Story: Other Related Research
Addition to my Profile
By Marissa Gravett (04/18/13 01:06:44)
Related animals: Cat, Dog

Math and science people are said to show strength in their right side of the brain. Although I have always been a right-minded person, I envy those who can express themselves creatively with their well-developed left side of the brain. I feel very fortunate to have a best friend who balances my right side with her artistic left side. My best friend and roommate, Natalie Earhart, is an art major at UCSB. Throughout our years together at UCSB, I have enjoyed discussing her art projects with her and helping her develop her ideas.

When it came to choosing my class schedule for my last quarter as a UCSB undergrad, I had to pick a random class to fill my schedule to make myself a full time student. Natalie had mentioned that there was space in this Interspecies Collaboration class, and I knew this was the exact class that I should take to exercise the left side of my brain after neglecting it for four years due to my heavy science classes. I didn’t want to graduate without giving myself the chance to see what I could create after watching Natalie create so many inspiring art pieces throughout the years.

I have always been an animal lover. In fact, I think it is safe to say that I sometimes enjoy being around animals more than people because I feel like animals understand me more. Animals are such interesting creatures that we can learn so much from. Since I identify myself as such an animal lover, I felt like this class would be the perfect opportunity for me to express the impact that animals have on my life in an artistic way. I have always been naturally drawn to domestic animals such as dogs and cats because that is what I grew up around. I studied abroad in Costa Rica this past fall and ever since then, my interest in exotic and wild animals has grown. The more I learn about them and the more time I spend with them, the more fascinated I become. I hope that this class will help me to turn my everyday interactions with the animals that I love into art that expresses my special connection with animals.

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Story: Interspecies Communication
An Hour At Sea
By Jeff Marsch (05/12/09 15:09:36)
Related animals: Dolphin, Sea Lion

For this exercise I paddled a kayak about a quarter mile off the coast of La Jolla in San Diego and waited/waded in the water for an hour to see what kind of sea life came my way, and if they were curious or willing to interact. I did not bring a mask, so I was incapable of entering the water to establish direct visual contact. This resulted in me sitting in the kayak and looking down into the water below, or occasionally dipping my body into the water and leaving myself vulnerable without a means for seeing into the water at all. My first submersion made the inability to make visual contact with my potential aquatic friends unnecessary; a pod of Bottlenose dolphins were in the area, and I could hear their echolocative clicks as soon as I put my head under the water. My first instinct was to mimic the sounds I was hearing with a similar set of clicks. For a few minutes the clicking continued, but my calls didn't seem to be attracting the dolphins enough to bring them towards me. After about five minutes of trying the dolphins were out of my earshot, and I got back into the kayak. For the remainder of the time only a few animals came near: a couple of sea lions, a few pelicans, and a school of mackarel. I had thought that the sea lions would come closer as they naturally do, but they stayed their distance about fifteen yards away. Their lack of curiosity on this particular day made me curious as to how I might potentially collaborate with them. I realized that it might be a lot easier to do on land where they are not so flighty and capable of running away so quickly, and also where they are congregated in large numbers and most likely feel more comfortable because of it. However, I don't think that collaborating with sea lions would be as interesting as with dolphins, because while the former share similar behaviors and characteristics with well known terrestrial mammals (canines), the latter are fully aquatic in their physiology and possess a unique and challenging mode of communication (sonar) that could be an excellent medium for an art project.

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Story: Interspecies Relationships
Can't stop seeing the ducks
By Mark Linggi (06/03/10 17:37:49)
Related animal: Mallard Duck

So after my first encounter with the ducks after a long time, I know can't stop seeing them. On the same day that I reencountered the ducks, I was walking towards campus to the art studio. On my way, I crossed the grass in front of the Student Health Center. Lo and behold the duck couple was there. My friend, Micky, started to walk closer to the ducks, but I told him that they like their distance and that they really don't like to be disturbed too much. Of course, as he got closer to them, they both stood up and walked away. Its interesting to notice that when you have food, they ducks don't seem nearly as afraid of you when you don't have food. Its interesting to think about how it is the same person, but the need and want for food just pushes the ducks to be that much more interactive with us. Its the reason why squirrels in Yosemite are so friendly. I remember when I hiked up in Yosemite, to Twin Falls (I think thats the name), there were so many squirrels getting so close to everyone. They became so accustomed to humans giving them food that the need and desire for food outweighed the initial fear of us. Its funny how getting food easily can cloud the danger of a potential life threat.

