Earthshine Mountain Lodge

Nature Notes and Turtle Tracks Newsletter

Editor: Earthshine's Resident Naturalist Steve O'Neil

Issue 6, Spring 2010

High-Tech-Geek-Note: This newsletter is long so it may load slowly on some computers. Please be patient because we believe that nature knowledge is worth the wait.

A Newsletter All About Nature From Earthshine Mountain Lodge

The Nature Notes and Turtle Tracks Newsletter is a way for you to connect with your favorite outdoor education and adventure vacation destination: Earthshine Mountain Lodge. Within the pages of this periodic email newsletter, you will receive updates on the Turtle Tracks Eastern Box Turtle Conservation program, current nature related events from Earthshine Lodge, and select wildlife related news from around the world. Within this newsletter you will also find photos from around Earthshine taken by the staff and you, the guests of Earthshine, as well as nature and outdoor education related trivia, games and puzzles. We will also keep you up-to-date on new things happening at Earthshine that we believe you may be interested in.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction to the issue

2. Turtle Tracks Project Update

3. Earthshine Nature Center Update

4. Turtle Tracks Fundraiser Update

5. A New Puzzle

6. New Wild Adventures

7. Book Review

8. Wild Focus

9. Nature Notes

10. Quote

11. Musical Moments

12. The Crikey Coin

13. News from the Office

14. Recipes from Steve's Kitchen

15. Nature Joke

16. Steve's Nature Links

17. Steve's WILD Disclaimer

Sunset over the Blue Ridge by Susan Davis

Introduction by Steve

We are so happy to see spring on the mountaintop! It has been a long cold winter with loads of snow, ice and rain but the days are warm, the flowers are blooming, the toads and frogs are gathering at the Earthshine pond for their annual breeding bash (see video below!), the Easter Bunny made an appearance and all of nature's critters are restlessly getting ready for springtime on the mountaintop so let's check out what has been happening over the last few months and what is in store for Earthshine Nature Programs in 2010!

If you still haven't made your summer plans and you are looking for an unforgettable place to spend your holiday, vacation or just a weekend getaway--make it Earthshine Mountain Lodge. Please give us a call today at (828) 862-4207.

2009 was a wonderful year at Earthshine Mountain Lodge! Check out our new

2009 Photo Album

with photos of you and your family having fun on the mountain top! I update the photos on a regular basis so check it out for new photos and video from the last few months.

In this issue you will be able to view the latest episodes of Earthshine Nature's Wild Adventures with Steve video series so be sure to catch them here and on the

Earthshine Nature YouTube Channel.

Let's go turtle tracking!

TURTLE TRACKS PROJECT UPDATE

All of the resident turtles in the Earthshine R & R facility have awakened from their winter slumber. Rose was the first to appear to say hello to spring! Amazingly she came out on almost exactly the same day as last year--April 5th! Chewy, Tripod, Meredith and Rowdy soon followed; we have not yet seen Woody but we expect to soon.

All of the wild turtles that we are radio tracking have come out of their winter dens. Mr. Frodo was the last to emerge and it seems that Catherine has a younger "friend" who may be following her around. AJ's transmitter failed in the middle of winter so I was forced to move her with some of her soil to a holding pen until I could acquire a new transmitter for her. Check out the videos below for more information on all of the turtles.

The below video is of AJ's journey from her winter den site to the holding pen a few weeks ago.

Check out this next video for an update on all all of the other turtles we are currently radio tracking.

AJ came out of her "temporary" den on April 8th and I prepared to attach the last of my new transmitters to her shell and get her back out into the woods where she belongs. I turned on the new unit to test it and noticed that the receiver was emitting a howling sound instead of the intermittent tone that it was supposed to emit. I thought my reciever was at fault so I changed the batteries--still the howling. I tested the receiver further by locating the transmitter on another turtle and it worked normally--beep beep beep. So, yet another defective transmitter and this time it was a NEW unit that had never been used! As I did not have any more new transmitters I was forced to release AJ back into her habitat without a transmitter. It was the ethical thing to do because she needs to live free as a wild turtle so she will be able to fulfill her role in nature and the cycle of life. Hopefully we will encounter AJ again in our travels but if we do not at least we will know that she is living the good life in the forests and fields of Earthshine. Good bye Arizona Jones.

After all of the recent transmitter malfunctions and the loss of Jimmy and Mojo due to these transmitter malfunctions, I have decided that under the circumstances I must change transmitter providers. As you can imagine this decision will cost the Turtle Tracks project much more money, so for the time being I will be forced to reduce the number of turtles being tracked, apply for more grants, and come up with other fund-raising ideas in order to keep the project going ahead. If you are interested in helping the Turtle Tracks project continue tracking turtles at Earthshine please contact me.

As I have said before, wildlife conservation and research projects can be exhausting at times like this but it just goes to show you that animals and technology can be unpredictable and you just never know what will happen next but if our wildlife and wild places are going to survive, we MUST not stop and we MUST do everything in our power to 1. Educate the public, especially our children, about the value of nature 2. Learn all that we can about wildlife and their habitats so that we will be better able to help them survive. 3. Never, ever give up!

The young turtles in our Head Start Program woke up about a week before the adults and they all look great and are feeding as if they have never eaten before!

One-Eyed-Willie

Willie was the first to wake up this spring and he has been very active, eating well and looks great!

