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Courtesy Dr. Willard Wigan, MBE

This is the first installment of Audacious Little Things!

Meet an anthropologist who explains why she thinks the human animal delights in making miniatures of things, and then meet a sculpturist dubbed “The 8th Wonder of the World” whose art requires a microscope to see.

Syd Montgomery

The octopus has always been the stuff of spine-tingling legend, like that of the kraken, the many-armed sea monster believed to drag ships to the bottom of the sea after dining on the crew. Or Gertie the Pus, the giant Pacific octopus that lives under the Narrows Bridge connecting Tacoma, Washington, to Gig Harbor.

In reality, the octopus is more benign but equally fascinating. Did you know the octopus has two-thirds of its brain neurons distributed throughout its eight arms? Or that the severed arm of an octopus can walk independently toward a food source and move it to where its mouth should be?

A museum visitor walks by the display of a bell once belonging to the pirate ship Whydah Gally at the Whydah Pirate Museum, in Yarmouth, Mass.
Steven Senne / AP Photo

In 1984, the Whydah Gally was discovered on the ocean floor off the coast of Cape Cod. It was the first authenticated pirate ship ever found, and it brought to life the tales of treasure from what is known as the “Golden Age of Piracy.”

Pixabay

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance and a day to acknowledge those who serve our country. This hour, what is it like to serve in the military during the coronavirus? How are those deployed, and their families navigating the pandemic?

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

The state reported an additional 41 coronavirus-related deaths Sunday, but it also reported that hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have decreased for the second day in a row.

The new figures bring the state’s total coronavirus-associated death count to 1,127. Still, Gov. Ned. Lamont said Sunday that the slight downward tick of hospitalized patients -- 37 fewer patients from the day before -- is a positive sign.

Mystic Seaport Museum

Mystic Seaport Museum will lay off a large portion of its staff April 1 in an effort to weather the impact of COVID-19.

The maritime museum closed its doors and suspended all classes, programs and events on March 13. At that time, they had hoped to reopen March 30. But as coronavirus cases in Connecticut rise, it’s unclear exactly when the museum will be able to welcome visitors again.

Diliff / Wikimedia Commons

Listen Tuesday at 9:00 am.

Amid the constant discussion of Connecticut residents leaving the state, the shoreline may soon be home to five new residents: Beluga whales. 

Mystic Aquarium has petitioned the federal government for permission to import five captive belugas to join its wildlife on display. Mystic says the move would help research to aid conservation efforts. But critics say the proposal is not only hazardous for the whales but also against US law.

Diliff / Wikimedia Commons

Amid the constant discussion of Connecticut residents leaving the state, the shoreline may soon be home to five new residents: Beluga whales. 

Mystic Aquarium has petitioned the federal government for permission to import five captive belugas to join its wildlife on display. Mystic says the move would help research to aid conservation efforts. But critics say the proposal is not only hazardous for the whales but also against US law. 

And later: as oceans warm due to climate change, what will the future of marine life conservation look like?

Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public Radio

When we think about animals that inhabit the cold New England ocean, sharks, seals, or lobsters may spring to mind. But there’s another critter lurking in the deep off our coast, and it’s one that may hold valuable secrets that could help its tropical cousins.

And you may not have even known that it’s actually an animal: coral. 

Smooth Mud Crab Found In Maine For The First Time

Oct 14, 2019
This Oct. 3, 2019 photo provided by Marissa McMahan shows a smooth mud crab in Georgetown, Maine. The crab normally lives further south, and it's unknown how it ended up in Maine waters.
Marissa McMahan / AP

Experts are hoping to learn more about how a species of crab, normally found in the warmer waters of the mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coast, wound up in the New Meadows River in West Bath.

Citizen Scientists Steer Efforts To Jumpstart Black Rock Harbor's Recovery

Oct 7, 2019
Holly Turner, a teacher at the Bridgeport Regional Vocational Aquaculture School; Lyle Given, and Charlotte Hickey, both students. Kevin Blagys, a volunteer, observes their work.
Melanie Stengel / C-HIT.org

At 6:25 a.m. on the cloudy, humid first day of summer, two teenage aquaculture students huddle at the back of their school boat as it backs away from a dock in Black Rock Harbor in western Bridgeport.

Each summer for the last two decades, Jim Parker has readied his small whale watch boat, and made a business out of ferrying tourists out into the cool blue waters of the Gulf of Maine.

For years, it was steady work. The basin brimmed with species that whales commonly feed on, making it a natural foraging ground for the aquatic giants. Whales would cluster at certain spots in the gulf, providing a reliable display for enchanted visitors to the coastal community of Milbridge, Maine.

If you're in the mood for a tuna poke bowl or an old-school tuna niçoise salad, here's a tip: Don't hit up the Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland. It has been nearly six years since chef Jonathon Sawyer became a "tuna evangelist" after attending a meeting of like-minded chefs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was there that he made the decision to forgo tuna — both in his personal life and on the menus at all four of his restaurants.

images of Giant ground sloth (Megatherium americanum), Moa (Megalapteryx didinus), Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
Ballista, George Edward Lodge, Michael L. Baird / Wikimedia Commons

What would it have been like to see a huge, elephant-like mastodon roaming our state? 

