Tag Archives: Hawaii

The Discovery of Species

As tech-savvy human beings armed with our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps and other excellent technologies, it’s sometimes easy to forget that we’re not just curious explorers or chroniclers of the manufactured and natural worlds. We’re animals, too, and are part of the community of strange and exotic creatures that we investigate and dutifully record. In discovery of the world, we discover something integral to our own being. This year is already a fascinating foray into that very exploration, with several new species coming to light in some of the most inhospitable or least expected environments.

A Tiny Frog in Karnataka, India

This guy's chirp sounds like a cricket's.

Hey there, little fella. [Image: www.techtimes.com/]

The Laterite narrow-mouthed frog was recently discovered in the Indian state of Karnataka in a namesake laterite marsh area that occurs around rural and semi-urban human settlements. It likely remained undocumented because of its diminutive stature—it is roughly the size of a thumbnail. But its discovery in a developed area is instructive and a crisp reminder that, just because there’s an established human presence somewhere, doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to discover!

Creepy-Crawly in the Southern Oregon Coast Range, Oregon

[Image: www.phys.org]

What has eight legs, too many eyes, and probably wears a neon sign that blazes NOPE? Why, Cryptomaster behemoth, of course! [Image: www.phys.org/]

This spider was recently found in the woods of southwestern Oregon. It was named “behemoth” because its size outstrips nearly all of the other nearly 4,100 described Laniatores, and “Cryptomaster” because it’s good at remaining unseen. Thankfully the behemoth, like most spiders, is perhaps as disinterested in us as we are it and keeps itself hidden beneath decaying leaves and fallen trees of the old-growth forests in the Southern Oregon Coast Range.

Octopod says, “Aloha!” in Hawaiian Archipelago

Thanks, Okeanos!

Another previously unknown creature of the deep to grab our attention and make us think about ecosystems beyond our commutes? Thanks, Okeanos! [Image: www.itv.com/]

Researchers also made another many-legged discovery this year: a disarmingly cute octopod scientists are calling “Casper.” The indeterminately friendly octopus has un-muscled arms, with only a single row of the usual suction cups, and beady black eyes set adorably in its milky-white mantle. But Casper hasn’t been much described by researchers beyond its cursory appearance, as it revealed itself to NOAA scientists while Okeanos Explorer, the remotely operated underwater vehicle, explored the Hawaiian Archipelago. What we do know is that it dwells much deeper in the ocean than its known octopus cousins and that the wee cephalopod serves to keep our expectations in check.

I Don’t Think You’re Ready for this Jelly…Near the Mariana Trench

Cue Twilight Zone music.

In an environment called and characterized as the Midnight Zone, it helps to have glowing reproductive organs, which scientists suppose this jellyfish has in the golden orbs that are very likely its gonads. [Image: www.eutopia.buzz/]

The Mariana Trench is one of the last great terrestrial frontiers to thwart explorers and befuddle scientists, and it’s no wonder that it remains a consistent source of discovery and veritable fount of new species. What is a wonder are the extraterrestrial qualities of the creatures that thrive in that deep, dark pit beneath the ocean. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration is in the midst of conducting a survey of the baseline formation and the areas around the trench that began April 20 and will extend to July 10. Already several new and exciting species have been encountered, but the jellyfish with a “jack-o-lantern meets the future of spaceship engineering” appearance has been a thus-far highlight of the exploration. With more than a month to go, we’d all do well to keep our eyes peeled for more live cam weirdness and intrigue!

Humans are one of the most adaptive and widespread species on the planet, thanks in large part to our combined intelligence and technology. This indispensable combo not only helps us persevere in all sorts of extreme conditions, but also allows us to engage with curiosity in our surroundings. As technologies improve, we are able to explore our world at deeper depths, in greater detail on microscopic and subatomic levels, across more of the electromagnetic spectrum, and sometimes—perhaps just to keep our collective ego in check—right in front of our faces.

*hop*

Or even on our faces! (Happy belated, David!) [Image: www.primogif.com/]

The moral of the story is, of course, that you can get out, explore, and maybe even find a new species in places you have been to before. Our Pocket Ranger® apps are a technology that is here to help. Whether your discovery is new to the scientific community or to you in your observations, it’s your duty as a human to investigate! And it’s always worth the adventure.

Four State Parks Where You Can Enjoy the Legacy of the CCC

Grand Teton grandeur.