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Story: Animal Play Behavior
By Jessica Oropesa (06/09/10 00:23:29)
The first time I ever saw wild dolphins was in April, when my family and I went on a trip to Catalina Island. We drove to the pier, then from the pier we got on a boat and headed out into the ocean. As we were sitting in the boat, staring at the sea, my sister exclaimed, "A DOLPHIN!!" and our captain slowed the boat down and announced that we were near a pod of dolphins. He continued to drive the boat and made a gigantic circle with the boat and the dolphins raced in the water in the wakes that the boat had made. This was my first ever encounter with wild dolphins and it was spectacular to me. Little did I know how much this past dolphin trip with this class would surpass the first time.

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Comet the Dog
By Danielle Terhune (06/13/10 13:59:18)
Related animal: Dog

I have written about my dog and his how he thinks he is human in previous reflections and projects. I recently found some videos that explore this idea that he has about himself.
Comet watches a lot of TV when he thinks we aren't looking. When we adopted him, his previous owner had told my dad that watching TV was one of Comet's favorite pass-times. Observing what shows that my dog enjoyed I noted any show with animal sounds or any high adventure show with lots of running. I found a video of one of my dogs favorite passtimes, Lizard Hunting. I like to image that he thinks he is the great hunter looking for his prey! And although he can never catch a lizard, and most times, he can't even find one, he knows they're out there. It kind of reminds me of Mobey Dick in a never ending search for his enemy the whale.
Another of Comets favorite things to do is stare out the windows of the house and growl or bark at the neighbors for fun. He would never hurt anyone, he just likes to act all high and mighty safely behind doors. It is very silly, but such a dog thing to do.
The other two videos include his recognition of important words such as "yummy" and "walk." I am more convince that the words themselves are not what's being translated in his mind, but more of the tone in which I say the words and how Comet picks up on their meaning. I supposed its the same as me picking up on Comet's growls, barks, and whines, as a sign of his communication with me. By his sounds I can tell if he's afraid, annoyed, happy, frustrated, or protective. I can tell by his sounds if he wants to play or if he's just tired and wants to chill. I think its amazing that two different species are able to pick of on the meanings of the other just by sounds.

Click to play.
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Story: Interspecies Relationships
Dog Walking
By Jeff Marsch (05/12/09 15:37:56)
Related animal: Dog

This one was easy. It also helps when you pick a canine to be your conversation partner. In this brief exercise I tried nothing more than to get a friend's blue-nosed pit bull to come on a walk with me and fetch a stick. I chose this particular dog because she is exceptionally timid, and on a normal day wouldn't even let me pet her. I asked my friend if I could take his dog for a walk, and he told me to come and pick her up around sunset on a Tuesday. She hadn't been walked all afternoon and would hopefully be anxious to get outside with whoever would take her. When I arrived at the house, I took several tips from the dog whisperer, Cesar Millan, on how to approach a dog who is socially timid. The trick was to make myself small, so as not to appear threatening to the animal. I did not approach her, but rather waited for her to approach me. This made it clear that the relationship would be on her terms, as opposed to the assertion of the opposite had I advanced on her with a leash in my hand. After she came to me I let her sniff my hand, and extended a friendly gesture via a scratch behind the ears. Following a few minutes of petting and scratching, I showed her the leash to see if she was interested in a walk. She obviously understood the visual cue, and became visibly excited, literally leading me out of the door. I have never been a good dog walker, and this was a first; my old golden retriever would be so stubborn as to need dragging out of the door. Instead, this animal was willing and cooperative, and eventually playful. We reached a park after some time running and walking, with just enough time to throw a stick around. I let her off the leash, and to my surprise she stayed close, although clearly being led around by scents. I picked up a large stick immediately got her attention. She was willing to play until dark, at which point she started losing track of the stick. We headed back without issue, and she led me straight back to the house. It was a great success. This is an exceptionally boring story for most, but a genuine first for me.

