Episodic Descriptions
1. U. S. Virgin Islands National Park, U.S.V.I
This park is located on St. John, a sunny Caribbean island set in azure seas. In this program, naturalist Sue Ellen Fast swims briefly with an endangered hawksbill sea turtle as she discovers the varied life of this tropical reef of the Caribbean sea. She investigates "ice" along the sea shores which turns out to be salt. She explores and contrasts the life of the low dry slopes and the high wet slopes of this wind swept volcanic island. And she finds evidence of past cultures - petroglyphs which tell of a prehistoric aboriginal culture, and the ruins of a sugar plantation which speak of more recent times when blacks were enslaved to work for the sugar trade.
2. La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica
In this lowland tropical rainforest area of Costa Rica where the climate is warm and moist and rainfall is over 10 feet a year, bio-diversity is the catchword; there are so many different species, that rarity is the rule not the exception. As naturalist Sue Ellen Fast wanders through the forest discovering the adaptation secrets of the wildlife that live high in the canopy or down on the ground, she encounters a profusion of species: poison dart frogs, an agouti, sloths, fruit bats, bullet ants, and even the most feared of poisonous snakes - the fer de lance viper!
3. El Eden Research Station, Mexico
This large fresh water tropical wetland near tip of the Yucatan Peninsula is an important part of Mexico's freshwater system and the home to everything from turtles to crocodiles. Sue Ellen discovers that this area once surprisingly supported around 8,000 aboriginal people who harvested the apple snails and seeds of palmetto. She also journeys to the "underworld" through the deep water holes or senotes and cave systems that have been carved through the limestone bedrock…this watery world had great meaning in Mayan cosmology.
4. Georgian Bay Islands National Park, Ontario
This park encompasses 50 of the 30,000 glacial sculpted granite islands that are scattered about this part of Lake Huron. On a kayaking expedition, naturalist Sue Ellen Fast discovers that each has its own distinct personality as a result of it's size, remoteness from land, and luck - the islands were colonized by seeds that arrived from the mainland via wind, wing, or water. For example, the remoteness of one small island makes it a perfect spot as a gull nursery and it's full of babies. Beausoleil, the largest island, is a fascinating transition zone between two bio-regions where many amphibians and reptiles make their home, including the endangered Eastern Massasauga rattler which she see close-up.
5. Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho
Two thousand years ago, a volcano erupted. What remains today is a 600 square mile lava field - a river of lava frozen in time - and there's plenty for naturalist Sue Ellen to explore: strange shapes created by the lava, the "blue dragon", caves and tunnels. She also explores the succession of life that has gradually colonized this bleak and harsh environment. And there are birds too; she goes for a morning census study with a birder who can pick out many different bird songs. She also meets a descendant of some local-area settlers who tells of the particularly treacherous part of the old Oregon trail that traversed this area.
6. Crooked Tree Sanctuary, Belize
In this floating wetland of white flowers, preserved and looked after by the local community, Sue Ellen discovers why this is such a special place for birds. Hawks fly over head, ibises and egrets feed, and nearby the world's largest storks nest. Sue Ellen catches a glimpse of baby Jabiru storks in their nest with their giant five-foot tall parent attending. In the nearby savannas, she finds evidence of jaguar. She also talks to an archaeologist of the Mayan past here, when this wetland was part of a extensive transportation system and when the jungle-covered temples glimpsed in the distance, were once in daily use.
7. Biscayne National Park, Florida
Naturalist Sue Ellen Fast explores this watery paradise of islands, coral reefs and mangrove swamps on the doorstep of Miami. She discovers how the mangrove trees are the super-charged energy source for the surrounding sea and all its life, while also providing a nursery for fish and other creatures. She explores the waving coral life adapted to the undulating power of the waves, and she get a good look at a nurse shark and many other fish. And she learns how scientists are helping to preserve an endangered swallowtail butterfly which once populated in large numbers the protected forests of some of the islands.
