Diet: Childhood vs Now

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The discussion in class about the American diet changing over time to eat more unhealthy helped me to recall my eating habits of when I was younger.I remember a long time ago I used to eat a lot of sweet things and just dislike it because it was so sweet. There are still many friends from Korea who say that certain foods here are just way too sugary for them and that they can’t handle the taste. I know that my brother and my mom tend to dislike food that is “too sweet” as well. For me… It’s hard to find something that crosses the “too sweet” line. In fact, I don’t think I even have that line. Like my dad, I love sweet things like ice cream and candy. It’s still a big problem for me and my mom is the most worried about it. One night she was sitting on the sofa watching an educational documentary. Now, I didn’t know this, and she gestured me to come sit and watch this awesome cool movie with her (or what I thought it was). I got all excited because she never wants to watch things with me. I thought that this would be a really fun movie, but as soon as she pressed play, I got right back up. She made me stay and watch the informative clip about diabetes and the symptoms and health risks that come with the disease. Back then, I wasn’t really sure why she thought I ate so much sugar. Now I realize that my tastebuds have grown accustom to such extreme sugary-ness that I don’t think many things are unbearably sugary anymore. I rarely feel that a certain food is too sweet while I remember when I was younger, I hated lucky charms because it made the inside of my mouth tickle from the sugary marshmallows. I used to prefer vegetables over meat and decline sweet things. I was healthier as a kid than as an adult who cam make decisions on what I eat.

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Myakka State Park

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Myakka State Park was gorgeous. Even though I got bitten by gosh darn Florida mosquitoes after covering up, I still enjoyed it! It’s definitely a park worth going multiple times. I didn’t expect it to be such a huge park and was surprised when we had to go by car from place to place. Though it was a little disappointing that many animals didn’t come out (except for the alligators-the alligators were not very amused by our presence!), the scenery was beautiful and it was a nice way for everyone to relax from the stressful schoolwork. The canopy walk was definitely the scariest and the best part of our trip to Myakka. I have a slight fear of heights and I was incredibly nervous to feel the stairway shaking as we got higher and higher, but it was all worth it in the end. It was an amazingly beautiful sight at the top of the canopy walk. The horizon stretched out endlessly and it felt like all of the stress and fatigue was washed away for the day. The trip immersed me in the middle of nature itself. I don’t think I’ve done that in a very long time, probably haven’t since I was a kid. I remember walking along the trail and looking at the trees and thinking, “wow that would be really nice to paint/draw”.

One thing that I didn’t like about Myakka was that I could always smell something funky. I don’t know why, but when we were walking along the trail this unpleasant aroma climbed itself up and into my nostrils. I didn’t enjoy it very much. I looked up what other activities that we can do at the park and I would really enjoy going on a boat tour in Myakka.

No Impact Man

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No Impact Man was questionable at certain times. I questioned the credibility of the documentary because I am unsure of how determined a parent would be to risk not providing their growing child the nutrition she needs in order to “save the trees”. I just could not fathom a parent willingly giving that up. The unsanitary conditions (no toilet paper? really?) that follow are also not something I would want to put my family through. Had Colin done this by himself, I would not have had any complaints. The fact that he forced his family to go through this with him is what gets under my skin. Some things such as walking to their workplace is something that not everyone can do. People who are not in the city do not have a choice and must take some form of transportation to get to work on time. While the family did a great job, I feel that there are many ways to have less of a negative impact on the environment and I also feel that this was a bit over-the-top and an extreme take on what can be done to better the Earth.

Examples include getting more active in recycling and advocating for a better recycling system in the US, planting trees, donating extra shopping money to organizations that help and protect wildlife instead of buying $900 boots, riding your bike, walking, taking the bus, using less plastic, and just spending more time outside and appreciating nature. Reinforcing that positive attitude about nature to young children and the people around us is also a very important action to take. In order for many people to begin having less of an impact, they have to WANT to have less of an impact. They have to care about the Earth and work together to preserve the beauty of what nature can provide.

