Nature and Culture International

Nature and Culture International (Naturaleza y Cultura Internacional in Spanish) is a conservation NGO that is based out of San Francisco, but works in Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and Colombia. In these regions the organization aims to protect threatened natural ecosystems that provide important functions for their respective regions, including biodiversity preservation. These conservation programs are viewed as unique since they view humans as an integral part of the biosphere and, therefore, a group that needs to be highly involved in the conservation process. This involvement allows for environmental protection while, simultaneously, improving the standard of living in the communities where the organization works.

While I was studying abroad in Ecuador I was able to work with this NGO for 4 weeks. During this time I learned a lot about this new approach to conservation. Although there are many difficulties associated with this conservation, I think that it provides more sustainable conservation since it views people as a part of the environment.

Census of Marine Life

 Free Stock Photo of Ocean Birds This is the official website of the Census of Marine Life, an international scientific initiative that is seeking to catalog marine biodiversity and explain the various distribution patterns of marine life.  There is a map that shows all the different sites that are being researched, along with color codes that show the boundaries of the site regions.  Clicking on the acronyms next to the color swatches on the left side of the map, will give a brief description of the work being done there, as well as a link to the individual site’s webpage. The main COML site has a photo gallery of some pretty crazy looking marine species, as well as a description of the research they have done.  The full report of the census will be released this October, so there is definitely going to be some cool things coming out of the organization leading up to this release.  People should definitely give this a look, if only to check out the pictures.


The Appalachian Mountain Club was founded in 1876 in order to help maintain and protect the Appalachian Mountains in the North East US.  They are actually the US’s oldest nature conservancy group.  I have personally done work as a volunteer and have seen the work they do in order to keep the natural environment and educate in Leave-No-Trace hiking.  Those of us down in Virginia know of the Potomac Mountain Club, which is the southern version of the AMC.

Seismic Monitor


The website for the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology offers many fascinating and interactive visuals.  My favorite by far is the Seismic Monitor.  This map displays up to date information on the size and location of the world’s earthquakes.  The earthquakes are represented on the map by various-sized circles, to show the quakes’ magnitudes, and colors, to represent the dates of the earthquakes.  The map displays information from the past five years, which helps to illustrate the important role that plate boundaries play in the location of earthquakes (especially around the ring of fire).  If you zoom into a region on the map you can click on a specific earthquake to learn more about its date, time, latitude, longitude, magnitude, and depth. Enjoy!

Plate Tectonics for Kids!

The North American Tectonic Plate

The North American Tectonic Plate

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

This page, hosted by the US Geological Survey, contains animations to help kids (or college students) learn about different kinds of faults, the effects of earthquakes on the Earth's surface, and other aspects of plate tectonics. Other animations include great circles, liquefaction, and many more!

In addition to being a great resource to generate interest in geography and plate tectonics at a young age, this site would help anyone more interactively and visually understand the earthquakes and other forces that have so drastically impacted our world throughout human history, especially in the last six months.

The Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands, officially known as El Archipielago de Colon, is an archipelago of volcanic islands located in Ecuador, about 950 km off the coast. Their most remarkable feature is their biodiversity, within the islands one can see the famous Galapagos Tortoise, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, the land iguanas, lava lizards, frigate birds, sea lions, amongst other species. Furthermore, the islands are also known because Charles Darwin studied them during his voyage on the Beagle. The endemic species residing in these islands contributed to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by natural selection. There are amazing islands, lots of things to do from just lying in the beach to canoeing and exploring the islands. Other features are their volcanoes. 

South African National Parks


If anyone is headed over the South Africa this summer for the World Cup or any other reason one of the great things to do is visit their National Parks.  I was able to do this back in 2005 and it was amazing.  I reccomend the Kruger National Park myself, but I was only able to visit a couple of them.  Depending on which park you choose to visit and how much time you want to spend there, the option of staying overnight could be available.  Additionally, if you or someone in your party is not a “camper” per se there are some resort style options set up inside certain parks.

The south african national parks website provides intracate details about each park and even helps you set up and plan trips.  Check you the website if you are interested in learning about the different wildlife available in africa and the differences between their national parks and ours here in the United States.

The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization founded in 1951. Since then they have been working to protect ecologically important land and water for nature and people. In fact, the organization has protected over 119 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers and supports over 100 marine projects globally. The conservancy's website provides information on their protected initiatives all over the world. For the reader however, it also gives helpful information about what you as an individual is able to do to evoke change within your local community and live by their standard "Protecting nature. Preserving life." They also have interactive links that are interesting as well as educational; one appealing one you can explore is the interactive watershed link. Through this you can discover, and for our class's case, further our education about the hydrologic cycle, while learning of the methods through which the Nature Conservancy is working to protect watershed regions. While The Nature Conservancy's goal is protecting Earth's natural resources, which covers all systems of physical geography, part of its main initiative is "preserving life" and it shows this through its many wildlife watch programs. You should definitely check this interactive and educational website!


Worldometers is a site that has world statistics updated in real time. It divides the tickers by World Population, Government & Economics, Society & Media, Environment, Food, Water, Energy, and Health. It was featured on BBC News. Focusing mainly on the Environment statistics, we can see how many animals have gone extinct this year, forest land lost, CO2 emissions, current average temperatures and desertification throughout the year. This is related to the biosphere because it is about humans and their interaction with the world, and animals.