8. Aransas-Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge, Texas
Stretching along the southern Gulf Coast of Texas and including the nearby Matagorda Island is a natural refuge with many surprises. Naturalist Sue Ellen Fast discovers all sorts of life along the beaches; sea beads brought in on waves, ghost crabs with pop-up eyes, Portuguese man-of-war and she watches the many shore birds which feed on them. Of course, the endangered whooping cranes are the most famous winter residents here having come down from their nesting grounds in northern Canada. Sue Ellen discovers what they like to eat and watches whooping crane parents teach their adolescent how to cope in this southern clime.
9. Banff & Jasper National Parks, Alberta
Perched high in the Canadian Rockies, these oldest of Canadian national parks - famous for dramatic, jagged peaks and aquamarine lakes - still have the drawing power they have had for over a century. Naturalist Sue Ellen Fast takes a walk on the Athabaska Glacier that is fed by the gigantic Columbia Icefield at the top of the world. She hikes to Canada's highest forest to find out how the toughest of the tough trees and plants survive. She discovers the lake which is featured on Canada's twenty dollar bill, and she has a conversation with the small mammal farmers of the mountains - the pikas - and gets a close-up view of a grizzly and some long-horn sheep.
10. Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado & Utah
This park tells a story of the immensity of geological time. As naturalist Sue Ellen Fast takes a sometimes dramatic river-rafting tour down the Green River she sees how water has carved steep cliffs through mountains over thousands of years. Nearby erosion has revealed layers of pre-historic rock in the Morrison Formation where fossils of sauropods and other pre-historic animals are found. Sue Ellen also explores the blooming desert area here where antelope, prairie dogs and bull snakes make their home, and the higher regions where Pinyon pine flourish. She finds petroglyphs, evidence of the Freemont culture of 1000 years ago, and a more recent homestead situated by the only permanent creek in the area.
11. Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia
This large, dramatic park that spans a large part of Cape Breton Island and which is encircled by the famous road known as the Cabot Trail has many foot paths that lead to all sorts of different natural places. Sue Ellen explores the Acadian Hardwood Forest which is made up largely of sugar maples; she tracks - by investigating many clues - the location of a moose bathing in a lake; she reads the story that the ocean has left on the shore by the rocks thrown on the beaches, and she treks to the highlands, where the life is low and colorful like a Scottish tartan cladding the bottom of the sky.
12. Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
This park protects the southern bluff of the Guadalupe Mountains and northern segment of the Chihuahuan Desert, North America's largest one. While it's the solitude, the fascinating plants and the tapestry of subtle colors that attracts people to the desert, naturalist Sue Ellen Fast looks deeper, exploring the strategies plants and cactuses have developed to store water. She also explores the stunning McCittrick Canyon adorned in its fall colors. Through it flows a permanent creek which allows wildlife to survive. In the higher regions, she watches a butterfly tea party, and studies the parasitic mistletoe and other flora and fauna of this region.
13. Gwaii Haanas National Reserve & Haida Heritage Site, British Columbia
This remote park in the Queen Charlotte Islands off the northern coast of British Columbia is a land of giant forests, important cultural sites and productive seas. In this program, Sue Ellen discovers beneath a cover of moss the old Haida village of Tanu once famous for its totem poles. She goes on to investigate why this culture, world-renowned for its powerful art and beautiful architecture, could thrive. On land, in the sea, and in the rivers that link the two, the answers soon become obvious - the fish, the forest and the wildlife provide an incredible wealth of riches.
14. Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
In this dramatic barren landscape on the west coast of Newfoundland, naturalist Sue Ellen Fast finds some surprising stories of our earth's geological past. She discovers the Tablelands, a World Heritage Site, where a portion of the earth's mantle (usually 5 kilometers below the crust) has been thrust up to the surface. As she finds out, only very few plants have learned to adapt to its toxic, heavy metal environment. Sue Ellen also takes a boat ride through a glacial sculpted fresh-water fjord which has been cut off from the sea. And on the high arctic tundra of Gros Morne Mountain she meets an arctic hare, a ptarmigan, and some caribou which live in this barren land created by glaciers and climate.
