Seacology in Southeast Asia

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam: Valley of the Langurs

CAT BA ISLAND, VIETNAM — “There are no guarantees,” says Rosie, “that you will see even one langur the whole time you are on Cat Ba Island.” Sure, I nod. I understand. I get it — but I don’t get it. True, it was a full four months before project director Rosie Stenke saw her […]

Cat Ba Island, Vietnam: Part I

CAT BA ISLAND, VIETNAM — What’s an endangered monkey worth? If it’s a Golden-Maned Langur — found only on Cat Ba Island, off the coast of North Vietnam, a few hours’ drive from Hanoi — the answer is, about a hundred bucks. The Cat Ba langur is one of the world’s most endangered primate (second […]

Sulawesi, Indonesia

TIWOHO, INDONESIA — One thing that strikes me about science, and the way we frame our discoveries, is that we’re no better than our metaphors. We observe a process of nature, and explain how it works by comparing to our own technology. For some of those processes, we have pretty good metaphors: the “holographic” theory […]


TIRTA GANGGA, BALI — Bali is all about water. Ponds alive with lotuses and frogs; streams pitching from the ambrosial urns of stone goddesses; waterfalls down stone walls covered with butterflies and fronds. It’s the rainy season here; fat drops fall from the palm trees overhanging the road, and off the thatched eaves above temple […]

Bunaken, Indonesia

BUNAKEN NATIONAL PARK, INDONESIA — In the 1950s, Alfred Hitchcock made a thriller called Rope, starring Jimmy Stewart. The title was a double entendre; not only was a rope involved in the crime, but Hitchcock made it appear that the whole film was shot in a single, unspliced, 80-minute take. In the bath-warm waters of […]

Northern Sulawesi

MANADO, INDONESIA — Without a tsunami or volcanic eruption in progress, there’s very little drama on your average island. Sulawesi has its share of woes — ethnic conflict between the northern Christians and the central and southern Muslims has been a flashpoint for years — but in this tiny region around Sulawesi’s northern tip, tensions […]

Up in the Air

There is no predicting, at this point, what I will find, or even what I’ll write. This whole trip came together so quickly that I’m still in a state of shock, sitting on a Singapore Airlines Mega-Top with a pink tablecloth under my iBook, iced cranberry juice on my right, and a selection of 60 […]