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Story: Interspecies Communication
Interspecies Collab
By Sara Selmic (04/18/13 18:38:50)
Related animals: Human, Rabbit

Throughout my life I have always loved and respected animals. I learned of the injustice thrust upon non-human animals at a young age and became a vegetarian because of this. As I learned more and more about what humans were doing to non-human animals I decided to become vegan and no longer support any harm to these creatures. I have never been more happy or certain of a decision in my life. I am proud of this aspect of myself because I know I am trying my hardest to equalize the gap that has been created between humans and non-human animals.
In regards to communicating with non-human animals I am definitely aware of the different ways in which animals attempt to speak with us. These creatures have strong energies which they omit and through this life force they begin communication. We are so used to speaking with words, but animals connect on a deeper level that does not call for language. It is sort of like a feeling but not exactly, it's difficult for me to explain.
Ever since I was young I felt a deep bond with animals and assumed they spoke to us and that we too could speak with them. I wasn't sure how to go about this or if I was in fact speaking with them, but I definitely tried and probably assumed a lot. I look forward to further engaging with non-human animals and hopefully bridging the gaps that humans have created.
The closest I have ever been to a non-human animal was with my pet rabbit. I was in about 5th grade when I got him as a baby. I loved him dearly, but sadly he died tragically. I was very connected to him and we definitely had a deep bond. He greeted me like no one else and I was the only one to ever get licked by his tiny tongue. He lived a good life with our other rabbits which we let roam free in our backyard. I actually haven't had a pet since. Although I like having a companion around whom I can take care of, I also find it really weird to keep animals with you instead of letting them live free lives.

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Story: Non-Ordinary and Metaphorical Collaborations with Animals
Lagoon Excursion
By Hector Medina (06/04/13 11:37:55)
Related animals: Racoon, Skunk, Frog, Rabbit

Going on the nature walk today was actually pretty interesting. It was nice to actually stop and notice what is in our backyards. I knew already of some of the animals that live in the lagoon, but I don’t know about bunnies and amount of ladybugs. Usually there are many birds on the platform that extends into the lagoon, it was sad that there wasn’t any today. There were some ducks though floating though so they were interesting to see. I knew there are skunks and raccoons. I guess it never occurred to me where they lived or hided during the day. I got a couple pictures of where they lived, or at least the opening to their burrows. Also I got some pictures of some paw prints on the mud. I can’t say they were dog’s the nail seemed really sharp like claws. Along the trail I also got a food recording of the frogs ribbetting away. Sounded like an orchestra. After branching away from the group Katie and I went up the hill to see if we could find some rabbits. Unfortunately we didn’t see them, yet we did hear them tussling in the bushes. It was nice to actually take the time to see what UCSB campus has to offer other than book knowledge.

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Local Excursion Documentation
By Montana McLeod (05/05/14 11:29:55)
The goats at Coal Oil Point were much more fascinating creatures than I anticipated. There is something about goats in the way they stare at you with their rectangular eyes. They can maintain eye contact with you and simply stare at you regardless of the emotions you project to them. At first it felt like a feeling of indifference, but later it seemed like they were looking at me trying to figure me out first. I spent a good amount of time with the two-day-old goats, watching them as they continued to figure out how to use their legs. At one point, the mama goat pushed one of her babies closer to me with her nose. I tried befriending her before I picked her up and placed her on my lap. The goat sat awkwardly with its legs sprawled out across my lap, not quite sure how it preferred to be situated with less than 48 hours under her belt. Her heart was racing really fast at first, and I wanted to make her feel comfortable and safe. I did the breathing exercises that we learned from Janelle and calmly pet the goat’s soft fur. After some time and extensive focus on this, I could feel a change in her heart rate. I do strongly believe that an animal will respond to your tension or sense of tranquility. With the consistent stroking motion and pressure from my stomach, as it would rise and fall, it felt like I was able to mollify her sense of fear and anxiety.

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Story: Other Related Research
Lost Mole!
By Travis Jepson (04/13/10 09:50:42)
Related animal: Mole

I was biking back to my apartment and saw a group of three people looking at something in the grass. As I went to pass by them I saw it was a gopher/mole scurrying around the grass. I am not sure if the gopher was able to even know we were there as it continued to search for a way back underground.