Theory: Warmer Winters will lead to worse Flu Seasons

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While I was searching for a topic to discuss for climate change, I was thinking about how I can convince people to agree that climate change is a bad thing. I then thought up of how warmer climates will lead to an increase in bug populations and how many people present-day would consider this a bad thing ( because ew bugs). The increase in temperature would mostly benefit bug populations in the north as it would increase their chance of survival. Bugs are highly adaptable creatures and while the increase in survival would also depend on competition among the bug species as well as other factors, I would say that a good amount of us wouldn’t want for that to happen.

Then I came across an article that talks about something much more interesting. While the increase in bug populations would be annoying and economically grueling for agriculture business, what interested me more is the fact that warmer winters will result in the NEXT flu season to become worse. This is due to the fact that less people will catch the flu in a warmer climate (it makes it more difficult to spread) and therefore the presence of the disease is not as apparent as it would be in a normally cold winter. This results in people to not getting vaccinated as they don’t feel the need to. The flu season comes especially early and hits hard following the warmer winters. It seems like nowadays the cold and the flu is getting more and more severe (even here at Ringling, I feel like people have been sick for so long that I start to wonder if they really have a simple cold). The ability of the vaccine to protect from the flu ends in several months because of the virus’s ability to mutate. In addition to the fast mutations of the influenza virus, there are multiple types of the virus. Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have to guess the three most common strains and make the vaccine. The article states that this is a continuing study and there are still unanswered questions that exist today. Many factors go into flu seasons. Areas with warmer climates are not even considered to have flu seasons.

The articles I read can be found here and here

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Orcas in Captivity

Blackfish was first introduced to me through a friend. She felt so strongly about it that she felt that she must share it with everyone she knew. This surprised me as she isn’t the type of who would recommend movies let alone documentaries. I’ve seen Blackfish about three times now and every single time I can’t help but support the film’s message 100%. The documentary captures the real happenings behind Seaworld’s fancy orca and dolphin flips and tricks. Just like my friend, the film made me want to spread the message to everyone I knew. I eagerly offered to watch it with another friend who was reluctant. The documentary snags our attention from the beginning and never lets go.

While it was bad enough that they kidnapped young orcas from their families in the first place, I think the most ridiculous thing that Seaworld ever did was breeding the orcas with Tilikum’s DNA. Tilikum has shown aggressive behavior to his trainers so many times. Dogs were domesticated from the wild wolves by selecting the most friendly and obedient. When comparing these two methods together, Seaworld seems to be in such a rush to make more money that they have thrown all logic out of the window. Aggressive acts of orcas towards humans in captivity is a huge amount compared to in the wild (over 100 cases in captivity compared to 1 in the wild). This is probably due to the fact that humans and orcas have almost no reason to run into each other in the wild. Even if they do, the orcas will probably not feel the need to relieve their stress by being aggressive. It’s so irritating that even the trainers are told lies to tell the public and that Seaworld’s donations for conservation amount to five cents per ticket. These animals were built to swim long distances DAILY in the wild. It’s like putting humans in a tiny room without anyone or anything else inside for the rest of our lives.

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“The Cove” Thoughts

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Compared to many classmates, I felt as if I was one of the only people who didn’t feel such an attachment to dolphins. I will say that I felt disgusted and what they were doing was cruel, but I’m pretty sure people wouldn’t be saying that spearing regular fish is cruel. Maybe this is because we regard the fish as food perhaps? Someone did mention that we care about them because they’re intelligent, but I don’t see why intelligence plays a factor here because pigs are known to be very intelligent as well. I felt a little frustrated as to why people weren’t focusing on the fact that this activity had a negative effect to those around them because of the radiation levels in the meat compared to whether it was a painful experience for the dolphins or not. Why do we care so much about dolphins in particular? What happened to chickens, pigs, and cows? I realize that we’ve been brought up all of our lives with the perception of these animals as food and maybe this is why many of us were focusing on whether the dolphin massacre was moral or not. However, those who have watched the Food Inc. documentary will agree that the overall process of collecting food for humans isn’t moral in the 21st century. The documentary proved itself to be extremely successful in persuading the audience by telling us about the intelligence of dolphins. Our empathy towards the dolphins continue to grow as the documentary shows clips that make us feel bad for these animals.

