Sleep can be a frustrating experience for many travelers. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, trying get a good night’s sleep in a hotel room can sometimes be an exercise in futility. After all, there often is a wide variety of unfamiliar sounds and noises that can disrupt your normal sleeping pattern during your hotel stay. A noisy neighbor or loud heating and air conditioning systems are common complaints from hotel guests.
Dr. Natalie Dautovich, Environmental Fellow, National Sleep Foundation, says, “Schedules change when you travel, but you can still enjoy your vacation while protecting your sleep. To maximize your sleep quality while on the road, think of light as the most powerful cue for your body clock. Be sure to get some bright light exposure when you wake up, which will help you feel more energized and alert, and avoid light, like from your cell phone, and increased activity later in the evening, which can make it harder to wind down and fall asleep.”
She offers these recommendations. “Consider bringing an eye mask or a portable sound machine with you to your hotel room or vacation rental to help block out any extra light or noise,” she advises. “It is also important to remember that good sleep at night starts with healthy behaviors during the day. Spending time outdoors is great for your nighttime sleep and can be easily achieved when traveling and exploring new environments. Just be mindful of the effects of early and late light exposure. Lastly, it’s easy to become more flexible with bedtime schedules while traveling. Your body functions best on a regular routine so aim for a regular bed and wake time schedule as much as possible.”
Seasoned travelers are turning to all natural sleep devices in the form of mechanical ear plugs or headbands to help them get the shut-eye they require. The following sleep devices have been proven to be very effective in helping people get a good night’s sleep, whether at home or on the road in an unfamiliar environment.
QuietOn 3 Earbuds utilize Active Noise Control (ANC), Active Noise Canceling and Active Noise Reduction (ANR) which are methods where an unwanted sound is reduced by adding another sound specifically made to cancel it out. Active noise canceling earbuds use a microphone to sample the sound, and a speaker to create a phase-shifted sound that cancels the original sound. According to QuietOn’s literature, passive noise canceling devices such as foam earplugs perform well for frequencies over 1kHz, however they are not working effectively in the range where you would need them most: Low frequency noise waves, which are long and go through the walls and earplugs. Active noise canceling technology is able to reduce low, frequency sounds that ordinary passive earplugs are not able to address. They are most effective at low frequencies such as snoring or ambient sounds coming through walls.
QuietOn 3 Active Noise Canceling earbuds utilize tiny technology. A microphone takes a sample from the outside noise. The tiny active electronics inside the earbud creates a phase-shifted and equalized sound. The phase-shifted sound is then played through a speaker thus canceling the original noise. The energy for the device is provided by re-chargeable battery. The soft memory foam tip ensures a tight fit in the ear and handles the passive noise canceling. And while QuietOn is helpful when it comes to sleeping in hotel rooms, the device also provides quietude on the way to get there by canceling engine noise on the train or air cabin noise on the plane.
SoundOff earbuds uses Noise Masking as its primary technology. Noise Masking is when you listen to one sound so you don’t hear another sound. If you are trying to sleep, the sound you are listening to needs to be soothing and relaxing so it helps you sleep rather than interrupting your sleep. With SoundOff you hear a soothing pink noise. Studies show pink noise relaxes the brain and can help you sleep. SoundOff earbudswere actually created specifically to solve a personal travel problem for one of the founders. After too many sleep-deprived hotel stays with a snoring travel partner, she finally reached a breaking point and shelled out money for an extra hotel room, and that’s literally how the journey to invent SoundOff began. The company’s research consists mainly of personal conversations with users, as well as some written reviews and testimonial videos. Though most customers initially purchase the earbuds for noise problems that keep them awake at home, they often say they won’t leave home without them. Some have even purchased a second pair that stays in their travel bag. One user wrote, “I take weekend golf trips frequently and room with snoring partners. The nights of no sleep have finally ended. I use them even when I don’t need to just because the sound is so relaxing.”
Abhinav Singh, MD, FAASM, Medical Review Expert at SleepFoundation and Medical Director of the Indiana Sleep Center, says, “Sleep in hotels is often challenging. No humidity, dry air, different pillows, different bed, noise levels and light levels.”
Dr. Singh offers these strategies:
* A good eye mask. Some come with Bluetooth speakers for ambient noise/music.
* Making sure you’re well hydrated.
* Comfortable clothing. Sometimes certain aromatherapy could lead to familiarity/relaxation if used even in hotels. The objective is to create as close to possible the physical environment like home.
* Traveling with your CPAP device if you use one.
