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Some months ago Dennis Curtin, a writer of ebook instruction manuals on how to use specific cameras, contacted us concerning an ebook he is creating about monarchs. One communication and idea led to another as we discussed the development and marketing of his book. One of the book’s deficiencies at first draft was an absence of coverage of the overwintering monarch colonies in Mexico, and the obvious solution was to invite Denny, with his great camera skills, to join us on our March trip to Mexico. We learned a lot about Denny on this trip. Not only does he have a camera at hand most of the time, but he is a compulsive blogger. Each morning as I awoke I found him hunched over his computer punching out words with two fingers to capture the events of the previous day. Denny has compiled all of these daily jottings along with a kazillion photos into a journal describing the whole adventure:
(20MB PDF file, 127pp)
If you have ever been to the Monarch Reserves, you will recognize many of the scenes and you can relive part of your experience through Denny’s pictures. For those who haven’t been to the Reserves, this journal is a sample of what you will see once you get there.
Christine Merlin was also along on this trip. Christine has a PhD from France where she worked on the daily rhythm of sensitivity of a moth’s antennae to pheromones. Christine is now a post-doctoral associate in the laboratory of Dr Steven Reppert of the University of Massachusetts Medical School where she and the members of Dr. Reppert’s team are trying to unravel the molecular/genetic basis of the orientation behavior and navigation exhibited by monarchs during their migration. I met Christine during a visit to Dr. Reppert’s laboratory in February of 2008. At that time Christine indicated a passionate desire to visit the monarch overwintering sites so that she could get a real sense of the phenomenon she is studying.
Ann Ryan, whom many of you know if you have communicated with Monarch Watch, also made the trip as did Janis Lentz, a high school teacher from Weslaco, Texas. Janis has worked behind the scenes for Monarch Watch for years and years.
While I enjoyed the entire trip, and this agreeable bunch, I had a side adventure: I spent 4 extraordinary days working with a film crew funded by Disney at El Rosario. It was total monarch immersion, all day every day, from 6AM to 7PM. The film crew was the largest I’ve worked with and there were three cameras going most of the time. The footage will be spectacular and like no other on monarchs to date.
Disney has commissioned a series of nature films, and this film about pollination and pollinators is scheduled for theaters in 2010-2011. The working title for the film is “Naked Beauty” – but the bets are the title will be changed in time to something like “Nature’s Beauty: A love story that feeds the world”. The film’s message is important and timely. Nature’s beauty, as represented by numerous pollinators and the fruits, nuts, berries, and seeds that are the products of their efforts, will be skillfully and dramatically presented through the masterful direction and loving eye of the film’s director, Louie Schwartzberg.