15. Shorelines of Kauai, Hawaii
The north shore of this most northerly of Hawaiian islands is a region of lush vegetation, tumbling water and steep dramatic cliffs that plunge to the sea while the dry southern shores are characterized by sand dunes held in place by low-lying plants. Sue Ellen Fast explores and explains the fascinating geological beginnings of this beautiful island and the special plants and animals which have colonized it. She also has the exceptional opportunity to see the fascinating and intricate courtship ritual of the Layson Albatross in their protected nesting area.
16. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona
This Sonoran desert region which is protected here, is a land of tall cactuses which create a unique landscape - the place where all those old cowboy movies were set. It also has a special oasis created by springs where fish and lush vegetation thrives. Naturalist Sue Ellen explores the area to find out how these fanciful plants are so well adapted to this very special environment. Surprisingly, she finds Mediterranean fig and pomegranate trees too - find out how they got there!
17. Yoho National Park, British Columbia
"Wow" is the meaning of the aboriginal word "Yoho" and it suits perfectly this stunning mountain park in the Canadian Rockies. On her nature walks, naturalist Sue Ellen Fast tells the story of the dramatic downward flow of water from the continental divide. There's the famed Takakkaw Falls, Wapta Falls, a natural bridge created by the Kicking Horse River, and of course, fabulous aquamarine lakes. Black bears and avalanches also are part of the story. And finally she explores the Burgess Shale high up on a mountain with Dr. Desmond Collins of the Royal Ontario Museum to find fossils that tell of life on this planet 515 million years ago before there was any life on land.
18. Zion National Park, Utah
Naturalist Sue Ellen Fast explores the beautifully sculpted red sandstone canyon here and mesas above, and tells the fascinating story of how natural forces created such captivating patterns and shapes. She also discovers the fascinating flora and fauna here - in the canyon there are hanging gardens cascading from cracks in the rock, baby tree frogs sunning themselves, mule deer munching on cottonwood leaves, and on the mesas, there are Ponderosa Pines between the slick, life-free expanses of rock.
19. Everglades National Park
Naturalist Sue Ellen Fast explores this vast wetland encompassing most of the southern tip of Florida. A boardwalk bike tour brings her close to the low river of grass which typifies the Everglades: Here she finds baby alligators hiding in the sedge grass and wading birds feeding on tiny fish. At a slightly higher elevation, grass gives way to forest hammocks which provide protection and shelter to a variety of life. Sue Ellen treks on one path which brings her contact with alligators, dragonflies, large birds and even a barred owl which stares her down. As this shallow river meets the sea, mangrove trees take over. While paddling through the water channels between the groves, Sue Ellen discovers that they provide a nursery for all sorts of oysters, crabs, and fish.
20. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
By canoe, naturalist Sue Ellen Fast explores and interprets this primordial landscape - a vast marshy swamp, dotted with small islands which have formed from floating mats of muck, and fringed by cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss. It is home to thousands of crocodiles and birds of every description. She also investigates the remnant long leaf pine forest here and meets a horse-logger who is thinning out the woods to help sustain it for the endangered red cockaded woodpecker and other creatures of this community. And she learns from a local person how to holler - that's how the early settlers communicated their comings and goings across the marsh.
21. Forillon National Park, Quebec
Here, where dramatic cliffs rise out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Sue Ellen explores the huge nesting sites set on limestone ledges where kittywakes, quillemots and other seabirds raise their young ; she views whales working their way out to sea; she explores the tide pools along the coast; she wanders through the overgrown fields of past settlers on top of the cliffs where bears and other wildlife roam; she wanders through a heritage site where early settlers made a tough living catching and curing cod for large European companies.
22. Fraser River Delta, British Columbia
Naturalist Sue Ellen Fast discovers that the mud flats at the mouth of British Columbia's famous Fraser River are richly productive. Thousands and thousands of indigenous and migrating birds feast on the small, sometimes microscopic life found here. Her visit coincides with the stopover of thousands of snow geese heading south from their arctic Russian nesting ground. She also investigates the shore birds and birds of prey that are also found in this area.
23. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
In the open airy meadows in this high park, naturalist Sue Ellen Fast watches the fascinating ritual fighting and mating of elk which repeats itself every fall. As she climbs to higher and higher terrain, she explores how life has adapted to the ever harsher conditions of cold and wind. In the sub-alpine regions, there are tree islands of Englemann Spruce which provide shelter for the elk when they move up the mountain in summer. Above the tree line, life lies low to the ground, and small mammals scurry about preparing for winters. Here there are fabulous vistas of glacier-carved mountains, forest-covered moraines. A park interpreter shows her evidence of the elk runs used by aboriginal people to ambush elk.
24. Kokee & Waimea State Parks, Kauai, Hawaii
In the center of the island of Kauai that was born from the sea are two parks that preserve the "grand canyon of the Pacific". Here, naturalist Sue Ellen discovers a layer cake of volcanic ash which tells a story of it's geological past, and plants which tell a story of the colonization of island. There is poignancy in these stories as the many of the indigenous plants of Hawaii are endangered because of the importation of exotic plants and animals from elsewhere.
25. Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks, California
In these two contiguous parks in California's Sierra Nevada, naturalist Sue Ellen discovers how the world's largest trees, the sequoias, have managed to survive, some for longer than recorded history. She sees the incredible power of snow melt which has carved North America's deepest canyon - Kings Canyon. In the dry foothills, she explores how the plants are adapted to surviving a long dry summer, and she watches as hungry bears climb the oak trees to feed on nutritious acorns.
26. Rio Brava Conservation & Management Area, Belize
This area in Belize protects part of the largest remaining tropical jungle in Central America and it encompasses thousands of acres of wetlands too. By foot and canoe, naturalist Sue Ellen Fast discovers the incredible diversity of life in this area including black orchids, fruit bats, epiphytes of many types, chachalaca birds, mahogany trees, a large boa constrictor and much more. She also wanders through the remains of an ancient Mayan city including an old stadium where they played an ancient form of basketball.
27. Kouchibouguac National Park, N.B.
This island-sheltered shoreline of dune-backed beaches, lagoons, salt marshes and forests provides lots of natural surprises. Join Sue Ellen as she explores a living museum created by layers and layers of moss, as she rambles through a typical Acadian forest, as she visits the nesting grounds of North America's largest colony of terns and as she views a summer playground of sea lions. Code. 202
28. Dinosaur Park, Alta.
This wold heritage site is littered with fossilized bones for dinosaurs that lived 75 million years ago. Sue Ellen takes viewers to a mass grave site of a herd of sentrasaurs- this site provided scientists the first clue that some dinosaurs were social. She also explores the intriguing beauty and distinct flora and fauna of these badlands and the riparian environment of the river that meanders through the park - this is where most of the life is concentrated amongst the cottonwoods. Code 107
29. Grasslands National Park, Sask.
This new national park in the old west preserves the mixed grass prairie lands that once ranged over much of central Canada and the United States. Sue Ellen horseback rides through this land of big skies to discover the animals that inhabit it, including rattlesnakes. She also rambles along the only permanent stream for hundred of miles, the Frenchman River. Code 211
30. Waterton Lakes National Park, Alta.
Sue Ellen explores this dramatic section of the Rockies which rise suddenly out of the flat prairies of southern Alberta. She views some of the mountain's large mammals as she hikes along paths of unsurpassed beauty. Code 308
31. Kejimkujik National Park, N.S.
Sue Ellen visits the park as fall turns to winter to see the signs of nature preparing for the cold. She takes a tranquil canoe trip. She then meets up with park interpreter Peter Hope who does a stag dance to attract a female deer. Viewers also catch a glimpse of a porcupine and a black bear. Code 109
32. Redwood National & State Parks, CA
These special parks are the interface between the world's largest ocean, the Pacific, and the world's largest trees, the Redwoods. Sue Ellen investigates why the Redwoods grow to such heights and what creatures live in these forests. She also explores the prairie-oak woodland habitat found here and the salmon rivers which flow to the sea. Code 312