* Remember the basic sleep hygiene including avoiding screen/TV/phones. Encouraging reading or audiobooks. Avoiding heavy meals prior to getting into the hotel room.
I couldn’t see my daughter’s face in the distance, but I tried to gauge her reaction to the lake’s organic expanse, so different from the gated, manufactured ovals she was used to skating on. She pivoted, played with footwork and whirled in a scratch spin. She finally whooshed to a stop where I stood. “I feel like I’m flying,” she said.
Maybe, I hoped, this crazy trip was worth it.
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When my daughter shared her wish to skate on natural ice, Lake Morey Resort seemed an easy answer. Just off Interstate 91 along the New Hampshire border, itis known for maintainingone of the longest groomed and monitored skating loops in the country, about four miles following the lake’s perimeter. Although longer U.S. trails have been created by volunteer-run organizations during the pandemic, this one has a toasty hotel, as well as dining next to the lake. I wouldn’t have to spend any time outdoors in Vermont’s single-digit temperatures unless I was exercising.
And there were plenty of ways to do that. The resort offers so many kinds of gear that guests inspired by the Winter Olympics in Beijing can try several of the sports played in the Games. Figure skates, hockey skates and sticks, cross-country skis, and fluorescent-colored sleds that can be pulled on the lake or used as a pseudo luge at a sledding hill on the resort grounds are on offer. The Nordic skates, ideal for stability over the small bumps and natural fissures on wild surfaces, are like skis in the way the boot and long, wide blade are separate pieces that clip together. The blade only connects to the boot at the toe with a hinge, so when skaters lift their foot, the back of the blade releases and swings free. There are also snowshoes, ice scooters (to be used with provided crampons for traction), and a bicycle with one fat back tire and two yellow skis in lieu of the front one.
At home, my daughter spends hours at rinks indoors and out, but she prefers to skate in the elements once our local outdoor rink opens for the season. During that first pandemic winter, the routine and endorphin-generating vigor of skating at the outdoor rink were critical in lifting our family’s spirits, giving us purpose and a place to see friends. I wanted our late-January trip to be a supersize infusion of that joy, an emotion that was in short supply during months of anxiety and virtual school.
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Lake Morey seemed to offer freedom from worry. All over the country, if winter is biting enough, ponds, rivers and lakes will freeze and become skateable for a time. But Mother Nature’s sheets are uneven and unpredictable. At the lake, the ice is evaluated daily and maintained by a fleet of plows and motorized brushes to streamline it and make skating possible.
The fleeting season when the trail is open for ice skating makes those days more magical. It usually opens by Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January and closes near the end of February, although it has opened as early as New Year’s Day. Like any outdoor venue, it is subject to the vicissitudes of nature: Earlier this month, the trail was temporarily closed to skaters after a pair of storms left slush and standing water on the lake.This year, the unusual weather patterns have meant the resort has been unable to open the four-mile perimeter trail, but it has opened a half-mile loop and cleared “rinks” on the southeast part of the lake next to the hotel.
When we looked out at the lake from our hotel room on our first morning at the resort, crews were already brushing snow from the ice, and skaters were moving on cleared stretches and on the shorter loop.
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As much as I had loved having the 547-acre lake mostly to ourselves the evening before, I delighted in the morning energy. There were college-age hockey players ribbing each other, a small child living his best hygge life while nestled on a sheepskin on a sled towed by an adult skater, people propelling scooters made with two skis, dogs galloping alongside skaters, three generations of a family meeting friends, and preschoolers on an outdoor playdate. Practiced Nordic skaters zipped around the loop, bent forward with hands clasped behind their backs.
My daughter told me to look where I was going instead of down, but I was fascinated by the navy-gray lake’s texture. The ice was etched by blades and naturally occurring cracks; it looked to me as if we were skimming across pavement instead of a freshwater bowl averaging 24 feet deep. She briefly tested the Nordic skates, too, but quickly switched to experiment with hockey skates.
By the afternoon, as more clouds set in, I was starting to get the hang of the Nordic skates and had settled into a rhythm, lifting my feet off the ice and hearing the metallic thwunk as the skate blade extended. I was concentrating on sustaining my pace when my daughter pointed out a hot-air balloon sailing above the lake. The yellow-and-red color-blocked canopy, powered by hot air, seemed incongruous in the white winter landscape. “It’s going to land on the lake,” she predicted, and she was right. Next, two seaplanes — one red, one yellow — swooped over us, touching down with their skis on the lake’s northern tip, as skaters paused and pointed.
