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his is the story of the fragility of the seahorse. The greatest aquarium adventure I ever partook in, started when I was in high school. It began when my mom bought me a year membership to the Long Beach Aquarium to feed my love of fishes and I saw a seahorse for the first time. I immediately went home and learned all about seahorses. They were fish. They were graceful. And they resembled horses. I was mesmerized. Keeping domestic seahorses in home aquariums, let alone large, public aquariums, is very new. Seahorses in the wild were becoming dangerously over-poached in the last 50 years and were on the verge of becoming an extinct species. It wasnt until the mid 90s that it was a big enough problem that people tried restoring their numbers. Seahorse trade (live instead of jewelry finally) had become popular especially in the US and with my previous saltwater experiences, I gladly accepted the challenge.

had tremendous success and had their seahorses for almost 8 years and were even reproducing several times a year. So I did months of research and custom built their own tank perfectly fit for seahorse life. I even planted and grew Caulerpa prolifera; the seahorses native seaweed they used for food and protection. I soon found a seahorse breeder in Montana who shipped me 2 beautiful seahorse specimen in the mail a few months later and after a year of preparing, the real work began. They were both a gorgeous bright yellow color and I diligently cared for them by logging activity twice a day, hatching live shrimp fry for live food, and cleaning their water daily. This went on for approximately 10 months (an already amazing amount of success- I was practically a hero on the online forums) until I made a great mistake. I had bought a new, custom stand for the fish tank that had a compartment down below the tank to hold a second tank for water cycling mostly but it also promoted plant growth. Regardless of what the new upgrade was for, the stress from moving the tank worried them so much that they died. In the end, after all those months of preparing, hours of researching, hundreds if not thousands of

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However, the average survival rate of a seahorse in an at home aquarium was 2-3 months. But there were others out there who

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dollars spent, I learned that it is just day when I came home from class, my roommate as rewarding to view seahorses told me shes been hearing a loud noise from my in a public aquarium. And that bedroom that sounded like my fish filter was sucking is how I learned how fragile the up air. I went to my bedroom door only to find the carpet seahorse really is. just below soaking wet. I knew what had happened but I couldnt believe it. Aquariums cracking and completely One does not create a simple leaking out only happened in cartoons right? Nope. aquatic ecosystem when you Apparently, random aquarium-cracking is a serious issue are building an aquarium, you and is a threat to indoor fishes everywhere. It had been are trying to get a fish to live in several hours since the glass mysteriously cracked (on its a box. Fishes may make great own during the day) and leaked 10 gallons of water all at home pets to enjoy, but this over my bookshelf ruining my books, movies, makeup, is the story of why I learned not my laptop, and not to mention ruining the carpet that to have favorite fishes in my wasnt mine. I immediately got a cup of water and aquarium. At the beginning of the tried picking up my fish from the dry sand to revive 2013 school year, I had a beautiful them. Amazingly, all of my favorite fishes that I 10 gallon freshwater aquarium in my liked most had dried out. My favorite and only apartment on campus that I spent a my favorites! The ones that were just part lot of hard work on. One of the ecosystem or not really that pretty were still flopping around gasping for air. Perhaps natural selection was at work, but I saved those and threw them in water and rebuilt the same aquarium and didnt buy any new favorite fishes

