific rats, a third species of<br />

Rattus, are<br />

the compass by Flavio Gioia<br />

are what remain of Amalfi<br />

seafaring history.<br />

Conquered by the Normans<br />

in 1131 and sacked by Pisa<br />

few years later, Amalfi lost<br />

its autonomy but, from the<br />

economic point of view,<br />

entrepreneurship was<br />

concentrated in the production<br />

of handmade paper according<br />

to the Arabic method, in the<br />

manufacture of iron and wool.<br />

The decline coincided with the<br />

war between the Angevins and<br />

Aragonese and, in particular,<br />

with a terrible storm, on the<br />

night between November<br />

24th and 25th, that destroyed<br />

much of the ancient port of<br />

Amalfi. Once became a fief,<br />

it was ruled by many families:<br />

Sanseverino, Colonna, Orsini<br />

and Piccolomini.<br />

The tourist history of Amalfi<br />

coincides with the arrival of<br />

the North-European travelers<br />

at the time of the Grand Tour,<br />

looking for remains of the<br />

Greek and Roman period and<br />

Romantic views. From that<br />

moment Amalfi and the whole<br />

coast were rediscovered even<br />

by celebrities as locations<br />

for spending their amalfitan<br />

holidays.<br />

Sites of interest:<br />

- Amalfi urban layout, especially<br />

in the historic center, has kept<br />

intact its medieval aspect, with<br />

the city gates (Porta Maria or<br />

De Sandala, Porta Occidentale,<br />

Porta Hospitalis), narrow<br />

cobbled streets, alleys and<br />

stairs leading to picturesque<br />

squares, overlooked by<br />

beautiful medieval palaces and<br />

small chapels;<br />

- the lookout towers (Torre dello<br />

Ziro, Torre di Vettica, Torre<br />

San Francesco or Saracena),<br />

part of the defense system<br />

designed during the viceregal<br />

period in order to defense the<br />

coastal people against the<br />

pirate attacks;<br />

- the remains of the castle and<br />

towers of Pogerola (the ancient<br />

Pigellula);<br />

- the ancient arsenals of the<br />

Maritime Republic, consisting<br />

in two lanes divided by ten<br />

pillars, used in the past for the<br />

construction of warships. It is<br />

the only example of Medieval<br />

arsenal in Southern Italy.<br />

- the Cathedral of St.<br />

Andrew, preceded by an<br />

imposing staircase, overlooks<br />

Piazza Duomo. The former<br />

Romanesque-style structure<br />

is covered by a sumptuous<br />

Baroque-style architecture.<br />

Built in 987 by the Duke<br />

of Amalfi Mansone I, it is<br />

caracterised by a basilican plan<br />

with transept and apse. The<br />

polychrome façade, preceded<br />

by an elegant portico, is<br />

dominated by the mosaic of<br />

the tympanum, the Triumph<br />

of Christ, by Domenico<br />

Morelli, whose proofs are still<br />

preserved in the main hall<br />

of the municipal seat. Inside<br />

it is possible to admire: an<br />

elegant coffered ceiling, XVIII<br />

century paintings, a XIII century<br />

wooden crucifix, a mother of<br />

pearl cross from Jerusalem,<br />

the baptismal font (a porphyry<br />

hot coming from a Roman<br />

villa), two pillars of Egyptian<br />

granite coming from Paestum<br />

supporting the main arch, spiral<br />

columns and pulpits of the XII<br />

century. In the crypt there are<br />

the relics of St. Andrew from<br />

which, since 1304, exudes<br />

a dew, called “manna”, with<br />

miraculous effects. The most<br />

valuable element is the bronze<br />

door, realized by the wealthy<br />

merchant Pantaleone de<br />

Comite in Constantinople.<br />

- the Basilica del Crocifisso,<br />

adjacent to the Cathedral and

once connected to it, dates<br />

back to the IX century and was<br />

built on a pre-exiting early-<br />

Christian building, Initially<br />

dedicated to Our lady and,<br />

later, to the Saints Cosmas<br />

and Damian, it has three<br />

naves divided by columns<br />

supporting slightly acute<br />

arches on which a women’s<br />

gallery. The restoration of 1931<br />

eliminated the Baroque-style<br />

superstructures, returning<br />

the original Romanesque<br />

architecture. It now houses the<br />

Museum of Sacred Art of the<br />

Cathedral.<br />

- The Cloister of Paradise,<br />

built by the Archbishop Filippo<br />

Augustariccio in 1268 as a<br />

cemetery for the nobles of<br />

Amalfi. It consists of a foursided<br />

portico with intertwined<br />

pointed arches in Arabic-<br />

Norman style<br />

resting on fine<br />

twin columns,<br />

with six chapels<br />

and a beautiful<br />

fresco from<br />

the Neapolitan<br />

school of Giotto.<br />

Today there are<br />

some Roman<br />

sarcophagi, one<br />

of the XIV century<br />

and the remains of<br />

the original façade<br />

of the Cathedral.<br />

- the Bell<br />

Tower, built in<br />

Romanesque style<br />

between 1180 and<br />

1276, has a bell<br />

cell in Moorish<br />

style with majolica<br />

tiles in green and<br />

yellow.<br />

- the Benedictine Monastery of<br />

the Holy Trinity (XVI century),<br />

today called Palazzo San<br />

Benedetto, seat of the Town<br />

Hall and the Municipal Library.<br />

At the entrance there is the<br />