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After a day of skating, we wanted to take advantage of all the gear at hand and try a sport we had never attempted. We chose the cross-country skis, and the woman outfitting us directed us to the lake. It was a Monday morning, and we were the only people on it.
On skis, we sought the thick stack of snow untouched by plows or human tracks and headed north, paralleling the shoreline and what seemed an early pass at plowing the longer perimeter trail.
Farther north on the lake than we had found passable with skates, I tried to internalize the views my dad must have seen when he trained here in the late-aughts for a long-distance Nordic skating race in Stockholm. His passion for skating had skipped a generation, to the granddaughter who was 2 when he died. A pond hockey player as a boy and a longtime outdoorsman, he pursued Nordic skating when the Vermonter who initiated the Lake Morey trail began raising the sport’s profile stateside. My dad and my daughter never skated together, and he never saw her camel spins and toe loops. But their shared yearning to skate in nature drew us here, and the landscape connected us to his experience, the same exhilaration of being able to flow across the stilled water.
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Hills of hemlock and white pine sloping eastward toward Morey Mountaincast triangles of shade on our course with points far beyond us; the only way to eyeball our progress was to keep shuffling and skidding toward their tips when we would emerge into the sun.
When we did, the crystallized crust on the snow sparkled dizzyingly. I could hardly hear my panting over the crackle of skis and poles. We glimpsed ice fishers walking in the distance, but otherwise, we were alone with the brilliant cover above, the pristine, glittering frost below.
82 Clubhouse Rd., Fairlee, Vt.
This lakeside resort in the Vermont Hills above the Connecticut River has maintained the skating loop on Lake Moreysince 2011, taking over efforts started by volunteersin 2000. Ice conditions are updated on Facebook, Instagram and a phone line. Access to the lake is free to all; rentals of figure and hockey skates, cross-country skis, snowshoes and sleds are free for hotel guests. Hotel guests can rent Nordic skates free for two hours. For day visitors, figure and hockey skates rentals $17; Nordic skates, $30; helmets, $10; hockey sticks, $5; and kid skate trainers, $10. Kickspark scooters, $40 for a full day and $30 after 1 p.m.Classic room, two double beds with garden or golf-course view, from $179 per night. Hotel restaurant is open 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Clubhouse Bar & Restaurant is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Potential travelers should take local and national public health directives regarding the pandemic into consideration before planning any trips. Travel health notice information can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s interactive map showing travel recommendations by destination and the CDC’s travel health notice webpage.
Vacations may still be more aspirational than realistic for most of us, but as the world begins to open up again, here are nine mind-boggling natural phenomena worth traveling for. From a never-ending lightning storm to a glowing canyon, these are sights that showcase the wonder—and strangeness—of our natural world.
Frozen bubble lake, Lake Abraham, Alberta, Canada
In winter, frozen methane bubbles give this lake in northern Canada a psychedelic dotted appearance, drawing photographers from far and wide. An artificial lake on the North Saskatchewan River, Lake Abraham has milky blue water due to the presence of tiny rock particles, which makes a stunning backdrop to the bubbles. The bubbles are created by organic matter like bits of plants that fall into the lake, explains Amos Tai, an associate professor in the Earth System Science Programme at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “When organic matter falls into the lake it can actually sink down to the bottom,” he says. “Along the way, bacteria can act on it and produce methane products.” The gasses that are caught mid-rise as the lake begins to freeze are then trapped for the winter, he explains. Take a guided night walk to see the bubbles in starlight.
Black sun, Southern Jutland, Denmark
In Denmark’s vast Tondermarsken marshland, twice-annual starling migrations literally turn the sky black. This event is known in Danish as the sort sol (black sun), and it’s an awesome sight to behold. Just after sunset, the starlings, which come to the marshes to feed on insects and larvae, rise en masse into the purple-streaked sky. These formations, known rather poetically as “murmurations,” are so large they can block what remains of the daylight as the birds decide where to roost for the evening. “The largest murmurations occur during the migration period, when local starlings are joined by flocks of birds migrating north from sites that get too cold for them in the winter,” says Caroline Dingle, a senior lecturer in biological sciences at the University of Hong Kong. “The famous ‘sort sol’ murmurations are a good example of this—they occur during the autumn migration and can reach numbers of up to a million birds in a single flock.” Take a black sun safari to see for yourself.