CCC enrollees take in a dazzling view: A future instilled with hope. [Image: www.nps.gov]

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in March of 1933, the country was in the depths of the Great Depression and faced a workforce unemployment rate of nearly 25%. In almost the same breath as his inauguration oath, FDR began presenting programs to Congress and implementing his vision for the New Deal, which promised to help the investors devastated by the Wall Street Crash of 1929, windblown Dust Bowl farmers, and the American people at large to reclaim some of the high spirits and prosperity that had characterized life just a decade earlier.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was one such program, and ran from 1933 until its funding and manpower were diverted to the American WWII effort, in 1942. The CCC was run in part by the U.S. Army, and as such was playfully dubbed “Roosevelt’s Tree Army.” In truth, the CCC was perhaps, not-so-secretly, Roosevelt’s favorite program and it became hugely popular with the general citizenry. In its nine years, the CCC would train and employ some three million American men between the ages of 17 and 28 who were put to work across the United States building infrastructure and establishing, amongst other things, what is now our fantastic and beautiful network of state and national parks. Below is a list of parks still touched by this bright legacy that park-goers can enjoy today.

Longhorn Cavern State Park Burnet, TX

Not only are there amazing rock formations and a stunning natural bridge at this state park, but all of the park’s features and experiences have been highlighted by the careful planning of CCC engineers and carried out dutifully by the corpsmen. The CCC cleaned out the main cavern in 1937, which entailed manually removing debris and guano from its base and tunnels. The workers then built a winsome stairway and installed lighting along a couple of miles of the underground passageways. The experience at this park would not be as enthralling were it not for the clever resourcefulness and dedication of the men of the CCC.

Rugged, yet elegant.

These charming CCC-built structures at Longhorn Cavern work in harmony with the area’s existing natural features. [Image: http://tpwd.texas.gov]

Guernsey State Park Guernsey, WY

This park is one of the best examples of extant CCC construction around. It features many trails, roads, structures, buildings, and even the remnants of a CCC-designed 9-hole golf course, which was abandoned in the 1940s. Perhaps best of all, in addition to the elegant and rugged CCC architecture and facilities, visitors to the park can also gain ten points in the Pocket Ranger® Park Passport GeoChallenge through April 2016.

Still rugged, yet elegant.

At Geurnsey State Park we find another CCC-built structure, handsomely constructed by and with the area’s natural elements. [Image: www.wyohistory.org]

Koke’e State Park Waimea, Kaua’i, HI

The reach of the CCC even extends across the Pacific to the island state of Hawai’i. At Koke’e State Park, the CCC’s compound was built and in use by 1935 and is still a functional park of the park’s experience today. 

Tishomingo State Park Tishomingo, MS

The CCC’s presence is still quite present at Tishomingo State Park. Several of the park features are named for the CCC companies that established the majority of the park’s gorgeous facilities in northeastern Mississippi. Among them are trails, a pond, a “swinging bridge,” several pavilions, and the remnants of the camp the corpsmen used through their tenure at the park. As a bonus for history or pre-history buffs, there are Paleoindian artifacts from as long ago as 7000 B.C.E. as well as rock formations that give the park an air of the ancient.

An American flag flies brightly over an early CCC camp

An American flag flies brightly over an early CCC camp in Grand Teton National Park. [Image: http://www.nps.gov]

Nearly 80 years later, the importance and lasting impact of the program cannot be overstated. While the CCC was in its heyday, approximately three billion trees were planted. Over 200 million of those were planted in the areas hit hardest by drought and windstorms in the Midwest. In just the first year of those trees’ presence, the amount of the rich soil being blown away reduced immensely. In addition to the trees, educational programs were offered regarding soil erosion and animal husbandry that, along with the end of the drought, helped the farmers and their families establish their livelihoods again—and keep them. Modern wildfire fighting and wildfire prevention also have roots in the program, and today’s land and wildlife management owes much to the men who built roads, blazed trails, planted forests, dug ditches and canals, and generally made headway for the many and varied ways we enjoy the natural splendor of our country today—including Pocket Ranger® apps!

Five Types of Trees that Have Our Attention

Summer is here, and now it’s time to finally stop marveling at the blooming trees and hide underneath them for some valuable shade. It’s easy to forget just how many unique and interesting tree species are scattered across the world, but luckily we came up with a list of just five that’ll have you planning a tree-touring trip around the world.

1. Baobab Trees, Madagascar

A huge, misshapen Baobab Tree.

Try wrapping your arms around these interestingly shaped giants. [Image: http://gardenofeaden.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/how-to-grow-baobab-tree-from-seed.html]

Baobob Trees are known by many names (Upside Down Trees, Bottle Trees, and Monkey Bread Trees to name a few) due to their distinctive, mostly leafless appearance. Most of these trees can be found in Madagascar, but certain species appear in Australia and Africa as well. They come in handy for both humans and animals in the unbearable savannah heat, and the thick tree bark is fire resistant and great for making cloth or rope. These fascinating trees are thought to have long lives, and rumor has it that there’s one in South Africa that’s over 6,000 years old!

2. Cannonball Trees, Sri Lanka

Cannonball-like fruits hanging from a tree trunk.

Look out, above! You don’t want to get knocked on the head by these heavy fruits. [Image: http://timdeanblog.com/2013/04/27/trees/]

The nickname Cannonball Tree makes sense once you see the large, round fruits hanging off its trunks. Don’t get too close, though, because they live up to their name, and a falling fruit could lead to lots of pain! Often found in Central and South American rainforests, these trees are an exquisite sight. If you can tolerate the horrible smell, the fruits are edible, too.