CLAY

Clay is also doing very well. He came out shortly after Willie and has been doing very well also.

TINY

Tiny has grown so fast and done so well that he now lives at Team Ecco in Hendersonville, NC where he not only educates folks on box turtles but also helps promote the Turtle Tracks project and wildlife and nature education and conservation from the mountains to the sea! Read more about Team Ecco here. Read Tiny's story here.

LEFTY

Lefty is doing great but he is still a bit too small to be released back into the wild so he will remain in our head start program for another year or two. When he is large enough he will be released back into the area where he was found so he can become an active and breeding member of the wild box turtle populations in the forests around Earthshine.

ELLIE

Ellie is also doing very well and absolutely just loves strawberries! Ellie has moved to the new Earthshine Nature Education center where she will live for a few years until she is large enough to be released into the wild. When she is released we plan to monitor her with radio telemetry to see how she does with a missing limb.

BOB

Bob is the newest turtle in the head start program. Bob was found in the early spring by a friend of Marney's (Marney is one of our chefs) while they were excavating a area of their property with a backhoe! Amazingly, tiny Bob was turned up by the tractor unharmed! Bob is a perfect candidate for the Earthshine Head Start program and the Turtle Tracks project for several reasons--1. He was found only a few miles from Earthshine, 2. The weather was still cool and Bob was in his winter den when he was disturbed, 3. A large part of Bob's habitat was destroyed, 4. Bob is a juvenile turtle so his chances of survival would be better with a short head start period after which he will be released at Earthshine with a transmitter on his shell so we will be able to study the homing abilities of a head-started juvenile box turtle.

FLUFFY'S STORY

Fluffy is an adult Female Eastern Box Turtle that is about 15 years old. She lives at Turtle Tracks most dedicated volunteer Meredith's house in Cedar Mountain, NC. Meredith acquired Fluffy from a man who had kept her as a pet in an apartment in New York city for many years. He had acquired her from a couple that had divorced and had given her to him. During the time that she lived in New York, Fluffy lived in a specially constructed indoor habitat, ate a well balanced diet and often had the run of the house and was very well taken care of. Her carer contacted Meredith when he sensed that Fluffy was no longer comfortable in her apartment habitat and she then moved to Meredith's home.

When Fluffy first came to Meredith's house during the late summer of 2009 she moved into a specially constructed large outdoor habitat where she spent a few months learning how to be a box turtle again. She had some trouble at first since she had been a city turtle most of her life. It seemed that she was not sure about what she should do with all of the leaves, plants and nature all around her. When Meredith offered her what was probably the first first big juicy snail she had ever seen she just looked at it like she was saying "what, you want me to eat THAT!" After she hibernated in Meredith's basement and moved back into the pen this spring it seemed like her instincts just took over and she is now beginning to act like a wild turtle most of the time. While she still has no fear of people and will often eat from your hand, she has also discovered that snails are a turtle delicacy and with several mighty crunches she gobbles them up shell and all!

Fluffy will live at Meredith's for the rest of her life because her origins are unknown and therefore she will never be able to be released into the wild. Fluffy is a success story because she was very well taken care of when she lived in New York. ..however, a box turtle's natural habitat is not a penthouse or an outdoor pen unless there is no other option as in Fluffy's case. Box turtles belong in wild nature and they should remain in wild nature when possible. If you find a box turtle crossing a road please, do not take it home as a "pet" just help it across the road to the side that it was heading for. It will thank you for the assistance in its own quite way and you can drive on knowing that you just helped a beautiful and ancient creature carry out the important business that it was conducting when your paths crossed.

The Earthshine Nature Center Update

Earthshine Nature Education Center UPDATE

BIG NEWS: We have decided to use the "Rabbit Hole" under the front porch of the lodge as the site for the new Earthshine Nature Education center! I have been moving all of the exhibits and animals into the center since late April and I hope to have it open and operating in time for Memorial Day! Our goal is to be fully set up by early summer to teach nature and wildlife conservation education to families and camp groups that visit Earthshine and also to local school and scout groups as well. This nature ed center will greatly benefit and inspire visitors to the lodge and their families as well as local kids from the Western North Carolina area. Hopefully after visiting the Earthshine nature center folks will be inspired to learn more about the wildlife back at home and abroad. My goal with the Earthshine Nature Center is simple: I want people to learn, grow and develop a passion and a love for the wild things--cuddly and furry and slimy and scaly--that we share this world with. Once a person understands and loves something they will naturally want to preserve and protect it. This is my goal so please; I invite you all to come join me on my quest for nature awareness for all.

However, like most folks in this area we are still suffering from the economic crisis and we do not have much in the way of supplies to outfit the center, so we are looking for donated supplies to make this happen. So far we have had many generous folks who have donated funds (thank you Billy and Alan and all those who donated anonymously). Other donations have included; aquarium stands and other assorted items (thank you Team ECCO), several assorted veterinary items (thank you Dr. Coleman), two microscopes (thank you Charlie and Dr. McCall), several aquariums (thank you Charlie, Lisa and Joe), and a sink (thank you Dr. Beverly), but we still have a long way to go. Any donated items would be greatly appreciated and we would be sure to make note of all nature center supporters on our website, in future newsletters and on a wood-burned plaque on the wall in the new nature center. We will gladly take almost any new and used supplies that anyone is willing to donate. This wonderful nature education center will happen but it will happen even BETTER with donations from folks like you. We teach the recycle and no waste ethics at Earthshine and we would like to hold true to those ethics as much as possible as we construct our new nature center by using recycled and reused items in the construction of the center. The items we are looking for are listed below. If you would care to donate any of these items (or any others) to the nature center please contact Steve at 828-606-8939.