Moonbow, Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe
On lucky evenings, atmospheric conditions at thundering Victoria Falls combine with spray to create an elusive “moonbow“—a silvery rainbow best visible on full moons. The 5,604-foot-wide falls, on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, are naturally spectacular any time of day or year. But when the moonbow appears—typically during the summer, when water flow is high enough to create spray, but dry conditions make for clear skies—it’s a double dose of magic. The moonbow itself is “light from the moon refracted through water droplets in the air,” Tai says, and the best time to see it is early evening or early morning. Moonbows are paler than a daytime rainbow, but can show up magnificently on long-exposure photographs.
Pororoca wave, Brazil
Several times a year, the Amazon delivers a raging wave of coffee-colored water known for its distinctive rumbling sound. Up to 12 feet tall, the “Pororoca” can be heard for up to half an hour before it appears. Anything in its wake—boats, trees, cows—will be pulled under. Despite the hazards, the Pororoca is popular with surfers, who don’t mind sharing a wave with a caiman or a piranha. The wave, technically known as a tidal bore, is the result of especially dramatic tides pushing up the river against the current. On a spring tide, or a tide during the new or full moon, it can rush inland as far as 500 miles. The strongest Pororoca tends to occur around the spring and fall equinox. The town of São Domingos do Capim has long hosted an annual Pororoca surfing championship—the winner is whoever can stay upright the longest.
Catatumbo Lightning, Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela
Summer thunderstorms can be scary, but they never last long. Well, imagine if a thunderstorm blew in and never left. That’s what it’s like at Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela’s “lightning lake” that delivers electrical storms so powerful they turn night to day. The “Never-Ending Storm of Catatumbo,” as locals call it, results from cool, dry mountain air flowing down the Andes and meeting warm, moist lake air. “A strong temperature contrast can drive a thunderstorm,” Tai explains. “If moisture is supplied by the evaporation of a wet surface or a lake then the thunderstorm can be even more powerful.”
Each square kilometer of lake has an average of 232 lightning flashes a year, for a total of some 297 thunderstorms annually. It’s so bright that sailors in the Caribbean used to use the lake as a natural lighthouse! Today, boat tours take visitors right into the middle of the thundering action.
Sky mirror, Jeram, Selangor, Malaysia
On full moons and new moons, low tides turn Malaysia’s Sasaran Beach into a vast looking glass, an Alice in Wonderland-esque landscape of shimmering silver. The “beach” is actually an enormous natural sandbar more than a mile off the coast, submerged most of the time. But the spring tides of new and full moons drop the water low enough for visitors to stand in just a few centimeters of water on the sandbar surface. The shallow waters reflect the sky until you can’t tell where water ends and clouds begin. Similar to Bolivia’s better-known salt flats, it’s a photographer’s dream. You can only get here by boat from the nearby fishing village of Jeram, and only a few days a month. And once here, you’ll have less than 90 minutes before the seas come rushing back in.
Glow worms, Dismals Canyon, Alabama
As the sun sets above Alabama’s Dismals Canyon, the glowing begins. Thousands of eerie blue lights appear on the mossy rock, like someone dotted the canyon’s sides with a glo-in-the-dark pen. The glow actually comes from clusters of “dismalites”—the nickname for Orfelia fultoni, a rare bioluminescent fly larvae that lives only in the south and southeastern United States. The ancient sandstone gorge of Dismals Canyon, described by wildlife biologist Britney McCaffrey as “the last primeval forest east of the Mississippi,” is home to the largest population of the larvae in the nation. In spring and fall, you can join a group tour to see them in their habitat. Pro tip: bring a red flashlight for the hike in, so your eyes can adjust more quickly once you turn it off.
Panjin Red Beach, China
Come autumn in the northeastern province of Liaoning, miles of Suaeda heteroptera plants bloom crimson in this vast seaside marsh, making the beach as red as the Chinese flag. Six months earlier, you might have called this spot “Panjin Green Beach.” Members of a plant family sometimes known as “seepweed,” S. heteroptera are color-change chameleons. In spring, they’re green. But as they absorb more and more saltwater over the year, they begin to blush. By September, they’re a shocking crimson, eventually darkening into a bruise-purple by October. In addition to being beautiful, “red beaches provide important ecological services,” wrote Weizhi Lu of the Earth Systems Research Center at the University of New Hampshire in a 2018 paper, along with colleagues at U.S. and Chinese universities. The Liaoning beaches are a feeding ground for the wild red-crowned crane, the world’s largest breeding site for the Saunders’s gull, and an important stopover site for 45 protected migrating waterbirds.
Though most of the marsh is off-limits, you can walk a public boardwalk to admire a portion of the red “beach.”
