April 2012
Underwater Maldives 

Tortoise Tales
Newsletter of the

Hi-Desert Nature Museum

Earth Day 2012

The museum's much anticipated Earth Day Fair will feature live music, dancing, and vendors in a family-oriented environment. Nature organizations attending include Joshua Tree National Park, Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, Wildlands Conservancy, Morongo Basin Conservation Association, and many more.  Over 20 local artists will be displaying jewelry, crafts and artwork inspired by our desert environment.  A face painter and kids' hands-on beading craft will be available for younger visitors.  This event is made possible through the generous support of the Town of Yucca Valley and the Mojave Desert & Mountain Recycling Authority.


Saturday, April 21, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

FREE Admission!

In This Issue
Earth Day 2012
Science Saturdays
YVHS Art Show
Temporary Exhibits
Harrison House
Support the Museum
Protecting the Oceans
Quick Links

Science Saturdays - Way Cool Science!
Density Experiment
Density Experiment

The Hi-Desert Nature Museum brings hands-on learning and the thrill of scientific discovery to your child with Science Saturdays!  This series of science programs is designed to ignite curiosity by presenting information and performing experiments relating to biological and physical sciences.  It is recommended that children be of school age for this program.  


11:00 - 11:30 a.m.
FREE!  No pre-registration required
April 14:  Pollution and Recycling
April 28:  Density
May 19:  Money 
Yucca Valley High School Art Show & Reception
Penguins by Kim Spicer
Penguins by Kim Spicer

This exhibition highlights the finest work of some of this community's rising talent from Yucca Valley High School.  Curated by YVHS art teacher Bruce Hamilton, the show displays a variety of compelling subjects in different mediums such as drawing and painting. 


On Display May 1 - June 2
Opening Reception Friday, May 4, 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.
Free to the Public
"Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" & "Desert Wildlife" Temporary Exhibits 
Rik Livingston with Jurassic Playground
Rik Livingston poses with his work "Jurassic Playground"

Be sure not to miss the last days of the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" and "Desert Wildlife" exhibits at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum.  "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" is an exhibit of artwork contributed by local artists made from recycled or reused materials.  This exhibit is designed to make people rethink our throw-away society by sharing the local community's innovative and often surprising use of discarded items.  In conjunction with this exhibit, the Morongo Basin Cultural Arts Council is displaying artwork from their "Desert Wildlife" show.  


Both exhibits will be on display through April 27
2nd Wednesday Program, "Eva Soltes on Harrison House"

Harrison HouseHarrison House is an "artist retreat" built by the late composer, Lou Harrison.  The structure, completed in 2002, is located on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park and built entirely of straw bales.  Harrison once remarked, "America grows enough straw in one year to satisfy all of its building needs."  Eva Soltes' presentation will feature a video she made of the building of the house including its unique qualities such as the 36' x 12' vaulted hall with 16' ceiling.  Harrison, who was also an instrument builder, designed the proportions of the room as an optimal listening environment for acoustic music.  Eva Soltes has created a non-profit program called Harrison House Music & Arts that invites gifted artists into this remarkable structure for focused periods of creative work.  As part of this program she also invites them to share their art with audiences from the high desert community.  Soltes is a filmmaker and performing arts producer who has worked internationally.  She has been a full time resident of Joshua Tree since 2007 and is currently the president of the Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce. 


Wednesday, April 11, starting at 5:30 p.m.
$5 donation to the Morongo Basin Historical Society at the door
Support the Museum
Brick Unveiling
Buy-a-Brick Unveiling, Photograph by Leslie Shaw

The museum has two active fundraising campaigns to enable us to continue providing quality educational programs and exhibitions for residents and visitors.  Help preserve our local history, art, culture, and natural science by becoming a museum member, or purchase a copper plaque to mount at the entry way of the museum with your personalized engraved inscription.  Information on these programs is available at the museum's reception desk or on our website.     


Maldives ResortThe Republic of Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean formed by 1200 coral islands, of which 200 are inhabited.  Arrayed across 400 miles of open sea, the Maldives is one of the most geographically dispersed nations on earth.  It is a country famous for their coral reefs, turquoise water, beautiful beaches, and five-star resorts which has made tourism the country's main economy, in addition to fishing.  


Considered the lowest lying country in the world, at an average of 5 feet above sea level, climate change and rising sea levels are threatening the very existence of the country.  Over the last century, sea levels have risen about 8 inches.  Some reports indicate that continued melting of glaciers will cause the sea to rise 23 inches by the year 2100 (only 88 years from now!), which will inundate the islands of the Maldives and require inhabitants to relocate.  Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed has become one of the leading international voices for urgent action on climate change and has produced a documentary, "The Island President," which captures his first year in office and his strategies for the survival of his country. 


Did You Know?

There is enough water stored in the East Antarctic ice sheet to raise sea levels by 164 feet.

Protecting the Oceans

Unknown in the Americas until three decades ago, lionfish are an invasive species now found from Rhode Island to Belize

Our oceans are facing threats from many sides, including marine pollution, sea temperatures and sea levels rising, ocean acidification, habitat destruction, introduction of non-native invasive species, and overfishing.


Ocean overfishing is the taking of wildlife from the sea at rates too high for species to replace themselves. The mid-20th century saw a rapid rise in big industrial fishing operations, which quickly replaced local boatmen as the world's source of seafood.  These large commercial fleets were extremely aggressive, developing ever more sophisticated methods and technologies for finding target species.  As consumers we have grown accustomed to having access to a wide selection of seafood available at affordable prices.  It is estimated that industrial fishing has reduced the number of large ocean fish to just 10% of their pre-industrial population.  Faced with the collapse of large fish populations, commercial fleets are going deeper in the ocean and farther down the food chain for viable catches.  This "fishing down" method is triggering a chain reaction that is upsetting the ancient and delicate balance of the sea's ecosystem.  It is predicted that if fishing rates continue, all the world's fisheries will collapse by the year 2048 (only 36 years!)


Many scientists say most fish populations could be restored with improved fisheries management, better enforcement of laws governing catches and increased use of aquaculture, also known as aquafarming. 


So what can you do?  Visit NOAA's FishWatch website www.fishwatch.gov  to get information on sustainable seafood options, and try one of their yummy recipes!


Did You Know?

The prime cuts of Chilean sea bass served in restaurants often come from mature fish up to 200 years old.

Visit the Museum


The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is located in the Yucca Valley Community Center Complex at 57116 Twentynine Palms Highway.  The museum is open Tuesday - Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Admission is free; donations support the educational mission of the museum.  The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is operated by the Town of Yucca Valley. 
For more information on our programs and events contact the museum at (760) 369-7212 or visit our website at www.hidesertnaturemuseum.org
To view a full schedule of Yucca Valley events, sports programs and recreation classes visit the Town's website at www.yucca-valley.org