I’m sure somewhere in your home you have a framed family photo and somewhere in your memory is the story of where it came from — your sister’s wedding, last Christmas, your parents’ anniversary party. Now imagine photographing not just a family, but an entire species. Every member. That’s what scientists at the New England Aquarium having been doing for the endangered species of Right Whales.
Sadly it’s not as enormous a task as you would think.
The Right Whale is the rarest of all large whales. There are different types of Right Whales, which include the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Southern Right Whale — all of which are highly endangered. There are only an estimated 400 North Atlantic and 200 North Pacific Right Whales making the Northern Right Whale the most endangered of all large whales and two of the most endangered animals in the world!
Tragically, Right Whales were given their name because whalers believed they were the ‘right whale’ to hunt. They had enormous value because of their plentiful blubber (used for oil) and baleen, and were easy to catch because of their size and speed. Right Whales are about 40-50 feet long and weigh between 60-80 tons, moving at speeds of only about 5 knots. Their blubber makes up about forty percent of their body weight, which is why unlike other whale species, Right Whales float when killed and can be easily pulled into shore. As a result, populations of Right Whales were decimated during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries until their population was feared extinct and a worldwide ban on whaling was agreed upon in 1937.
In June 2008, the United States became the first country in the world to ban the import and sale of illegally-sourced wood and wood products when a ban was enacted as part of the 2008 Farm bill. WWF thanks the thousands of activists who spoke out in support of the prohibition on illegal wood.
At the behest of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the 2008 Farm Bill included the ban by incorporating provisions of the Legal Timber Protection Act (H.R. 1497), sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), and the Combat Illegal Logging Act (S. 1930), sponsored by Sen. Wyden.
The illegal logging ban is a huge victory for conservation. Sumatran tigers and rhinos, Siberian tigers, orangutans and many other species that depend on forest habitat around the globe will benefit from this legislation. WWF, through its Global Forest & Trade Network, helps responsible companies, including wood importers, to source legal and sustainable wood. The illegal logging ban will help level the playing field for these businesses that are doing the right thing. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
In August, 2008, the government of Indonesia committed to more than doubling the size of Sumatra’s Tesso Nilo National Park, one of the last havens for endangered Sumatran elephants and critically endangered Sumatran tigers.
Tesso Nilo National Park was created in 2004 but only 94,000 acres of forest were included. The government of Indonesia will extend the national park into 213,000 acres by December 2008 and integrate an additional 47,000 acres into the national park management area of 250,000 acres.
Besides being a haven for elephants and tigers, Tesso Nilo, in Riau Province, has the highest lowland forest plant biodiversity known to science, with more than 4,000 plant species recorded so far and many species yet to be discovered. The province is under dramatically increasing threat from the pulp and paper industry, from the clearing of the forest to make room for palm oil plantations, and from illegal settlements. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
We have a lot to learn from the white tailed eagle — especially in regards to romance. Other than a fascinating mid-air acrobatic display, this cousin of the American bald eagle keeps it simple when it comes to mating. There’s no worry about vulnerable displays of emotion or the exhausting ritual of overlooking someone else’s bad habits.
According to The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), love affairs among eagles occur naturally and easily: “The breeding season is characterised by frequent loud calling, especially by the male in the vicinity of the eyrie, sometimes taking the form of a duet between the pair.” From there, the lovebirds engage in “a characteristic aerial courtship display” in which they lock their claws together and whirl towards the earth in a series of spectacular cartwheels.
I was prone to environmental passions early in life. I’ve run the gamut from tree hugging innocence to jaded “futilism”; evolving from “dark green” (embracing ideas that depend on relinquishing technology in order to reduce its impact on the earth) to my current “bright green” place, which fits me just right.
Bright Green refers to a subcategory of environmentalism where technology achieves ecological sustainability without reducing the potential for economic growth. Land reclamation/rehabilitation endeavors – the process of cleaning up a site that has sustained environmental degradation – have evolved, and in many cases allow for the restoration of the land, or conversion into a wildlife habitat.
An article by Stephen Moss in The Guardian espoused this very process with the restoration of Canvey Wick, on the edge of the Thames Estuary in the U.K. Moss states that the area, once the site of a huge oil refinery, now wears the crown as “England’s little rainforest”. He offers, “For its size, the site supports more different species of plant and animal than any other place in Britain”. As I read, the real impact on me was the joyful knowledge that the abandoned oil refinery sitting vacant all of those decades had become a magnificent sanctuary and preserve. Worldwide, many other similar sites draw a multitude of visitors and membership…
African Odyssey takes you to the real Africa. Follow along as the show travels from the expansive deserts to the deepest jungles. In this episode, the show travels to Dares Salaam and interesting and mysterious city. A fusion of African and Arabic cultures.
The crabs are gearing up for a takeover. Not of humans, thankfully, but of other species in the Antarctic Peninsula. Which could lead to serious consequences.
While crabs and other swift predators were once stymied by the Arctic Ocean’s cold temperatures, millions of years of climate change have heated the waters, giving them an open door to make their way back.
As scientists explain it, crabs aren’t able to handle the high levels of magnesium that build up in their bloodstream while traversing cold water. Too much magnesium in the system causes them to pass out and pass away. On the other hand, those species that aren’t affected by the excessive amounts have been able to travel freely. But as the temperatures warm, crab populations have been able to move into more shallow areas, threatening the lives of such magnesium-immune dwellers as ribbon worms and sea stars.
When you think of the Thames, a Turner painting might come to mind or Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows or, for a slightly more modern reference, the iconic titles of the BBC’s Eastenders or the opening boat chase in The World is Not Enough. What you don’t necessarily think of are…seahorses.
However, it’s been announced that short-snouted seahorses “have set up residence in the recovering River Thames”. The once heavily polluted river is now much cleaner, thanks to several rehabilitation efforts stretching back to the 1950s. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
We’re all aware of the crisis in global fisheries. Some of us may even know the details — that a third of the world’s fishing stocks have already collapsed, and that if this trend continues we’d be looking down the barrel of total collapse within fifty years.
But sometimes it takes an event a little closer to home to bring the message home.
For Angelenos, it doesn’t get much closer than the California coastline, where last fall only “about 90,000 adult chinook returned to the Central Valley the second lowest number on record and well below the number needed to maintain a healthy fishery”. This compared with 775,000 salmon in 2002. The Pacific Fishery Management Council will meet in Seattle this week, where they’ll vote to impose a total ban or “the most severe restrictions” on salmon fishing ever seen along the Oregon and California coastlines.
If you think animal extinction due to climate change is a new phenomenon, think again. Take for example the woolly mammoth. It’s long been accepted that this ancient creature was driven into smaller and smaller habitats by the earth’s rising temperatures during and after the Pleistocene era, nearly 10,000 years ago.
We descend 1500 feet into this ancient caldera to explore this most beautiful and natural wildlife haven. Black-maned lions, huge-tusked elephants and black rhino roam freely protected by the walls of the crater itself. We move on through the Olduvai Gorge, said to be the birthplace of man, into the Serengeti to witness the migration north of millions of wildebeest and zebra with the big predators following them.
This park is the product of one of the largest animal relocation programs ever undertaken. One of the surprising successes of the program, was the flourishing packs of wild dogs.
On this edition we will see: Hyenas, Black Maned Lions, Wildebeest, Leopard, Wild Dog, Antelope, Elephants, and many more.
We interrupt your reading pleasure to bring you a devastating announcement: the Maderian Large White is the first butterfly to become extinct in Europe since the 17th century.
At a recent International conference of butterfly experts, it was confirmed that many butterfly species around the world are either endangered or extinct. The conference was held as the inaugural meeting of organizations partnering together to form the Butterfly Conservation Europe. Experts from over 31 different countries were represented and the devastating news of the Maderian Large White was announced.