World’s oldest wisteria, Ashikaga, Japan
It was born before the first car was invented. Before Greenwich Mean Time began. Before Coca-Cola. Before the Brooklyn Bridge or the Oxford English Dictionary. They call it the “Great Miracle Wisteria,” and it’s at least 140 years old. You’ll find it just under 50 miles north of Tokyo in Ashikaga Flower Park, home to a profusion of wisteria ranging from the common purple to the rare yellow. The Great Miracle Wisteria’s purple blossoms hang down like beaded curtains, forming a perfect backdrop for photos. The wisteria bloom from mid-April to mid-May. If you miss it, thousands of other flowers, including irises, water lilies, roses and rhododendrons, bloom during other times of the year.
St Lucia. Romance. The two have long been woven together. And that’s because the island has been so successful conjuring up its mercurial mix of welcome, charm and character-filled hotels – a unique variation on the seductiveness of all the Windward Islands.
So yes, as a couple, there’s plenty to lure you here. But part of that charm is St Lucia’s physical luxuriance, and – whether or not you’re visiting with a significant other – you’re reminded of this at every turn. Other Caribbean islands have a lush beauty about them, but nowhere else does this culminate in the crescendo of the Pitons, St Lucia’s iconic twin volcanic peaks, which in a moment of pure geographical drama soar 2,500ft from the sea like massive incisors.
Mind-boggling fertility is everywhere. Trees drip with fruit, hotel gardens explode with colour and even roads seem under threat as growth encroaches from either side. Not long ago this was known simply as “bush”. But there is more to bush than you could ever imagine. To celebrate it, St Lucia has come up with the idea of a Botanical Trail that will tempt couples and singletons alike. Launched just before lockdown, this loose collection of sites of natural interest – parks, gardens and plantations – is now re-opening as the individual elements become Covid certified.
Tet Paul, a community project, claims to have the island’s finest view of the Pitons. From the village of Chateaubelair, I was led by guide Bertha up a ravine to the Tet, a plateau. She pointed out local crops and tropical trees – breadfruit, cashew and lime, sweet potato, ladies’ fingers and pineapple; the last grows in an impressive explosion of spikes. On the plateau itself the sounds of village life rose to meet us – music, a shrieking laugh and a dog bark. The culmination of it all is a viewing platform: the massive pointed Pitons really are magical.
Rabot Hotel by Hotel Chocolat is one of a number of luxurious options clustered around these extraordinary mountains. Its pool, dining room and most of its rooms gaze across greenery onto the Petit Piton, which hovers above like a pyramid. It’s easy to spend time gazing at something so majestic, particularly with a cup of local “cocoa tea” (unprocessed, unsweetened chocolate) to hand. Interestingly, chocolate, bitter or sweetened, is included in almost every dish on the menu at Hotel Chocolat. The hotel name itself hints at an important dimension of the island’s fertility: plantations. In the late 1700s the difficult terrain here was found suitable for cocoa forests, cultivated to satisfy a taste for the drink in European chocolate houses.
This article is from Hakai Magazine, an online publication about science and society in coastal ecosystems. Read more stories like this at hakaimagazine.com.
Five years ago, French navy officer Jérôme Chardon was listening to a radio program about the extraordinary journey of the bar-tailed godwit, a bird that migrates 14,000 kilometers between New Zealand and Alaska. In his job as the coordinator of rescue operations across Southeast Asia and French Polynesia, Chardon understood better than most how treacherous the journey would be, as ferocious storms frequently disrupt Pacific island communities. Yet, somehow, bar-tailed godwits routinely pass through the area unscathed. Chardon wondered whether learning how godwits navigate could help coastal communities avoid disaster. Could tracking birds help save lives?
This past January, a team from France’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), funded primarily by the French Ministry for the Armed Forces, began experiments designed to test Chardon’s idea. Researchers with the new Kivi Kuaka project, led by Frédéric Jiguet, an ornithologist at NMNH, equipped 56 birds of five species with cutting-edge animal tracking technology. The French navy ferried the team to remote atolls and islands in French Polynesia, where the scientists attached tags using ICARUS tracking technology. These tags transmit the birds’ locations to the International Space Station, which bounces the data back to scientists on Earth who can then follow the birds as they forage, migrate, and rest—all the while waiting to see how the birds respond to natural disasters.
The Kivi Kuaka project is focusing on birds’ ability to hear infrasound, the low-frequency sound inaudible to humans that the researchers believe is the most likely signal birds would use to sense storms and tsunamis. Infrasound has myriad sources, from lightning strikes and jet engines to the songlike vocalizations of rhinoceroses. Even the Earth itself generates a continuous infrasonic hum. Though rarely measured, it is known that tsunamis generate infrasound, too, and that these sound waves travel faster than the tsunami wave, offering a potential window to detect a tsunami before it hits.
