Denizens of the deep that take your breath away

| Feb 21, 2002

Denizens of the deep that take your breath away

Almost exactly a year ago, I was introduced to scuba diving and the astonishing submarine sights of corals, colorful fish, sea lions, flightless cormorants and even penguins. Despite those pleasures, being under pressure under water just doesn’t seem a tenable state for this particular ...

Taking a look at animals' 'me' and 'you'

| Jan 31, 2002

Taking a look at animals' 'me' and 'you'

We take for granted our ability to easily recognize the people we interact with regularly. We also take it as a given that we can distinguish between the many thousands of other people we meet superficially during our lives, perhaps never learning who they ...

Adapting to living when the mercury falls

| Jan 17, 2002

Adapting to living when the mercury falls

While you were tucking into roast feathered dinosaur (turkey) with all the trimmings this Christmas past, I hope you spared a thought for how other avians make it through the winter. While we humans celebrate in various ways to dispel the gloom of midwinter ...

Why do birds of a feather tend to flock together?

| Jan 3, 2002

Why do birds of a feather tend to flock together?

“Flocks” read the sign outside the onsen, or so I thought. My bird brain immediately clicked into “Hey, an onsen for birders.” But why in remote Higashi Mokoto, Hokkaido? Surely it wasn’t “Frocks?” A women-only onsen? But no, men were most definitely welcome. So ...

| Dec 20, 2001

People may fear it, but many trees thrive on fire

In the melange of pagan midwinter mythology and religion that we now call “Christmas,” trees, particularly evergreens, have come to occupy a prominent place in the festivities. In times gone by, mistletoe and holly were most common, but since the 17th century the Christmas ...

Dec 9, 2001

The heat's on nature in Japan

Think of Japan 100 years from now. The average global temperature has risen by up to 6 degrees, and here is no exception. Just as the cherry blossom wave passes up the country each spring, the frontier of many species, both plant and animal, ...

Nature allows for few winners in the face of fire

| Dec 6, 2001

Nature allows for few winners in the face of fire

Fire! It’s a word that strikes terror. Images of leaping, roaring, scorching flames spring to mind; images of billowing smoke and suffocating fumes; of people and other creatures great and small fleeing for their lives. Within seconds, the awful, fearful unreality of a major ...

Alien killers revel in 'cute pet' role

| Nov 22, 2001

Alien killers revel in 'cute pet' role

As a family, cats have successfully colonized the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia, with only Australia among the larger landmasses lacking native species. They range in size from the immense Siberian tiger to the diminutive black-footed cat of southern Africa, and take an equally ...