On the Air: May 3, 2015
Aerial view of Mount Tambora. Jialiang Gao, This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

In October of 1815, a ship near the coast of India encountered an amazing sight: a “raft” that stretched for miles across the Indian Ocean. It consisted of ash, topsoil, dead trees, and other debris from a volcano that blew its top six months earlier — the most powerful eruption of the past 2,000 years or more. It killed almost a hundred thousand people, and altered the climate across much of the planet.

In Print: May 1, 2015
A sea otter mom and her baby. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

As utterly exhausting as it is to care for a newborn, most moms would never dream of abandoning their child. But what if it were a question of life and death…for the baby or the mom? That’s the dilemma that sea otter moms sometimes face when they can’t provide enough calories to meet their pups’ incredibly high energy demands. Researchers at a sea otter pup rehabilitation program measured the metabolic rates and daily caloric needs of sea otter pups and found the mothers need to provide more than 222,000 Calories to raise pups from birth to independence.