There is some evidence that birds dodge storms by listening to infrasound. In a 2014 study, scientists tracking golden-winged warblers in the central and southeastern United States recorded what’s known as an evacuation migration when the birds flew up to 1,500 kilometers to evade an outbreak of tornadoes that killed 35 people and caused more than US $1-billion in damage. The birds fled at least 24 hours before any foul weather hit, leaving the scientists to deduce they had heard the storm system from more than 400 kilometers away.
The idea that birds avoid tsunamis, on the other hand, is based primarily on anecdotal evidence from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, when survivors reported birds traveling inland in advance of the deadly wave. Jiguet says the idea makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, because birds that survive tsunamis would be more successful at reproducing.
If Kivi Kuaka’s birds are able to perceive infrasound generated by Pacific storms or tsunamis, the scientists suspect the birds will move to avoid them. Tracking that behavior, and learning to identify tsunami-specific bird movements if they exist, may help the team develop an early warning system, Jiguet says.
For the Kivi Kuaka team, tsunamis are the main interest; satellites and computer models already forecast hurricanes and typhoons accurately. But infrasound-producing storms are a useful test because they’re more common than tsunamis. If their tagged birds evade them from afar, Jiguet says, it provides further evidence that they could serve as tsunami sentinels.
The team plans on tagging hundreds more birds across the Pacific to prepare for a potential tsunami. “I think if there is one wave that spreads across islands, yes, we should get data from different species at different locations to see if there are some convergent behaviors,” says Jiguet. “That would definitely say it’s worth continuing to tag and to develop local systems to better analyze this.”
Tsunami scientist Eddie Bernard, the former head of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, has seen his fair share of ideas for forecasting tsunamis. He thinks the real hope for tsunami-warning technology is the one he helped develop, and which already dots coastlines today. Known as deep-ocean assessment and reporting of tsunamis (DART), the system relies on a highly sensitive pressure sensor anchored to the seafloor, which communicates with a surface buoy and satellite. DART detects differences in tsunami waves as small as a centimeter, a level of sensitivity that Bernard says solves the issue of false alarms that plagued past tsunami forecasting technology.
Bernard commends the Kivi Kuaka team’s research. “The only thing I would say is don’t overstress the tsunami warning aspect of this project,” he says, noting that besides the importance of detection, measuring the wave’s size is critical because most tsunamis are harmlessly small, and false alarms cause economic damage and erode public trust.
Jiguet is up front that the idea is uncharted. “I am at a point in my career when I can take such risks,” he says. Even if the attempt to develop a bird-based tsunami early warning system fails, the project will still help scientists protect birds and benefit the French Ministry for the Armed Forces’ mission of aiding climate change and biodiversity initiatives in the Pacific. In that sense, the research has already yielded results. Jiguet says their first season’s tracking data highlights Hawai‘i as an important stepping stone for the birds they tagged—a useful clue for conserving these species amid rising seas and an uncertain future.
This article is from Hakai Magazine, an online publication about science and society in coastal ecosystems. Read more stories like this at hakaimagazine.com.
Driving 60 miles northeast of Savannah through Beaufort County, S.C., at the very end of U.S. Highway 21 lies Hunting Island State Park, gateway to St. Phillips Island. Once, a rustic getaway for media mogul Ted Turner and family, in 2017 South Carolina State Parks acquired St. Phillips with help from the Nature Conservancy.
The 4,682-acre island, accessible only by boat and recognized by the National Park Service for its intact ecosystems and near lack of human development, is portal to another era.
Turner, consummate conservationist, worked diligently in his 40-year stewardship of St. Phillips to maintain the marsh, forest, and dune ecologies just as they are. The island’s interior boasts untouched stands of mature pine, live oak, magnolia, hickory, and cherry trees. Wistful strands of Spanish moss cascade from the upper canopy. Saw palmettos punctuate the understory.
The wide beach at the Atlantic Ocean hosts no hotels or vacation rentals. Instead, sun-bleached snags of cedars, pine, and oak find resting places in the stoic, sandy flat. Ocean and sky meet without human interference.
If visiting an almost uninhabited barrier island appeals to you, then a day trip to St. Phillips is what you need. Getting to Hunting Island State Park Nature Center takes about an hour and a half from Savannah—that’s where you confirm your boat booking once you’ve registered online. The nature center details some of the area’s common species and displays a variety of native snakes, turtles, and two small alligators.