ceramic panel by Diodoro<br />

Cossa (1968) displaying the<br />

highlights of Amalfi history;<br />

- the former Monastery of San<br />

Basilio, dating from the XII<br />

century, now adapted to civilian<br />

residences;<br />

- the Church of San Benedetto,<br />

in Baroque-style, preserves<br />

valuable XVIII century<br />

paintings;<br />

- the small Church of<br />

Sant’Anna, also called “the<br />

dark” for the dark tones used<br />

for the painting of the Saint on<br />

the main altar;<br />

- the Chapel of Sant’Anna “la<br />

Grande”, located on the ground<br />

floor of the XV century Palazzo<br />

Bonito;<br />

- the Church of Santa Maria<br />

Maggiore, with it beautiful bell<br />

tower in Moorish style, was<br />

built in 986 by Mansone I Duke<br />

of Amalfi and preserves the<br />

relics of San Felice, a fine XVIII<br />

century nativity scene and<br />

important paintings;<br />

- the Church of San Biagio,<br />

documented since the XI<br />

century, was part of the<br />

possessions of the Abbey of<br />

Montecassino for long time.<br />

Inside it is possible to admire<br />

a valuable ceramic floor of the<br />

XVIII century and XVI century<br />

paintings;<br />

- the ancient Convent of San<br />

Francesco, today a famous<br />

hotel, was founded in 1222 by<br />

St. Francis from Assisi. Inside it<br />

is possible to admire a beautiful<br />

cloister in Moorish style;<br />

- the ancient Capuchin<br />

Convent, today a hotel, was<br />

built by Pietro Capuano in<br />

1212. It was granted to the<br />

Capuchins in the last years<br />

of the XVI century and finally<br />

closed due to the revolutionary<br />

laws of 1815. The splendid<br />

cloister of the XIII century<br />

and the magnificent flowered<br />

terrace led Stiwell to exclaim:<br />

“Who did not see Amalfi, did<br />

not see the world, but who did<br />

not see Amalfi from the terrace<br />

of the Capuchin Monastery, did<br />

not see Amalfi”.<br />

- the Church of Addolorata,<br />

built in the last years of the<br />

XVIII century, has XVII-XVIII<br />

one who told me about the<br />

alarmingly high rate of rat “toilet<br />

emergence” in Seattle.<br />

I meet him on his turf on a warm<br />

April day at a park in lower<br />

Manhattan, one of the rat capitals<br />

of the world. Corrigan appears<br />

in a hard hat and neon orange<br />

vest, holding a clipboard. These<br />

accoutrements of authority will<br />

allow us to tromp through flower<br />

beds and subway tunnels<br />

without being challenged. Small<br />

statured and intent, Corrigan<br />

was raised in a big Irish Catholic<br />

family on Long Island. He talks<br />

like New Yorkers in the movies.<br />

New Yorkers like to titillate<br />

one another with stories about<br />

sightings of rats as big as dogs.<br />

But the biggest rat Corrigan has<br />

ever heard of was a one-pound,<br />

13-ounce creature that hailed<br />

from Iraq. He has a standing<br />

offer: $500 for anyone who can<br />

produce a two-pound rat. He<br />

doubts that he will ever have to<br />

pay up.<br />

The dominant rat in New York<br />

City is the Norway rat, Rattus<br />

norvegicus, also known as<br />

the brown rat. Brown rats are<br />

burrowing animals that are<br />

widest at the skull, so they can<br />

slip into any space wider than<br />

that (including the pipe leading<br />

to a toilet bowl). Corrigan points<br />

out a small hole directly behind<br />

the bench I am sitting on—<br />

it’s the main entrance to a rat<br />

burrow. He explains that most rat<br />

burrows have three entrances,<br />

a main entrance and two boltholes<br />

for quick escapes.<br />

Brown rats live in families. They<br />

have two to 14 pups at a time,<br />

keep their nests (which they<br />

often build in the garden beds<br />

of public parks) relatively clean,<br />

and patrol small territories.<br />

When the pups reach puberty,<br />

as early as 10 weeks of age,<br />

they move out and look for<br />

mates.<br />


Take one year in a typical urban<br />

rat colony—how fast might it<br />

grow? Researchers estimate<br />

that a litter of nine pups 10<br />

weeks into the year would grow<br />

to 270 pups by the 30th week<br />

and wrap up with a whopping<br />

11,907 rats by year’s end<br />

(population growth measured in<br />

word width, below). Rats usually<br />

reach sexual maturity by 12<br />

weeks, and litters can vary from<br />

two to 14 pups. Reproductive<br />

rates are highly dependent on<br />

environment. The more shelter,<br />

food, and trash, the higher the<br />

rat count.<br />

Corrigan and I head out on our<br />

rat safari. In a flower bed beside<br />

a courthouse he paces carefully,<br />

feeling the soil beneath his<br />

boots. Sensing a hollow space,<br />

he jumps up and down heavily<br />

a few times. Moments later a<br />

rat pops out of a nearby hole<br />

and makes a run for it—a dusty<br />

brown streak of small-mammal<br />

panic. I feel a little bad. Most<br />

New Yorkers, however, want all<br />

the rats in their city dead.<br />

Just a week before I hunted<br />

rats with Corrigan, Mayor Bill<br />

de Blasio had announced “an<br />

