Saturday, November 6, 2010
Marine Mammal Center newsletter:
Gupta was rescued on October 4, 2010, from Breakwater Cove, Monterey County, California. He had severe trauma to his back and flippers from a massive sharkbite. Doctors thought the shark must have come from below Gupta and to his left. Indeed, the shark must have had a pretty decent hold for a second or so in order to create such a severe wound. Gupta’s injuries consisted of major soft tissue loss over much of the left side of his chest, multiple lacerations and multiple puncture wounds in the left ‘armpit’. During the initial evaluation, Center staff sedated Gupta, took some radiographs and thoroughly evaluated the situation.
The good news was that no vital structures were damaged. The chest wall remained intact and there was no evidence of joint involvement. The bad news was that the massive soft tissue trauma left a lot of skin and muscle without a blood supply, and this area was in various stages of dying. The wound was infected and infested with fly larvae (maggots) and it required aggressive topical cleansing, removal of dead tissue and application of some sort of antimicrobial, antiseptic ointment. That’s when the idea of honey entered into the picture.
Honey has gained recent popularity in both human and veterinary medicine as a wound treatment due largely to its natural healing properties. It has a very high sugar content and as a result binds water molecules strongly. That makes the water unavailable to organisms trying to make a living in the area. This is why honey can be safely stored on the shelf without refrigeration. Honey also contains a variety of compounds that may enhance the tissue response to infection and inflammation. It’s less expensive than most topical antibiotic ointments and evidence suggests it is just as effective. So the Center’s staff and volunteers cleaned the wound and applied a generous layer of honey to it. Thanks to both the honey and the tincture of time, Gupta’s wounds healed very quickly. In fact, he was released on October 25 at Chimney Rock, Point Reyes National Shore, California.
Interested in learning more on this sticky topic? Here are two links to papers indicating the value of honey in medical treatments:
Friday, November 5, 2010
Princeton Architectural Press
Of the ten million or so different species of insects on our planet, none is more fascinating than the honeybee. One of the oldest forms of animal life still in existence from the Neolithic Age, bees have been worshipped and mythologized since the beginning of human history. Known popularly for their industriousness ("as busy as a bee") and highly valued for their role in agricultural pollination (every third bite we take depends on them), bees are now kept by a quarter-million beekeepers in the United States alone, and millions more around the world.
Honeybees were the first creatures examined by seventeenth-century scientists whose primitive microscopes suggested a complex system of construction. Now, magnified hundreds to thousands of times with a scanning electron microscope, honeybees appear as architectural masterpieces—an elegant fusion of form and function.
Melding art and science, photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher puts this modern tool to creative use in order to reveal the microscopic majesty of these natural wonders. BEE presents sixty astonishing photographs of honeybee anatomy in magnifications ranging from 10x to 5000x. Rendered in stunning detail, Fisher's photographs uncover the strange beauty of the honeybee's pattern, form, and structure. Comprising 6,900 hexagonal lenses, their eyes resemble the structure of a honeycomb. The honeybee's proboscis—a strawlike appendage used to suck nectar out of flowers, folds resembles a long, slender hairy tongue. Its six-legged exoskeleton is fuzzy with hairs that build up a static charge as the bee flies in order to electrically attract pollen. Wings clasp together with tiny hooks and a double-edged stinger resembles a serrated hypodermic needle. The honeybee's three pairs of segmented legs are a revelation, with their antennae cleaners, sharp-pointed claws, and baskets to carry pollen to the hive. These visual discoveries, made otherworldly through Fisher's lens, expand the boundaries of our thinking about the natural world and stimulate our imaginations. BEE features a foreword by nature writer and New York Times editorialist Verlyn Klinkenborg.