When the rain falls, a whole new world comes to life in the tiny vernal pools that dot the mesa top of Carmel Mountain. Some organisms, including an endangered species of fairy shrimp, live only in these pools uninhabited by fish. In 2006 I documented the pools weekly, beginning with the first rainfall, which didn't come until January. I photographed everything visible to my naked eye, often struggling to see creatures in the muddy pools.

Come follow my journey.
Will the rains continue or will the ponds dry up?
Will eggs be laid and embryos, long buried, hatch?
What will I find in the ponds each week?

Click on each pond to follow it's journey:

Jan 3 Small ponds formed after the first rain of the season  

Each pond seems to offer it's own surprises.
Why do fairy shrimp flourish in some ponds and tadpoles in others?

            Curious to learn more, on the third week, I added some more ponds:  

None of this bottom set are activated yet.

A peak at what I found in the ponds:

How can art engender love of place?
On first thought the use of virtual media to engender close relationship to place may seem antithetical. However, the computer allows for intimate viewing and careful exploration. The internet has the potential to reach a much wider audience than any type of performance or gallery exhibition. It allows for non-linear narrative and infinite connectivity. I hope that this project can spark dialogue as to how the medium can be used to foster love of the natural world around us.

How important is the preservation of vernal pools?
It is estimated that 97% of the vernal pools in San Diego have been destroyed, mostly due to construction. Even now, some of the remaining areas with vernal pools are slated for development, though the presence of endangered fairy shrimp, Branchinecta sandiegonensis, requires mitigation before habitat can be destroyed. What responsibility do we have to the creatures whose survival is dependant on vernal pool habitat? During studies of vernal pools in Northern California, almost half of the crustacean species found had never before been described. How many species have disappeared before we ever knew of their existence?

What does this piece suggest about the consequences of climate change?
One dryish year isn't enough to make any generalizations about climate. However this exploration illustrates the myriad of life, even in tiny pools, that is dependent on yearly rainfall. So far the current year, 2007, is even drier than 2006. Through mid-March there hasn't been enough rain to keep the pools full long enough for tadpoles or fairy shrimp to mature.

This project is also available as high quality photographic prints.

Carmel Mountain interpretive panels

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