33. Elk Island National Park, Alta.
This is Canada's only fenced national park. It protects herds of elk and plains and wood bison. This knob and kettle terrain of lakes and forests of aspen and poplar, and its open grass and sedge meadows, has a quiet appeal. Sue Ellen explores what it means to try to capture nature, which is everchanging, behind a fence, and she takes a close-up look at those big mammals which are so close at hand. Code 310
34. Prince Albert National Park, Sask
Sue Ellen explores this northerly park which is in the transition zone between the prairies and the northern boreal forests. Sue Ellen treks and paddles through this fascinating terrain of hilly, knobby landscape and lakes. Join Sue Ellen as she discovers the fascinating plants, animals and birds of this remote park. Code 309
35. Terra Nova National Park, Newfoundland
This is Canada's eastern most park where three long fingers of the North Atlantic reach into the island of Newfoundland. Sue Ellen wanders along paths which wend by rugged cliffs and sheltered inlets, and she checks out some of the large mammals of the sea. Code 307
36. Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba.
This escarpment that pushes 1200 feet above the surrounding plains is a transition zone between the prairie and boreal forest. In the boreal forest, Sue Ellen calls for the wolves and finds a surprising number of big animals. Bison are the highlight of the rough fescue grass environment of the prairie area. Viewers also find out that fire plays an important role in the park's eco-system. Code 207
37. Kootenay National Park, B.C.
Sue Ellen explores this long narrow mountain park in the Rockies and discovers mineral springs known as the Paint Pots; they provided the ochre dye treasured by the aboriginal people and later settlers. She also explores Marble Canyon, the moving waterfalls, and the community of plants in the area. She finds out about the dynamic role of fire in this area, which is known as "lightning alley". Ep. 202
38. Buffalo Pound Provincial Park, Sask.
In the episode, viewers experience the serene tranquility of a natural prairie - one of the most endangered eco-systems. Sue Ellen shows viewers how life evolved to take advantage of the available moisture from the Qu'appelle River Valley where large flood channels scar the land, and where a marshland provides the staging area for flocks of migrating birds. Viewers visit a remnant population of bison. Sue Ellen visits an old homestead that existed before the bison disappeared. She stops to examine in close-up some bats she finds in a tree. Code 102
39. Spruce Woods Prov. Park, Man.
The highlight of this park is Spirit Sands, an intriguing dune area. Here Sue Ellen explores this island of sand and some of its inhabitants like the western hognose snake. She also explores a relic boreal forest found in the park, and the western edge of a eastern deciduous forest also found in the park's boundaries; each forest has its own distinct and fascinating wildlife. Code 105
40. Bruce National Park/Fathom Five National Marine Park.
Situated on and around the Bruce Peninsula which separates Lake Huron from Georgian Bay are these parks which are home to a rich diversity of life. This peninsula has been designated a U.N. Biosphere Reserve. Here, near the northern edge of the Niagra Escarpment, Sue Ellen explores the limestone landscape which dominates the area. She finds tiny bonsai-sized cedar trees which turn out to be among Canada's oldest trees. She also learns of another recent discovery - there is life inside the sedimentary rock! Code 106
41. Bowen Island, B.C.
Like most islands, Bowen has it's distinct eco-system, which Susan explores. She takes viewers on a walk through a rainforest on the island and along coastal areas to explore the flora and fauna. She explores the island's principal water drainage system and meets with Dr. Dolph Schluter, to examine the stickleback fish in Killarney Lake, which have evolved since the ice age into a distinct species. Viewers catch a glimpse of some of the many small deer that populate the island. Code 108
42. Point Pelee National Park, Ontario.
Point Pelee juts into Lake Erie and is the most southerly region of mainland Canada. It is most noted as an outstanding migration stop-over for thousands of birds each year. Join Sue Ellen as she explores a remnant Carolinian forest, learns how to call migrating birds from park interpreter Tom Hince, finds out about the fascinating wetland habitat of the local turtles, and explores the savannah habitat where plants are "armed and dangerous" to survive harsh conditions. Code 204