The earth has been home to some spectacularly large animals. A few of them still roam or swim our world today. This hour, we take a look at the biology of these giants. 

From chunky island-dwelling birds to the enormous blue whale, what do we know about why these creatures evolved to be so big? And why don’t we see more of them today? 

Plus, with a UN report warning that a million species are at risk of extinction in coming years, are we at risk of losing those big creatures we still have?

Terry Gross / Wikimedia Commons

Fear of sharks spiked last summer after a great white fatally bit a 26-year-old surfer off the coast of Cape Cod. The fever still runs high as reports of great white sightings coincide with people heading to the beach.

A year after a young man was killed by a shark off Cape Cod — the first such death there in more than 80 years — beach towns full of vacationers are struggling to manage an influx of great whites.

Sharks off the coast have become more common in recent years as the seal population they hunt has increased. Scientists point out that sharks do not target humans, though they can mistake them for prey. But many officials believed the attack was only a matter of time.

If you want to know what climate change will look like, you need to know what Earth's climate looked like in the past — what air temperatures were like, for example, and what ocean currents and sea levels were doing. You need to know what polar ice caps and glaciers were up to and, crucially, how hot the oceans were.

Campobello Whale Rescue

A showdown over lobsters and whales appears to be brewing between Maine and the federal government.

Under direction from Gov. Janet Mills, the Maine Department of Marine Resources is telling federal regulators that the state will not accept their targets for reducing risk that endangered North Atlantic right whales will be entangled in rope the state's lobstermen use to tend their gear. 

Terry Gross / Wikimedia Commons

Fear of sharks spiked last summer after a great white fatally bit a 26-year-old surfer off the coast of Cape Cod. The fever still runs high as reports of great white sightings coincide with people heading to the beach this 4th of July. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

This hour we take a look at some of the environmental bills the Connecticut General Assembly passed this legislative session, including a new commitment to offshore wind power. We learn what this renewable energy source means for the state’s power grid—and its economy.

And we take a look at one essential component behind offshore wind power, a group of special metals called “rare earth elements”. What does the availability—and environmental impact—of harvesting these materials mean for our energy future?

Connecticut Takes A Major Step Into Offshore Wind

Jun 4, 2019
The Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island in October, 2016.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut is a governor’s signature away from getting into the offshore wind game, catching up with neighboring states on what is widely considered to be one of the most promising renewable energy sources for the U.S.

"A Big Fugazi": Why Fishermen Still Can't Get Behind Offshore Wind

May 21, 2019
Ken Schneider.
Nadine Sebai / The Public's Radio

In Ken Schneider’s 40-year fishing career, he’s fished for pretty much everything that’s out in the Mid-Atlantic.

Now, at 60 years old, Schneider spends most of his time hunting for lobster. On this day, he’s making some extra cash building a boat deck at Leonard’s Wharf in New Bedford before his next fishing trip. He takes his son with him sometimes.

Trevor Lloyd-Evans certainly looks like a naturalist. On a walk through the woods in Plymouth, he sports a white beard, thick wool sweater and a pair of binoculars around his neck. The ornithologist with the Manomet Center‘s Landbird Conservation Program is demonstrating his calling, too, pointing out cardinals, blue jays and Carolina wrens and imitating their unique chirps.

The discharge canal at Pilgrim, where water used for cooling at the plant is released back into Cape Cod Bay.
Robin Lubbock / WBUR

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth pumps about a half-billion gallons of water from Cape Cod Bay into the plant every day. The water cycles continuously, passing through the plant’s condenser, and returning to the bay about 10 minutes later — and 30 degrees warmer.

Brian Skerry / SHARK

Sharks. They’re among the apex predators of the ocean, swimming with stealth and agility across our blue planet. But more than that, they’re sources of myth and fear, stirring imaginations with their serrated jaws and cutting dorsal fins.

This week a high-stakes conference in Providence is considering new measures that could help endangered North Atlantic right whales avoid life-threatening entanglements in fishing gear. These measures could also challenge Maine's lobster industry, though.

Alex Guerrero / Creative Commons

You have pain that wakes you up at night and distracts you during the day. You go to the doctor, who asks you to grade your pain on a scale of 1-10. The doctor can't find anything wrong with you; it may be stress or anxiety or that you need more exercise or sleep. You're confused. You feel pain but nothing seems to be wrong. Does this sound familiar?

Kraken The Code... Of Squid

Feb 14, 2019
Sarah McAnulty

Have you ever looked closely at a squid? No, the calamari on your plate doesn’t count.

A live squid?

Sure, it might seem to have come from the pages of a science fiction novel. But squid are far from fictional. 

The Marine Stress and Ocean Health Lab at the New England Aquarium looks like your typical laboratory. It’s full of humming and whirring machines, beakers and test tubes, digital scales and centrifuges.

What sets it apart is the freezer. At negative 80 degrees Celsius, it houses the world’s largest collection of right whale poop.

Yes, poop.

For more than a decade, the impact of sea level rise and tidal flooding has been making waves on the real estate market of coastal New England, costing homeowners more than $400 million in lost value.

That’s according to a report from First Street Foundation, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that studies the impact of sea level rise and flooding.

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