Aquariums and terrariums of all sizes and shapes

Large jewelry-type display case for use as a reptile habitat.

Aquarium supplies such as air pumps, filters, lights, tops and hoods.

Reptile lights and heat strips, pads and rocks

Extension cords and light timers

Large dry erase whiteboard

Dissection scopes

Digital dissection scope/microscope with USB attachment or USB microscope attachment

Data projector

Computer

Color printer and ink cartridges

DVD player

VHS player

This Nature Education Center is going to be a great thing for Earthshine and for the community as a whole. It will provide a great place for visitors and locals to come and learn about nature, wildlife and our role in the web of life. It will be the base of operations for the Turtle Tracks project as well as the R & R project, box turtle head start program, box turtle DNA collection project, amphibian Chytrid fungus monitoring project and the Calling Amphibian Survey Project that we are participating in. We will have informational stations, maps, posters and fliers as well as exhibits that will educate the visitor on the who, what, how and why of our projects to the wonderful world of nature and the opportunities for citizen science just outside their doors. We will also devote some space to the much larger issues that affect us all such as global warming, overfishing, alternative energy, space exploration and more!

Steve and "Gollum Longnecker" our newest turtle--he is a Common Snapping Turtle from just up the road in the Cashiers area. Gollum was donated by RJ Grady--naturalist and bagpipe player with the band Pipapelli. THANK YOU RJ!! NOTE: Gollum is named after J.R.R. Tolkens mutated, fish-eating underworld dwelling creation and a great naturlaist friend of mine Steve Longnecker. Gollum really does have a long neck he just chose to hide it when this photo was taken:-)

Turtle Tracks Fundraiser UPDATE

Many of you may have talked with me about box turtles and other reptiles and amphibians during your visit to Earthshine Lodge. Some of you may have even attended a turtle tracking expedition searching for one of the turtles that have tiny radio transmitters attached to their shells or an evening frog walk down to the pond. These hikes and programs are all part of Earthshine Nature Program's wildlife conservation-based educational programs which are donation-funded by folks just like you. Several times per year the Earthshine Nature Programs staff put together fundraisers to raise money to cover the operational costs of the Turtle Tracks program. Without your generous support and critter adoptions these wonderful wildlife conservation projects and the new nature education center would not be possible.

The current Turtle Tracks fundraiser is a new line of T-shirts and other unique items designed by me and sold on my Cafepress.com site. Check out my wife Marian wearing one of the new Turtle Tracks T-shirts.


Click the photo or click here to check out the Turtle Tracks Cafepress storefront where you can support the Turtle Tracks project by ordering yourself a T-shirt, tank top, hoodie, coffee mug, mousepad, beer stein or even boxer shorts! NOTE: There are several different designs available so if you are interested in an item but would like a different design on it just contact me with your desired item and the logo that you would like and I will be happy to change the logo then email you with the link when it is ready to order. Click here to visit the Turtle Tracks Cafepress storefront.

All proceeds from the sale of each of the Turtle Tracks items on the Turtle Tracks Cafepress storefront will be used to directly provide funds for

Earthshine Nature's Turtle Tracks Eastern Box Turtle conservation, rehabilitation and education program based at Earthshine Mountain Lodge in Lake Toxaway, North Carolina USA.

You may also help Earthshine's box turtles by adopting "sponsoring" a turtle or with a simple monetary donation or a donation of new or used supplies. If you would like to learn how you can become a part of the Turtle Tracks program please click the photo-link below.


Check out the Turtle Tracks home page here.

Here's a new puzzle--and it's a hard one this time! It is the first frog I found this year--a beautiful Pickerel Frog!!

NOTE: If the puzzle does not appear after a few seconds you may need to update your computers flash player or java.

For more puzzles, games and other fun stuff be sure to check out the Earthshine Nature Notes and Turtle Tracks

Kid Zone Page!

New Wild Adventures from Steve

French Broad River Float

Starting in May, I began a 100 mile float trip of the French Broad River. I am using kayak and canoe as my boats of choice and my plan is to follow the river from its headwaters a few miles from Earthshine. Journey through the fertile farmlands of Transylvania County, float through the Northwestern section of Henderson County, then continue on through the heart of Buncombe County and finish a few miles south of Hot Springs in Madison County. Along the way I will be searching for and documenting the wildlife and wild places of the river as well as mans impact on the ecosystem of the river. I will post videos of each segment of my river float on my youtube.com page and on my facebook site so check those sites often for updates.

Follow me on my youtube site, facebook, and also on twitter.

View the first and second episodes below.

If you are interested in joining me on the river just contact me here.