aggressive new extermination<br />

plan” against rats in the city’s<br />

public housing, part of a $32<br />

million effort to reduce rats by<br />

up to 70 percent in the most<br />

infested neighborhoods.<br />

Many cities try to control rats<br />

with poison. But unfortunately<br />

for the rats and for Corrigan’s<br />

surprisingly tender heart, fastacting<br />

poisons don’t work well;<br />

rats that feel ill after a bite or<br />

two stop eating the bait. So<br />

the extermination industry<br />

uses anticoagulants, or blood<br />

thinners, which don’t affect rats<br />

for hours and don’t kill them<br />

for several days. The rats die<br />

slowly from internal bleeding.<br />

Corrigan hates to inflict such a<br />

death, but he fears outbreaks<br />

of disease. So he continues to<br />

lend his expertise to clients.<br />

We proceed to Tribeca Park,<br />

where according to Corrigan<br />

the rats have learned to hunt<br />

and kill pigeons. “They leap<br />

on their backs like a leopard<br />

in the Serengeti,” he says. But<br />

tonight the park is quiet. City<br />

workers might have recently<br />

injected burrows with dry ice, or<br />

frozen carbon dioxide, Corrigan<br />

says—a more humane approach<br />

to killing rats. As carbon dioxide<br />

gas wafts off the ice and seeps<br />

through the burrows, rats fall<br />

asleep, then never wake up.<br />

Few who kill rats for a living hope

RATS ARE OUR shadow<br />

selves. We live on the surface<br />

of the city; they generally live<br />

below. We mostly work by day;<br />

they mostly work by night. But<br />

nearly everywhere that people<br />

live, rats live too.<br />

Middle Ages, they may have<br />

transmitted plague.<br />

From Seattle to Buenos Aires,<br />

urban rat populations are rising—<br />

as much as 15 to 20 percent in<br />

the past decade, according to<br />

one expert. Charismatic animals<br />

like elephants, polar bears, and<br />

lions are all in decline, yet inside<br />

our cities, we find it hard even<br />

with extraordinary efforts to<br />

keep rat populations in check.<br />

disgust. People hate rats.<br />

Do the little beasts really<br />

deserve it? Some of the things<br />

we hate most about rats—their<br />

dirtiness, their fecundity, their<br />

undeniable grit and knack for<br />

survival—are qualities that<br />

could describe us as well. Their<br />

filth is really our own: In most<br />

places rats are thriving on our<br />

trash and our carelessly tossed<br />

leftovers.<br />

In Seattle, where I grew up,<br />

the rats excel at climbing<br />

sewer pipes—from the inside.<br />

Somewhere in my hometown<br />

right now, a long, wet Norway<br />

rat is poking its twitchy pink<br />

nose above the water surface<br />

in a toilet bowl. Seattle also<br />

has another species, roof rats,<br />

which nest in trees and skitter<br />

along telephone lines. In the<br />

Of all the animals that thrive<br />

in our world—pigeons, mice,<br />

sparrows, spiders—we feel<br />

strongest about rats. Rats have<br />

a reputation for being filthy and<br />

sneaky. They’re seen as signs<br />

of urban decay and carriers of<br />

pestilence.<br />

More than any other city<br />

creature, they inspire fear and<br />

“It is us, the humans,” New<br />

York rodentologist Bobby<br />

Corrigan says. “We don’t keep<br />

our nest clean.”<br />

Corrigan is a leading expert on<br />

urban rats. He has studied the<br />

animals since 1981 and works<br />

as a consultant for cities and<br />

companies around the world<br />

with rat problems. He’s the<br />

century<br />

paintings, a marble statue of<br />

the XVI century representing<br />

the Madonna and Child, a<br />

Renaissance-style Pietà and a<br />

late-Gothic bas-relief. It is also<br />

the seat of the confraternity<br />

that organizes every year the<br />

Procession of Battenti on Holy<br />

Friday, singing music and song<br />

by Antonio Tirabassi;<br />

- the Church of Sant’Antonio<br />

from Padua, dating from the<br />

first half of the XIII century, has<br />

a<br />

beautiful<br />

altar piece of the XVIII<br />

century, a marble tombstone<br />

belonged to a wealthy<br />

merchant of Amalfi and a<br />

Roman tombstone of the III<br />

century;<br />

- the small Church of Santa<br />

Lucia (XII century);<br />

- the small Chapel of St.<br />

Christopher, patron saint of<br />

travelers;<br />

- the Church of Santa Maria<br />

dell’Annunziata (1349), with<br />

precious paintings of the XVIII-<br />

XIX century;<br />

- the<br />

Church of<br />

Santa Maria<br />

in Piazza,<br />

also called<br />

Santa Maria di<br />

Portosalvo, is located<br />

in the place where in<br />

medieval time there was<br />

the very heart of commercial<br />

life in Amalfi. It preserves an<br />

altar piece in Byzantine style<br />

depicting the Black Madonna<br />

with Child;<br />

- the Church of Santa Maria del<br />

Pino, or del Carmine, was in<br />

origin the chapel of the Lupino<br />

family, built in the XV century;<br />

- the Church of San Giuseppe<br />

dei Castriota (XVI century); -<br />

the Church of Santa Maria del<br />

Carmine, with wooden statues<br />

and a Roman urn.


