Explore: July 2012

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8 posts from July 2012


9 Must-See West Coast Waterfalls

Yosemite waterfalls

Waterfalls: You can hike to them, dance underneath them, appreciate them from afar, and listen to them up close. They're majestic and powerful, and no two look alike.

The nine West Coast waterfalls listed below are some of our favorite destinations outdoors — and they boast some of the most magnificent views of the natural world.

How many of these have you visited?


 1. Cedar Creek Falls, CA 

Visit these falls in Julian, California, during winter and you'll be met with a fantastic 80- to 90-foot-length of water plunging into a small pool below. This waterfall only runs seasonally but is worth the four-mile hike. Don't forget sunscreen! 


2. McWay Falls, CA 

Continue reading "9 Must-See West Coast Waterfalls" »


Bear Rescue Mission

Reunited and it feels so good.We already brought you some good news about bears last week, but this story was too cute to leave out. In the video below, three baby bears are stuck in a dumpster. A woman standing in the bed of a pickup truck places a ladder into the dumpster so the cubs can climb out to safety. In the meantime, a distraught mama bear watches from behind a tree. Let's hear it for some human courage. The woman never got out of the truck, but she did get frighteningly close to some emotionally compromised bears.

Although it's still unclear why that dumpster was in the middle of the woods in the first place.

--by Krislyn Placide / image by iStock/ PaulTessier


5 Real-Life Deep-Sea Monsters

Kayakers Encounter Great White Sharks

Injured Florida Panther Kitten in Rehab


Observing Highlights for August: Twice Is a Blue Moon

August 2012 Full Moon Håvard Kristoffersen SXC

The saying "once in a blue moon" is meant to represent something of rare occurrence. A blue moon is commonly thought of as the second full moon in one calendar month, and August's first full moon occurs on August 1 at 8:27 p.m. Pacific Time, meaning that 29.5 days later another full moon will occur in August, on the 31st at 6:58 a.m. PDT. The next blue moon will not occur until July 2015.

Blue moons aren't named for their color. The moon will look like any other full moon on August 31. But on occasion the moon can take on different hues due to particles in our atmosphere acting as a filter. Smoke from forest fires and ash from volcanoes have been known to produce darker moons, sometimes with a blue or purplish tinge.

The planets put on a good show in August regardless of whether you are a morning person or a night owl. In the early morning hours before sunrise, the brilliant Venus and Jupiter can be spotted in the east. Watch on August 11 through 14 when the crescent moon moves toward and then through the planetary pairing.

In the evening, Mars has been closing in on Saturn, which is hanging out with the star Spica in the constellation Virgo. On August 13, those three points of light will appear to line up, with Saturn above Mars above Spica. If it’s cloudy that night, August 21 will also provide a pretty view as the trio, stretching into a triangular configuration, is joined by the moon.

A new Mars rover named Curiosity is expected to land on the surface of the Red Planet around 10:30 pm PDT on August 5. If all goes as planned, the rover will begin exploring Gale Crater as it looks for water and past or present evidence of microbial life.

Continue reading "Observing Highlights for August: Twice Is a Blue Moon" »


6 Species with Celebrity Names

Butterfly celebrity namesEarlier this month, a Caribbean blood-sucking parasite made headlines when given the name Gnathia marleyi, after late singer Bob Marley. The new species could help scientists figure out how diseases are spread through fish in the Caribbean, but it doesn't really bear much resemblance to the famous reggae singer. Except, of course, that "this species is uniquely Caribbean as was Marley," explained Paul Sikkel, the field marine biologist at Arkansas State University who discovered Marleyi.

Gnathia marleyi isn't the first species given a name of fame. Here are five more species with celebrity titles: 

1. Eristalis gatesi, named after the great Microsoft giant Bill Gates. Also known as the Bill Gates Flower Fly. 

2. Agra schwarzeneggeri, a species of beetle named after "governator" Arnold Schwarzenegger. Why? The bulging biceps look uncannily alike.

3. Crikey steveirwini. Yep, you guessed it. This rare tree snail species in Australia was named after the beloved Aussie "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin and his catch-phrase. Only found in three places in Queensland, Crikey's shell is a swirl of khaki-like color reminiscent of The Crocodile Hunter's own khaki garb. 

4. Scaptia (plinthina) beyonceae. With a golden rear end, this is a house fly too "bootylicious" to be called by any other name than Beyonce.

5. And of course, we can't leave out John Muir. The Sierra Club founder has quite a few species named after him, namely a butterfly he collected in the Sierras called the Thecla muirii


5 Real-life Deep-Sea Monsters

PHOTO GALLERY: Cute Arctic Animals

Zombie Species Roundup

--image by istockphoto/Vah

HS_Allison_Blog--Allison Montroy is an editorial intern for Sierra and a journalism student at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. 


