Skip to content

The Japanese Fine Art of Bragging

September 4, 2015
Gyotaku, the art of making inked prints from real fish, originated in 19th century Japan. Above, three examples from modern Gyotaku artist Heather Fortner (from left): Under the Rainbow Rainbow Trout; Little big skate and Primary colors butterfly ray. Courtesy of Heather Fortner

Gyotaku, the art of making inked prints from real fish, originated in 19th century Japan. Above, three examples from modern Gyotaku artist Heather Fortner (from left): Under the Rainbow Rainbow Trout; Little big skate and Primary colors butterfly ray. Courtesy of Heather Fortner

How did fishermen record their trophy catches before the invention of photography? In 19th century Japan, fishing boats were equipped with rice paper, sumi-e ink, and brushes in order to create gyotaku: elaborate rubbings of freshly caught fish.

Fish printing often attracts those who have a connection with the ocean or marine life. Wada, who is Japanese-American, grew up in Hawaii and was taught how to fish by his family at a young age. And before she became a gyotaku artist, Fortner was a commercial fisherman, research vessel deckhand, and a ship’s officer and Master in the U.S. Merchant Marine. “I have always loved the ocean and anything from the ocean,” she says.

She adds: “Gyotaku allows you to express an appreciation for the natural world by partnering with the finest artist in the world: Mother Nature.”

Read more…

Waking the Dead

September 4, 2015
Martha in a display case in the National Museum of Natural History, 2015. (Photo: Ph0705/WikiCommons CC BY-SA 4.0)

Martha in a display case in the National Museum of Natural History, 2015. (Photo: Ph0705/WikiCommons CC BY-SA 4.0)

If you happen to visit the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C, don’t just walk by this innocuous stuffed pigeon. Take a good look at Martha, because she’s the last of the world’s flock of passenger pigeons. And now the subject of the ambitious  The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback, a “de-extinction” project aimed at reviving the species. Using the genomes of the rock pigeon and the band-tailed pigeon as a reference, project scientists aim to assemble a complete passenger pigeon genome and transfer it into the germ cells of band-tailed pigeons in order to generate live passenger pigeons. The target date for the passenger pigeons’ triumphant return is 2022.

Read more…

Bird of the Day: Oriental white-eye (Bokkapuram, Tamil Nadu)

September 3, 2015

Oriental white-eye by Vijaykumar Thondaman - RAXA Collective

The World’s Lone Weaver of Sea Silk

September 3, 2015
Chiara Vigo is the only woman in the world who still works the byssus, better known as the silk of the sea, the same way women in ancient Mesopotamia used to weave it in order to make clothes for their kings. PHOTO: BBC

Chiara Vigo is the only woman in the world who still works the byssus, better known as the silk of the sea, the same way women in ancient Mesopotamia used to weave it in order to make clothes for their kings. PHOTO: BBC

The Italian island of Sardinia. A place where coastal drives thrill, prehistory puzzles, endearing eccentricities exist. As DH Lawrence so succinctly put it: ‘Sardinia is different.’ The island has been polished like a pebble by the waves of its history and heritage. And an indispensable part of it is Chiara Vigo, who is thought to be the only women left who can harvest sea silk, spin it and make it shine like gold. By her own admission, Vigo is neither an artist nor an artisan. She is a master. While an artist creates over inspiration and an artisan produces and sells, masters pass their art on. Like she hopes to.

Read more…

Bird of the Day: Crested Hawk Eagle (Gir National Park, Gujarat)

September 2, 2015

Crested Hawk Eagle by Sudhir Shivaram - RAXA Collective

Meeting within Periyar Tiger Reserve

September 2, 2015

photo credit: Sudhir Shivaram; Barnawarpara Wildlife Sanctuary in Chhattisgarh

Just a few days ago, I went for the first time to the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Thekkady, which is one of the most important national parks in Kerala. For sure, luck was going our way! We saw so many things: different monkeys, awesome birds, multicolored frogs … but the most amazing and unexpected meeting in this dense forest was one with an animal that I would never have imagined seeing: a leopard! Even if it was obviously fleeting in one sense, it was also a timeless moment that I will remember. None of us had time to take a picture of the animal, which is why I’m using a photo by Sudhir Shivaram taken in Barnawarpara Wildlife Sanctuary in Chhattisgarh. The photo is also much closer than the scene that we experienced, where the leopard was fifty meters in front of us.