every Thursday at 6 PM PT<br />

While mute swans are<br />

generally extremely<br />

territorial (and who wouldn’t<br />

be after hundreds of years<br />

of being eaten), the swans in<br />

the Abbotsbury Swannery are<br />

notoriously docile. Not only do<br />

the birds not seem to mind the<br />

proximity of their brethren, but<br />

they will also allow humans to<br />

get cautiously close to them,<br />

even if the cygnets are around,<br />

making the spot a popular<br />

tourist attraction.<br />

Each year after the birds<br />

molt and are confined to the<br />

lagoon for week at which<br />

time researchers count the<br />

birds which usually number<br />

between 600-900, making the<br />

Abbotsbury Swannery not just<br />

the only managed group of the<br />

silent birds in the world, but one<br />

of the largest as well.<br />

Abbotsbury Swannery is today a<br />

tourist attraction and the swans<br />

have become accustomed to the<br />

presence of visitors and allow<br />

close but respectful approach<br />

even in the nesting season when<br />

cygnets are on the nest. Before<br />

viewing the swans, visitors can<br />

look at the Decoyman’s House<br />

which sets the scene for the visit<br />

with a display explaining how<br />

the colony has been managed<br />

over the years and how the<br />

present situation has evolved.<br />

Apart from the swans, the Fleet<br />

and Chesil Beach attracts many<br />

species of waterfowl and over<br />

300 different varieties have<br />

been recorded leading to the<br />

area being designated as a Site<br />

of Special Scientific Interest<br />

(SSSI),<br />

a<br />

Special<br />

Protected<br />

Area (SPA) and<br />

a Special Area of<br />

Conservation (SAC).<br />

Nesting mute swans are<br />

usually intensely territorial, so<br />

it is unusual to see this many<br />

pairs in proximity to each other.<br />

However, the closeness of the<br />

nests can sometimes lead to<br />

problems as newly hatched<br />

cygnets can become attached<br />

to the wrong parent bird; to<br />

overcome this, rearing pens<br />

are used for a few selected<br />

families who need more<br />

privacy. The daily feeding<br />

sessions take place at noon<br />

and 4 p.m. A large mass of the<br />

birds gather round; children are<br />

invited to help with the feeding.<br />

At the end of July, the swans<br />

become flightless, for around<br />

six weeks, due to the moulting<br />

of their feathers. Once every<br />

two years, the swans are<br />

rounded up, so that they can<br />

be examined, weighed and<br />

measured and any new birds to<br />

the colony ringed. The roundup<br />

is<br />

undertaken by<br />

around 50 canoes that start<br />

at the eastern end of the<br />

lagoon and slowly drive the<br />

birds into the swannery bay<br />

at Abbotsbury. In the past the<br />

round-up has resulted in over<br />

900 birds being caught and<br />

recorded, but it varies from<br />

year to year.<br />

Today, there are around 600<br />

swans. They are free-flying<br />

birds and could choose to nest<br />

anywhere, but are obviously<br />

attracted by the Fleet Lagoon.<br />

The swannery is open to the<br />

public between March and<br />

the end of October, and an<br />

interesting time to visit is<br />

between the middle of May and<br />

the end of June when young<br />

cygnets are present.