All in all, I agree with the fact that this is wrong. However, I don’t feel this way because of how cute or intelligent these animals are, but rather the fact that these animals have extremely high levels of radiation. This is harmful for the people in Japan who have no idea that this is happening.

An interesting fact I learned from the documentary is that dolphins are able to end their life by stopping their breathing. The documentary reminded me of Blackfish, a documentary about Orcas in captivity (mostly in Seaworld) and how this is extremely unhealthy for the Orcas and also dangerous to humans as well.

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Outreach Project Coloring Book and a little observation about Recycling

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As illustration students, we wanted our Outreach project to have to do with hands-on drawing. A suggestion was made that a coloring book would be a great idea for young children to interact with while learning. We added one fact about each animal on each page for the children to read while channeling their inner artist. There are a total of 20 species including animals and plants that are locally found, here, in Sarasota. Physical distribution would be at book stores, gift shops, museums, and classrooms. The coloring book pages can also be printed from home by parents or in school by teachers. We wanted to keep the project fairly simple for a younger audience. A suggestion was made to keep the lines simple and not so busy, I thought this was a great suggestion. I initially thought that it would be too simple and the species itself would not be recognizable in real life for the children, but I realize that having too many lines may even confuse the children when they’re coloring and giving them the artistic freedom is very important.

Many creative ideas were presented in class. My personal favorites were the Red Tide warning application and the Use Less Plastic project. The Red Tide application seems like it would be used in real life fairly often by beach-goers around the globe. I watched a short documentary about the plastic garbage patch when I was in middle school. I didn’t know that it was impossible to clean up and it makes me so sad to learn that it’s grown so large so fast. While we were discussing the use of plastic around the world, the topic of recycling came up.

Over summer vacation after my sophomore year of high school, I went to South Korea to visit family for the first time in six years. So many things have changed, but what I’ve noticed right away is the fact that it was so clean compared to six years ago. The roads and streets had basically no litter and the people are basically forced to recycle. When I went to go throw out the trash, I had noticed that my grandmother had sorted out the plastic, glass, paper, and food waste in separate boxes and bags. I went to go throw out the trash and this is exactly how everything was set up for the entire apartment complex: there was a bin for paper, glass, plastic, and food wastes. I went to my uncle’s house and it was the same. I also saw many people carrying a large bag with wheels to put their groceries in. This is probably because quite a large amount of people in Korea don’t own cars and take public transportation. This is also reducing the amount of overall plastic used in the country. It seemed like my family members were very comfortable with this system of recycling. Compared to the US, it was such a huge step forward for the environment.

Gentle Marine Creatures: Manatee and Whale Shark

I’ve known that manatees are gentle creatures that usually stay up on the surface of warm waters, but other than that I never really researched them. I thought it would be cool to learn more about them and I’d enjoy it because they’re famous for being nice. Following this train of thought I decided to learn more about another marine animal that I know is gentle to humans: the whale shark.

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Popular in the internet world for looking so nice, manatees look like big, fat, gentle sea cows that graze, but it turns out that they’re the aquatic equivalent of an elephant (they’re genetic relatives)! They appear similar in appearance with the gray, thick and wrinkled skin. The manatee is a herbivore and feeds on freshwater plants and sea grasses. The estimate of today’s manatee population in Florida is around 5,000. These animals are endangered and the number one cause of their deaths is, not surprisingly, human-related. Boat propellers seriously injure, if not kill, manatees that are hanging out near the surface. These injuries usually lead to infection. These gentle creatures would be able to live up to 50 to 60 years in the wild and can get up to a whopping 1,500-1,800 lbs. It’s a good thing that they’re nice and friendly. The manatee is important to evolutionary  biologists because they’re what they call an experiment of nature: they’re herbivorous mammals that live underwater compared to the many land-grazing counterparts.