Sudhir’s quote below is a good way to show how fast it was and how lucky we are to have looked at the right time in the right place.

I keep saying – In Wildlife Photography you get 0-3 seconds to make your image, otherwise you have missed the opportunity. That’s exactly what happened to me in this case. Read more…

Becoming Insta-Ready

September 2, 2015

In one of my previous posts I mentioned the importance of always being camera-ready in Xandari. Now, having learned my lesson, I make sure my camera gets charged everyday because Seth and I have created an Instagram account for Xandari. The idea to make an account for the hotel had been stirring in my mind for a few weeks. However, it wasn’t until I was about to take another breathtaking sunset picture and a dreaded “memory full” warning sign popped up on the camera screen that I realized the concept could no longer remain dormant; it had to become a reality!

Read more…

If You Are in DC…

September 2, 2015
The Capitol stones at Rock Creek Park in DC. PHOTO: Bill Lebovich

The Capitol stones at Rock Creek Park in DC. PHOTO: Bill Lebovich

When the dust settled after 9/11, shipbuilders recycled the Twin Towers’ steel into the USS New York. And when the United States Capitol got a face-lift, the old stones were destined for an almost forgotten existence in a Washington, D.C. forest. Save for the occasional runner who veers off his usual trail and the rare visitor with ample time to explore more of the Rock Creek Park, not many have chanced upon and delved into the history of the pile of moss-covered stone columns. Obscura Society is headed there this week, and you may want to join them.

Read more…

Bird of the Day: Grey Wagtail (Nandi Hills, Karnataka)

September 1, 2015

Grey Wagtail by Brinda Suresh - RAXA Collective

A Fitting Anniversary Surprise

September 1, 2015
Leopard Paw Prints, Periyar Tiger Reserve

Leopard Paw Prints, Periyar Tiger Reserve

Five years ago last week several of us moved to Kerala, India to begin what is now Raxa Collective. Sometime in the first year one of us took a photo of a huge tiger paw print while trekking through the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Two of us had the briefest of brief sightings of a tiger, back then as well, with the tiger leaping across the trail we were on, doing its best to avoid us and move on…

Now, exactly five years in, we had what anyone would describe as the ideal nature encounter.  Read more…

New York, Have a Sunny Day!

September 1, 2015
With New York packing so many buildings into a small area, the rooftops offer seemingly limitless potential to take homes off the grid. PHOTO: Business Insider

With New York packing so many buildings into a small area, the rooftops offer seemingly limitless potential to take homes off the grid. PHOTO: Business Insider

For the average homeowner, there’s more benefit to going solar than ever before. With the sun being a consistent source, of energy, those investing in photo-voltaic panels can be assured of seeing returns. There’s bound to be questions about feasibility, yes. About how much space is required, the type of structures involved, whom to contract for setup, etc.That’s where Mapdwell, a spin-off company from MIT that is creating incredibly detailed maps of the solar potential for each and every building in various cities, comes in.

“Solar energy has all this baggage, in a way. Solar panels have been out there for 30 to 40 years, but most homeowners still believe panels are “complicated, expensive, not-for-me kinds of things,” says CEO Eduardo Berlin, an architect and designer who is based in Cambridge, MA. “Solar is a real possibility for many people now, but somehow that got missed. It never got rebranded. The idea that you can put something on a roof and create energy from the sun, it’s pretty amazing.”