Abbotsbury<br />

Swannery<br />

Established as early as the<br />

1040’s as a source of delicious<br />

swan meat for the nearby<br />

monks, the<br />

Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset,<br />

England is now a fenceless<br />

sanctuary for the majestic fowl,<br />

housing hundreds of the birds<br />

each year.<br />

The flocks of mute swans that<br />

call the swanery’s natural lagoon<br />

home were already on the site<br />

when St. Peter’s monastery was<br />

established on the site in<br />

the 11th century. The<br />

reedy body of<br />

water was<br />

perfectly conducive to the lives<br />

of the long-necked birds, and<br />

the birds themselves were in<br />

turn perfectly conducive to the<br />

appetites of the hungry monks<br />

who moved in around them. For<br />

over 500 years the monastery<br />

farmed the swan population for<br />

meat, careful not to over poach<br />

their stock. When the monastery<br />

was finally dissolved in 1539,<br />

the swans remained (likely<br />

breathing a sigh of relief). The<br />

land was then purchased by a<br />

wealthy family who still holds<br />

the estate today.<br />

While the swans are no<br />

longer used for meat<br />

their population is still<br />

supported by the<br />

swannery, which<br />

takes care of the<br />

flocks as they<br />

come to have<br />

their babies<br />

(known as<br />

cygnets).<br />

only on

Hawaii’s Coral<br />

Reefs<br />

The Hawaiian Coral Reef:<br />

Important, but threatened<br />

Stretching for more than 1200<br />

miles (2000 km) in the Central<br />

Pacific, Hawaiian coral reefs<br />

account for about 85 percent<br />

of all coral reefs in the United<br />

States. Because it is under<br />

water and not visible, the<br />

importance of the reef remains<br />

largely hidden - including its<br />

importance not only to the ocean<br />

environment and its inhabitants,<br />

but also to humans.<br />

The state of Hawaii consists of<br />

eight larger islands (seven of<br />

which are populated), also called<br />

the Main Hawaiian Islands,<br />

and 124 small, uninhabited<br />

islands, reefs and shoals, the<br />

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands,<br />

where the majority of the<br />

Hawaiian coral reef, about 70<br />

percent of it, is located.<br />

Coral reef support marine and<br />

terrestrial life<br />

Even though they may appear<br />

to be nothing but rock, reefs<br />

are alive. Corals give reefs<br />

their structure. The limestone<br />

skeletons of living coral, the<br />

hard skeletal remains of dead<br />

coral and a soft type of coral<br />

provide structure for a reef,<br />

offering habitat and food<br />

to the many fish<br />

a n d<br />

invertebrates, including<br />

lobsters, octopus and crabs<br />

that live around it. And algae<br />

- more than 500 species live<br />

in Hawaii’s coral reef alone -<br />

not only provide fish with food,<br />

but also provide life-sustaining<br />

oxygen for all marine life. In<br />

fact, the oceans’ algae provide<br />

more oxygen than all land plants<br />

worldwide combined.<br />

About one-fourth of the plants,<br />

fish, and invertebrates found<br />

in the Hawaiian coral reef are<br />

endemic to Hawaii, meaning that<br />

they can’t be found anywhere<br />

else on Earth. In the past, reef<br />

fish provided Hawaiians with the<br />

majority of their protein. And, of<br />

course, reef fish continue to be<br />

a dietary staple for many people<br />

inhabiting and visiting Hawaii.<br />

In addition to providing humans<br />

with food, reefs protect<br />

shorelines from erosion and<br />

storm damage by dissipating<br />

wave energy and<br />

limiting the impact<br />

of strong waves.<br />

Also, the<br />

s a n d y<br />


striking vertical topography—<br />

rock towers, sandstone<br />

canyons, and sharp cliffs—<br />

attracted 4.3 million visitors in<br />

2018.<br />


The world’s very first national<br />

park remains the showpiece<br />

of the National Park Service,<br />

visited by 4.1 million people<br />

last year. The vast reserve—<br />

covering 2.2 million acres<br />

in Wyoming, Idaho, and<br />

Montana—has craggy peaks,<br />

explosive geysers, alpine lakes,<br />

deep forests, and a wealth of<br />

wild animals. The stars are<br />

bison, bears, sheep, moose, and<br />

wolves.<br />

6. YOSEMITE<br />

California park created in 1890.<br />

Over four million visitors come<br />

to this temple annually, most<br />

of them spending time in the<br />

Yosemite Valley. This mile-wide,<br />

7-mile-long canyon was cut by<br />

a river and then widened and<br />

deepened by glacial action.<br />

7. ACADIA<br />

Sea and mountain meet at<br />

Acadia National Park in Maine.<br />

Most of the park is on Mount<br />

Desert Island, a patchwork of<br />

parkland, private property, and<br />

seaside villages.<br />

8. GRAND TETON<br />

The peaks of the Teton Range,<br />

regal and imposing as they<br />

stand nearly 7,000 feet above<br />

the Wyoming valley floor, make<br />

one of the boldest geological<br />

statements in the Rockies. The<br />

park’s jewel-like lakes, blue<br />

and white glaciers, and naked<br />

granite pinnacles enticed 3.5<br />

million visitors last year.<br />

9. OLYMPIC<br />

More than three million people<br />

a year explore the unspoiled<br />

terrain of Olympic National<br />

Park in Washington State. No<br />

roads cross through the park,<br />

which contains three distinct<br />

ecosystems: temperate rain<br />

forest (seen here), subalpine<br />

forest and wildflower meadow,<br />

and rugged Pacific shore.<br />

10. GLACIER<br />

Rounding out the top ten<br />

most popular parks is Glacier<br />

National Park, which covers<br />

over a million acres in Montana<br />

and attracted 3 million people in<br />

2018. Many consider the park’s<br />

Going-to-the-Sun Road one of<br />

the world’s most spectacular<br />

drives.<br />

enjoyed by island residents and<br />

visitors alike only exist because<br />