Click to play.
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Mouse Tragedy Number 1
By Chelsea Hunter (05/11/09 15:34:09)
Related animal: Mice

A few weeks ago the snake that I am doing a collaboration with did not feel like eating her dinner. Her dinner happened to be a tiny white mouse that I affectionately named Senior Marshmellow. Since Pandora ( the snake) would not be eating him I thought that maybe I could use him in some sort of collaboration. He was very timid so my first order of business was to see how long it took him to feel comfortable with me. During the course of the day I picked him up many times and talked to him in a calming voice, at first he was very squirmy but he seemed to get more used to my touch as the day went on.This was right after we saw the pet communicator so I tried using some of things she taught me such as putting myself into his head to see if that would help me feel how he was feeling. I dont know if I was hungry or he was but I then realized that he had not eaten anything since he had been living in our house and that he probably needed to have some nourishment. Since I was not sure what he was in the mood for I picked a variety of fruit, veggies, and seeds ( I heard mice like sunflower seeds) from our kitchen. About an hour after I gave him his food I stopped by his cage to check on him and to my surprise he had eaten everything that I had given him and his body had turned into a massive white ball. He looked pretty tired, I was guessing it was because of all of the food so I decided to let him rest for a little while. The next day when i went to check on him he was not moving and after a little investigation i realized that he had passed away sometime during the night. My collaboration which never really started ended on a sad note with the death of Senior Marshmellow from an overdose of food.

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Story: Interspecies Communication
My Little Orphan Homie
By James Rowan (04/27/10 12:48:55)
Related animal: Pot Belly Pig

Last week the class visited Little Orphan Hammies, a pig sanctuary in Solvang, California, which deals with pot belly pigs who have grown to large for their owners to care for. It was pretty much exactly what I thought it would be, a single woman taking care of 40 or 50 hogs, each one more massive than the next. The pot belly pig has a tough lot in life in America. While cute at a young age, they keep growing and growing, their jowels getting bigger, flesh covering their eyes. Some of them had good temperments, but others just seemed pissed offed, irritable, and uncomfortable. There were, however, a few awesome animals in the mix, at least awesome in the sense that they wanted to hang out with me.

Like I've said before, I grew up on a farm and I raised pigs for years. While ultimately those relationships ended with them going to market, I still spent hours with the animals caring for them and bonding with them. Some people would say it is better not to get attached to the animals especially since they were just going to be sold for meat, but that's not as easy to do with a pig. Pigs are intelligent, like dogs are, maybe even more so. You can see intelligence in their eyes, and in the ways they respond to you. I have spent hours with them and knew that the pot bellies couldn't be all that different. I just had to find the ones who had been raised in an environment where they were not fearful or angry towards humans. Once I found them, it was easy for the communication to begin.

best buds at the farm.
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Mya and the Tree
By Danielle Terhune (06/13/10 13:22:14)
Related animal: Tree

My sister sent me some funny pictures of my three year old niece, Mya, and her “new friend.” This new friend happened to be a big tree. Clicking through the pictures on facebook I couldn’t help but be brought back to the class when Barbara Janell, the animal communicator, had us all find trees to connect with.
During that class I thought I had felt the connection with the tree, but also had my doubts, and later on just wrote it off as my mind forcing an imaginative connection. I’ve always had a vivid imagination. It seemed silly at the time, and still sort of does, thinking I could connect with a tree, but after viewing the pictures of my niece I noticed that she seemed legitimately connected to the tree. There was fascination in her eyes. More then curiosity in her actions. Though there were many tree’s to chose from, she stuck to the same one.
In her first encounter with the tree he stands back and just stares at it in concentration. As if there is almost a silent dialogue. With Mya still lacking a large vocabulary as a three year old I imagine it would be easier for her to communicate with a tree. I remember with Janell I felt like the tree picked me, I didn’t pick the tree. And in the photo, Mya seems to be cautiously testing the waters. In the next photo, Mya appears to be looking intently at the bark. Maybe she’s wondering what causes it to look rough and cracked, she looks almost unhappy at the way it appears. I think personally for Mya it would remind her of a cracked scab or ‘owey.’ And coming to that conclusion may account for the sad curiosity in her eyes. In the next image she openly explores its trunk and bark. Maybe she understands that the tree is supposed to look the way it does. The next image shows Mya pointing up in awe, as if asking the tree how it got so tall and spread out its branches so far. I am sure being the little shorty that she is, she may be almost envious of its great height. She enjoys the feel of the tree, and I suppose if I were to believe that the tree really does have feelings or a spirit it might enjoy being tickled and by the soft little fingers of a young girl barely our of her toddler years paying it great attention. In the next photo she tries to climb it, obviously an impossibility due to its high branches. The picture where she is hugging the tree is so cute. Her arms wrap around it in a gentle manner, her cheek is pressed against it, and her eyes are heavily lidded. It reminds me of when Janell made absolutely sure to tell us all to thank the tree for its time and wisdom. With Mya wrapping up her “conversation” with the tree and her exploration of it with a very sweet and caring hug I am wondering if she realized it was naturally the right thing to do.
I really feel that children, especially the younger they are, have a deeper connection to nature then we as adults ever will. We have ‘advanced’ too much in technologies and agricultural systems that we no longer rely on plants individually for our survival, but our own knowledge to almost force an abundance of nature. Nature no longer choses where to grow, we plant trees and even transplant trees to better suit our needs. The fact that the tree in which my niece became attached to for a day was placed in a short row of trees outside of a warehouse is a harsh juxtaposition of the reality of where a little girl, who is growing up in a city like Houston, Texas, can only find friends in ‘nature’ outside of her daddy’s work. I grew up in Oregon where an overabundance of trees, nature, wildlife, and little forests everywhere can be found. I think that added a lot to the richness of my childhood, being able to find myself surrounded in trees and foliage. Yet as I look at these pictures of my niece and her oddly placed tree I am given a little hope that although we may destroy forests for the development of land and businesses and warehouses, nature still finds a way touch a little girl as she waits with her mommy in the parking lot.