43. City of Toronto, Ont.
In a radical departure from other programs in this series, Sue Ellen rambles through the back alleys, vacant lots and areas where the natural world ahs been able to get a foothold amidst the concrete and glass of Canada's largest city. She shows how raccoons have successfully carved out a niche in the urban landscape. The fox has also found a place here - we see some early morning on a golf course. This program shows how close nature is to us all. Code 112
44. Gatineau Provincial Park, Que.
Sue Ellen explores this park situated across from Canada's capital Ottawa. It's autumn as she explores the Laurentian forest that is full of brilliant red sugar maples. Viewers see beavers busy at work repairing a beaver dam. Sue Ellen also hikes around a beautiful lake nestled in these pink granite mountains….the lake and it's surrounding have been restored through the efforts of the local community. Code 110
45. Goldstream Provincial Park, B.C.
Mid-November is when the Goldstream River is seething with salmon returning from the sea to spawn. Sue Ellen takes viewers to watch as these noble fish make their way up the estuary to lay their eggs. Nearby the eagles and other predators wait to feast on the remains of the fish after they've spawned. A ramble through the nearby arbutus forest is also full of surprises. Code.111
46. Clayoquot Sound, B.C.
Clayoquot Sound is an island-studded area on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island. It's famous for its old growth temperate rain forests. Sue Ellen takes viewers on a magical walk on Meares Island; First Nations interpreteres show the incredibly diverse eco-system here. They she explores the shore lines by kayak.
47. Prince Edward Island National Park, P.E.I.
On this pastoral island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Sue Ellen explores the park most famous for it's connection to the fictional Anne of Green Gables. She explores old fields that are now turning back to nature. She explores the salt marshes along the shore and discovers heron and fox inhabitants. The sand dunes and beaches, home to the endangered piping plover, are also featured.
48. Palo Verde National Park, Costa Rica
Sue Ellen explores the monsoonal forest on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. Being wet half the year and dry half the year, this habitat is quite different than the typical tropical rainforest. In the high country, she finds cactus side by side with the forest that is alive with howler monkeys. In the lowland areas, she explores the mangrove-lined Tempisque River estuary, home to crocodiles, giant green iguanas, and lots of migratory birds. Code 222
49. Congaree Swamp National Monument, South Carolina:
In this episode, Sue Ellen explores a near virgin old growth bottomland hardwood forest, one of the last significant stands of these huge trees that once bordered all the major streams and rivers in the Southeastern United States. Bald cypress swamps and oxbow rivers are also part of the intrigue of this lowland that Sue Ellen discovers by foot and by boat. Code 217
50. Fundy National Park, N.S.
Nothing is more dramatic than the utter change of scenery that happens twice daily in the Bay of Fundy which has the largest tides in the world. Sue Ellen takes viewers on a trek to discover sea cliffs, dramatic rock formations and mud flats full of intertidal life. She also walks through the Maritime Acadian Highlands, an ancient mountain range found in the park, which is cut by waterfalls and tumbling streams and inhabitated by many mammals including moose, black bear, and deer. Code 305
51. Gwaii Haanas Revisted, B.C.
This remote park in the Queen Charlotte Islands off the north coast of British Columbia is a land of giant forests and productive seas. In this program, Sue Ellen revisits this area to discover more… including Hot Spring Island where she finds evidence of volcanic activity. She explores further the rich intertidal life off the coasts, and she hikes up beside the tumbling Hackett River to a lake, which is surround by giant bonsai-looking trees. Code 219
52. Juan De Fuca Trail, B.C.
Sue Ellen explores this new wilderness trails which wends its way along the wild west coast of Vancouver Island from China Beach to Botanical Beach. Join her to find out how Sitka Spruce survive in this salt-sprayed territory, and how slugs lift great weights. Sue Ellen also visits the renowned tide pools of Botanical Beach as well as a more typical rocky shore of the west coast to look at the layer cake of intertidal life with guest Dr. Gloria Snively, author of "Exploring the Seashore". Code 203