of Hawaii’s coral reef. Beach<br />

sand’s main components are<br />

dead fragments of coral, shells<br />

and calcified algae. But the reef<br />

is also responsible for creating<br />

the big Hawaiian waves. The<br />

shape of the reef is one factor<br />

in determining how big a wave<br />

gets.<br />

In addition to all of this, the reef<br />

provides diverse recreational<br />

opportunities, such as<br />

snorkeling and diving, making<br />

Hawaii a top tourist destination<br />

for people around the world,<br />

generating about $800 million a<br />

year for Hawaii’s marine tourism<br />

industry.<br />

Human activities put reef in<br />

peril<br />

Despite the coral reef’s<br />

importance, it suffers from<br />

degradation that began about<br />

100 years ago as Westerners<br />

began to arrive in everincreasing<br />

numbers. Today,<br />

urbanization, overfishing, alien<br />

species, marine debris and<br />

recreational overuse plague the<br />

Main Hawaiian Islands, while<br />

marine debris and the impacts<br />

from fisheries are causing<br />

problems in the uninhabited<br />

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands,<br />

although their nearshore reefs<br />

are still in very good condition.<br />

Runoff the No. 1 problem for<br />

reef along the Main Islands<br />

Unlike the more inaccessible<br />

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands,<br />

the Main Islands face a host of<br />

concerns related to population<br />

growth, urbanization and an<br />

increase in tourism. Urban<br />

development and agriculture<br />

are the most significant<br />

threats to Hawaiian coral reefs<br />

because of runoff containing<br />

sediments (soil and silt) and<br />

chemicals and nutrients from<br />

lawns, farms, golf courses,<br />

construction sites, storm drains,<br />

cesspools and septic tanks.<br />

Sediment runoff is bad because<br />

it reduces sunlight penetration<br />

and smothers corals. The reef<br />

then starves to death because<br />

it can’t manufacture food from<br />

sunlight any longer. Chemical<br />

herbicides and pesticides harm<br />

not only the coral, but also the<br />

animals that live within the<br />

reef, while fertilizers and<br />

sewage can lead to<br />

an overabundance<br />

of nutrients in the<br />

water and an<br />

excessive growth<br />

of algae which,<br />

in turn, crowds<br />

out corals or<br />

smothers them<br />

by cutting off<br />

their sunlight.<br />

Overfishing depletes<br />

supplies, threatens reef<br />

ecosystem<br />

Commercial, subsistence and<br />

recreational fishing during the<br />

past century have taken a toll on<br />

nearshore fish stocks, but the<br />

exact toll isn’t known. There is<br />

uncertainty of the actual number<br />

of catches because commercial<br />

fishers tend to under-report their<br />

catches, and there are many<br />

recreational and subsistence<br />

fishers without licensing or<br />

reporting requirements. The<br />

problem of recreational and<br />

subsistence<br />

fishing<br />

i s

difficult to resolve because<br />

these activities are important<br />

in Hawaii, where about 35<br />

percent of Hawaiian residents<br />

fish. As a result of both underreporting<br />

and unlicensing, little<br />

information exists on the status<br />

of most reef fish populations.<br />

Yet some studies done in Hawaii<br />

have shown that recreational<br />

fishers take a higher diversity of<br />

species with a wider variety of<br />

gear types than do commercial<br />

fishers and that recreational<br />

catches were equal to or greater<br />

than the commercial catches for<br />

some species.<br />

Commercial fishing without a<br />

license, or poaching, is another<br />

problem for the Main Hawaiian<br />

Islands. If fishers take undersized<br />

fish and invertebrates, or fish<br />

out of season, it hurts the<br />

ocean environment because<br />

these juvenile animals haven’t<br />

had a chance to reproduce, yet.<br />

Moreover, long, inexpensive<br />

gill nets allow fishers to set<br />

nets deeper and harvest fish<br />

in areas once unreachable by<br />

fishers’ nets.<br />

Overfishing and poaching<br />

mainly occur because Hawaii<br />

lacks marine enforcement<br />

and imposes minimal fines<br />

when enforcement does<br />

occur - meaning that there<br />

is no incentive for people to<br />

abide fisheries management<br />

regulations.<br />

As for the Northwestern<br />

Hawaiian Islands, their remote<br />

location largely protects them<br />

from the harms linked to<br />

commercial, subsistence and<br />

recreational fishing, as well<br />

as from the harms linked to<br />

aquarium fishing. However,<br />

underwater overfishing in these<br />

islands is leading to a decline<br />

in lobsters, and a decline<br />

in lobsters endangers the<br />

Hawaiian monk seal, for which<br />

lobsters are an important food<br />

source.<br />

Just enjoying the water can<br />

pose a threat<br />

Although Hawaii is a popular<br />

tourist destination and<br />

welcomes visitors, recreation<br />

- including snorkeling, scuba<br />

diving and swimming - can<br />

compound the reefs’ struggle<br />

to survive. Marine debris, such<br />

as discarded fishing gear, can<br />

damage the reef, as can waste<br />

dumping from cruise and other<br />

pleasure ships. And taking a<br />

dip in a reef simply to admire<br />

its beauty has its drawbacks as<br />

well, because so many of us like<br />

to do that. In fact, this type of<br />

recreational overuse threatens<br />

the reef. Whether by accident or<br />

by intention - stepping on reefs<br />

can damage or even kill them.<br />

A notable example of solving the<br />

problem of recreational overuse<br />

can be found in Hanauma Bay,<br />

known as Oahu’s premier spot<br />

for snorkeling and diving. During<br />

the 1980s, as many as 10,000<br />

visitors enjoyed the bay daily, or<br />

about 3 million annually. Then,<br />

in 1990, the City and County of<br />