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Story: Art Made by Non-Human Animals
Neighbor Nest
By Hannah Vainstein (05/06/09 11:50:22)
Related animal: Bird

Day one: mission in getting to know my neighbors.

West Campus Family housing is located at the intersection of El Colegio and Stork Rd. It is only a short walk to Cole Oil Point and the bluffs. The main nature areas include the road behind Isla Vista Elementary leading to the park on Fortuna Rd, the family housing community gardens right next to the apartment complex which also boarders the Devereux lagoon and the bit of nature surrounding the lagoon before the golf course.

For my first walk I have set out to wonder through the community gardens and along the road leading toward Coal Oil Point. I am giving myself the freedom to stop at any point along the road and sit for a while also any possible relationship with an animal to start.

Recount of journey:

At the very start of the walk I came across something I had never seen before: a gofer. Of course I have heard of them loads and they eat all of my gardens I planted when I was little but I have never seen one before. Nathan and I stood for a while watching him takes pieces of grass into his hole. I’m pretty sure he was aware of our presents for many reasons one being that Nathan was singing to him. After a while we continued on the walk. Along the road we came to two benches. I heard some resettling near the edge of the benches and so I crouched down to see what was happening. What ever was there ran away. I then sat down on the bench that was beneath two Eucalyptus trees. I meditated for a while and I kept hearing a fast flutter noise passing above me. After a while I discovered that I humming bird had been passing over my head very close to me. As it was getting dark I decided to walk home. Just before getting to my walk way I looked down and found a fallen nest on the ground. I turned it over and discovered that it had been a used nest which had been blown out of the tree. I feel that it was a gift from my little neighbors.

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By Masha Lifshin (06/12/09 19:13:21)
29 April 2009. Harder Stadium.
I'm at the studios under Harder stadium around twilight, walking around the East bleachers to the loading zone driveway door. A bird, a small one that looked like seabird, was on the field. We noticed each other. As I began to turn the key and open the studio door the bird suddenly began to call, piercingly and repeatedly. At that moment, I somehow instantly leaned my head back to look upwards. An owl was winging its way over the field towards the pillar of the stadium lights. He perched high, high above me and we looked at each other. A minute or two passed until he flew away, magnificently. The small sea bird finally stopped calling the alarm.

I have always known the owls are up high around Harder because I have been finding their pellets since I started working in those studios last Fall. I have used the pellets in a digital artwork, Lately, I have started incorporating the pellets into object-making.

7 May 2009. Sedgwick Reserve watering trough.
Again, it's twilight and Lisa, Michael, Nathan, Hannah, and I are perched a ways up on the slope above one of the watering troughs at Sedgwick. We hear occasional hooting from the trees to our left. Suddenly an owl swoops away over our heads. A minute later, another one does the same. I think they had the heart-shaped faces of barn owls.

