Located 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, the National Park of American Samoa is the most remote unit of the National Park System and the U.S. National Park south of the Equator. The Park spreads across three islands, 9,500 acres of tropical rainforest, and 4,000 acres of ocean, including coral reefs. While remote, the islands of American Samoa, true to the meaning of the word Samoa (Islands of Sacred Earth), are welcoming and offer beautiful landscapes and centuries of culture and history.
Seasoned backpacker and adventurer Yang Lu earned the grand prize in the 2015 Share the Experience photo contest with this image of a sunburst captured at sunrise in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah. Yang has made the outdoors part of his daily life and finds deep connection to the land through his lens.
“My photography is not just for recreation, it is to inspire people to explore these areas." -- Yang Lu
Photo by Yang Lu (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.
USGS -- Assessing the Effects of Seismic Experiments on Marine Wildlife
As part of a long-standing Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, USGS through its Earthquake Hazards Program, and the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), a publicly owned utility providing service within California, are engaged in a long-term seismic risk management program to reduce the impact of future earthquakes. A spin-off from this CRADA is a study by the USGS Western Ecological Research Center to improve understanding of the ecological impact of high energy seismic studies on sea otter population. Sea otters are a federally-listed threatened species that also serve as crucial indicators of the health of nearshore waters and coastal resources, from kelp forests to fisheries. Results from this study will help managers in shaping recovery strategies for sea otters, and for enhancing ecological services provided by nearshore healthy ecosystems. The study involves collaboration between USGS, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and veterinarians and scientists from a number of universities. The team of biologists, veterinarians, technicians, interns and volunteers have captured, tagged and collected tissue samples for health analyses from over 50 sea otters in the region, and then monitored these animals in the wild on a daily basis using radio telemetry and direct observation. Gene transcription analysis is used to assess exposure to various stressors, and advanced bio-logging devices provide detailed information on dive behavior and metabolic rates. Data from thousands of observations of tagged animals are used to provide baseline data on the demography, behavior, diet, habitat use and movements of sea otters in the vicinity of Diablo Canyon Power Plant, for use in “before/during/after” comparison studies that would be conducted in the event of any future seismic testing/research activity.