Honolulu enacted a plan to stop<br />

the neglect, restore the bay to<br />

a healthy state and safeguard<br />

the fragile marine life for the<br />

future. The plan includes a fish<br />

feeding ban, a requirement that<br />

all visitors view an educational<br />

video before going down to the<br />

bay, a ban on fishing, as well as<br />

a ban on smoking and alcoholic<br />

beverages. Furthermore, the<br />

city bus service to the bay is<br />

limited now to one bus arrival<br />

every half-hour. Parking along<br />

Top 10 most<br />

visited U.S<br />

National Parks<br />

Billion is a pretty big number.<br />

(To wit: A million seconds equals<br />

about 11 days, but a billion<br />

seconds is almost 32 years.) So<br />

it’s all the more incredible that the<br />

National Park Service’s records<br />

have registered over 14 billion<br />

visits since 1904. That’s nearly<br />

twice the planet’s population.<br />

It’s greater than the number of<br />

years the universe has existed<br />

at all. (See extraordinary photos<br />

of national parks from space.)<br />

Those massive crowds keep<br />

coming because of the parks’<br />

enduring power. Parks—<br />

“America’s best idea”—preserve<br />

wildlife and wild places, provide<br />

vital recreation, and create<br />

priceless cultural spaces. And<br />

while it’s well worth a trip to<br />

each of the system’s 418 parks<br />

(60 of which are “national”),<br />

there are certainly some heavy<br />

hitters among them.<br />

1. GREAT SMOKY<br />


Ensconced at number one<br />

is Great Smoky Mountains<br />

National Park, which drew<br />

more than 11 million visitors last<br />

year—nearly twice the number<br />

of the second most popular<br />

park. Most visitors see the park<br />

from a mountain-skimming<br />

scenic highway; many take to<br />

its 800-plus miles of hiking trails<br />

stretching across North Carolina<br />

and Tennessee.<br />


In 2018, 6.4 million people<br />

witnessed the wonders of<br />

one of the largest canyons on<br />

Earth. A mile deep and up to 18<br />

miles wide at spots, the Grand<br />

Canyon is so vast that even<br />

from the best vantage point only<br />

a fraction of its 277 miles can be<br />

seen.<br />


Sweeping vistas are a main<br />

attraction at Rocky Mountain<br />

National Park in Colorado.<br />

The park contains 150 lakes<br />

and 450 miles of streams,<br />

plus ecosystems ranging from<br />

wetlands to pine forests to<br />

montane areas to alpine tundra.<br />

4. ZION<br />

Rising in Utah’s high plateau<br />

country, the Virgin River carves<br />

its way through Zion Canyon<br />

to the desert below. The park’s

temperatures of record-setting<br />

-98 degrees Celsius (-144<br />

degrees Fahrenheit). These<br />

are the coldest temperatures<br />

evert recorded on Earth. The<br />

coldest readings were taken in<br />

tiny hollows on the Antarctic ice<br />

sheet, which can trap ultra cold<br />

and dry air.<br />

Signs of Fire<br />

Remote lakes in a perpetually<br />

ice-free area of Antarctica<br />

show not only the chemical<br />

signature of ancient wildfires,<br />

but also some much more<br />

recent evidence of fossil-fuel<br />

combustion, according<br />

to National Science<br />

Foundation-funded research.<br />

The First Discovery<br />

While Captain James Cook and<br />

his crew crossed the Antarctic<br />

Circle in 1773, they didn’t set<br />

foot on or even see the continent<br />

itself. January 19, 1840, marked<br />

the first time in recorded history<br />

that people walked on the<br />

southern-most continent when<br />

Charles Wilkes led a fleet of six<br />

ships from Virginia to Australia<br />

to Antarctica over the course of<br />

two years.<br />

The South Pole<br />

in 1911, Norwegian explorer<br />

Roald Amundsen and four<br />

other men were the first to<br />

successfully reach the South<br />

Pole. It took the group 57 days<br />

to make their 1,800-mile trek<br />

inland once they reached the<br />

continent. Amundsen was<br />

several weeks ahead of the<br />

exploration team led by Robert<br />

Falcon Scott. The remarkable<br />

journeys and discoveries were<br />

overshadowed by the death of<br />

Scott and his team during their<br />

return.<br />

The human desire to explore<br />

the far reaches of the planet,<br />

despite harsh conditions, tough<br />

odds, and lots of uncertainty,<br />

is truly unstoppable. Today,<br />

Antarctic travelers can still<br />

make their own discoveries<br />

and even participate in Citizen<br />

Science projects to further our<br />

understanding of the icy world<br />

on our own planet.<br />

Kalanianaole<br />

Highway, which leads to the<br />

bay from Honolulu and from<br />

Oahu’s northeast side, was also<br />

prohibited. As a result of these<br />

regulations, the number of<br />

visitors dropped from 10,000 in<br />

the 1980s to 3,000 visitors daily<br />

today, or from about 3 million<br />

annually during the 1980s<br />

to about 1 million annually<br />

today. This has led to the bay’s<br />

recovery, with the biomass<br />

now measuring three to four<br />

times larger than the estimated<br />

abundance for most reef sites<br />

on Oahu.<br />

Underwater life not immune<br />

to deadly alien species<br />

Because of Hawaii’s unique<br />

ecosystem, where many<br />

species are endemic and the<br />

reef is diverse, alien species<br />

p o s e<br />

another threat.<br />

Alien species are<br />

organisms that have been<br />

moved from their native habitat<br />

to a new one, where they cause<br />

harm, sometimes out-competing<br />

native species or bringing new<br />

parasites and diseases with<br />

them, while native species lack<br />

defense systems to ward off the<br />

effects of these threats.<br />

Since 1950, 19 new species<br />

of macroalgae have been<br />

introduced to Oahu, and studies<br />

show that these alien algae<br />

have overgrown and killed<br />

some coral in Kaneohe Bay<br />

on Oahu’s southeast coast.<br />

