Natural History

Week 2: The Song of Nature, theme 1: ORGANISMS
Week 3: The Song of Nature, theme 1: ORGANISMS
Week 4: The Song of Nature, theme 1: ORGANISMS
Week 6: The Song of Nature, theme 2: STORIES
Week 7: The Song of Nature, theme 2: STORIES
Week 8: The Song of Nature, theme 2: STORIES
Week 9: Interlude - To Experience Nature
Week 10: The Song of Nature, theme 3: ENVIRONMENT
Week 11: The Song of Nature, theme 3: ENVIRONMENTS
Week 12: The Song of Nature, theme 3: ENVIRONMENTS
Appendix #1 - Natural History Books
Appendix #2 - Index of Nature Poems
Appendix #3 - Selected Outlines of Living Things

Day 3: Oceanic

Words

National Geographic gives an overview of oceanic wonders of the world:

Video: “Exploring Oceans (NatGeo)” (7:38)

Two further videos focus on particular important ecosystems associated with oceans: coral reefs and estuaries. 

Video: “Great Barrier Reef (NatGeo)” (4:16)

 

Video: “What’s An Estuary? Now You Know (EPA)” (5:18)

Finally, this reading is a report from the European Environment Agency on the Arctic Ocean and its current ecological and conservation status. Don’t worry about reading all the details, but notice the biodiversity in our little-known cold north ocean, and the sorts of things the report highlights and recommends:

Reading: “Arctic Ocean (European Environment Agency)

 

Works

Not all of you have access to an ocean. If you do not, make this observation day another focus on a different water body, or anything you like. But if you can make it to an ocean, go– whether right into the water from a beach or rocky coast, or else to a surrounding area such as dunes, saltmarsh or tidal mudflat. See how organisms approach the ocean from the sky and land, see if you can find life in the water itself, such as tidal pools or the shallows of a lagoon. Don’t forget to notice the expanse and movements of the water itself, and the effects the ocean has had on the land and air around it.

 

~Enjoy your time in nature, and notice your enjoyment of it as an observation in itself~


THE FISH

 

I caught a tremendous fish 

and held him beside the boat

half out of water, with my hook 

fast in a corner of his mouth.

He didn’t fight.

He hadn’t fought at all.

He hung a grunting weight, 

battered and venerable

and homely. Here and there 

his brown skin hung in strips 

like ancient wallpaper,

and its pattern of darker brown 

was like wallpaper:

shapes like full-blown roses 

stained and lost through age.

He was speckled with barnacles, 

fine rosettes of lime,

and infested

with tiny white sea-lice, 

and underneath two or three

rags of green weed hung down. 

While his gills were breathing in 

the terrible oxygen

– the frightening gills, 

fresh and crisp with blood, 

that can cut so badly-

I thought of the coarse white flesh 

packed in like feathers,

the big bones and the little bones, 

the dramatic reds and blacks

of his shiny entrails,

and the pink swim-bladder 

like a big peony.

I looked into his eyes

which were far larger than mine 

but shallower, and yellowed, 

the irises backed and packed 

with tarnished tinfoil

seen through the lenses 

of old scratched isinglass.

They shifted a little, but not 

to return my stare.

It was more like the tipping 

of an object toward the light. 

I admired his sullen face,

the mechanism of his jaw, 

and then I saw

that from his lower lip

if you could call it a lip 

grim, wet, and weaponlike,

hung five old pieces of fish-line, 

or four and a wire leader

with the swivel still attached, 

with all their five big hooks 

grown firmly in his mouth.

A green line, frayed at the end 

where he broke it, two heavier lines, 

and a fine black thread

still crimped from the strain and snap 

when it broke and he got away.

Like medals with their ribbons 

frayed and wavering,

a five-haired beard of wisdom 

trailing from his aching jaw.

I stared and stared 

and victory filled up 

the little rented boat, 

from the pool of bilge

where oil had spread a rainbow 

around the rusted engine

to the bailer rusted orange, 

the sun-cracked thwarts,

the oarlocks on their strings, 

the gunnels- until everything

was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow! 

And I let the fish go.

 

-Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)