Hemlock Wooly Adelgid

The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) is a tiny, sap-sucking, non-native insect that was brought to the USA in the 1950's on Christmas Trees. It has since spread south along the Appalachian Mountains killing every Hemlock tree in its way. It kills the trees by sucking out the trees sap. Countless Hemlock trees have already been killed with entire forests and groves of Hemlocks being decimated and left standing as dead giants--shadows of their former shelves. These Hemlock trees are an important part of the regions forest ecosystems but they are vanishing due to this tiny insect--a tiny insect that is not supposed to be here...a tiny insect that was brought here by man. It is up to man to stop the spread of this killer insect and that is just what some people are trying to do. I visited with Meredith Brooks--my Turtle Tracks volunteer--who is working with the Save our Selected Hemlocks (SOSH) program in the community where she lives. SOSH is releasing "sassi" beetles--a predator of the HWA--into the forests in her community in order to try to control the HWA. I was able to go along with Meredith when she released some Sassi beetles a few weeks ago so check out the video below for more of our adventure helping Hemlocks.

Salamanders!

In the fall and again in the early spring I joined local salamander expert Alan Cameron on the hunt for Green and Spotted Salamanders in several local forests. We found a few Green Salamanders and not a single Spotted Salamander (although we did find some Spotted Salamander egg masses), but we did however find an even more unusual species--check out the videos below for the exciting details!

Green Salamander Hunting!

Green Salamanders are a rare species in North Carolina--follow us as we search high and low and finally find a couple of these beautiful creatures!

Spotted Salamander Quest

Although we did not find any Spotted Salamanders we did find some really amazing creatures and beautiful places--check it out in the video below!

The Toads and Snakes of Spring!

Over the Easter holiday some folks joined me on an evening excursion to sample amphibian skin secretions for the Earthshine Amphibian Chytrid Fungus monitoring project. During our adventure we had an amazing experience that we will all remember forever--especially since we have this video that we can view anytime we like--take a look at our adventure below!

Canada Goose Adventure on Lake Lure, NC!

Journey out on beautiful Lake Lure as I help a friend manage nuisance Canada Geese! NOTE: There are two parts to this video so be sure to check out part two linked from the end of part one.

Book Review: The Turtles Dream and Keys by Benrali

Recently I discovered a wonderful new book about box turtles. This book is called The Turtles Dream and Keys and it was written and illustrated by Benrali. As a naturalist and box turtle researcher I find this book to be outstanding! This book transcends all life on planet earth; it flows through time and space all within the long life of a box turtle. I was so impressed by the wonderful story and intricate and beautiful artwork in this incredible book that I plan to feature it in the Earthshine Nature Education Center for all to read when they visit Earthshine. I will also take this outstanding book to seminars and animal shows so I can share with more people the beautiful work of art that Benrali has created about the animal that inspired him, and me--the Eastern Box Turtle. Please take a look at Benrali's website to learn more about his book and how you can get one of your own--if you love turtles as much as I do then this book is a must have.

WILD FOCUS

TEAM ECCO

"If we want the next generation to be responsible for the world they are to inherit, then we have to show them what that world is all about. If they do not understand it, they will not respect or care about it."

Those are the words of Brenda J. "BJ" Ramer, founder and director of Team ECCO based in Hendersonville, NC about an hour from Earthshine. BJ goes on to say that "The philosophy behind TEAM ECCO is: experience is the best teacher, and a positive learning experience can change a life. This cornerstone guides us to lead by example, face fears, leave comfort zones, and do it all with a group of kids following faithfully. All of us wearing smiles."

The mission of Team ECCO is: to teach marine and maritime awareness focused on stewardship for water environments. This mission is designed to foster stewardship, develop leadership, and build friendship - all life skills critical to team work.

Learning is about the whole child. Each ed-venture takes the main theme of science, and then blends in math, history, sociology, language, and visual and/or dramatic art. Learning is a byproduct of our unique teaching - the kids have no idea until they put it into play at another situation in their life. Generalization of a concept. Perfect.

Life is learned through exposure, exploration and experience and BJ is very proud of her amazing programs and wonderful experiential learning opportunities. Team ECCO is a great team where everyone explores, everyone learns, and everyone succeeds.

BJ is so full of enthusiasm for teaching folks about natural world that it was only natural that we got along so well the first time I met her. Earthshine and Team ECCO have teamed up to work toward providing even more educational opportunities at both Team ECCO HQ in Hendersonville and at the Earthshine Nature Education Center in Lake Toxaway!

>

THANK YOU BJ and Team ECCO from all of us at Earthshine Nature Programs!

NATURE NOTES

If you haven't already checked it out, Earthshine Nature Programs has a new website! Take a look at it here


Not only do I work as naturalist and outdoor educator at Earthshine, I am also a volunteer for the NC Wildlife Resources Commission's Non-game Endangered Wildlife program. I put in a great deal of time collecting data on reptiles and amphibians in order to help them survive the perils that they face due to living in a human-dominated world. Why do I do it? I do it because it needs to be done or these animals and their habitats will not survive. Although reptiles and amphibians are integral parts of a healthy ecosystem, they are widely misunderstood, irrationally feared and often killed on sight due to this fear and ignorance. In many areas of the world they are poached from the wild by the millions, shipped overseas and end up in markets where they are then sold and eaten. Many traditional beliefs say that eating the meat of these long-lived, sometimes venomous (poisonous) and unusual animals will help a person live longer or have some other positive health benefit--nothing could be further from the truth. Science has shown that it may actually be the opposite because many of these creatures like turtles for example, are reservoirs of heavy metals such as lead and mercury. Eating animals such as turtles my actually shorten your life rather than extend it--chew on that for awhile. Many of these creatures are also being negatively affected by climate change that is directly a result of human actions. Since I am human then I am also part of the problem, so I feel that I need to do all that I can to be part of the solution.