Sometimes, the effects of an<br />

alien invasion can completely<br />

alter an ecosystem. According<br />

to one study, a combination<br />

of invading alien species and<br />

runoff has led to massive blooms<br />

of foreign algae, with the result<br />

that they have overtaken native<br />

algae and reduced the diversity<br />

and complexity of some coral<br />

reef<br />

beds<br />

(Eldredge,<br />

Reaser: Coral Reefs: Invaded<br />


Aquarium fishing in Hawaii’s<br />

coral reefs: Love for marine<br />

creatures’ beauty puts them<br />

at risk<br />

Beyond the need for fish as<br />

food, the human desire to<br />

possess fish and other marine<br />

life for their beauty also takes<br />

toll on Hawaii’s coral reef. The<br />

U.S. aquarium fish industry<br />

reports that it obtains most<br />

if its ornamental fish and<br />

invertebrates from Hawaii’s<br />

waters. The annual harvest of<br />

aquarium fish in Hawaii more<br />

than quadrupled in a little more<br />

than 20 years, going from<br />

90,000 harvested in 1973 to<br />

422,823 in 1995. Aquarium<br />

harvesters often destroy reef<br />

habitat when they collect sessile<br />

benthic invertebrates, such as<br />

the feather-duster worm, which<br />

lives attached on the bottom of<br />

the sea floor.<br />

In 1998, the Hawaii state<br />

legislature passed a law<br />

because of conflicts among<br />

aquarium fish harvesters,<br />

commercial and subsistence<br />

fishers and environmentalists.<br />

The law declared a minimum<br />

of 30 percent of the west<br />

Hawaii Island coastline as Fish<br />

Replenishment Areas (FRAs)<br />

where aquarium fish collecting<br />

is prohibited.<br />

What can be done to protect<br />

Hawaii’s coral reefs?<br />

To help safeguard Hawaii’s<br />

fragile coral reef ecosystem,<br />

there are ways to get actively<br />

involved in reef protection<br />

programs. Volunteers are<br />

always needed for reef and<br />

beach clean-ups. Moreover,<br />

there are a few simple things<br />

each one of us can do. At home,<br />

residents can cut down on their<br />

use of fertilizers, pesticides and<br />

cleaning products that mostly<br />

contain chemical ingredients<br />

to limit water pollution. While<br />

fishing, it is best to limit the catch<br />

and to only take what is needed<br />

today. Don’t release non-native<br />

or aquarium fish into the ocean.<br />

It can also be harmful to throw<br />

waste in the water, or to discard<br />

old fishing nets. Even littering on<br />

the beaches can pose a threat<br />

because it can get washed<br />

into the ocean and harm the<br />

reef. Boat anchors shouldn’t be<br />

thrown on the reef, but only on a<br />

sandy bottom. And lastly, while<br />

swimming, snorkeling, and<br />

scuba diving, it is best to not<br />

touch the reef or step on it since<br />

that can harm or even kill it.<br />

If each one of us followed<br />

these simple guidelines, the<br />

reef wouldn’t be as threatened<br />

as it currently is. This colorful<br />

underwater paradise will then<br />

be there for many generations<br />

to come.<br />

What have we<br />

discovered in<br />

Antarctica?<br />

Fossil Forests<br />

Earlier this year scientists<br />

discovered five new fossil<br />

forests on the planet’s southernmost<br />

continent. The discovery<br />

nearly doubled the amount of<br />

fossil forests scientists had<br />

believed to exist on what is<br />

now the world’s largest desert.<br />

Fossils were of hardy plants<br />

that lived sometime around 300<br />

to 200 million years ago.<br />

Bacteria (That could help us<br />

find life on other planets)<br />

A 2017 study from the<br />

International Journal of Science<br />

revealed the desert soils of<br />

Antarctica harbor rich microbial<br />

life that can live with very little<br />

sun, no geothermal energy,<br />

and limited nutrients. The<br />

study says that “although more<br />

extensive sampling is required<br />

to verify whether this process<br />

is widespread in terrestrial<br />

Antarctica and other oligotrophic<br />

habitats, our results provide new<br />

understanding of the minimal<br />

nutritional requirements for life<br />

and open the possibility that<br />

atmospheric gases support life<br />

on other planets.”<br />

A Giant Hole<br />

Scientists using satellite<br />

technology to monitor the<br />

continent spotted a hole the size<br />

of Maine in 2017, the largest<br />

found on Antarctica since the<br />

1970s. Known as a polynya, the<br />

hole was about 30,000 square<br />

miles.<br />

Seals With Superpowers<br />

In 2014, the National Science<br />

Foundation announced that<br />

scientists discovered Weddell<br />

seals may have a sixth sense!<br />

“Weddell seals have biological<br />

adaptations that allow them<br />

to dive deep--as much as of<br />

hundreds of meters--while<br />

hunting, but also an uncanny<br />

ability to find the breathing<br />

holes they need on the surface<br />

of the ice..by using the Earth’s<br />

magnetic field as a natural<br />

GPS.”<br />

The Ice’s Age<br />

Using a Krypton-dating<br />

technology, scientists confirmed<br />

the age of an Antarctic ice<br />

sample. The result:<br />

120,000 yearold<br />

ice.<br />

The discovery of the ice’s age<br />

allows scientists to explore<br />

Earth’s climate much farther<br />

back into history and potentially<br />

lead to a better understanding<br />

of the mechanisms that cause<br />

the planet to shift into and out of<br />

ice ages.<br />

Penguins Galore!<br />

Early Antarctic explorers were<br />

the first to discover many of the<br />

continent’s penguin species,<br />

including gentoos, emperor<br />

penguins, chinstrap penguins,<br />

and Adélie penguins.<br />

The Coldest Temps<br />

A study in the Geophysical<br />

Research Letters revealed<br />

satellite data collected<br />

during the Antarctic<br />

polar night from<br />

2004 to 20016<br />


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