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Pupy, All Grown Up
By Mona Luo (06/01/14 22:04:11)
Related animals: Pupa, Polyphemus Moth

I picked up Pupy on August 22nd, and on May 25th, 9 months later, he emerged a beautiful and healthy moth.

When I made the move from home to school during September I packed him up in a little glass jar surrounded by tissues to keep him safe. For the next 8 months he sat in my room with little change. Sometimes I forgot he was there, other times I worried that he was dead, and every now and then I would give his jar a little tap to see if he would wiggle and do his little dance. When May rolled around I began to check on him more frequently. I knew he was supposed to come out soon, but I didn't know exactly when. In preparation for his emergence I moved him to a larger box so he would have room to stretch his wings when he came out.

The day before we left for our weekend trip to the island the skin of his casing turned very dark and almost papery to the touch. I knew he was about to come out. Briefly I considered an emergency c-section so that I would not miss his coming out, but then abandoned that idea. In the end I left him with my boyfriend to babysit and went to the island where there was spotty cell reception at best. On Saturday evening I found out that Pupy had emerged the night before and a very blurry, low resolution picture of him hanging from the stick I placed in his box. I didn't think there was much that could make me want to leave the beautiful island, but apparently seeing my little moth-baby was one of them. When I finally got back and saw him it became apparent that he was not little at all. It was strange to see his pupal casing that I had grown so familiar with torn open, sitting on the bottom of the box. Instead of my plump, wriggly little brown thing, there was now a beautiful, furry moth. I didn't want to let him go, and I will admit a part of me wanted to preserve the moth like in those insect collection mounts. And so, he sat in my room for a day because I could not bear to let him go. I felt guilty about not setting him free, but sad at the thought of seeing him go. However, I knew time was ticking because the moths only live a few days.

On Tuesday evening I brought him outside. I let him crawl onto my hand and lifted him out of the box, but he did not attempt to fly away. Then I placed him on a nearby plant and he still did not move. He just sat there with his wings spread flat. With him sitting out there in the open I worried that some bird would snatch him up as a tasty meal or a person would come by and claim him as their own, so I put him back in his box and brought him back to my room again. I still did not want to let him go. But around 11 o’clock in the evening for some reason he began to flap frantically. The sound of his wings beating against the plastic sides of the box filled me with so much panic and anguish that I rushed him outside. I opened the top and he flew out. He flew spastically in the air. I was on the 3rd floor bridge between the houses of my dorm. He crashed into the roof over and over again and it pained me to see that, but eventually he found his way to open air. Eventually he alighted on the wall and simply sat there. Then I remembered that that’s what moths do. They sit a lot. And so I had to force myself to let him be. He was certainly conspicuous sitting on the white wall under the bright lights. I check on him a handful more times before I went to bed, but each time he had not moved.

When I went to class the next morning I saw that he was not on the wall anymore. A strange wave of relief washed over me. It felt as if a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders. But then, as I walked down the stairs I saw him sitting on the side of the suspended walkway. I started worrying again about his getting eaten and the such. When I came back from class he was gone for good, but that sense of relief was gone, I just felt a little strange and sad.

Click to play.

My little baby, all grown up.
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Ridiculous Pony Carousel
By Jeffrey Jacobs (05/12/09 16:28:29)
Related animal: Horse

Ridiculous Pony Carousel

Upon our return from the Santa Cruz Island trip I was walking back to my car when I spotted something that grabbed my interest. It was a pony carousel set up on a field near the marina. There were four of the most miserable horses strapped to polls that protruded from a spinning center axis. The idea was that people pay the guy who sits next to this thing to strap their children to these animals and have them walk in a circle. As I approached them, I felt like I could see the boredom and utter anguish in the eyes of the animals. They desperately yearned to be in a field somewhere, doing whatever it is that horses do when people aren’t making them act ridiculous. Before I knew it I was talking, out loud, to one of the horses, telling him that I could sense its pain and hoping things would turn out alright. The horse turned and looked at me and stamped its back feet in the grass. I then reached over the fence and pet the horse’s head, which I think it enjoyed, though I don’t know anything about horses. Then a lady came with her three children, giddy with excitement over the event about to ensue, and paid the man to strap them in. The children got on the horses and as the man said whatever it was that he said to make the horses move I was confronted by the delight of the children and simultaneous exhausted misery of the ponies. I felt like I should set the ponies free but knew I couldn’t and I was bummed.