my best buddy Wendy won the biggest raffle of the day and won a large visa gift card, a few gift cards to some of the vendors there, along with a My last story is actually has a more cheerful picture with the whole cast, and another ending. A few years ago I went to this event signed tshirt. I was extremely happy for called Reefapalooza which was held locally her and was very glad she came with me. here in Southern California and I went with one As for her gift cards I believe she bought of my best friends, Wendy, and my mom, as we herself some fun new fish tank related were all into keeping fishes. This specific event was things and we had a blast that day. My mostly held for the hobby of reef keeping or saltwater mom and I even bought some other life and although I no longer was into that anymore, I things as well and Reefapalooza loved going anyways. My friend and I got lots of freebies was a success. from vendors as we walked down aisles and aisles of fish company representatives, demonstrations, sales tents, and These have been my super merchandise lining the walls of a very large warehouse. exciting tales of keeping There was one special vendor I was extra excited for; the cast fishes. Sure its a fun hobby, from Animal Planets tv show Tanked made an appearance but if theres anything Ive and were hosting raffles. They were from a tv show that was learned, its that it doesnt about building and setting up crazy, unusual fishtanks for always go as you planned and both personal and commercial use like in restuarants somethings are out of your or stores. So they were giving out big raffles and control. The best thing to do signed merchandise too. We both got is remind yourself that fishes autographed tshirts from the arent meant to live in a box. hosts of the show that But if you can make them feel I watch frequently. at home, youre doing it right. Long story short,

I might like. I learned to never again choose favorites among my fishes because they might die by a random, terrible aquarium cracking incident.

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hen I was little I spent much of my time reading comic books my parents gave me. Sure I enjoyed them for their flawless art style, great underlying eternal story of good versus evil, and Supermans incredibly handsome face and chiseled body, but superheroes became much more to me than that. They became inspirational icons that taught me Im strong enough to do anything in life and theres no task or tasks I can not handle even if I dont wear a mask, cape, or tights, or have a secret identity.

Now that I am older, I dont read comic books anymore and I do know the capacity for human strength and usually anything isnt quite physically possible. But it never hurts to believe in yourself nonetheless. To replace the comic book hole left in my life, I do make sure to never miss a new Marvel or DC superhero movie that comes out in theatres. Ive always believed comic books arent just for boys. Especially when Supergirl and Wonder Woman were my heroes growing up. But what exactly is a superhero?

What makes Superman a hero is not that he has power, but that he has the wisdom and the maturity to use the power wisely Its very hard for me to be silly about Superman, because Ive seen firsthand how he actually transforms peoples lives. I have seen children dying of brain tumors who wanted as their last request to talk to me, and have gone to their graves with a peace brought on by knowing that their belief in this kind of character really matters.

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Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.
-Oscar Wilde

oth traditional and digital llustration have always been a natural way to express myself. This aspect of my life actually stems from my passion for horses. As silly as it sounds, when I couldnt be with horses in person, I was indoors drawing them on paper. Ive spent most of my life studying equine anatomy and practicing the art of illustrating the living horse. From there, I noticed I developed a keen eye, being a strong visual learner helped, for drawing from life so I quickly branched out to animals, humans, buildings, nature, and everything in between. I think art owes me my junior high school GPA back. I spent all of my time in my regular classes drawing on anything my teachers gave me. Handouts, worksheets,

permission slips until it became the way I learned in class. I would actually absorb more of the taught material if I was drawing during my teachers lectures. I quickly was known, especially in high school, as the artist and was requested to create everything from drawings, to info graphics, to tattoo designs for my fellow classmates and even some teachers. Besides the skill involved in drawing, just relaxing and letting the pencil flow was the greatest stress reliever I had ever experienced. Illustration, both traditional and digital, has been something I have enjoyed for my whole life and I will continue to enjoy as long as I have function of my right hand... and eyes as well.

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THE END
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The Elements of a Feather, volume 1, was produced by the author Ashlynn Feather at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, California and was printed by the author, Ashlynn Feather, in Pomona, California. The cover was designed by author, Ashlynn Feather, and used a 4 color print process on a private inkjet printer. The books 30 pages were printed on Epson Presentation Paper Matte in 44lb. weight in Epson CMYK ink. All body copy was set in Avenir LT Std #65, Medium 10pt. Caption fonts included Futura Condensed Extra Bold 20pt & Comic Book Regular 17pt. Headline fonts included Avenir Black 30pt and RACE1 Brannt NCV Regular 150pt. Book spreads & layouts were sent to the printer in Adobe CS6 InDesign from a MacBook Pro OS X with Retina Display. The book was assembled at 3400 Poly Vista, Pomona, California in March 2014 and included 1 final copy.

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