By Jessica Newley
ASC Microplastics Adventurer
As my husband and I were preparing to set sail across the Pacific Ocean this spring, I decided to look for ways to get involved in scientific research during our sail. I knew we were headed into remote, uncharted territories where data could certainly be of use. As a result, I was stoked to find ASC and to have the opportunity to be a part of its microplastics project. If we were already sailing to a far-flung place, I wanted to be a part of the larger picture and help tackle important issues like microplastics in the ocean at the same time.
Before we got our sailboat, Silent Sun, I spent a season working as a science educator onboard a 64-foot sailing vessel for Deep Green Wilderness in the Salish Sea. I led high school students through their own science research projects, involving lots of water collections and data analysis at sea. I learned through this job that when working on the ocean, particularly on sailboats, you're limited by the conditions around you. This means basically everything—weather, the boat, the point of sail, the waves, the swell, the wind direction, speed, traffic, land masses—affects you and your actions.
I quickly recalled this fact once we set sail on Silent Sun and began my water collection for ASC. When ASC Partnerships Coordinator Alex Hamilton mentioned it would be best not to use a bucket to gather the sample water, I assumed I would figure out another way no problem.
By Emily Wolfe
Meet Julie Hotz.
This summer she'll be thru-hiking the 1,200-mile the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail, which runs from Glacier National Park, Montana, to Cape Alva, on Washington’s Olympic Coast. To get to the trailhead in Glacier, she walked out her front door in Los Angeles, climbed aboard her bike, and began pedaling.
Along her journey, Julie is collecting data for the ASC Roadkill and Microplastics projects, and also raising both funds and awareness for ASC. You can live vicariously through the beautiful photos of her Instagram feed, as she pedals lonely desert highways, through the Rocky Mountains, and now heads northward.
Recently, she also sent in this dispatch from the road about her work with the roadkill project:
The only tool I need is my smartphone, but part of the task includes photographing all the roadkill I come across. I'm not the sort that gets squeamish—you can talk about splintered bones at the dinner table or ask me to watch an open heart surgery and I won't flinch.
So, my head handles the process of documenting roadkill well, but I didn't realize how my heart would be affected by doing more than just passing by and shaking my head mournfully. The act of stopping, getting off my bike, observing and photographing all adds up to some sort of intimate interaction with the deceased.
I find myself saying, "Oh little buddy, I'm so sorry." Or in the case of this owl, I just stood and admired its beauty even though there was no life left.
Photos and Writing by Brady Ross
ASC Landmark Crew Member
This is the time to be on the prairie. Calves are roaming the hills, testing their mental courage against oncoming vehicles. Pronghorn and deer fawns are soon to join them. The prairie flowers are in full bloom, the evening primrose dots the land with its pure whiteness and every evening it turns to a shade of pink to match the sunset. It is a time of excitement and rejuvenation, where we can breathe in the air and watch wind conquer the lush grasslands. The prairie is a landscape of history and stories. It doesn’t take much to get your feet dirty in the soil and feel the life between your toes.
It is in the clouds
these prairies unfold for us
an ecstatic feeling
Milky Way tenderhearted
Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation is now on AmazonSmile! 0.5% of eligible AmazonSmile purchases will be donated to ASC, in support of our mission to mobilize the outdoor adventure community to collect scientific data from some of the hardest-to-reach places, driving conservation around the globe.
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In Search of Lynx and Wolverines in the Uinta Mountains
By Grace Kay Matelich
ASC Media Coordinator
Our planet is home to more than 7 billion people and 8.7 million known species. 5,416 of those species are mammals. As humans, we often see ourselves as the highest on the food chain: Disease and disaster are our only modern predators.
But at a trophic level, we are not apex predators.
Apex predators are vital to an ecosystem as they control population numbers of lower class predators and herbivores, keeping them from overpopulating and destroying native plant life.
According to Caroline Fraser, a writer for Yale Environment 360, “the loss of these predators is a “global decapitation of the systems that support life on earth.”
And the ripples of population decline in this class of predators go beyond the disruption of the natural balance of our ecosystems—they can also increase the occurrence of some diseases.
Canada lynx and the North American wolverine are two of our more elusive neighbors. Both of these apex predators thrive in boreal forest, or taiga, and exist in metapopulations—sprawling populations that seldom interact with one another.
While strength may lie in numbers, there is nothing feeble about the sight of the lone lynx or wolverine commanding his or her terrain. The lynx’s signature stare is enough to stop any man in his tracks, and the wolverine is famed for its ferocious constitution.
Habitat fragmentation in the form of roads, highways, and subdivision poses a major threat to lynx and wolverines, because connectivity between isolated populations is crucial to both species’ survival.
Story and Photos by Kt Miller
ASC Microplastics Adventurer
As Mose drove, I could see a large stream running along the side of the road on the way to Ljubljana, the capitol of Slovenia.
“When you see a good spot, can we pull over and get another water sample from that stream?" I asked.
"Yeah, but I know a better place," Mose said with a half smile. He turned off the highway and zipped through a maze of narrow streets in a small village.
I had spent the previous two weeks skiing in Slovenia and Italy with my friends Brigid Mander, Molly Baker and Liza Sarychevski. We met Mose, also a skier, along the way. When Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation told me about its new Freshwater Microplastics Project, I was thrilled to collect some of the first samples during our trip.
We passed quickly through the town and into the mountains. Gravity pulled me side to side in a sway as Mose drove up and up a winding forest road. Europeans like to drive fast.
The road became bumpy, and Mose dodged potholes and a fallen tree. After about 10 minutes, we came to a stop. It was pouring rain. I mean really pouring.
Mose pointed out the passenger's window on the right. A perfect waterfall cascaded down from the mountains 60 feet above us.
“How about this spot?” he asked, grinning again. “People say that this is the most beautiful waterfall in Slovenia.”
We hopped out of the van and began a short, steep climb to the base of the waterfall, me in cowgirl boots, Mose in Birkenstocks. As we approached the cascading stream, it dawned on me that someone would have to get soaked to catch falling water from or even near the cascade, but on second thought, we were already soaked.
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