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The whale shark is a massive bus-sized fish that weighs around 20.6 tonnes ( its the largest fish in existence) and has a gaping mouth ready to swallow anything in its path. The whale shark’s favorite food is… plankton. People would probably think that they’re dangerous and scary because of its size and its name, but they often allow divers to swim with them on their back. They swim close to the water’s surface and scoop plankton and other small fish into their mouths. Their mouth is a huge filter and the whale shark captures the small organisms such as plankton in tiny pores while the water passes. Though the population is listed as threatened, people continue to hunt them in the Philippines and in other parts of Asia. However, not only are they hunted for their fins, but also for their meat. An entire whale shark probably costs around $30,000. The meat gets turned into food, fins into soup, skin into bags, and oil into fish oil supplements.

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South Lido Beach and the Roseate Spoonbill

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Though it was freezing and I decided to be extremely smart and be the only one wearing flip-flops, the field trip to South Lido Beach Park was super nice! There were many animals that we saw last class. I was really surprised at the sharks that people caught. They were small, but I wasn’t expecting any sharks to be in the water at all. The blue heron was really beautiful and then the wind blew and messed up its feathers. The raccoons that came out at the end were a nice finishing touch. Out of all of these animals, the ones that most caught my attention was the Roseate Spoonbill. At first glance, I thought it was a deformed flamingo because of the bill.

The Roseate Spoonbill has pretty pink feathers that intensify as they grow older and were hunted to the brink of extinction in the past for ladies’ hats, fans, and screens. It’s odd that they were hunted for this reason because the feathers of the Roseate Spoonbill would fade rapidly. I remember that we talked about the possibilities of why the bird has pink feathers and what possible advantages would their color serve the bird and so far, I’ve found out that there isn’t a big advantage environmentally as they stand out a lot. They don’t seem to have an advantage and it doesn’t seem to be for mating either because both the female and the male have the same plumage. Juvenile Roseate Spoonbills are white to pale pink. The Roseate Spoonbill is believed to be pink due to the algae eaten by the crustaceans that they eat. A similar bird that shows this example is the Flamingo. Flamingos are born grey and acquire their pink feathers from a natural pink dye in their diet of shrimp and algae. The bird’s predators include jaguars, pumas, and alligators. The Roseate Spoonbill’s biggest predators, however, are humans. Even though they have rebuilt their population after being endangered due to decades of protection, they are still experiencing habitat loss to this day. This is mainly because of water pollution as they live in mangrove swamps, tidal ponds, saltwater lagoons and other places with brackish water. They create nests in trees and it takes a full 3 years for Roseate Spoonbills to mature and mate.

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Mimicry – The Owl Butterfly

I was so impressed by the mimic octopus during class that I decided to write about mimicry. As I was looking up topics to write about, I came across a species known as the Owl Butterfly. The name suggests that it only mimics one type of animal, but when looked at closely, they mimic the side of a reptile or amphibian head as well ( at the top part on each side of their wings). This is interesting because this butterfly’s main predator is a lizard. These patterns would make predators think twice about diving in for a kill; should it really be the eyes of a winged predator, they would face death. This pattern is located below their grayish brown wings on the top, possibly because they reside above their main predator. I’m not quite sure if it’s because of their camouflage that now these small lizards are the main predators of if they were always feeding on these butterflies.

The Owl Butterfly is located in the Caligo genus ( the full name of the species is Caligo memnon) and has a large wingspan of  2.6-7.9 inches. The species under this genus, like the owl butterfly, are all known for their huge eye spots, but the latin name of Caligo itself means darkness. They were given this name because they are night “owls” (did you notice that pun?), active early in the morning and late in the evening. The owl butterfly is located in North, Central, and South America. They spend 60 days as a caterpillar and 22-30 days as a chrysalis. There are about 5 species groups under the Caligo genus and around 20 species in total under these 5 groups. It’s interesting how so many can exist and all look different to mimic different owls as well. The mimic game of the Owl Butterfly may not be as strong as the Mimic Octopus, but it’s still quite interesting to see another animal mimicking more than two animals.

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