The next article is a great example of one of the problems that we wildlife conservationists and educators face daily.

20 May 2010

SENSATIONALISTIC JOURNALISM AND TALES OF SNAKEBITE: ARE RATTLESNAKES RAPIDLY EVOLVING MORE TOXIC VENOM?

2010. Wilderness & Environmental Medicine 21: 35-45

William K. Hayes & Stephen P. Mackessy

Abstract: Recent reports in the lay press have suggested that bites by rattlesnakes in the last several years have been more severe than those in the past. The explanation, often citing physicians, is that rattlesnakes are evolving more toxic venom, perhaps in response to anthropogenic causes. We suggest that other explanations are more parsimonious, including factors dependent on the snake and factors associated with the bite victim’s response to envenomation. Although bites could become more severe from an increased proportion of bites from larger or more provoked snakes (ie, more venom injected), the venom itself evolves much too slowly to explain the severe symptoms occasionally seen. Increased snakebite severity could also result from a number of demographic changes in the victim profile, including age and body size, behavior toward the snake (provocation), anatomical site of bite, clothing, and general health including asthma prevalence and sensitivity to foreign antigens. Clinical management of bites also changes perpetually, rendering comparisons of snakebite severity over time tenuous. Clearly, careful study taking into consideration many factors will be essential to document temporal changes in snakebite severity or venom toxicity. Presently, no published evidence for these changes exists. The sensationalistic coverage of these atypical bites and accompanying speculation is highly misleading and can produce many detrimental results, such as inappropriate fear of the outdoors and snakes, and distraction from proven snakebite management needs, including a consistent supply of antivenom, adequate health care, and training. We urge healthcare providers to avoid propagating misinformation about snakes and snakebites.

A pdf of this article is available from the CNAH PDF Library.

***NATURE ALERT***

If you are appalled at the disaster that is occurring in the Gulf of Mexico due to the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig explosion and resulting oil spill then join me in doing something about it. Please click here to sign the petition to the president and your representatives that more drilling is not the answer to our energy needs. Here is another link to follow to take action on this grave matter. I do not know what the perfect answer is but I do believe that part of the answer is not continuing to drill for more oil. I do know that part of the answer lies in renewable green energies such as wind, solar, geothermal, bio fuels, oil recycling and so on. Have we not learned anything from the Exxon Valdez and now the BP Deepwater Horizon? Please consider signing the petition and passing it on to all your friends.

If you are interested in volunteering to help with the clean up and recovery efforts that are getting underway in the Gulf of Mexico just follow this link to sign up as a volunteer.

Here's a great article about how Dawn dish washing liquid is helping wildlife affected by the disaster.

From Care2: If you have been keeping tabs on the catastrophic BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, you are probably been wondering how exactly you can help. Well, for those of you with furry, four-legged flatmates, it can be as easy as sweeping the floors and collecting all that errant fur and hair.

So how exactly can hoarding pet fur help with cleaning up one of the worst environmental disasters in recent memory? Enter Matter of Trust, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that has been accepting donations of non-filthy pet fur and human hair since 1998 to craft oil-absorbing hairmats that are described as flat square dreadlocks and hair-stuffed containment booms made from recycled pantyhose. These hairy contraptions are effective at soaking-up oil and they do not require any new resources--just stuff you would normally trash (or compost) unless you are into, umm, stockpiling fur.

I must say, sending along fur to Matter of Trust via Excess Access is an eco-ideal spring cleaning mission for folks with critters around the house. In addition to pet owners, groomers and salon owners can get involved too by sending in bulk shipments of hair/fur. In fact, just a few days ago 400,000 pounds of hair was en route to the Gulf Coast.

Head on over to Matter of Trust, for instructions on how you and your pet can help wildlife and wild nature with your hair!

Check out this great video about how it is done.

Check out this video about the spill from the Environmental Defense Fund.

National Wildlife Federation

Help our wildlife and habitat recover from the oil spill crisis. NWF needs your help.
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in the Gulf, but you can help safeguard
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OK...if you are like me you have about had it with oil...in the Gulf of Mexico, all over the news, in our water, on the beach, on sea turtles fish sharks and reefs, lining the pockets of the rich oil company execs...well, maybe you have had it to the point of buying an all-electric vehicle like the EV1 that could have been. There is a great resource for the perspective EV buyer on Plug In America's website. On the website you can learn about your options for an electric vehicle from motorcycle to sportscar--there is an EV for everyone. Just imagine how nice it will be when you will NEVER need to fill your tank again! If you are interested in converting your existing car or truck to an all electric vehicle, it is easier than you think! Check out EV America for Electric Vehicle conversion kits as well as pre-owned EV's that are for sale. If you cannot afford a new EV or a conversion then at the very least please think about using recycled engine oil--yes you read that right--there is now a new oil for your car's engine that is made from 100% recycled oil--oil that is already here in our country--oil that does not have to be pumped out of the ground here or in another country! Check out the video I made about this new oil and learn more.

Check out Eco Power Oil by Safety-Kleen for the full story and locations near you where you can get this excellent recycled engine oil.

This next video series is a must watch for all Americans...for all humans. It will make you mad at the way things are but you must see it for your future and for the future of your children and the planet.

Now as if that wasn't upsetting enough check this out. Wind farms placed in the right places offshore could generate a large percentage or our power. It is just wrong that some people are so opposed to them...if people do not accept some changes and compromises in order to make the world a cleaner, greener, healthier place then we as a species are in grave danger.

I keep hearing people say that compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) are dangerous, dirty, polluting and toxic...nothing could be farther from the truth. I did some research and here is what I found out.

According to GE CFL's do contain a small amount Mercury like paint, batteries, thermostats, long tube fluorescent bulbs, TV and computer monitors, and other hazardous household items so CFLs should be disposed of properly just like you would do with other dangerous and potentially toxic household items. When a CFL burns out do not throw it away in your household garbage if better disposal options exist. To find out what to do first check www.earth911.org (where you can find disposal options by using your zip code) or call 1-877-EARTH911 for local disposal options. Another option is to check directly with your local waste management agency for recycling options and disposal guidelines in your community. Additional information is available on the Lamp Recycle website . Finally, Home Depot and IKEA stores take back used CFLs, and other retailers are currently exploring take back programs. (GE Website)

Now take a look at this breakdown from the US Department of Energy.

I would have to say that what I have learned about CFL's has been very enlightening:-) It looks like CFL's are cleaner, greener and better than incandescent bulbs so I will continue to use them because I want to help the environment by using less power, contributing less toxins to the environment, throwing away less trash and recycling. Do not believe everything you hear--do your own research and then make your decision.

Take Back Your Tap: The real story of bottled water

This is a great documentary of the huge scam of bottled water and how by drinking bottled water we are just helping to trash the planet, make the big companies richer and make us sicker. I stopped drinking bottled water over three years ago primarily because of a national geographic study that revealed the hidden chemicals that leach out of the plastic into bottled water. Now, after doing further research and watching this video I am very glad that I did!

If you are worried that your tap water is unsafe to drink just Google or grab a phone book and do a search for local water testing companies. Have your water tested and I believe that you will be surprised at just how safe your tap water truly is. If it is not up to your standards just install a home or single faucet water filter, buy a safely-reusable water bottle and take back your tap.

Here's a wonderful story that you may have already read but I just had to post it here in case you somehow missed it.

Check out the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota. Thay are doing great things for bears and have some very cool info and a great webcam that looks into a bear's den!

Quote of the Issue

The sea, the great unifier, is man's only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat. --Jacques Yves Cousteau

The Cousteaus are still hard at work protecting the worlds oceans. Check out Jean-Michel Cousteau's Ocean Futures Society and learn all about their battle on the front lines of the BP Gulf oil spill disaster.

Here's a great story about a man who lost his leg...and then learned how to surf! Now he is helping other amputees learn how to surf and enjoy nature.

Musical Moments with Steve

Some of you that have visited Earthshine may have had the chance to go turtle tracking or creek hiking with me and some of you may have heard me play my Didgeridoo around the campfire. Over the winter I took a hike in the Nantahala National Forest, through the pouring cold rain and cold with the simple goal to play my Didgeridoo in a remote cave. It was a remarkable experience that I have captured here for you to view.

You may be wondering what this video has to do with nature...many people say that the sound of the didgeridoo is the sound of the earth...enough said.

Speaking of the earth and its sound I just have to tell you all about one of my favorite musical artists. His name is Xavier Rudd. Rudd is an Australian folk singer, didgeridoo player and one man band extraordinaire. Last summer I attended one of his concerts and I must say that it was one of the best concerts that I have ever witnessed. Rudd is full of energy, passion, drive and talent and his songs reflect his love of the environment, culture, life and family. I highly recommend that you check him out on his website and on youtube.com to sample some of his wonderful positive music that is right on for the times that we live in.

The Crikey Coin

Many of you may know that Steve Irwin was my hero. He was my greatest inspiration to continue to follow my dream of working with wildlife conservation and environmental education. I truly believe that the world lost a mighty voice for wildlife and wild places when he left us. I will never really understand why this has happened but what I do know is that Steve made a great impact on this earth, he helped countless animals survive, he preserved vast tracts of wildlife habitat and land from development, he educated millions of people about the importance of wildlife and wild places and he had a great positive impact on millions of wildlife and nature loving children and adults everywhere and he will be greatly missed.

Now more than ever, those of us who remain...those of us who have been gifted with the love, the understanding and the passion to bring nature knowledge to the masses--we have a challenge, a goal and a true purpose to take action and not let Steve's death be the end of his message.

We must fight tooth and claw, hoof and horn to help people hear and understand how important and beautiful nature, wildlife and wild places are to the healthy functioning of this earth and to our very existence.

Steve Irwin's wildlife conservation message inspired me greatly to continue to follow my lifelong dream of wildlife conservation and education and I am doing just that as naturalist and outdoor educator with Earthshine Mountain Lodge and now with Muddy Sneakers!

After Steve Irwin died I wanted to do something in his memory and help wildlife so I teamed up with a friend who operates a coin company and designed a memorial coin called a geocoin. This coin is called the Crikey! Fundraiser Geocoin, it was first minted in spring 2007 and sold out by September 2008 and raised several thousand dollars which I donated to Wildlife Warriors Worldwide. Since then I have had many people interested in acquiring a Crikey coin so I have decided to do a second minting of a very limited number of coins. This time I will donate 1/2 of the money to Wildlife Warriors and 1/2 to the Bob Irwin Wildlife Fund. For more information on the Crikey Fundraiser Geocoin and how to get one just click here.


CROCS RULE!

News from the office.

Earthshine's summer season kicks off Memorial Day Weekend! We have a summer early bird special May 31-June 06th and those nights will be 15% off of the regular rates. The nights of June 2nd and 3rd are already fully booked so call us today at 828-862-4207 to book your room and check out our homepage and learn more about Earthshine Mountain Lodge.


Recipes from Steve's Kitchen

TOM KAH GAH Thai Coconut Milk Soup

During the cold winter I discovered a wonderful Thai restaurant in Brevard called Pad Thai. Their food is excellent and my favorite dish is their namesake Pad Thai with tofu and medium Thai spices. While the Pad Thai is great one of their soups is just outstanding--Tom Kah Gah. This coconut milk based soup is one of the most amazing flavors I have ever discovered and I just can�t get enough of it. If you like coconut then you will love this soup! I searched the internet and asked friends for help and I have come up with a good recipe for Tom Kah Gah--it is not as good as the restaurant's soup but it is close.

Ingredients

16 fluid ounces soup broth (chicken stock)

4-5 kaffir lime leaves, shredded

4 or 5 2-inch pieces fresh lemongrass, bruised to release flavor

1 inch cube (or a bit more) galangal sliced thinly.

4 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice

4 oz chicken breast cut into smallish bite sized pieces

5 fluid ounces coconut milk small red Thai chili peppers, slightly crushed (to taste) coriander (cilantro) leaves to garnish.

Notes: the number of red peppers is a personal choice--I use 6. It can be as few as half a chili per diner, to as many as 8-10 per diner, but the dish should retain a balance of flavors and not be overwhelmed by the chili peppers. We suggest about 8-12 chili peppers for this recipe. The amount of fish sauce was a bit strong for even me. I use 2 tablespoons and that is enough for me.

Method

Heat the stock, add the lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, fish sauce, and lime juice. Stir thoroughly, bring to a boil, and add the chicken and coconut milk, then the chili peppers. Bring back to the boil, lower the heat to keep it simmering and cook for about 2 minutes (until the chicken is cooked through).

Enjoy!

Nature Joke

STEVE'S NATURE LINKS AND LORE

Check out Earthshine Naturalist Steve's favorite nature links and reptile lore page by clicking here.


Check out the Earthshine Nature World Wildlife News for wildlife news from all over the planet.

Read about Steve's previous Eastern box turtle research experiences HERE.

Do you mow your grass or fields on a semi-regular basis? If you do you may be endangering box turtles. Read more about how you can help box turtles on your land.

Check out this page if you are you interested in ideas on how you can provide more homes and habitat for box turtles and other wildlife on your land.

NATURE NOTE: This newsletter is GREEN! The Earthshine Nature Department chose to produce this newsletter in a website-based format for several reasons: 1-It saves trees and energy! Paper newsletters are made from paper and paper is made from trees so making it an e-newsletter saves trees! 2-It saves energy. Making a paper newsletter uses loads of electricity during the editing, printing and delivery phase. 3-It saves resources such as printer ink, staples, tape, stamps and the fuel the postman would use to deliver it to your mailbox. 4-It saves money! It costs far less to produce than a paper newsletter. 5-It has full color, snappy graphics and interactive features that you just can't find in a paper newsletter. 6-All back issues will always be available in the newsletter archive if you would like to read them again one day. The only bad thing about an e-newsletter is that you can't use it to line your birdcage when you have finished reading it. ;-) Enjoy!

Sign up for the Earthshine Nature Notes and Turtle Tracks Newsletter and receive regular email updates on all of the nature related events at Earthshine, updates on the status of the Turtle Tracks conservation project and turtle and wildlife news and trivia from around the world! Newsletters will be in the form of a periodic email with a link to this web based newsletter so sign up now it's fun, free and educational--what more could you ask for!

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If you have read this far then you must be a NATURE NUT like me. Thank you for reading and please remember to go outside as much as possible but always remember Steve's Wild Disclaimer:

Nature is a WILD area with all of its WILD components and should you decide to go outside you must remember that you will be trekking into WILD areas with all of their wild components some (but not all) of which are listed below.

You may encounter living wild creatures with their own agendas. No matter your perceived status, beauty, machismo, power and achievements in the "human" world you are nothing to them (well, except possibly food!). Most of these creatures have "super powers" and are "smarter" (aka: instinct) than you are so you will never see them. They will know you are coming long before you arrive by your odd smell, noisy heavy gait, loud voice and unusual coloration--they just want us to think we "scared" them off--you will smell, hear or if you're lucky catch a fleeting glimpse of...something. Some of these creatures may or may not hurt you--but if you corner any of them they WILL defend themselves with whatever means they have--tooth, claw, fang, venom, sting, musk, "hurl" and so on! These creatures will leave scat behind them (i.e Poo, poop, droppings, turd, doo, doo doo, dung, guano, pellets, log, sh*t, shite, crap, plop, squirt, oooze...) this may be fresh or sun bleached...the fresh variety may be accompanied by a rather unpleasant odor so WATCH OUT! Often, if you poke a stick at scat in just the right way you will be able to determine what type of creature left it there and just what that creature had eaten for its last meal!! WOW-ain't nature grand!--if you have any questions about some scat, hair, teeth, bones or any other part of a critter alive or not that you find--you can feel free to save it in a baggie and mail it to me and I will help you ID it's owner.

Plants (and some things that impersonate--er--should the PC term for that be implantonate or imbotonate...hmmm--plants but are not plants) --these things are usually green but sometimes in the case of Funji (which are not plants nor animals but space creatures from the planet Mycelia ;-) they could be any color, and just about everywhere--even in the water! Some are pretty, some small and taste good and some others will kill you if you eat them (know these well if you plan to eat "random" plants/fungi for fun and nourishment as I do)! There are also some plants that will make you itch and/or bleed--it helps to know these well also! You may encounter a yellow powdery substance we primates call pollen--it is a by-product of the endless love making of many plants--this plant spawn may make some of you sneeze, itch and cough and leak bodily fluids from various orifices--and possibly even visit the human "healer" who usually end up giving you a concoction that oddly enough is made from--plants.

There will be dirt, mud (wet dirt), sand (an aggregate of tiny rocks) which is often found in dirt and mud and/or on the edges of continents and near bodies of water), **if sand and water mix in the correct ratios then you may encounter quicksand--although shouldn't it be called slowsand since you don't sink fast?**, flotsam and jetsam (whatever the heck that is?) Rocks (big hunks of sand or small hunks of mountain*)--watch out for these things--you may trip on them and fall down (but they can be used as TOOLS if you know what you are doing!) You may suddenly or gradually--depending on your locale (your GPSr should give you this)--encounter: uneven ground or rough surfaces (that may cause you to fall down and/or abrade your skin), heat(radiation (off-givings) from the sun (see below) or from rotting plants), cold(the lack of radiation from the sun), wet water (that becomes hard and cold in the colder times) and OH MY--this often will fall unpredictably from the sky (that blue, gray, black, red, yellow, purple or green area that is above your head when you are in the outside) and if you are not prepared it will make you and your coverings WET--GASP!! Sometimes you may encounter this wet water gathered together in large quantities either in motion or still. Sometimes it may have a high concentration (lots of) of salt, dirt, mud, silt, scat (human and/or animal) and/or toxic chemicals (especially if found near human aggregation areas) so don't try to drink it if you are unsure of its source...it is however most enjoyable to play in (i.e.: frolic, cavort, rough-and-tumble, surf, swim, SCUBA dive, leap...) when the weather (see weather below) is nice. Dryness--in combination with the wind may chap exposed skin. Sand (previously described), is often encountered near water and will make you itch and/or chaff if you get it in your nether-regions or cry if you get it in your eyes. Wind (see also air below)--this is an amazing invisible and incredibly powerful force of nature that can float a feather (bird protection, courtship and propulsion device) or destroy a mountain* (aggregate of almost everything that is or once was or is going to be) (with the help of sand and water) and may chap exposed skin and disturb carefully placed hair or steal your breath and blow you over, air (see also wind above)--like wind this is also invisible and could be anywhere from hot to warm or cool to cold and it may be still or moving so fast (wind) that you will not be able to stand up--this is called a storm, storms are often accompanied by bright flashes of light called lightening (generated by clouds rubbing together and against the earth) followed by loud, earth shaking sounds that come from an unseen source--this is commonly referred to as thunder (which is the sound of lightening splitting the air and wind and sometimes trees, rocks and houses and cows) --when this is near you should hide--but not on top of a hill or you may die (the opposite of life). Weather--a combination of many of the factors present here (see above and below). This is entirely unpredictable unless you believe what the NWS tells you. Sometimes you will see a very bright disk overhead but don't look directly at it as it will damage your eyes--this is the sun (a gigantic star that is very close to the Earth. It, with the help of the plants, fungi, animals, air, water, the Earth (dirt, mud, sand, rocks...) makes all life possible on this planet). Although life giving it may also cause red burns on your exposed skin so bring your protective devices and chemicals. Often there is a lack of light accompanied by a large glowing disk (or a percentage of said disk) in the sky and countless tiny glowing points of light that are pleasant to look at (unless you are in a human aggregation area called a city). During this lack of light time you will need to bring your own source of illumination ie: anything form a pine-knot torch or 1,000,000,000 CP LED solar/geothermal/kinetically charged, waterproof, floating, Swiss Army searchlight with included knife set chain saw, winch, fork, spoon, water filter, lazer pointer, weather station, rocketing grappling hook w/100 feet of galvanized steel cable, calculator (solar), tazer, hand towel, toilet paper roll and PEZ dispenser. Whatever your light source your diurnally adapted eyesight will then be augmented and hopefully you will not fall down and contact the ground or lack thereof (see above for description) with its associated hazards.

Often you may hear unpredictable sounds created from unknown sources some of these may be creepy (scary, frightening, unnerving) , some may be pleasant (pleasing, happy, jovial), some may be loud (see thunder above)...and sometimes these loud sounds will scare you (make you jump or run uncontrollably) or hurt your ears!

Finally, you may encounter other beings like yourself--often with their companion animals and smaller versions of themselves--as well as their associated mechanical and electrical constructs. These are BY FAR the most dangerous and destructive creatures you will ever encounter so WATCH OUT!

In all seriousness folks, enjoy these things and your times spent "out there" because as Edward Abbey wrote so perfectly:

One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am-a reluctant enthusiast... a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to your body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive them all.

So always remember to go outside and when you head out there adventuring in the natural world--you will encounter plenty of random unplanned events--so be ready for them as they are the things that make life worth living!