Read more…

Bird of the Day: Steely-vented Hummingbird (Xandari Resort, Costa Rica)

August 31, 2015

From Behind the Wheel: Romantic Rickshaw

August 31, 2015
Parade Ground, Fort Kochi

Parade Ground, Fort Kochi

The Decision is To Bee

August 31, 2015
Researchers are using micro sensors to learn about the problems bees face. PHOTO: BBC

Researchers are using micro sensors to learn about the problems bees face. PHOTO: BBC

Around here, we understand the importance of bees. That explains the numerous posts on these winged creatures. If you must know right away, bees are guardians of the food chain and keepers of biodiversity, thanks to their super power of pollination. Precisely why it’s a cause for worry when we hear of their numbers dwindling. Now, an international group of scientists, beekeepers, farmers and technology companies is using cutting-edge technology to help find out why honey bee populations around the world are crashing.

Read more…

Bird of the Day: Rock Bunting (Mandal, Uttarakhand)

August 30, 2015

Rock Bunting by Shailee Shah - RAXA Collective

Whale Shark Encounter

August 30, 2015

In celebration of International Whale Shark Day, which is August 30…

I’ve posted previously about ecotourism ventures focused on iconic marine species such as sharks, manta rays, and sea turtles and how such ventures can be linked to protection of the species involved. From a natural capital valuation standpoint, the link is based on the recognition that the revenue generated from wildlife tourism associated with the animals far exceeds the revenue that would be earned from their capture for meat and/or body parts.  In a nutshell – they are worth more alive than dead!

One species that has been the focus of wildlife tourism in various parts of the world is the whale shark. The largest fish in the sea, whale sharks grow up to 40 feet in length and more than 45,000 pounds in weight.  Read more…

The Disappearing Cajun Culture

August 30, 2015
A shrimp boat heading out to fish on Bayou Lafourche. PHOTO: BBC

A shrimp boat heading out to fish on Bayou Lafourche. PHOTO: BBC

Cajuns are mostly descended from French immigrant ancestors. Their name comes from Acadia in Nova Scotia, Canada, where they originally settled – they were expelled by the British in the 18th Century, and many eventually ended up in southern Louisiana. What was once home to several hundred families now only counts a few permanent residents. Where there were cotton fields, there’s now open water. Where a cemetery once stood, a few last remaining tombstones are sliding into the bayou.The people here have survived hurricanes, including Katrina in 2005, and the BP oil spill in 2010. But their resilience is being tested again by a less dramatic, but no less dangerous threat – the long-term erosion of the marshes and wetlands that run all along Louisiana’s coast.

Read more…

Drawing Inspiration from Paper Folding

August 30, 2015
The flat-pack design could reduce energy demand drastically compared to a standard canvas structure. PHOTO: CoExist

The flat-pack design could reduce energy demand drastically compared to a standard canvas structure. PHOTO: CoExist

It has long been known that origami has many benefits like developing eye hand co-ordination, sequencing skills, attention skills, patience, temporal spatial skills, math reasoning etc. And now a structure design inspired by the Japanese art of folding paper may help the military significantly reduce its energy demand.

Read more…

Bird of the Day: Malabar Whistling Thrush (Valparai, Tamil Nadu)

August 29, 2015

malabar whistling thrush by Vijaykumar Thondaman - RAXA Collective

The Wettest Place on Earth

August 29, 2015
New Zealand-based photographer Amos Chapple captures a "living bridge" deep in the forests of Meghalaya, India.

New Zealand-based photographer Amos Chapple captures a “living bridge” deep in the forests of Meghalaya, India.

Perched atop a ridge in the Khasi Hills of India’s north-east, Mawsynram has the highest average rainfall – 467in (11.86 metres) of rain per year – thanks to summer air currents gathering moisture over the floodplains of Bangladesh. When the clouds hit the steep hills of Meghalaya they are compressed to the point where they can no longer hold their moisture. The end result is near constant rain. Even the world’s biggest statue, Rio de Janeiro’s 30m tall Christ the Redeemer, would be up to his knees in that volume of water.

Read more…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,618 other followers

%d bloggers like this: