Submit Your Photo to EcoWatch's 'Best of Summer' Photo Contest
EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!
Summer is a time when our EcoWatchers are outdoors more, enjoying nature. We love all the beautiful things the planet has to offer. Many special moments have us pulling out our camera to capture those occasions in awe of our environment. But don't keep those great images to yourself! We want you to share your best summer snapshot with us, and our readers. Whether it's a vacation photo, a day at the beach or the beauty of your backyard, snap a pic and submit your image to our contest.
The "Best of Summer" photo will be chosen by our judges to win a $250 Patagonia eGift card. We will also be awarding an "EcoWatchers' Choice" prize of a $100 Patagonia eGift card for the photo most loved by our readers. We will allow readers like you to vote monthly to decide on the best July submission, the best August submission, and finally vote between the two to decide the winner of the "EcoWatchers' Choice" prize!
So enjoy your summer, take in the beauty of your surroundings and show us what you see!
Submit your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "ECOWATCH SUMMER PHOTO CONTEST" by September 11th for a chance to win and to have your photo appear on EcoWatch.com. To be considered, submit your photo with the following information:
- Phone Number
- Photo Submission (.jpeg file format recommended)
- Facebook and Instagram profiles (if available)
Our judges will choose the winning photo and the winner will be announced September 23rd. The EcoWatchers' Choice award winner will also be announced September 23rd.
Gary and Sam Bencheghib
Brothers Gary and Sam Bencheghib are environmental activists and filmmakers. They founded Make a Change World, a media outlet that uncovers uplifting and inspirational stories on a mission to do good. They are passionate about creating social change through videos and giving a voice to the underrepresented. Together they have launched a series of expeditions from kayaking the world's dirtiest river on plastic bottles to stand-up paddling down New York's most toxic waterways. In the past three years, their work has been seen by more than 600 million people. This summer, while Gary bamboo bikes the Indonesian archipelago, Sam is set to become the first person to run across the American continent with recycled plastic shoes.
Anthony Bucci is a wildlife photographer who grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He has donated numerous prints and other products to various wildlife societies across Canada, silent auctions and other fundraisers to raise funds for wildlife conservation and well-being. Anthony is currently on the raptor pick up list for O.W.L Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Delta BC, Canada. He feels it's important to give back to the wildlife conservation efforts and helping where Anthony can is a task he takes seriously. To Anthony, his wildlife photography is more than just taking pictures. Thinking about conservation and the well-being of all wildlife is always on his mind.
Amos has led great expeditions for individual adventurers and institutions like Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Discovery Channel, Armani, Disney and Columbia Pictures. For National Geographic, he was team leader for separate photo expeditions to document the Red Sea, great white sharks and killer whales. His photos and essays have appeared in hundreds of publications around the globe, including National Geographic, Time, Life, The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, Le Figaro, Terra Sauvage, Airone, Mondo Somerso, Der Spiegel, Unterwasser and many more. His work has also been included in the books The Living Ocean, The World of Nature, and Oceans. He has appeared on National Geographic Explorer, Today, and Good Morning America and featured in People, Esquire and Money magazines. Amos's photography has won Nikon, Communication Arts, and BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards.
Margarita is a zoologist, sustainability activist, travel enthusiast and social media Influencer who uses the power of her social media to influence people to make more sustainable choices when traveling. After visiting more than 60 countries and seeing what actually happens to our planet, such as how plastic and food waste affects the environment, she decided to take a stand to speak about it and encourage people to care a little bit more about nature. Sustainability is the main focus of Margarita's social posts, and she speaks a lot about eco lifestyle, responsible traveling, ethical wildlife encounters, supporting locals and living in unity with nature.
By entering this photo contest, you are granting EcoWatch the right to use your photo on our site and our media channels in conjunction with this contest without the written permission. Unless otherwise instructed, EcoWatch reserves the right to use photo submissions on our site and in our media channels aside from the contest. If you do not wish to give EcoWatch the rights to use your photo aside from the current photo contest that you are participating in, please let us know within your email submission with the text, "No, I do not want to give EcoWatch the rights to use my photos in other media aside from the current photo contest that I am participating in."
- Photo submissions must be original work taken by the contest entrant.
- By entering this photo contest you are granting EcoWatch the right to use your photo on our site and our media channels in conjunction with this contest without the written permission.
- Unless otherwise instructed, EcoWatch reserves the right to use photo submissions on our site and in our media channels aside from the contest.
- The winner's name will be announced alongside the winning photo submission.
- Photos that have already been submitted to other contests currently ongoing or have already won prizes in other contests are not eligible.
- Image files created through any device capable of taking still images, such as smartphones and digital still cameras, will be accepted.
- Color and monochrome images are valid for entry.
- After judging concludes, the winners will be notified by email sent to their listed email address. The Patagonia eGift Card will be sent to the same listed email address.
- EcoWatch reserves the right to void entries that depict brand logos or other intellectual property, whether on electronic signs, posters, or in other forms, or that in its judgment are harmful to public order, go against standards of decency, or are conflicting to the goals of the contest.
- EcoWatch is not responsible for the resolution of legal issues arising from the entrants' submitted photos and will not pay any costs thereby incurred.
- EcoWatch does not bear any costs to the entrants that are incurred by entering the contest.
- Submitted entries may not be withdrawn or returned.
- EcoWatch reserves the right to suspend or postpone the receipt of any or all entries if it is judged that the contest is unable to be run effectively, smoothly, or without affecting the fairness of judging.
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By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas
From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.
When Looking Through a Microscope Isn’t Close Enough.<p>For the last few years, <a href="http://www.rokaslab.org/" target="_blank">our team at Vanderbilt University</a>, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/lab/Gustavo-Goldman-Lab" target="_blank">Gustavo Goldman's team at São Paulo University in Brazil</a> and many other collaborators around the world have been collecting samples of fungi from patients infected with different species of <em>Aspergillus</em> molds. One of the species we are particularly interested in is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/rwgn.2001.0082" target="_blank"><em>Aspergillus nidulans</em>, a relatively common and generally harmless fungus</a>. Clinical laboratories typically identify the species of <em>Aspergillus</em> causing the infection by examining cultures of the fungi under the microscope. The problem with this approach is that very closely related species of <em>Aspergillus</em> tend to look very similar in their broad morphology or physical appearance when viewing them through a microscope.</p><p>Interested in examining the varying abilities of different <em>A. nidulans</em> strains to cause disease, we decided to analyze their total genetic content, or genomes. What we saw came as a total surprise. We had not collected <em>A. nidulans</em> but <em>Aspergillus latus</em>, a close relative of <em>A. nidulans</em> and, as we were to soon find out, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.071" target="_blank">a hybrid species that evolved through the fusion of the genomes</a> of two other <em>Aspergillus</em> species: <em>Aspergillus spinulosporus</em> and an unknown close relative of <em>Aspergillus quadrilineatus</em>. Thus, we realized not only that these patients harbored infections from an entirely different species than we thought they were, but also that this species was the first ever <em>Aspergillus</em> hybrid known to cause human infections.</p>
Several Different Fungal Hybrids Cause Human Disease.<p>Hybrid fungi that can cause infections in humans are well known to occur in several different lineages of single-celled fungi known as yeasts. Notable examples include multiple different species of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/yea.3242" target="_blank">yeast hybrids</a> that cause the human diseases <a href="https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6218/cryptococcosis" target="_blank">cryptococcosis</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html" target="_blank">candidiasis</a>. Although pathogenic yeast hybrids are well known, our discovery that the <em>A. latus</em> pathogen is a hybrid is a first for molds that cause disease in humans.</p>
(Left) Candida yeasts live on parts of the human body. Imbalance of microbes on the body can allow these yeasts, some of which are hybrids, to grow and cause infection. (Right) Cryptococcus yeasts, including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008315" target="_blank">Why certain <em>Aspergillus</em> species are so deadly</a> while others are harmless remains unknown. This may in part be because <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2007.02.007" target="_blank">combinations of traits, rather than individual traits</a>, underlie organisms' ability to cause disease. So why then are hybrids frequently associated with human disease? Hybrids inherit genetic material from both parents, which may result in new combinations of traits. This may make them more similar to one parent in some of their characteristics, reflect both parents in others or may differ from both in the rest. It is precisely this mix and match of traits that hybrids have inherited from their parental species that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14creatures.html" target="_blank">facilitates their evolutionary success</a>, including their ability to cause disease.</p>
The Evolutionary Origin of an Aspergillus Hybrid.<p>Multiple evolutionary paths can lead to the emergence of hybrids. One path is through mating, just as the horse and donkey mate to create a mule. Another path is through the merging or fusion of genetic material from cells of different species.</p><p>It is this second path that appears to have been taken by our fungus. <em>A. latus</em> appears to have two of almost everything compared to its parental species: twice the genome size, twice the total number of genes and so on. But unlike other hybrids, which are often sterile like the mule, we found that <em>A. latus</em> is capable of reproducing both asexually and sexually.</p><p>But how distinct were the parents of <em>A. latus</em>? By comparing the parts contributed by each parent in the <em>A. latus</em> genome, we estimate that its parents are approximately 93% genetically similar, which is about as related as we humans are with lemurs. In other words, <em>A. latus</em>, an agent of infectious disease, is the fungal equivalent of a human-lemur hybrid.</p>
How A. Latus Differs From its Parents.<p>Elucidating the identity of closely related fungal pathogens and how they differ from each other in infection-relevant characteristics is a key step toward reducing the burden of fungal disease. For example, we found that <em>A. latus</em> was three times more resistant than <em>A. nidulans</em>, the species it was originally identified as using microscopy-based methods, to one of the most common antifungal drugs, <a href="https://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB00520" target="_blank">caspofungin</a>. This result provides a clear example of the potential importance of accurate identification of the <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogen causing an infection.</p><p>We also examined how <em>A. latus</em> and <em>A. nidulans</em> interact with cells from our immune system. We found that immune cells were less efficient at combating <em>A. latus</em> compared to <em>A. nidulans</em>, suggesting the hybrid fungus may be trickier for our immune systems to identify and destroy.</p><p>In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our quest to understand <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogens is becoming more urgent. Growing evidence suggests that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/myc.13096" target="_blank">a fraction of COVID-19 patients are also infected with <em>Aspergillus</em>.</a> More worrying is that these <a href="https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2607.201603" target="_blank">secondary <em>Aspergillus</em> infections</a> can worsen the clinical outcomes for those infected with the novel coronavirus. That being said, we stress that little is known about <em>Aspergillus</em> infections in COVID-19 patients due to a lack of systematic testing, and none of the infections identified so far appear to have been caused by hybrids.</p><p>So, when it comes to hybrids, some are fantastic (the minotaur), some are helpful (the mule) and some are dangerous (<em>Aspergillus latus</em>). Understanding more about the biology of <em>Aspergillus latus</em> may help in our understanding of how microbial pathogens arise and how to best prevent and combat their infections.</p>
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Growing Contribution<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM3NDY5Ny9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NjM4MTgyM30.IuQTKQs1stvYYKD6vaVTrqAyoBsUG0BhDvlhxsyKwPA/img.png?width=980" id="02a05" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2841f82b1785df5d5ed7bf64d3bb882b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
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