Helmet Hair No More

Cyclist helmet commutingBike commuters, fear helmet hair no more! The days of showing up at work with messy hair — or even worse, biking to work with no helmet — are over. A company in Sweden has developed what they call an "invisible helmet," which keeps heads safe and hairdos intact for about $600. The "Hovding" helmet is more of a collar with an airbag inside that inflates around the head within a tenth of a second of impact. So the cyclist's hair remains perfect (except for, you know, being blown in every direction from racing through traffic.) Of course, the helmet does not compensate for afros, mohawks, or beehives — but neither does a normal helmet, so these funky hairstyles are simply out of luck. For those with 'dos that can fit in the helmet, the Hovding comes in fashionable styles to match any outfit. 

This helmet is a great idea, especially in this day and age where risking injury seems to be more important than possibly looking silly with a helmet strap around the chin or mussed hair. With the Hovding, the helmet looks more like a giant scarf wrapped around the neck.

Don't believe that a battery-powered collar can protect your head in an accident? Just ask the crash test dummies in the video below. 

Continue reading "Helmet Hair No More" »


Good News Bears

These bear cubs are probably up to no good.It's easy to find bad news about bears. We seem to have decided that koala bears (who aren't quite bears at all) and panda bears (who are mostly if not totally herbivorous) are "good" but nearly every other type of bear is inherently "bad" or dangerous. Why is that? Because they're masterful, resourceful omnivores much like us?

In June, a black bear was euthanized for scavenging and eating the decomposing body of convicted murderer Rory Wagner. One might ask why the bear was given an immediate death sentence for eating the flesh of a man who was already dead, when the man himself had only received a short prison sentence and life on parole for his own crime. Officials said that the bear would've posed a threat because bears remember food sources. Although, it's questionable whether this bear's food choices are any less ethical than ours. 

No beast is truly one-dimensional, so in honor of all "good" bears, we'd like to open up the floor for the cute bear videos, the funny news, and the photos of the mother and the baby bear in the middle of a cuddle session. If you weren't sure they existed, here are a few of our favorite bear moments.

Can't Bear the Heat

A mother with two cubs cooled off in a pool earlier this month after they wandered into a backyard in Kinneloa Mesa, CA, in search of a temperature change. The black bears dipped their toes in for about ten minutes before they were on their merry way. Animal deputies arrived to watch the bears. No animal, human or non-, was harmed during this mid-day swim.

Bear for Mayor

Continue reading "Good News Bears" »


How Does it Feel to Fly?

Humans' fascination with flight:  it will never end. And with every shift in aviation and, now, film technology, come new ways of bringing others into an experience only a few people dare to pursue.  

Experience Human FlightBASE jumpers have this adrenaline-drenched corner of the market covered, but wingsuits can look silly, no? 

Enter the skydivers armed with GoPro cameras and some stellar sound editors at Infinity List (who also brought us the trailer for Birdmen), and the result gives us insight on what heaven might feel like.  

For some of us. The ones that would rather not jump off high things for that type of firsthand knowledge.

--Benita Hussain / image from Experience Human Flight / Infinity List


Hit-and-Run from the Cyclist's Perspective

Speed Record Broken on El Cap's Nose

Kayakers Encounter Great White Sharks


Kayakers Encounter Great White Sharks

Great white sharkDun-dun. . . dun-dun. . . . Last weekend, a Cape Cod kayaker had a thrilling experience when he turned around to see a 10-foot great white shark trailing a little too close to his kayak. While the man — and his kayak — made it out of the water fine, another kayaker in Santa Cruz, California wasn't so lucky. 

Don't worry! The west-coaster was totally fine too. His kayak, on the other hand, may need a little TLC after this curious great white got a taste of its plastic underside, leaving a few bite mark souvenirs. 

These aren't the only times a shark has gone after a kayak; back in May near Cambria, California, a man was knocked out of his kayak by a great white that left a 20-inch bite in the side of the boat. 

Why so many shark sightings? Some say it's because of the booming seal population (they're now a protected species). Or maybe sharks are just making a comeback. In any case, all of these recent shark encounters have left the kayakers with a great story to share and a happy ending. 

--image by istockphoto/demarfa

--Allison Montroy is an editorial intern for Sierra and a journalism student at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. 


5 Real-Life Deep-Sea Monsters

Stand-up Paddle Surfing

Follow that Turtle: 3 Tools to Track Marine Life

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