A tractor-pulled tram takes you and about 25 visitors across the road to the boat launch. Heading out of the nature center’s parking lot, on the left look for an active osprey nest. Likely you’ll hear the raptors before seeing them. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see both parents hovering and diving as they fish the marsh just outside the center. It’s an amazing opportunity to catch osprey parenting in real-time.
On the boat, a naturalist provides insight into the estuary, Turner Creek, and how the Low Country’s marshes are the cradle of the sea. Oyster beds, clams and marsh grass though seemingly small, are the mighty backbone and bio-productive powerhouses of the Atlantic Ocean. Juvenile fish species find refuge here before facing the big waves. Dolphin are common. And the boat captain always stops for dolphin photo ops.
Book boat tickets: coastalexpeditions.com/product/st-phillips-island-ferry/
Cost: $35 kids 12 and under; $55 adults
Parking: $16 per car at Hunting Island State Park Nature Center
When: 9:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. Tuesday, Friday, Saturday
Tip: Be sure to bring: insect repellant, sack lunch, water, and towel for the beach
Australia’s Northern Territory might be a big place, but it’s much easier to explore than you might expect, and our expert panel can help you plan your trip. Travel Geeks is just an hour long and offers you the chance to hear from experts and join in the lively conversation. Register now to join us from 19.00 to 20.00 on Tuesday 11 May.
We’ll talk about the varied landscapes, amazing wildlife and the endless opportunities on offer to every traveller. For example, stay a few days in Darwin, the Northern Territory’s tropical capital. Located at the northern tip of the Top End, take in its art, culture and culinary experiences, as well as its iconic sunsets and wide-open spaces.
We’ll introduce you to the region’s natural wonders, for which the Northern Territory is known around the world — like Kakadu, Australia’s largest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kakadu is home to Aboriginal rock art dating back over 20,000 years and incredible wildlife, the impressive gorges of Nitmiluk National Park and the massive sandstone monolith of Uluru.
Dates for your diary
Our panel will have plenty of tips for enjoying tropical Darwin’s year-round outdoor lifestyle (festivals and events pack out the calendar); they’ll also reveal their favourite trips out from the city — from experiencing the art and culture of the Tiwi Islands to bushwalking through rainforest and swimming under spring-fed waterfalls in Litchfield National Park.
The Red Centre and beyond
We’ll also discuss how to make the most of a trip to the Red Centre. With vibrant and modern Alice Springs an ideal basecamp for adventure — set against the MacDonnell Ranges, there’s so much to do in and around the bustling town. From its cool cafe culture to hot air balloon rides into the Outback sunrise, local Aboriginal art and clear, starry skies; we’ll inspire your own Central Australian adventure.
Plan and go
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The natural skin care industry is one of the fastest-growing markets in beauty.
There are plenty of reasons to use natural skin care instead of traditional products, like avoiding potentially harmful synthetic chemicals. Plus, it’s an eco-friendly option.
Whether it’s a tried-and-true skin care regimen, how often you wash your hair, or the cosmetics you’re curious about, beauty is personal.
That’s why we rely on a diverse group of writers, educators, and other experts to share their tips on everything from the way product application varies to the best sheet mask for your individual needs.
We only recommend something we genuinely love, so if you see a shop link to a specific product or brand, know that it’s been thoroughly researched by our team.
The term “natural skin care” can mean different things. The “natural” label isn’t regulated across the industry. This means each company can choose what “natural” means for themselves.
“There’s a lot of debate in the industry on what’s considered ‘natural’ and what’s not,” says licensed esthetician and beauty blog author Dana Murray.
“Often, natural ingredients can be inconsistent in makeup, so it’s hard to measure effectiveness and potency. [As well, some] natural ingredients, like essential oils, can cause irritation to the skin,” she says.
According to a 2015 study, botanical products can be a rich source of:
According to the study, plant extracts can be a safe and cost-effective alternative to synthetics.
For oily skin
A natural skin care routine for oily skin may help reduce oiliness without the use of expensive skin care regimens or prescription drugs.
There isn’t much that’s more frustrating than itchy skin.
A natural skin care routine for dry skin may help reduce the effects of heat, hot showers, arid climates, and harsh soaps — all things that can trigger dry skin.
For combination skin
Caring for combination skin isn’t always the easiest, but it’s still possible to find a natural skin care routine that simultaneously combats dry patches and shine.
Products that include harsh ingredients, such as fragrance, can irritate both oily and dry skin. Using natural skin care products may be a step in the right direction.
