The Natural Laboratory is a series of podcasts, videos, audio-slide shows, and other multimedia presentations produced by Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center Science Communication Interns from 2007 to 2012 exploring science from Bay Area National Parks. The videos and audio-slide shows are presented on this page, below. Visit our The Natural Laboratory Audio Podcasts page to listen to or download the podcasts.
Is that a seal or a sea lion? See and hear key differences between these marine mammals, and characteristics that make each unique. Also, get a glimpse of how San Francisco Bay Area National Parks keep track of the seal species that make their homes along our coasts.
While spawning coho in Central California once numbered in the tens of thousands, estimates now put their numbers at fewer than 500. Learning about the coho population through monitoring helps researchers target efforts aimed at helping the coho recover. Fishery Biologist Mike Reichmuth and Intern Ben Atencio discuss our endangered coho salmon and how they are monitored in the Bay Area National Parks.
Once abundant along the entire west coast of North America, sea otters were hunted to the brink of extinction. A small population has recovered off the coast of central California, yet they have failed to expand their range. Cassandra Brooks interviews Tim Tinker and Jim Estes to find out why visitors at Point Reyes will not likely see California sea otters today.
Cassandra Brooks interviews Ivano Aiello, a geological oceanographer at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, about how we burn ancient life to power our civilization and some of the issues that result from fossil fuel pollution.
More than a hundred thousand marine species build their bodies using calcium carbonate. This incredible diversity of life evolved over millions of years, as animals figured out ways to pull calcium and carbonate ions from the water to build shells and skeletons. But all of this is changing. Our addiction to fossil fuels and the billions of tons of carbon dioxide we're pumping into the atmosphere each year may be undoing millions of years of evolution in a geological blink of time.
Cassandra Brooks interviews Lisa Etherington, Research Coordinator at the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, and Dan Howard, the sanctuary's Superintendent, about research on the deep-water corals of Cordell Bank and the impacts of ocean acidification on corals.
Daniel Strain interviews Becca Ryals, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, and her advisor, ecosystem scientist Whendee Silver, about carbon sequestration and Marin Carbon Project's efforts in Nicasio, California, to sequester carbon in the soil of cattle pastures.
Daniel Strain interviews John Dell'Osso, Point Reyes National Seashore's Chief of Interpretation, and Sara Hammond, the park's energy manager, about efforts at Point Reyes National Seashore to make park operations more sustainable.
Supported by Point Reyes National Seashore Association
Support for The Natural Laboratory comes from Point Reyes National Seashore Association (PRNSA), whose mission is to work with the National Park Service to preserve and protect Point Reyes National Seashore for current and future generations. Each year, PRNSA funds vital projects across the park, including those explored in this podcast series. We couldn’t do this without them, and they couldn’t do it without support from generous donors. Visit their website to learn more.
Last updated: February 5, 2024
1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station,
This number will initially be answered by an automated attendant, from which one can opt to access a name directory, listen to recorded information about the park (e.g., directions to the park; visitor center hours of operation; fire danger information; wildlife updates; ranger-led programs; seasonal events; etc.), or speak with a ranger. Please note that if you are calling between 4:30 pm and 10 am, park staff may not be available to answer your call.