The Weekly Tally 12.31.15


Pushpa Iyer, director of the Center for Conflict Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, got her start building peace between divided Muslim and Hindu communities in Gujarat, India. Now she teaches peacebuilding and edits the center’s annual Reflections magazine. The theme is race and conflict, and Iyer is in town getting started on the 2016 issue. In a call for submissions (opinion, stories from the field, film reviews all welcome), Iyer defines race broadly as “the power, privilege, identities and discrimination tied to shades of color and the role that this plays in conflicts around the world.”

Submissions accepted now through Monday, Feb. 15. 647-7104,,


After questions about whether Lake El Estero in Monterey is manmade (it’s not, except for a flood-reducing barrier between the lagoon and the bay) came questions about the island at its center. It’s Greene Island, named for Harry Ashland Greene, the man credited with creating the eponymous bird sanctuary in the 1930s that encompasses the lagoon. The island’s inhabitants are mostly birds, reports city Park Operations Manager Louie Marcuzzo. His research indicates the island, like the lagoon, is naturally occurring.


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“I love your pizza-making face.”
- One employee speaking to another employee at Pizza My Heart in Del Monte Center.


GOOD: Christmas came early in the form of fuzz and cuteness at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where a tiny sea otter pup was born and paraded around by its mom to thousands of visitors. The adorable fluffy pup’s first moments on Earth were captured on video and in photos that were shared on social media thousands of times, letting even people far from the coast get a dose of cuteness.

The story behind the heart-warming photos: A pregnant otter traveled to the aquarium’s Great Tide Pool on Dec. 20 to give birth, where she gave thousands of aquarium visitors an unscripted event to remember. On Dec. 22, the mom and pup were spotted again at the Aquarium, then went back out into the Monterey Bay later that day.

BAD: It’s been a bad few weeks for monarch butterflies, and the residents and visitors who come to view them over-wintering in the Pacific Grove monarch sanctuary. The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History released the results of an annual Thanksgiving count, and reported just 11,000 butterflies – more than a 50-percent decline from last year’s 24,000 Thanksgiving tally. That number doesn’t necessarily spell doom. The nonprofit Xerces Society, which protects invertebrate habitat, reports a rise in smaller monarch populations in other parts of Northern California, and the 2015 count is on par with the 2012 count. But the monarch population in general has been lagging, and experts are struggling to figure out exactly why. To help, Allison Watson, education manager at the Museum of Natural History, recommends planting native species, particularly milkweed, to provide a food source for monarch caterpillars.

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