For acne-prone skin
A natural skin care routine for acne has many benefits, like saving money by avoiding expensive acne solutions. It can also help prevent undesirable side effects, such as dryness, redness, and irritation.
A natural skin care routine for sensitive skin may help rebuild a healthy skin barrier by avoiding products with irritating ingredients.
A 2018 study examined the risk of skin sensitivity associated with products containing fragrances. Products that are more likely to be worn for a long period, like moisturizers, are more likely to cause skin issues.
For Black skin
Black skin contains more melanin than lighter skin. A few conditions that people with Black skin may experience more often include:
The natural skin routines linked above can assist with a number of these skin conditions.
With no strict definitions, you’re largely on your own to research which products are “natural” to you. Luckily, this article can help.
What is the product derived from?
This is the first question to ask yourself.
In other words, what’s in it, and where does it come from? Is it a natural source, like plants, animals, minerals, and marine sources? Or is it derived from petrochemicals?
Naturally-occurring. This means that ingredients are used in their natural, unprocessed state. Examples of naturally-occurring ingredients include raw honey and crushed flowers.
Nature-identical. This means that ingredients are produced in a lab and are chemically identical to those that occur in nature. An example is sorbic acid. Originally derived from rowan berries, sorbic acid is now commonly included as a nature-identical ingredient.
Synthetic. This term sits on the far end of the spectrum and includes ingredients that were created and processed in a lab. An example of this is parabens, which are common beauty preservatives.
How is it processed?
Just because ingredients are derived naturally, it doesn’t mean they’re processed naturally.
Ingredients can be processed physically or chemically.
Processed physically means the molecular composition or structure stays the same.
Processed chemically means the molecular composition or structure changes.
Examples of naturally derived but physically processed ingredients include raw, unrefined oils and butters. These are processed through means like cold-pressing or filtration.
An example of a naturally derived but chemically processed ingredient would be castor wax. It’s a vegetable wax derived from the castor bean produced by adding hydrogen to pure castor oil, a process called hydrogenation.
Know your labels
There are various certifications and marketing words under the umbrella of “natural” products. Some are regulated and some aren’t.
Companies can have their products certified organic.
They can also label their products as organic to indicate that all the ingredients are derived from organic sources. This means the product itself may not be certified, but all the ingredients are certified organic.
Looking for a brand that’s USDA certified organic? Try 100% PURE. Their products are non-toxic, free of parabens and sulfates, vegan, and cruelty-free. And they offer eco-friendly packaging.
This unregulated term refers to environmental impact and sustainability.
Green products are usually produced with intention of limiting environmental impact.
For example, a green product may contain raw materials that are harvested in a way to support the environment rather than harming it.
Juice Beauty is another USDA certified organic brand that’s free of parabens, sulfates, and artificial dyes. Environmentally, they source locally, use recycled packaging, and produce using solar and wind energy. They’re also vegan and cruelty-free.
This unregulated term describes products that typically focus on being non-toxic.
These products are created without animal by-products.
For another organic, vegan, cruelty-free brand, try OSEA. They use hand-harvested ingredients and are free of GMOs and gluten.
It’s important to note that, while vegan products are almost always cruelty-free, cruelty-free products are not always vegan. An example would be an organic lip balm that contains beeswax.
Brands can claim these terms without being certified. But, if you want to ensure it, there are several organizations that certify vegan and cruelty-free products.
This regulated descriptor focuses on sourcing, ensuring that ingredients are sourced ethically in terms of the planet, people, or environment.
During your 30s, hormone levels start to decrease, and the rate of collagen and elastin production goes down.
Still, everyone’s skin is different. What suits one person’s skin may not work for someone else.
As a general practice, the following routine works for most.
If all else fails, this first step should occur every morning and evening.
This is especially true for vitamin A, vitamin C, and St. John’s wort. Serious side effects can occur if used during cancer treatment. So it’s best to talk with your doctor before starting a new routine.
If a product is truly natural, a major drawback is short shelf life. Natural skin care products may only have a shelf life of 3–4 months.
Parabens (which are synthetic) keep products clean, contaminant-free, and usable for up to 2 years.
If you’re looking to go au naturel with your skin care routine, know there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
Brands can call their cosmetics whatever they want under the “natural” umbrella, so be sure to do your research.
Remember to read the labels, and always do a patch test before fully diving into a new product.
Ashley Hubbard is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, focusing on sustainability, travel, veganism, mental health, social justice, and more. Passionate about animal rights, sustainable travel, and social impact, she seeks out ethical experiences whether at home or on the road. Visit her website.