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Science Writer Carol Yoon Inadvertently Discovers Rare Species
Science | April 24, 2012

Science Writer Carol Yoon Inadvertently Discovers Rare Species

Science writer Carol Yoon has traveled far and wide to research rare and exotic species. But for her latest adventure, the award-winning author of Naming Nature only had to walk about twenty feet. In the small town of Bellingham, Washington, Yoon was standing by her living room window when she spied an exceptionally rare moth—the one that would get her published in a scientific journal for the first time. Her location was perhaps more surprising than the find: “Out of that window — actually on the window — I saw a creature that I would later learn had never before been seen alive anywhere in North America.” This discovery, and the quest that followed, comprises her latest article for the New York Times, where she files whimsical and educational pieces, such as her entertaining look at how Avatar helped lay audiences re-appreciate the natural world.

Oecophora bractella is a colourful moth far from its forest home in Europe and considered threatened in many areas. It wouldn't be the last “unexpected species” Carol Yoon discovered on her doorstep, either. As her desire to tally the taxons grew, she began noticing the number of creatures crawling around her home. She and her entomologist husband devised attractive lawn displays, like black lights and water drippers, to entice wildlife. Yoon even began marveling at all the pieces of species found in the fridge. The idea that so much life can exist on “just one square foot” of land in rural America was enough to make Yoon want to keep her eyes peeled at all times—even when standing in her own home. In her talks, she conveys this same refreshing sense of wonderment toward nature while tying it into a larger conversation about stewardship and our relationship to the planet.
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