3. Dragon Blood Trees, Yemen

Umbrella-shaped trees.

The Dragon Blood Trees’ shape make them the perfect place to hide from the sun. [Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/neslab/8288058514]

Native to the Socotra archipelago in Yemen, the rare and distinct Dragon Blood Trees have an even more interesting characteristic underneath their bark. Once cut, the trees appear to bleed by releasing a red resin commonly used in medicines and dyes. Unfortunately many populations of this tree are struggling because of poor regeneration and increased tourism and overdevelopment.

4. Rainbow Eucalyptus, Hawaii

Colorful tree bark.

No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you—these trees ARE rainbow! [Image: http://www.lovethesepics.com/2013/01/living-rainbow-rainbow-eucalyptus-most-beautiful-tree-bark-on-earth-36-pics/]

Streaked in color and looking almost like part of an art project, the Rainbow Eucalyptus trees are a gorgeous, tropical sight. They naturally occur in the Northern Hemisphere and can be found in tree plantations around the world as well.

5. Windswept Trees, New Zealand

Trees bent to the side because of drastic winds.

The only other living creatures you’ll see by these trees are probably sheep! [Image: http://www.placestoseeinyourlifetime.com/windswept-trees-in-the-brute-slope-point-new-zealand-5300/]

Some pretty intense, Antarctic winds relentlessly hit Slope Point in New Zealand, leading to its breathtaking Windswept Trees. Aside from these drastically bent trees, the only other living creatures in its proximity are herding sheep.

Don’t just take it from us, though—discover some of these majestic beauties on your own! Download our Pocket Ranger® State Parks Apps and National Park Passport Guide App to find some rare and remarkable trees near you.

Warming Up Winter: 3 Hawaii National Parks

Contributed by Cassie Title

It may be a cliché, but we have to say it: When the weather outside is frightful, most of the country likes to go someplace warm. And while we love all sorts of outdoor winter-weather activities, we also like to please the masses. So here’s our solution—dip into those savings and head somewhere warm. Check out the trip we’ve planned for you to Hawaii! And—added bonus—you can use your Pocket Ranger® National Park Passport Guide or our comprehensive national park listings on pocketranger.com on all of your island adventures.

Let’s begin our virtual tour of three Hawaii National Parks!

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Volcano erupts red molten lava at one of the Hawaii National Parks

Image: www.usainaday.com/big-island-day-trip-volcanoes-national-park-from-oahu

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is open every single day, including holidays. Besides being incredibly convenient, the park has some big attractions. Volcanoes are what created the islands of Hawaii, so it’s especially interesting to see two of the world’s most active volcanos, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, which are continually shaping the land. Be sure to explore the summit of Kīlauea by driving on Crater Rim Drive. It’s an 11-mile road that’ll allow you to check out amazing, scenic landscapes, like desert and tropical rain forest. You can also see the sights by walking, so hiking and backcountry hiking are musts, as is viewing active lava flows. You can also bike, camp, and check out the Jaggar Museum and Overlook. 

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park 

Palm trees sway over sandy beach in Hawaii

Image: www.pubs.usgs.gov

In Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, there are the usual suspects (activity-wise): bird watching, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, and snorkeling. Of course, the scenery is beautiful—seashore, sunset, coral reefs and tropical fish galore. You’ll glimpse sea turtles, shorebirds, or maybe even Hawaiian monk seals. But the park is also special because it’s historical, hence the name. Make sure to see petroglyphs “left by the original Hawaiian inhabitants,” the Ai’opio fishtrap, and the ki’pohaku, stone carvings found throughout the park. All of these will paint the picture of how the native Hawaiians were able to inhabit this land.

Haleakala National Park

Wilderness hike, photographed by Matt Wordeman, an NPS volunteer. [Image: www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/wilderness-area.htm]

Wilderness hike, photographed by Matt Wordeman, an NPS volunteer.
[Image: www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/wilderness-area.htm]

Activity-wise, Haleakala National Park is a bit of an overachiever. There’s birdwatching, camping, hiking, interpretive programs, scenic drives, scenic overlooks, stargazing, swimming, and wildlife viewing. You’ll get some great views by hiking to the Summit district, which is the mountain area. You can also head to the coastal area of Kipahulu, where you’ll gaze at waterfalls and “sweeping ocean vistas.” And of course, you’ll have to check out the summit of the Haleakala volcano! This park is full of cultural significance, so make sure you start off with a visit to the museum.

Rocky summit of a mountain in Hawaii

Summit of Haleakala volcano [Image: www.nps.gov/hale/planyourvisit/summit-area.htm]

Since we started off with a cliché, you had to expect it, friends. Have fun on your real (or virtual trip) to these Hawaii National Parks. We wish you safe travels. Aloha!