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Story: Interspecies Communication
Santa Cruz Islands
By leona chen (05/12/09 19:35:40)
Going to Santa Cruz was a great opportunity for me to expand my location. The natural wilderness brought clarity and inspiration because the city life becomes so bland. I arrived at the campsite with high hopes of encountering many animals. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The animals there were scarce and had to locate. I was not lucky enough to see any mammals besides birds and 2 humpback whales during the boat ride there. On the campsite, I ventured onto different parts of the island and took advantage of taking as many nature hikes as possible. I was shocked by the size of the island, which seemed so small on a map. This place was immense and I knew there had to be animals but they would be harder to find. During my observations, I have found many reptiles such as various lizards. I have also encountered these unique small frogs near the watering hole where they were hatched in eggs. I knew there would frogs because the water had many tadpoles. It was strange because the frogs and the lizards were very relaxed which allowed me to get very close to them and sometimes even touch them. The insects were very diverse; I saw many weird looking bugs that I have not seen here in SB. There were fox droppings but no fox, which was tormenting because of the fox's infamous reputation of being cute. The equipment that I have brought with me was a vintage canon camera, along with a digital compact Sony camera. I brought two cameras because they both serve two purposes in my research and creative process. The Canon camera would be aesthetic documentation while the Sony camera would be scientific documentation. I have decided that I would use my film camera to present my art and the digital camera to show observations. So far, I have many good pictures to show my progress and experience.

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Story: Animal Play Behavior
Santa Ynez Mud Swallows
By Jeff Marsch (05/12/09 15:08:12)
Related animal: Swallow

Sitting in the Santa Ynez river for two minutes brought a flock of over one hundred cliff nesting birds to my attention. I found two things about the birds to be immediately interesting: first, their feeding cycles and relationship with their roost, and second the way in which they moved cooperatively though air in roughly the same way as small fish do in water. The birds we saw (which I believe were mud swallows) had made a roost near the base of a cliff in a shady part of the river in the form of dozens of hemispherical mud shells, which were affixed directly to the cliff-face with openings at the tops. Every five minutes or so the birds would leave their nests in unison to swarm out over the river in what appeared to be an insect hunt, only to return after brief stint of hunting. This process seemed to repeat endlessly throughout the time we were there, with the birds spending roughly the same time in flight as in rest beneath the cliff, which gave me the notion that the birds were sort of living a cyclical life at dozens of times the rate of our own based on instinctual clockwork. This was the first evidence of an invisible boundary resulting from biological capacity; the second was what seemed to dictate the movement of the pack when in flight on the hunt. I found the way in which the shape of the collection of individual birds moved in unison to be very interesting aesthetically; they all appeared to be bound by an invisible elasticity that mirrored that of pliable rubber. This appeared to be the result of near instantaneous reflex and perfect motion control within the medium of air. Through this it seems that it is possible for there to exist instantaneous communication among a group of individuals based on shared instinct. Could humans be trained/evolved to depend solely on reflex? Or are we as a species defined by our cognitive intellect?

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Skunk video
By Tanasa Slovin (06/01/10 12:10:15)
I just moved into this new house on Trigo in January have began to notice that a family of about nine baby skunks live in my backyard. The most interesting thing about it is that the baby skunks are not nocturnal! And they are not afraid of humans. I haven't tried to physically interact with them beside filming them and documenting photo's of them because I don't want to chance getting sprayed. They are just so adorable. The most I have seen at one time is nine. The baby skunks live underneath a shed in my backyard. I notice them eating left over food or just running around the yard at any time of the day, even if there are a dozen people in the backyard at the same time. When the baby skunks see me and/or other humans they turn around and gather together in a pack and lift up their fluffy tails, however they never actually spray. I have gotten pretty close to them and they don't go away and hide, but they just lift up their tail and still nothing ever comes out. I'm beginning to think that baby skunks cannot physically spray.. otherwise I think I would have definitely been sprayed by now! I want to upload a video I took of them playing with a chair in our backyard, I'm still trying to figure out how to upload it. I'll try again!

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