#DayOfFacts at the Oakland Museum of California
Today, the Oakland Museum of California joins hundreds of other organizations to mark the #DayofFacts. From the treatment of Native Californians to California’s shared history with Mexico, to how climate change impacts Yosemite and the Bay Area, OMCA’s collections and galleries are an incredibly rich and trusted source of facts on a range of topics.
A pesticide that affects bees’ brains may make them unable to pollinate crops
Did you know certain flowers only release their pollen when a bee buzzes at a specific frequency? The vibrations from the bee open the plant’s pollen tubes and loosen the pollen inside. A recent study by the British Ecological Society found that a controversial kind of pesticide, neonicotinoids, impacts bumblebee’s ability to produce the buzzing that pollinates crops. One bumblebee, the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee was recently set to be the first bumblebee added to the U.S. Endangered Species List. According to federal officials, reasons for the bee’s population decline include exposure to pesticides, climate change, habitat loss and disease. The addition of the bee to the list is now under dispute. Visit the Gallery of California Natural Sciences to learn more about the importance of bees and ways to protect them.
There’s an “underwater island” just 50 miles away from San Francisco
Just 50 miles northwest of San Francisco is Cordell Bank. This “underwater island” hosts a vibrant tapestry of fishes, algae, and invertebrates, including a new species of coral recently discovered there. Marine mammals and seabirds travel hundreds of miles from all around the Pacific Ocean to feed in these waters rich with food. Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary is one of 14 protected areas managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a federal agency created to focus on the state of the oceans and atmosphere. Find out more about marine conservation in the Gallery of California Natural Sciences at OMCA.
Climate change may cause Yosemite National Park’s glaciers to disappear in less than a century
Yosemite National Park’s glaciers are sensitive to environmental conditions, making them indicators of climate change, according to NASA. The largest of of the two glaciers in Yosemite National Park and second largest in the Sierra Nevadas, the Lyell Glacier, was once a mile wide when measured by famed naturalist John Muir in the 1870s. Melt from the Lyell Glacier keeps the Tuolumne River flowing throughout the year. Over the past few years, it has thinned considerably, with geologists noting that by Yosemite National Park’s 200 birthday, ice on the park’s glaciers may be completely gone.
These chipmunks are being isolated from each other due to climate change
As climate warms, mountain species like the Alpine chipmunk are losing habitat. The cool areas where they thrive are becoming smaller and restricted to mountaintops. Not only does this mean less space, it also makes it more difficult for populations on each mountaintop to interbreed. Scientists at Berkeley have also found that these populations are losing genetic diversity rapidly. Much like species on ocean islands, the chipmunks on these mountaintop “islands” are becoming genetically isolated, which lead to problems. Learn more about these at-risk animals in the Gallery of California Natural Sciences.
As sea levels rise, the Bay Area is set to lose 95% of our wetlands
With global climate change and sea level rise, a 2013 study by the US Geological Society found that the San Francisco Bay is expected to rise four and a half feet over the next 100 years, and will submerge 95% of the area’s wetlands. Homes, businesses, roads and airports will face serious flooding, and critical wetland habitat will be squeezed between development and the rising water. Beaches and marshlands that provide a natural buffer at the Bay’s edge have bought us time, but how much longer can we rely on these resources until they are underwater as well? Learn more in OMCA’s Gallery of California Natural Sciences.
These eight Southwestern states, including California, were once a part of Mexico
Less than 200 years ago, most of what is now California, Texas, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming, were a part of Mexico. In 1846 the US declared war on Mexico, and many Californios, or Mexican Californians, fought back. After the US-Mexico War ended, the US acquired more than 525,000 square miles of Mexican territory. Although the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo promised Mexican citizens living in these areas American citizenship, many were treated as second-class citizens and denied equal rights.
California’s government once paid white settlers to kill Native Californians
John Bigler became governor of California in January 1852. Among his first actions was to urge rejection of treaties with California Indian tribes and proposed reservations. The predominant policy under Bigler toward Indians was “Kill, murder, exterminate or domesticate and improve them.” In the late 1850s local municipalities as well as the state paid bounties for evidence of every Indian killed. An 1855 bond in the Oakland Museum of California’s collection was used to repay White settlers who spent their own money to kill Native Americans. The Native population in California dropped from about 150,000 to 30,000 because of murder, disease, starvation and forced removal.
Mexicans and Filipinos were blamed for the Great Depression and driven out
During the height of the Great Depression, many Californians blamed immigrants for taking their jobs. Filipinos and Mexicans were especially singled out. Between 1931 and 1933, more than 100,000 people—some American citizens—were removed or pressured to leave California for Mexico and the Philippines. Visit the Gallery of California History to see more from one Mexican American about his father’s difficult decision to leave his successful farm for Mexico during the height of anti-Mexican discrimination in the 1930s.
FDR called the camps where Japanese Americans were sent “Concentration Camps”
Nearly ⅔ of the Japanese Americans who were sent away to live in incarceration camps during World War II were US Citizens. US officials used words like “internment” and “assembly center” to talk about how the government treated Japanese Americans. In the OMCA exhibit Sent Away, the Museum uses terms that specialists in the field use—like incarceration, detention, and confinement. President Frankin D. Roosevelt, who signed the executive order that resulted in the removal, himself called them “concentration camps.” Learn more about incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II in the OMCA Gallery of California History.
There are already several deadly barriers for immigrants on the US-Mexico border
People have always crossed the US-Mexico border—both legally and illegally—and economic ties link people on both sides. Despite recent calls for the building of a wall, this idea is not new. From 2006 to 2010, the US built 640 miles of fence across the border, mostly near major population centers. Many undocumented immigrants still cross, risking death by drowning, heat, exhaustion, starvation, and dehydration to make it to the US for the chance to have a better life. Over 550 people have drowned in the All-American Canal, the world’s largest irrigation canal just north of the border—since it was built in 1942. Learn more about how the border with Mexico defines the lives of Californians in the Gallery of California History’s section …Negotiating the Border.
The first openly gay person to run for public office wasn’t Harvey Milk
San Francisco may be known today as a haven for LGBTQ people, but it wasn’t always that way. In the 1950s and 1960s, clubs and social organizations for gay men were the frequent targets of police raids and arrests. Drag performer José Julio Sarria often satirized these struggles in his weekly shows at the Black Cat Café in North Beach, where he’d perform witty operas in elaborate costumes. Sarria later made history as the first openly gay person to run for public office. See two of Sarria’s costumes on view now in the Gallery of California History and the Gallery of California Art. Save the date for Over the Top: Math Bass and the Imperial Court SF, an exhibition opening April 2, that highlights one of the world’s oldest LGBT charitable organizations that Sarria founded.
What are some other surprising facts you’ve learned in OMCA’s Galleries? Tell us in the comments below.